Do you get to travel as often as you’d like? Or do your finances hold you back? If you ask most people what is stopping them from taking their next excursion, it probably has something to do with money and the lack thereof.
Yes, travel can be expensive. But sightseeing doesn’t have to break the bank to be memorable. In fact, there are plenty of ways to save money while traveling and still have an enjoyable experience.
Here are 20 Ways to Save Money While Traveling
Most travel money is spent on food, lodging, transportation, and activities so let’s break down each of these areas to determine the best tips to implement for your unique situation. We recommend you try a few of these suggestions at a time rather than attempting them all at once.
You want your trip to be enjoyable as well as inexpensive so it’s important to balance saving money with having fun.
Save Money on Food
1 – Don’t Eat Every Meal in a Restaurant – You are on vacation, however, and sometimes it’s nice to have a break from the hassle of cooking and cleaning up the mess. You may want to eat breakfast or lunch out rather than dinner, however, because the prices are much lower.
2 – Bring a Cooler – While sightseeing, we’ve found it works well to bring along items which will allow you to make lunches on the road. Here are some suggestions:
- A loaf of bread for sandwiches
- A jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly (You can bring along other fixin’s but this is an easy option)
- Granola bars
- Chips or crackers in individual serving bags
- Bottles of water
- A roll of paper towel
- Plastic knives for spreading condiments
3 – Choose lodging with a kitchenette or at least a refrigerator and microwave, so that you can prepare some of your own meals. These types of rooms cost more initially but you can easily make that back and more by eating out less. This is especially true if you are traveling with your entire family.
4 – Bring along a travel crockpot and the ingredients for some easy meals. This will allow your meal to cook while you are out and about during the day. Then, dinner will be ready and waiting for you when you return.
5 – Bring water and snacks with you in the car to avoid getting hungry and having to make unexpected purchases. Since these items will remain inside your car throughout the day, they will get warm and melty. So choose wisely. And consider storing them inside a cooler to make them easier to eat.
Save Money on Lodging
6 – Go camping – Campsites are much cheaper than hotels. They do require you to bring along a lot more gear, though, so camping isn’t always appropriate. You probably don’t drag your tent along if you are flying to your destination. But it’s an incredibly inexpensive way to travel, so you should at least consider it otherwise.
7 – Cabin in a campground – If you aren’t a fan of camping, you may want to consider renting a cabin in a campground instead. You won’t have to bring as much gear with you as if you were tent camping. But you will need to bring more than if you were staying in a hotel.
There are some great deals to be had traveling this way, however. And it’s also much easier to make your own meals in a cabin than if you’re tent camping or staying in a hotel.
8 – Compare Prices – Make reservations in advance using a service that allows you to compare prices. There are several different companies which allow you to do this. Do your research!
9 – Sleep While Traveling – If you travel by plane, train or bus, consider traveling overnight to avoid having to also pay for that night’s lodging.
10 – Travel Off-Season – You can save a significant amount of money by traveling off-season. These times of year vary depending on location, but you can start looking for deals whenever schools are in session. As the demand for lodging decreases, venues lower their prices to compete for whatever business is left.
11 – Travel During the Week – Consider traveling Monday through Friday and avoiding the weekend. Prices are always higher on weekends due to more demand.
And don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Travelers can save even more money when hotels have lots of empty rooms by bargaining for a better rate.
12 – Try a Day Trip – Rather than always taking long trips, you may want to consider a day trip instead. Visiting local attractions within a few hours of your home will save you a significant amount of money that you would have spent on lodging and transportation if you had traveled further away.
Save Money on Transportation
13 – Fly Red-Eye or Early Morning Flights – Choose less desireable flights with lower demand, especially those without much advance notice, to save big on plane tickets.
14 – Use Public Transportation – Once you’ve reached your destination, consider using public transportation to save on parking fees, taxis, etc.
Save Money on Activities
15 – Enjoy FREE Activities such as hiking, biking, swimming, and other outdoor activities – Don’t feel as though you need to attend expensive attractions every day of your trip.
16 – Search for FREE or Discounted days at Museums or other Attractions – Chose your travel dates based on when the more expensive attractions you plan to visit are slow and are offering deals.
17 – Attend Festivals – Most areas offer a variety of festivals and special events which are often free. Create a calendar with these events listed on it so that when the travel bug bites, you will have inexpensive ideas to consider.
Save Money by Spending Less
18 – Set a Budget and Stick to it – It’s incredibly easy to overspend while traveling. It’s important to decide how much money you are willing to spend before you ever leave your home. Hang onto your receipts. And each night, you should track your expenses by entering everything into a spreadsheet,
Hopefully, you know how much you already spend on things such as gas and groceries in a typical week. This money can be included in your travel budget as well. The amount will be higher when traveling but this money will at least help to defray the cost of your trip.
Consider breaking down your expenses into categories such as food, gas, and activities. This will help you to make better decisions about what you can and can not do if the money starts to run low.
19 – Use Coupons or Groupons – It’s amazing how much money you can save on lodging and attractions by using coupons. You can often find these by searching the internet or by heading to a Visitor Information Center near wherever you are headed. And, of course, Groupon.com is another excellent place to search for deals.
20 – Follow Travel Destinations on Social Media – Many places give out deals to their followers over social media or to people on their email list. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try!
The next time you want to take a trip and you aren’t sure you can afford it, try implementing a few of these money-saving ideas and you might be surprised at the sights you are able to see!
We’d love to hear how YOU have learned to save money while traveling. What money-saving tips would you add to this list? Please leave a comment below!