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Extreme Savings on Extreme Vacations

Extreme Savings on Extreme Vacations

What is your idea of an extreme vacation?

I remember when we went on our first extreme vacation. We had five kids, under the age of seven and we went camping in a small pop-up trailer.

My husband, Bob, set up our trailer in the middle of a storm at a campground where there had been recent bear sightings. If it wasn’t the wind howling outside our thin canvas walls, we imagined it was a bear growling.

I have heard it said that the more extreme the experience, the more significant the bonding experience for those involved. After that particular camping trip, I’d say we were more bonded than ever!

These camping memories are some of my personal favorites and from the time the kids were infants, we always found those vacations to be adventurous.

Whether we were on a “bear alert” in a mountain campground or a “tornado alert” in the Midwest, we were out for an extreme vacation!

I’ve found military women to be very adventurous—we like to work hard and play hard.

Some of my extreme vacations have included activities such as flying an F15E Strike Eagle, skydiving, parasailing and hydrofoil racing.

Here are a few ideas for your next extreme vacation that won’t aggressively hit your pocketbook:

The Extreme Home Swap

This tip is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you want to save a bundle on rentals and hotel rooms this summer then you can exchange your house or apartment with someone in your desired vacation spot.

You can contact services such as or to compare fees and destination places.

These sites have online listings that include details, descriptions of homeowners, photos and lots of general information.

These sites help to solve the challenge of finding someone who wants to be in your home, in your part of the world at the same time that you want to be in their home, in their part of the world.

Economic Downs, Vacation Gains

Another adventurous approach to vacationing is to take advantage of the slow down at some resorts and vacation areas due to the sluggish economy.

Do a Google search on rentals in the area where you want to visit and then contact the owners directly.

Ask for a cheaper rate if you stay a full week and you can currently save anywhere from $50 to $90 per night!

Vacation rentals by owners are especially hurting—go to VRBO to find some of the best deals now.

If your search isn’t yielding the desired results, then try Kayak, or TravelZoo to find the best values.

Cowboy Up, Dude!

Dude ranches combine excitement and family fun and remain a family-friendly vacation as well.

The modern dude ranch not only incorporates the horsemanship experience, but they can also offer Pilates, white-water rafting, and even spas! Rock climbing, wilderness experience and fly-fishing are all activities to look for when researching the dude vacation! is a great example of this kind of extreme vacation where you can find ranches like the Bill Cody Ranch in Wyoming. Elk Mountain Ranch in Colorado is one of many ranches that offer cool programs for kids.

Crazy People, Unlimited

One of my favorite vacations had me ziplining on a tiny wire attached to my body harness 150 feet over the jungle floor in Jamaica—my family thought I was insane, but I thought it was just plain FUN!

Whenever you can book an all-inclusive vacation, you are going to know all costs up front, which can help you stay on budget.

Go to to find offers on jungle adventures of all kinds. At this site, I found cool “jungle survival” packages from Ian Anderson’s Adventures in Belize and caving as a bonus.

Or, for really extreme vacations, you can go “black-water rafting” in underground rapids in part of the Waitomo cave system in New Zealand as part of a five hour tour found at

If you’d rather take it one adventure at a time, try a tandem skydive offered at hundreds of locations across the US.

Finally, If you’re stationed in Alaska, consider the Aurora Ice Hotel, in Chena Hot Springs, north of Fairbanks. I saw this hotel and you have to experience it to believe it. You can tour the hotel or stay in one of the five ice rooms—parkas are mandatory!

Extreme Deals

When you pick a destination city, look at the Groupon deals for that part of the world.

Or Google “Group buying” and your destination to find the off brand group buying sites that are available.

I’ve purchased indoor skydiving at Universal walk for only $35 per rider (usually over $100), ziplining in Las Vegas, gondola rides, sunset cruises, spa days, restaurant deals and more.

If you review these potential deals in advance, you can do your homework on Yelp for reviews of the experience before you buy and you’ll know whether it’s a deal or a dud. In the process, you can cut your adventure price in half.

Extreme Memories

As we are currently down to two kids at home (out of seven) we realize that the most significant part of our vacationing was not the money spent, sights seen, or miles conquered.

The best parts of our family times were the bonding experiences.

Today, our adult kids STILL talk about the family camping memories and they are looking forward to carrying on the tradition with their own kids, too.

Hopefully, they won’t encounter storms or bears—but if they do, I think they’ll just look at it as another extreme bonding experience!

Which extreme vacation are you going to start planning today?

Photo credit: Ranchseeker ( via photopin cc

About Ellie Kay

Ellie Kay is a regular expert on national television with ABC NEWS NOW’s Money Matters and Good Money shows. She is also a national radio commentator, a frequent media guest on Fox News, and CNBC, a popular international speaker, and the best-selling author of fourteen books including her newest release, The Sixty Minute Money Workout (Waterbrook, 2010). For money savings links visit Ellie's blog.