How To Travel On A Budget

I’ve always wanted to travel with my family and experience different parts of this world, but during the 4.5 years that my husband and I were paying off $111,000 worth of debt, we limited ourselves to only traveling to see friends and family.  Now that we are starting to branch out and travel more, we have learned that it’s actually possible to travel on a budget.  

So often people choose not to travel because they think it will cost them a fortune to experience a new city, state, or country!  But I’ve learned that there are ways to travel on any budget, even if your budget is a few hundred dollars to a few thousand!  It’s all about being intentional and having a plan in place. So here is how our family has (or will) save money while traveling so that we can stick to a budget, but still see the world!

Rent A Condo Or Airbnb

Staying in a condo or Airbnb over a hotel is an easy way to save hundreds on your trip!  Not only do these places cost significantly less, but they have the added benefit of extra space.  Give yourself bonus points if you can find a rental with a kitchen! Our family loves to find an Airbnb with a washer and dryer because, with two children, you never know when you’ll need to do a load of laundry.

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Determine What You Are Willing To Sacrifice

You don’t have to stay in the nicest condo to enjoy your vacation.  Decide what is most important to you and what you are willing to sacrifice.  What are you willing to give up so that you can save money and travel? Maybe you would rather be walking distance to the beach instead of right on the beach.  List out your top 3 things you want to do or see on your vacation. Make those a priority and be willing to sacrifice on the other parts of your vacation. Your budget will thank you!

Visit State And National Parks

An easy way to save money is to spend your time visiting state and national parks.  The day passes are rather inexpensive and allow you to see this beautiful world! Pack a lunch to save even more and spend the day in nature.  This is one of our favorite things to do when we travel to a different area!

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Make Your Own Food

If you have access to a kitchen or mini fridge, then you can save a lot of money on dining out less.  Maybe you could go out to eat for one meal and make two meals in the condo or place you are staying.  Even if you’re staying in a hotel, you can make this work for you if you have a mini fridge. Plan out your breakfasts and lunches so that you can save money and only go out to a restaurant for dinner.  If you only paid for a meal once a day, how much would it cost you? Multiply that number by the number of days you will be traveling and there is your food budget! If you limit restaurants to every other day (or not at all!) that would save you even more money! 

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Look For Discounts In Advance

If you know where you are going and what you want to do on vacation, you can start searching for discounts in advance.  Check Groupon and other discount sites where you can purchase tickets to concerts or events for half the price. This is also a great way to spread out the cost of a vacation over time so that you aren’t overwhelmed with your vacation budget.  My husband and I purchased tickets to the Vegas show One about six before we actually went to Vegas.  It was so nice to already have those tickets purchased way before we went on our vacation!

Drive Somewhere

Although it’s so nice to take a plane to travel while on vacation, it is much more budget friendly to drive to your destination!  Make it fun and plan stops all along the way to break up the drive.  This is a great option if you want to bring pets along too.  Make sure you have some fun car games or books on tape to listen to.  You might find that the drive is one of your favorite parts of the trip!

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Have A Plan

If you’re taking a trip somewhere, it’s best to have a plan of what you want to do each day.  Get a piece of paper and brainstorm everything you would like to do while you are traveling. Then, prioritize that list by what you want to do the most.  If you feel like you have to do it all or else you will miss out, remind yourself that you can travel to this destination again.  Once you have prioritized what you want to see and do, spread them out over the course of the trip.  Having a plan and schedule in place will help you say no to anything that isn’t a priority for you.  And that, my friend, will save you money!

Visit Smaller Towns

The world is a big place, and there are tons of things to see!  Instead of heading to the most popular destinations, find a smaller town in the same area and stay there.  My family is headed to the beach this summer (it’s our first big family trip and I’m crazy excited!). Instead of staying on one of the main (and super popular) beaches near our destination, we chose a smaller and quieter beach a little south of the main one.  I was amazed at how much the condo and Airbnb prices dropped!  We were able to afford the condo that we wanted (a 2 bedroom with a washer/dryer) just by driving a few towns south of where we were originally looking.  We saved hundreds and still get to enjoy the beautiful beaches in Florida!

Shop Around For Rental Cars

If you have to fly to your destination and find that you need to rent a rental car, make sure you shop around for the best deal!  Don’t just head to the rental car counter in the airport when you land.  Instead, go online in advance and shop as many rental car sites as you can.  If you are flexible with what you are looking for, then you might be surprised at what options you will have!  When my husband and I were traveling to Vegas for a parents-only trip, the cheapest option was a minivan.  You better believe that we drove that minivan all around town and to 2 national parks!  So shop around and be open to your options because you’re not buying the car, just renting it!

Travel In The Off-season

A huge way to save money is to travel to your destination in the off-season!  Although this might not be ideal, it will definitely save you a ton of money on your trip.  Condo prices for Florida drop significantly in the late fall!  The water is not as warm as the summer, but as long as you go before November, you can still see sea turtles hatch!  The Grand Canyon’s busiest season is in the summer, so plan your trip in early spring or in the fall.  Be open-minded to different dates that will save you serious money!

Can you imagine how much money you could save on your vacation budget if you use even half of these tips?  Traveling on a budget is totally possible!  To learn how to save for your vacation so that you can pay for it in cash, read my article about sinking funds.