Travel On A Budget

There’s no doubt about it, traveling is expensive. From gas, to food, to lodging and activities- everything on a vacation adds up.

However, with a little effort, traveling doesn’t have to put a major dent in your budget.

Here are some ideas for vacationing without taking out a second mortgage:

  1. 1. Stay with Friends or Family: Lodging can be one of the most costly aspects of travel. Consider taking a vacation to a place where you know someone you can stay with to avoid hotel costs.
  2. 2. Reciprocal Programs: Be sure to take advantage of any reciprocal programs where you may already be a member. Most zoos, aquariums, museums and amusement parks offer reciprocal or discounted tickets if you have a membership to your local one. Do your research!! Will joining a local location save you money if you are traveling to another city?!?
  3. 3. Garage Sale: There is nothing that motivates me to clean out a closet quite like the idea of earning money for travel. We have done garage sales, sold items on Craigslist and Ebay, and taken items to local consignment stores.  Set a goal to earn all of your gas money or food money from selling items you’re no longer using around your house.    
  1. 4. Points: There are so many reward/loyalty programs and if you use them strategically you can earn free travel amenities. Pick a hotel brand, sign up for their free loyalty program and ALWAYS try to stay at those hotels. Similarly, airlines and rental car companies offer point programs too. Often you can earn free hotel stays, free air miles, and free rental car days.
  2. 5. Gift: If you are given a gift of money or a restaurant gift card as a Christmas or birthday gift, save it to use on a vacation.
  3. 6. Special Offers: Many attractions will offer special days where you can receive a discount or even free admission- Military, teacher, student, volunteer, etc. Similarly, I’ve seen attractions offer free admission to residents of the state during off-season.
  4. 7. Groupon/Living Social: Be sure to check out Groupon and Living Social for the location you plan to visit. Not only can you receive discounts on lodging, you will also find deals on dining and activities.
  1. 8. Food: As I mentioned in my previous post, Road Trip Food, food is my favorite part of travel. So as you might imagine, it tends to be a large chunk of our travel budget. I’ve found that by packing food from home- snacks, drinks, and meals- we are able to save a significant amount while traveling. Although you can’t bring drinks to the airport, I always pack empty Contigo Water Bottles in my carry-on to fill up at the water fountain past security. Also, check the “outside food and drink” rules wherever you are planning to travel. Places such as Disney actually allow you to bring in your own food and drink. It can save A TON of money.
  2. 9. Free Breakfast: Think ahead when you are booking a hotel. Often times two hotels might cost the exact same price per night- but one offers a free breakfast. Even for a small family, that can still be a big savings. 
  1. 10. Plan Strategically: Traveling at peak season is normally going to cost more- for everything. Avoid booking a vacation during a particular busy time of year. Also, try to be flexible with your travel dates and times when flying. The difference of a day or two, or even an hour or two, can save you money. Booking trips last minute can be a great way to take advantage of last minute discounts…if you can be that spontaneous!
  2. 11. Free Activities: So many travel destinations offer tons of great free activities. From parks, and landmarks to outdoor festival/concert events. It’s easy to have a fun-filled day (or even days!) on vacation without spending any money.

What are some of your tips for a budget friendly vacation?

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