When it comes to budgeting, saving money and paying off debt, most people thing that plans to travel have to go out the window. While I do believe that there are many areas that you have to cut back on, it is still important to live your life and travel is an cost that is worth saving for. Even though the common belief is traveling is super expensive, travel on a budget is possible.
That being said, there are ways to cut back on travel costs to make your vacation more economical.
Aaron and I traveled often before we had kids and while we were trying to pay down our debt and together we came up with some great ways to travel and not go broke!
1. Download the Hopper App
The Hopper App allows you to watch flights and predicts the cheapest and best time to buy flights. This app can save you hundreds of dollars by telling you to book your flight now or wait for the prices to drop. I have found this app is extremely accurate and have saved a lot of money by watching my flights using the Hopper App and booking when they say is a good time to book.
2. Be Flexible with your travel days
By booking your flights on off days, you can save hundreds of dollars. The hopper app allows you to see what days will be cheapest to buy. If you are flexible with your travel schedule, allow the prices to dictate when you go.
3. Be Flexible about where you go
there are certainly cheaper places to fly than others. If you are looking for a trip or vacation and don’t have a specific place in mind, compare the prices of trips to different destinations. The prices change throughout the year, so if you travel during a vacation destination’s off season, you can save a lot of money on your trip.
4. Consider alternate airports
Just because you want to go to New York City, doesn’t mean you have to fly into JFK airport. Consider flying into a smaller local airport and taking a train or another form of transportation into the city.
5. Use a credit card the offers airline miles
There are many credit card companies that offer airline miles as rewards. This is a great way to travel for cheap or even free if you use it right. Often, specific airlines will have their own credit cards and offer more miles by purchasing through them. *Note: If you use a credit card to gain miles, pay off your card in full each month.
6. Go on a road trip
Road Trips are cheap (depending on the price of gas) and can be a ton of fun. Make a plan to stop various places along the way and do different things. This can be a great experience with family or friends.
7. Get a side job working for an airline
If you are serious about traveling and looking for a job or a part-time side job, consider working for a major or local airline. My husband worked for an airline for 4 years and we traveled for free often. If you work for an airline, you will be flying standby and have to be flexible with your travel, but the perks to cheap travel cannot be beat! This is the greatest way to travel on a budget!
This is a picture from our honeymoon when we were just babies!
AirBnB has many great options, especially if you are staying someplace for an extended period of time. These options allow you to also cook your own food in a kitchen, saving you even more money. If you are traveling with a group or other people, sharing an AirBnB home or apartment can save you a lot of money on lodging!
Hostels have gotten a bad wrap through Hollywood but they should not be written off. If you are looking for a cheaper option, there are many great hostel options available. Many hostels offer private rooms and if you are looking to meet new people, group rooms are a great way to do that. If you are looking to save money, this is a new experience to look into.
10. Comparison Shop on Expedia
Expedia is a great site to shop around for prices on different hotels in the area. It can help you decide a reasonable price for a hotel in the area and help you to make a decision on what you are willing to sacrifice to save money.
When Aaron worked for the airline, we traveled often. We were only able to do this because we could fly for free and we would often camp when we traveled. I know camping isn’t for everyone, but if you like camping, or are willing to give camping a shot, it’s a great option to travel on a budget or to travel more often. Camping (especially while flying) does take more planning but it can also bring about more adventures throughout your trip. This is a great way to travel on a budget as the cost difference between a hotel and a campsite can be $100+ per night!
12. Sleep while you travel, or be strategic about travel times
Maximize your time at a destination while minimizing your nights spent there. You can’t do much while you sleep, so why not plan your trip by arriving early in the morning and departing later in the evening. This way you maximize your awake time spent somewhere but don’t have to pay for an extra night in a hotel room.
13. Stay with a Friend
Do you have friends in different places? Capitalize on your connections and turn your vacation into a time to reconnect with old friends. Of course, you can still go out and do what you would like to do on your vacation, but reconnecting with old friends can help you save money on lodging, and offer you a personal tour guide!
14. Bring your own food
Shopping beforehand and planning out your meals can save you a lot of money. Food is often one of the more expensive parts of travelling, but it is an expense to possibly avoid. If you are travelling on a plane, I know there is a limit to what you can bring, but you can bring a lot of snacks. On carry on luggage, the possibilities are endless. Read here about how I eat healthy while travelling.
15. Stay someplace with a kitchen
If you stay with a friend, rent an apartment or house through AirBnB, or even find a hotel with a small kitchenette, it will help you to prepare some of your meals right where you are staying. If you can even limit eating out to once a day, you can save a lot of money.
16. Eat away from tourist locations
If you travel off the beaten path to eat, you can often save money. If you travel someplace that is a well-known tourist location, places to eat will be more expensive because tourists are willing to pay more for their food. If you are willing to search a little for a place to eat that is not central to all things tourist, you can often save a bit of money.
17. Eat at different times and less often
If I am eating out, I find I eat more at a meal, and thus can eat less in the day. I often capitalize on this and will eat a mid morning brunch and an early dinner. Eating two meals a day can save you both time and money as you travel.
18. Take advantage of free breakfast
If you stay someplace with a complimentary breakfast, TAKE ADVANTAGE! If it closes at 10am, get out of bed and go get breakfast so you don’t have to pay for it later on. You are paying for that food in your lodging cost, so don’t let that money go to waste.
19. Use Credit Card Rewards
Most credit card companies offer rewards. Most of the time, you can redeem those rewards for cash or you can choose a different option. If you look through other options, you will often find rental car companies that offer gift cards for less than the cash value. For example, you can spend $20 of rewards points to get a $25 gift card.
20. Use public transportation
If you are going to a city, you will often have endless opportunities for public transportation. Public transportation is often cheap and can add adventure to your travels! If you are staying at a hotel, they will often have free airport transportation through a shuttle. The shuttle will also go to other places at times, so be sure to check in with your hotel.
21. Use Uber
Uber is a great option if you don’t have too many places to go once you are at your destination. If you are taking an Uber more than once a day, the cost can add up, but if you don’t need to drive someplace often, this is a good option.
22. Walk or bike
This is an obvious one, but if you are able, walk to where you want to go. Not only is it the most budget friendly option (free), it can save the environment too! Win Win!
23. Go to Museums and tourist attractions that are free
When looking for something to do, Google is your best friend. If you Google, “Free things to do” in your specific city, you will find countless attractions and events that are free and open to the public.
24. Use your student ID
If you are a student or still have your student ID, use it! Even if you are a few years out of college, people won’t question you. Many things to do offer a student discount so be too sure to ask and bring your ID with you!
25. Talk to the locals
You can often find the best things to do by talking to the locals. They will have great ideas about what is actually worth your time and money! Be sure to ask people around or search for a local blog.
If you incorporate some, if not all of these tips, there is no doubt you will be able to travel on a budget and see way more than you think is possible!