Traveling costs a lot of money — you must pay for accommodations, food, transportation and activities. And even if you do a bit of research and find some deals, it can be hard to avoid paying more than you expected. The key is to know exactly where and when to save money, so you can still enjoy your trip without feeling shortchanged.
Maximize your budget for long vacations or short weekend getaways with these traveling on the cheap tips.
What to Pack
Assuming you’re flying, the first step is to pack light. A heavy suitcase will cost you in two ways. First, excess baggage fees are an expense you’ll want to skip. Second, a heavy bag will be a pain to lug around. So pack only the essentials.
Next, think about what you can wear more than once. For example, if you’re traveling for a week, pack enough clothes for three days and wash your clothes in the sink as needed. Or better yet, wear clothes that don’t wrinkle easily, so you can just hang them up to air out overnight.
Finally, consider what you can leave at home. Do you really need that extra pair of shoes? How about that novel you’ve read halfway through? Pack only what you know you’ll use. You can even shop hosiery that you can just ball up and toss in your suitcase and skip out on bulky socks and jeans.
How to Save on Lodging
When it comes to saving on lodging, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, consider staying in a rental instead of a hotel. Not only can you often find cheaper rates on these types of accommodations, but you’ll also have access to kitchens and other home fixtures that can help you save money while traveling.
Another great way to save on lodging is to look for hotels that offer free breakfast or other amenities like free parking. These perks can help offset the cost of your room and make your stay more affordable.
Finally, don’t forget to check for discounts when booking your hotel room. Many online travel sites offer coupons and promo codes that can help you save money on your lodging expenses. By doing a little research, you can easily find ways to cut down on the cost of your hotel stay.
Keep Transportation Costs Down
When it comes to transportation, there are a few things you can do to save money. First, if you’re traveling by car, be sure to plan your route in advance and look for ways to avoid tolls and expensive parking. You can also check for discounts on gas or car rental rates.
If you’re taking public transportation, be sure to purchase your tickets in advance. You may also be able to find discounts on fares if you purchase a multi-day pass. And, if you’re traveling by train or bus, be sure to pack snacks and drinks so you don’t have to buy them while en route.
Eat (and Drink) for Less
When it comes to food and drinks, one of the easiest ways to save money while traveling is to cook your own meals. This can be done by staying in accommodation with kitchen facilities or renting an apartment. Not only will you save money on eating out, but you’ll also get to experience the local cuisine firsthand.
Take note of where the locals eat and try to eat like the locals do. This means avoiding tourist traps and instead seeking out hole-in-the-wall restaurants and street vendors. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get a more authentic experience.
Another way to save on food and drink costs while traveling is to take advantage of happy hours and specials. Many restaurants and bars offer discounts during certain hours, so if you’re looking to save, plan your meals and drinks around these times.
Finally, don’t forget to pack your own snacks and drinks when heading out for the day. This will help you avoid purchasing overpriced food and drinks in tourist areas.
Get Thrifty with Activities
There are loads of fun things to do while traveling on the cheap. Here are some of the best:
- Visit free attractions: Many cities have great free attractions such as parks that are perfect for travelers on a budget. Do some research before you go and make a list of the ones you’d like to see.
- Take advantage of free events: Public events like concerts, festivals and street fairs are usually free or very inexpensive. Check out what’s happening in your destination before you go and make sure to add a few to your itinerary.
- Explore on foot: One of the best ways to see a new place is by exploring it on foot. Not only is it good exercise, but you’ll also stumble upon hidden gems that you might not have found otherwise.
Save on Scenic Views
When it comes to taking in natural beauty, there are plenty of ways to do so without spending a lot of money.
Here are some tips for how to save on scenic views:
- Take advantage of free or discounted admission days at national parks.
- Visit state parks, which often have lower entrance fees than national parks.
- Go for a hike. There are plenty of beautiful trails all around the country that are free to access.
- Check out scenic drives in your area — many of them are free to drive on and offer stunning views.
- See if there are any overlooks or viewpoints near you that don’t require an entrance fee.
- Get creative — there are plenty of ways to enjoy nature without spending any money at all.
Enjoy Vacations on the Cheap
Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. By following these tips, you can save money on your travel expenses and still have a great time. With a little effort, you can stretch your travel budget further and experience more of the world.