The Best Tips for Budget Travel

Over 20 Tricks for Travel on a Budget

I am a member of online affiliate programs.  I will be compensated for purchases made from links in this post.  All opinions are my own.

Do you long to to see the world, but finances are always holding you back?  I get it, I have this inner struggle almost daily.  But guess what I have finally learned……you CAN travel while on a budget!

We have successfully traveled to Disneyland, KauaiNew York City, and more, all without spending a fortune.  You can do it too!  You can travel, make memories, and see new places….no matter your budget!

Today I’m sharing 17 of my Favorite Budget Travel Hacks!  I also asked my Instagram followers for their budget travel hacks, and I’m sharing all of their awesome responses too!

20 Plus Budget Travel Hacks

First Things First

1.  Plan Ahead

Plan your trips well ahead of travel time.  This will give you the time to search out the best deals, learn the peak travel times, and begin your travel Sinking Fund.  I prefer planning at least a year in advance; but anywhere between 6-12 months is ideal.

2.  Research

Study, research, and learn everything you can about the place you want to go.  Read travel blogs, check out books from the library, and a few times a week look at travel websites to check on hotel and flights.  This gives you a good idea of how much the trip will cost, so that you see that good deal, you will know it!

3.  Be OK With Less

We have all seen the picture perfect vacations, with the expensive restaurants and luxuries.  It is fun to dream about these ideal vacations…but it’s more fun to be debt free!

Learn to be OK with a vacation that is maybe less than glamorous.  Ask yourself, “are you going on a vacation to relax and make memories, or to have the best pictures to show all of your friends????”

Most of us want a trip that is fun and relaxing, one that we can rejuvenate and make memories.  This can all be accomplished WITHOUT the fancy resorts.  Be mindful of your personal reality and financial situation.

This might mean your vacation will be a camping trip, or a stay cation.  For some it just might even be a stay at a resort island.  No matter the trip you can afford, love it, embrace it and make it the time of your life!

4.  Make a Budget and Stick to It

After some thorough research you should have a good idea of how much your trip will cost.  Use this information and your monthly income to make your trip budget.

Write this number down and commit to it.  You will find it extremely easy to spend a little extra here, and a little extra there, and before you know it you have gone FAR over budget.  Practice self control and don’t allow yourself any wiggle room.

5.  Travel Sinking Fund

After making your Travel Budget it’s time to create a Sinking Fund.  If you’re unsure what a Sinking Fund is, don’t worry, I have it ALL explained in my article; How to Budget With Sinking Funds.

Choose your target travel date, and divide your Sinking Fund by the number of months until travel.  For example:  if I had a budget of $1000 and wanted to travel in 6 months, I would divide $1000 by 12 and get $84.  I now know that I need to save $84 into my sinking fund each month to have enough money to cover the trip.

6.  Travel During Off-Peak Times

Find out when the off-peak travel times are for your destination, this will vary based upon where you are going.  Traveling off-peak will save you money on flights, hotels, and activities.  You’ll also be treated to less crowds!  (my fave!)

Remember tip #3, Be Ok with Less, traveling off-peak might not be the ideal weather or circumstances, but it will save you money, focus on the positive!

What’s Instagram Saying???


“Besides having a vacation sinking fund, I buy stuff for vacation after season on clearance.”




“Trailer or RV travel instead of hotel.”


“Travel off season!  Sometimes waiting just 1 week after “peak” times can save you hundreds.”

How to Travel When You are On a Budget

Getting There

7.  Tuesday Travel

Tuesday is the secret for traveling.  You will find the cheapest airfare on Tuesdays, so do what you can to make Tuesday your travel day.

8.  Road Trip

Seriously consider driving to your destination instead of flying.  The costs are significantly less, and some of the best family memories can be made in a car!  Really!

9.  Incognito Browsing Window

When you are searching flights, change your browser to incognito.  Websites use cookies to monitor your browsing habits; if they find you are searching for a particular flight, they will raise the prices.  An incognito browsing window gives you the ability to look at flights without being seen by cookies.

10.  Only Pack Carry-On Luggage

Instead of checking a bag, save that money and only bring a carry-on suitcase.

Honestly, this is so hard for me!  I’m always sitting on my suitcase trying to zip it up, looking longingly at my pile of clothes that didn’t fit in my luggage.  But!  It is WORTH IT!  And truly, I never miss that extra “stuff” once I’m on vacation.

11.  Check Multiple Airports

Look into multiple airports in the surrounding areas of your destination.  You can usually find much cheaper deals at a smaller, less popular airport in the area.  It might add longer driving time, but the savings is definitely worth it!

What’s Instagram Saying????


“Flying isn’t the only way to get around.  I once took a 12 hour overnight bus to save $500.”


“Pack half of what you think you need to pack so you don’t ever have to check a bag!”


“Use the Gas Buddy app.”


“Gate check your bag for free instead of paying when you initially check in, $25 saved!”


10.  Pack Your Own Food

Save on food costs by packing as much of your own food as you can.  If you’re driving, pack a cooler full of cheap, quick to fix meals.

If you’re flying use Walmarts Free Grocery Pickup to order your groceries online, and the pick them up when you get to your vacation spot.  Always pack your own snacks and a lunch to eat at the airport.  Airport food is so expensive!

11.  Book a room with a kitchen

Prepare your own food by staying at a hotel with a small kitchen, or even better stay at an Airbnb Rental.

Save yourself some time by planning quick to fix, easy meals.  We like oatmeal, sandwiches, frozen dinners, etc.

12.  Restaurant Gift Cards

Buy a few gift cards on for restaurants in your travel destination.  These gift cards are sold at a discounted price giving you more food for less price!  (yay!)

You can also buy restaurant gift cards at Target.  If you use your Target Red Card you will get 5% off your purchase, including gift cards!

13.  Share Meals

Ask for a few extra plates and order one or two large meals to split between your family.  Most waiters and restaurants are happy to oblige to this request!

What’s Instagram Saying?


“Bring your own food, eat our once a day.  Use credit card hotel points.”


“Book an Airbnb with a kitchen so you can do some, or all, of the cooking yourself.”


“I make pizza the night before our travel day so we save money and time by not having to stop for lunch.”

Where to Stay

14.  Rent a Home

Consider renting a home from Airbnb instead of staying at a hotel.  The prices are much lower than hotels, and we love having a little extra space for our family.

Bonus:  Save even more and get $40 off your first Airbnb Rental using this link

15.  Earn Cashback

Always book your hotel through the Ebates website.  This is the easiest way to earn cashback.

Ebates partners with many popular travel websites, such as Travelocity and Priceline, to give you cashback on your normal purchases.

Simply log into Ebates, click the website name you want to shop on, and book your room as usual.  So easy!  They send your cashback to you every few months.  I usually get 10% cashback on every hotel room I get!  This is free money!

Bonus:  Sign up for Ebates using this link and you will get an EXTRA $10 cashback after you spend $25 using Ebates (which is so easy to do if you’re traveling!)

What’s Instagram Saying????


“Trailer or RV travel instead of hotel.”


“Don’t buy anything at the hotel.”


“I find that boutique hotels have modern looking interiors at a fraction of the cost of staying at a big hotel chain.”

Budget Friendly Travel


16.  Free Activities

You can find free activities in every city.  These are usually not the most advertised, but they are there.  Take some time, do a little research and find the free activities every where you go.  Spend the day at a beach, explore a new park, go on a hike or explore a free museum.

Here are 20 Free Things to do in New York City.

17.  Use City Pass

Explore a new city using a a City Pass, or something similar.   City Pass is offered in most large tourist cities and give you huge discounts on the top city attractions.

What’s Instagram Saying????


“We always do, Groupon, Living Social for discounts on food and activities.”


“Camping is cheap. Also, travel near national parks – hiking is free!  Pack snacks for road trips.”


“Google the best free sights/activities for the area you are visiting and plan ahead.”


I always need to learn new travel tricks!  How have you been able to travel on a budget?  Let me know in the comments!

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