Sharing my best tips to travel cheap!
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, Kauai, New York City, and more, all without spending a fortune. You can do it too, you can travel, make memories, and see new places….it just takes a bit more planning, and a little more effort. Today I’m sharing 17 of my Favorite Budget Travel Tips! I wanted to gather even extra advice, so I asked my amazing Instagram followers for their budget travel hacks as well. My wonderful followers delivered with some great responses and budget travel tips.
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.
Budget Travel Planning
One of my favorite parts of traveling is planning the trip (I know, I’m a little weird!), it’s so fun to research and dream about our upcoming vacation. If done correctly travel planning can save you a lot of money.
1. Plan Ahead
One of the most important budget travel tips is to plan thoroughly. Plan your trips well ahead of travel time. This will give you the time needed 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.
Study, research, and learn everything you can about the place you want to go. Read travel blogs, check out books from the library, and regularly look at travel websites to watch for deals on hotel and flights. This gives you a good idea of how much the trip will cost, so when you see a good deal, you will know it’s a good deal.
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????” I bet it’s to make memories!
Most of us want a trip that is fun and relaxing, one where 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.
- Related: How to Make a Zero Based Budget
5. Travel Sinking Fund
Once your travel budget is in place, you need to make a Sinking Fund. This will be a fund you save into over a long period of time.
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
If possible plan your travel dates during off-peak travel times are for your specific 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!).
Off peak traveling does come at a small sacrifice. To save money you might not have the best weather or specific circumstances, but it will save you money, focus on the positive!
More Travel Planning Tips From Instagram:
“Besides having a vacation sinking fund, I buy stuff for vacation after season on clearance.”
“RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH”
“Trailer or RV travel instead of hotel.”
“Travel off season! Sometimes waiting just 1 week after “peak” times can save you hundreds.”
Savings On Traveling
Now that you have planned your trip, it’s time to start traveling. Here are a few ways you can go on a vacation, without breaking the budget.
7. Tuesday Travel
Tuesday is the secret budget travel date. This is the day of the week when airfare is the cheapest. Try to plan your travel dates around Tuesday for the best deal.
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
10. Only Pack Carry-On Luggage
Most airlines charge for all checked luggage. Save that money and only bring a carry-on suitcase.
Honestly, this is so hard for me (I like to pack options….)! I am that person who is always sitting on my suitcase, trying to pack my clothes down while zipping it up at the same time.; all while looking longingly at my pile of clothes that didn’t fit into the suitcase (cue sad violins).
But, even though I don’t like to pack less, it is WORTH IT! And truly, I never miss that extra “stuff” once I’m on vacation.
11. Check Multiple Airports
When booking flights check all airports in the area you are traveling to. You can usually find much cheaper deals at a smaller, less popular airport in the area. This might mean you have to travel a little further to get to your final destination, but the savings is 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!”
How To Cut Costs On Travel Food
We all have to eat, and food costs money, especially when on vacation. Try these frugal tips to save money on food while traveling.
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 then 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
When booking a hotel room, find one that has a small kitchen. This will help you prepare more food at the hotel and save on expensive eating out costs. Or, even better stay at an Airbnb Rental.
I love to make easy, quick to fix meals while traveling. We like oatmeal, sandwiches, frozen dinners, etc.
12. Restaurant Gift Cards
Buy a few gift cards on Restaurant.com 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
When eating out order one large meal and request a few extra plates. You can all share the one meal together. Most waiters and restaurants are happy to oblige to this request!
What’s Instagram Saying?
“Bring your own food, eat out 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
There are so many rental options available right now that vacationing does not have to include staying at a hotel. Be willing to get creative when finding a place 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.
15. Earn Cashback
Rakuten partners with many popular travel websites, such as Travelocity and Priceline, to give you cashback on your normal purchases. Many hotels offers 10% cashback on hotel room bookings. This is free money, don’t miss out!
It’s so easy too! Simply log into Rakuten, click the website name you want to shop on, and book your room as usual. You will receive your cashback check every few months in the mail.
********Bonus: Sign up for Rakuten using this link and you will get an EXTRA $20 cashback after you spend $20 (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.”
What’s a vacation without some entertainment? Try a few of these frugal hacks when choosing your entertainment options.
16. Free Activities
Every city you travel to will have free activities to do, you just have to search for them. 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. You might just stumble upon a secret treasure.
17. Use City Pass
Explore a new city using a a City Pass, or something similar. City Pass gives you huge discounts on the top city attractions, and is available in most large cities.
What’s Instagram Saying????
“We always do Restaurant.com, 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.”
A good vacation is such a great way to unwind and relax! You can enjoy this without going into debt or spending a fortune. Just remember to do your research and plan smartly. I hope you enjoyed these tips to travel cheap!