Travel on a Budget: How to See the World Without Breaking the Bank

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travel on a budget

Many people want to travel, but they’re still determining if they can afford it. With some thoughtful planning and budgeting, traveling without going broke is possible. From driving your own car to finding affordable accommodations, there are many ways to travel on a budget and still have a great time. This article will feature several tips.

How to Travel on a Budget

Drive Your Own Car

Depending on your destination, driving your car can save you a lot of money. Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition. Get an oil change if you have yet to do so recently. Also, check your tires. Once you do that, you must gas up and hit the road.

Book in Advance

Book your flights and hotel reservations at least eight weeks in advance. Flights and hotel prices usually go up the closer your travel date is. So, always lock in the low prices when you see them posted. You may find a reasonable price for a last-minute ticket, but that is rare. The difference you could save by booking early could be well over $200, which you can direct towards other expenses. This also saves you a lot of stress.

Take the Bus

My next budget tip is to take the bus to your next destination. A lot of cities have both Greyhound and Megabus. You’re bound to find a good deal. Research your destination on both sites. The sooner you purchase your bus ticket, the cheaper it will be.

Red-Eye Flight

You will likely find a good deal if you fly late at night or early in the morning. Some people don’t like to fly during those hours. If you decide to do that, you could save some good money. There are many places that you can go to check for red-eye flights. Expedia is an excellent site to start at. You can also do a quick search on Google Flights.

Stay With Someone

Instead of spending money on a hotel or condo, stay with family or friends. I’ve done this on several occasions. Not only did I save money, but I had someone to kick it with for a few days. If your family or friend has extra space, they’ll be a better choice to ask than someone with a studio or one bedroom. You may only be able to do this on some trips, but if you can do it occasionally, you will be good.

Discount Airlines

travel on a budget

Some people use discount airlines. Some discount airlines are Jet Blue, Frontier, and Spirit. I have flown all three of them before. I’d do it again as well. When choosing a discount airline, please do your research. Check to see if they charge for carry-on bags, seating assignments, or other things like that. That will save you money and embarrassment at the airport. I’ve seen people come to the airport and try to purchase their bags at the ticket counter. They were shocked to find out how expensive they were in person.

Couch Surf

Some people save money traveling by couch surfing. Couch surfing is where strangers let you sleep on their couch or air mattress for free. If you’re the adventurous type, this might be for you. 

Airbnb or VRBO

These two companies allow you to book someone’s property (Apt., Studio, Beach house, etc.) for a certain amount of days. I’ve used both services before. I booked a studio using VRBO in South Beach a few years ago for $300 less than the cheapest available hotel room. That was a heck of a deal. In some cases, their prices are usually lower than hotels.

Check out VRBO here to get discounts for travel.

Ask For Discounts

If you plan on staying in a hotel, ask if they have a discount. It’s not guaranteed that they will, but asking doesn’t hurt. It’s always worth a shot. They will either say yes or no.

Check Your Dates & Days

Your trip dates are vital. If possible, you should try to stay away from holiday travel. That is usually when hotels and airlines raise prices. Leave a few days early to save money if you must travel on a holiday. Sometimes the day of the week depends on how much a flight will cost. From my experience, flights leaving on a Wednesday or Thursday are cheaper than Friday flights. Many people love to travel on Fridays for an extended weekend. So the airlines charge the travelers a little more. Make sure you take an hour or two and research different dates and times.

Save the 5-Star Meals

If you’re on a budget while traveling, save the 5-star meals for your next trip. You can still find places to eat that are affordable. Make sure you research before you get to your destination.

Stay on the Outskirts of the City

Depending on where you’re going, you can save a lot of money by staying on the city’s outskirts. If you choose to do that, ensure you have transportation because taxis could be an arm and a leg. Using Uber can save you money if you want to avoid using a taxi.

Click this link to get $5 off your first ride with Uber.

Travel Search Engine

Using a travel search engine can help you find discounts too. Sometimes they may have crazy sales on hotel rooms. Many of them are steals. A couple of sites that I suggest are Priceline and Expedia.

Use Rakuten and save even more money on your bookings. Get $10 when you sign up HERE.

Time of Departure

We’re up to number three on the list of frugal travel tips. Airline tickets are sometimes cheaper depending on the time you choose to depart. Early-morning flights and late-night flights are usually the most inexpensive. Early morning flights may be less expensive because some people have difficulty getting up in the morning. Late-night flights (red-eye) are probably cheaper than daytime flights for that exact reason. Only some people want to travel during those times. Again, if you’re trying to save money when traveling, check those times out.

Favorite Brands

If you have a favorite airline or hotel chain, make sure that you sign up to receive e-mails from them. I have accounts with Southwest Airlines, Wyndham Hotels, and more. They send e-mails about deals that they have periodically. Also, using your favorite brands will allow you to earn reward points. I’ve used points to book Marriott rooms and Southwest Airlines flights before. You can save tons by using points. This is another one of my favorite frugal travel tips.

Travel with a Group

My final tip is to travel with a group of people. I put this tip last for a reason. Traveling with a group of people can save you a ton of money, but it can be challenging. People have different attitudes and motives for going on trips sometimes. If you are going on a trip with a group of people, make sure that you really know who you’re traveling with.

Below are some recommended resources that will help you travel on a budget.


I discussed Expedia earlier. They have a section that features bundle deals. If you are a fan of cruises, look no further than Expedia. When you book a cruise with Expedia, you get their Price Guarantee without worrying about cruise booking fees.


Travelocity is a travel site similar to Expedia. If you find a lower price, Travelocity will refund you the difference. Also, you can search over 400 airlines and more than 321,000 hotel rooms worldwide. They have a section on their site called Get Inspired where you can view several topics such as beach, city, and romantic.

Wander Wisely is a site featuring truckloads of travel deals. You can book hotel rooms, flights, and cars with them here. has travel guides for many of the top destinations throughout the world. They also have a section where you can view different restaurants in the city that you are going to.

City Pass

CityPASS is a discount admission pass allowing travelers to visit popular tourist attractions in a particular city at a fraction of the original price. The pass typically includes admission to several of the most popular attractions in a city, such as theme parks and museums. The pass can be purchased online or at participating attractions.


Virtually everyone has heard of Groupon. If not, I’ll give you a brief explanation. Groupon is an online marketplace specializing in offering people activities, goods, and travel. It is great for finding deals for massages, restaurants, and more. Groupon has a getaways section where you view different travel discounts. There are all kinds of trip deals that you can buy.


Tripadvisor is one of the best travel websites out there. You can do many things there, including searching for things to do in different cities, such as top attractions. Something unique about Tripadvisor is that you can leave reviews of hotels and businesses on their site, which I like. You can also upload pictures of the business or hotel in your review. This is great because you get a chance to see how things look instead of just viewing professional images.


I’ve been using Priceline for years. They have a great platform that allows you to view flights, hotels, and rental cars. You can compare the different prices and different brands. Priceline has Express deals that enable you to get hotels at a fraction of the cost. If you want to save even more money, they have an option that allows you to bundle and save. 

Google Flights

If you are flying somewhere, you must check out this site. They show you different flight info, such as how many connections you’ll have and the best available flight option. You can also filter out airlines that you might now want to fly with. Google Flights also has an exploring map that allows you to see the price of a flight from your home city to other cities on the map. You could save more on travel by booking your airport parking before your flight.

If you thought travel was expensive, I hope this article has changed your mind. With these frugal travel tips and resources, you can save hundreds of bucks when it comes to traveling. If you have not tried any in the past, this is the perfect time to start.



  1. Great tips! The flight is always the most expense of travel for me (if I’m not driving) so I love to use Priceline and stalk several sites for a while before I purchase my ticket since the prices usually fluctuate during the week.

  2. Wonderful tips! All but the couch! LOL I know so many people who have saved a ton with AirBnb! I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but I will!

  3. I always fly early. It’s not fun waking up for the flight, but I like to get going as early as possible so there is still some time in the day when I get to my destination. And like you said, it can be cheaper.

  4. Or… take the train during the night on a long ride, so that you don’t have to spend on that night at the hotel.

  5. Thanks Jason. This post is what I need right now as traveling has become so expensive, hence I’m a travel blogger. Good tips!

    1. Thank you. I want people to be able to travel without going broke.

  6. Shavonda Miles says:

    I am interested in learning more about Homeaway and AirBnB. I probably would not couch surf either. Yes, Red eye are always cheaper I would definitely use those tips. Do you recommend Priceline for best airfare deals?

    1. I would use Priceline, Kayak or Skyscanner.

  7. My tip would be to travel internationally. The biggest expense is the airfare so to mitigate that you fly on a holiday. Taxes are lower on Christmas Day than any other day and so are prices. Get yourself over to Asia and live on $20 a day including everything. You get to lay on gorgeous beaches, immerse yourself in exotic cultures, and stay warm. I agree Jason, travel does not have to be expensive and one of the best ways to do that is get out of the country.

    1. Great tip. I’ve never thought to fly out on Christmas day. I’m about to look at some things now.

  8. Great tips! Thanks. There are lots of ways to make traveling more affordable and some just involve careful planning such as when there may be discounts.

  9. Hi Jason, these are super tips for the traveler, not just those on the budget. It seems to me that the most money should be spent on having fun wherever you land, not on the ways to get there. Excellent.

  10. I have flown early hours of the morning for a cheaper flight.

    I have stayed on the outskirts of a city – say a 20 minute drive. It makes a difference.

    I am not too keen on non-direct flights especially when travelling with small children. I have heard too many horror stories of people missing their connecting flight!

    As for ‘couch surfing’- that’s a no from me!

  11. I grew up in a small town, so the ease of public transportation has only gradually made its way into my brain as something worth choosing. On my five-day trip to NYC the first couple of days were all about cab rides, but that is insane considering how cheap and relatively easy it is to ride the subway. I also got pretty handy at the subway in Athens too.

  12. There’s a lot of good tips here Jason. I recently rented a vacation house at the beach from AirBnb and got a pretty good rate and all went well. Thanks for the warning on Sprit Air. If I’, going West I try to use Southwest Airlines which is cheaper and much better than United which is the airline that has the most routes from my local airport. What really makes the most difference on airfares is whether there is competition for the route, something that has been shrinking in the last few years.

    1. No problem. I didn’t want you to make the mistake I did with Spirit.

  13. While I agree with a lot of these and use them regularly, I do not agree with using your own car. If you are only looking at the immediate cost, then sure, it is cheaper. But if you look at the real cost to you, then you have to include maintenance and resale value (unless you plan to do nothing to your vehicle until it dies and then junk it). Once you include these items (estimates, of course, but proven to be fairly accurate over time in my experience), then renting a vehicle (you can even rent one with better gas mileage than your own) is typically less expensive overall. This is even more true now that car rental prices are relatively low – plus you can often find a discount that you qualify for to bring the cost down more. You have to be careful about adding on (the car rental insurance adds nothing to my own, for instance) or accidentally using services that cost a lot (using the rental company FastPass or not filling up the gas tank to the level at which you received it, in most cases), but I can usually find a very decent vehicle for less than $25/day without even going to the cheapest model!

    I’m a huge airbnb fan. For those wondering about it, remember also that in addition to the straight cost of the hotel versus the airbnb, you typically get more from the airbnb. I always stay in full apartments/places, personally, for the privacy, and I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than hotels, yet I get a lot more. You get more space and often extras (treats from the area, guidebooks, often the host will show or tell you about the area a lot more). More importantly, you get a kitchen, meaning that you can eat meals at the airbnb and save money. I’ll often go with friends to an airbnb, and we’ll go to a local market at the beginning for a couple of groceries to make meals and for drinks.

    Regarding staying outside of the central area, I think this very much depends on where you are going, for how long, and for what reason. If I am staying somewhere for less than a weekend (taking out travel time), then I typically want to stay closer to downtown/a central location in order to maximize my time. I don’t want to spend the majority of my time (and money) in transport! If I am staying longer, I often like to find somewhere a little bit outside of the central area (be careful to check the area, though – I often use apartment finding guides which tell you more about the subareas in a city) and walk to where I want to go. This incorporates exercise, saves money, and gives me a chance to see more of the culture. This tends to work better outside of the US, though.

  14. that is very nice article i love to read your articles thankyou very much … looking more here in future … 🙂

  15. Thanks for the great tips! I hadn’t heard of HomeAway before, thats interesting will check them out

  16. I have bookmarked it …next time I travel this will be handy all time on my phone.

  17. I like to have five star dinners but brown bag lunches. You have to make tradeoffs in everything and for my meals, I think that going cheap on lunch and big on dinner is the way to go (or vice versa, but the idea is cheap on one).

  18. Really great tips Jason. I would add saving money on food. Our hotel in St. Martin was really cheap (but really nice) and had a kitchen in it. We took full advantage, cooking many of our meals. Not perfect for everyone’s vacation, but getting groceries the first day we got there set us up for some frugal and healthy meals.

  19. Great tips. Pre-booking flights tickets can save a huge amount of money. Thanks for the sharing Jason.

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