13 Tips For Traveling On A Budget

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traveling on a budget

I’m a huge fan of traveling. I’ve said numerous times that it’s my anti-drug. Many people don’t have much money, but they shouldn’t let that deter them from traveling. Below are tips that can help you if you’re traveling on a budget.

Drive Your Own Car

Depending on where you’re going, driving your own car can save you a lot of money. Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition. Get an oil change if you haven’t done so recently. Also, check your tires. Once you do that, you must gas up and hit the road.

Take the Bus

My next budget tip is that you can 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 that you purchase your bus ticket, the cheaper it will be.

Red-Eye Flight

If you fly late at night or early in the morning, you will likely find a good deal. 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 a good 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 if it’s possible. 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. You may not be able to do this on every trip, but if you can do it every once in a while, you will be good.

Discount Airlines

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

I’ve never done this and probably never will, but 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. I’m all about trying new things, but this isn’t one that I’d do.

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 hell of a deal.  In many 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 it doesn’t hurt to ask. It’s always worth a shot. They will either say yes or no.

Avoid Traveling Holiday Weekends

If you’re traveling on a budget, I suggest you avoid traveling on holiday weekends. Prices for hotels, flights, and buses are usually higher. If you still decide to travel on a holiday weekend, make sure you have things booked at least 2-3 months in advance.

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 may be able to save a lot of money by staying on the outskirts of the city. If you choose to do that, make sure that you have transportation because taxis could be an arm and a leg. Using Uber can save you some money if you don’t want to use a taxi.

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

Priceline

I am a huge fan of Priceline. I love their site. They have the Name Your Own Price feature that can be used for hotels and rental cars.

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

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’s not always the easiest. People have different attitudes and motives for going on trips sometimes. For the most part, I’ve had great group trips. There was one time when going out of town with a large group of people didn’t work. After one night, I had to get another room at a different hotel. Some of the people stayed in the 1st room while others, including myself, left that environment. If you are going on a trip with a group of people, make sure that you really know who you’re traveling with.

To summarize, the tips for traveling on a budget are driving your own vehicle, taking the bus, taking a red-eye flight, staying with someone, using discount airlines, use couch surfing, trying out Airbnb or VRBO and asking for discounts, avoiding travel during holiday weekends, save the 5-star meals, stay on the outskirts, use Priceline, and travel with a group.

What are some other tips to use if you are traveling on a budget?

More travel-related posts:

10 Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Survival Tips

Tips For Traveling in Europe

How to Plan an Epic Cross Country Trip

10 Amazing Things to Do in NYC

 

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30 Comments

  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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