Guest Post – 5 Tips to Make Traveling More Affordable

5 Tips To Make Traveling More Affordable

A few years ago, upon my return from my third trip to North Carolina in a 4 month time span, a good friend sent me a message on Facebook asking “HOW ON EARTH are you able to travel so often?!”

I sent her a list of my tips for cheap and frequent travel, and now I am going to do the same for you! Traveling on a budget it never easy, but it can be done. I love to travel, and I do it often. Here is how:

1. Travel with friends, and share a hotel room. My husband and I travel with our best friends all the time. We’ve rented hotels in Key West during Fantasy Fest weekend and only spent $75 a night for a sweet little bed and breakfast. Three girlfriends accompanied me to San Fransisco a few years ago and stayed at the Hilton downtown – and only spent about $100 each. If you have a friend that loves to travel, and enjoys the same experiences you do, plan a trip together and book a hotel with double beds! Of course I wouldn’t share a room with just anyone, but let’s get real – the people you want to take with you on vacation are usually people you are comfortable being around in your pajamas. When I stayed in the Hilton with my 3 girlfriends, I shared a bed with another girl and it was fine. It’s a small price to pay to make a fabulous vacation affordable! I’ve heard people say, “but how do you…you know, get intimate?” Duh – we don’t. Unless you’re newly-weds, going a few days without intimacy shouldn’t be an issue.

2. Skip the 5 star hotel. I visited NYC for the first time with my best friend, who is also very frugal/cheap/budget-conscious. As we searched the hotels in Manhattan, we realized we were not going to be able to afford airfare and a hotel…so we booked a room at a hostel. Yes, I said a hostel. It was clean, the people were friendly, and most importantly, it was in a prime location. We slept on bunks similar to beds in college dormatories and we had to share a bathroom with strangers, but do you know what we paid to stay in the Village? $25 a night. Go off the beaten path! Search hostels, vacation rentals and bed and breakfast inns. My husband and I spent a week in North Carolina last year for $475 – and we had a 2 story, 3 bedroom, 2 bath cottage in the woods in the Smoky Mountains. Check out websites like hotels.com, bedandbreakfast.com and vrbo.com for cheap motels, vacation rentals and inns.

3. Visit friends and family. Do you have a cousin in LA and always wanted to see the city but can’t afford the insanely priced hotels? Call your cousin up and ask if you can throw an air mattress on their living room floor for a weekend. More often than not, friends and family are dying to see you anyway – and even if they aren’t, they will usually oblige your request and give up a spare bedroom, a couch, or a spot on the floor for a comfy air mattress. We visit my grandparents in NC every summer and it’s free. Even when they aren’t in town, they offer up the house to us to come and visit. We treat them to a home cooked dinner, or clean up the place when we leave and everyone is happy! Another option, should your friends and family really not have the space for you, is to ask if they have any friends with a spare bedroom. I’ve stayed with friends-of-friends before, in order to visit upstate New York when I just couldn’t afford a hotel. I got a free place to stay and I made new friends in the process!

4. Brown bag it! Have you ever noticed that one of the most expensive parts of going on vacation is all of the food you have to buy? I have, and I make arrangements to pinch pennies here and there throughout my trip to avoid wasting tons of cash on meals when I could easily save that money for another trip later on! I hit a grocery store first thing upon arriving at my vacation destination and buy food based on what my rental is equipped with – if all I have is a mini fridge and microwave, then I buy pop tarts, yogurts, bottled waters and sodas and things like lunch meat, cheese, bread and fruits. If the place you’re staying at doesn’t have a mini fridge, I am not above buying a cooler, hitting the ice machine, and sticking my drinks and lunch meats in it. You might spend $10 on the cooler and have to restock the ice every day, but it saves a lot of money in the long run. When I go out during the day, I take fruit, granola bars, trail mix and maybe a PB&J to eat so that I don’t have to pay out the wazoo for lunch and snacks. I do, however, splurge on dinner – always. It helps me stick to my plan during the day, knowing that I am going to have a nice dinner, and it ensures that I am still getting the “vacation” experience.

5. Think outside the box! I am going to visit some friends in Toronto in a few days, and while I am staying with friends – re: no hotel and very little food costs – I did have to buy my plane ticket. When I began searching, they were $416. As much as I wanted to go visit my girlfriends in Toronto, I just couldn’t afford the steep airfare. I racked my brain and recalled that I might have some points saved up in my Citibank Thank You Rewards Account…I ended up only spending $116 out of pocket on that ticket! My best friend, who is going with me to Toronto, used her American Airline miles and paid about $200 out of pocket. Most people use up their reward points on things like gift cards and electronic gadgets…not me! I save them all up and use them for travel when money is tight! You can also redeem them for dining out and gas gift cards to use on vacation, or for attractions and experiences. If you don’t have enough points to pay the full cost of your ticket, ask about paying the difference – it can still be a big help! Also, think about driving instead of flying, or taking a bus to your destination. It usually ends up being much cheaper. My family visits NC every year and we would never be able to do so if we flew – tickets run about $400 each because of the isolated area that we visit (Western NC). Instead, we make the 12 hour drive and the gas is just a fraction of ONE plane ticket!

I know that I said I was going to share 5 tips, but there’s another thing that most people don’t really think about – discount websites like Groupon.com and Livingsocial.com. Most of these discount websites have discounts for attractions, hotels, cruises, and dining out!

By using these tips, you can save money and get the most out of your vacation!

*Jenn, also known as The Rebel Chick, is a 30’s-something wife and mother in Miami, Florida. When she isn’t planning her next trip, she’s busy blogging, chasing after her dogs, chauffeuring her teenage daughter or cooking for her family!

Anne

I’m a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I’m on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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Comments

  1. Great tips! Love them all!

  2. Great tips!
    Following you over from Relax and Surf, hope you can stop by!
    Cindy
    http://cute-ecakes.blogspot.com

  3. Great tips. I can’t believe you were able to find that much in your rewards account to use! What a good feeling. I’m going to Vegas soon for a girl’s weekend getaway and I will definitely have to use some of these.

    Stopping by from the Sunday Blog Hop!

  4. hi im a new follower from the blog hop
    Im over in the uk and would love it if you come visit me
    Have a great sunday

  5. Hi, I am following through twitter. I hope you stop by my site http://madamedeals.com I even have an ipad2 to giveaway..

    Thank you
    Amee

  6. Great Tips! I alway bring my own food when going on week-end outing and day trip! Best way to go! Wow I cant believe you saved that much on your plane ticket…good for you! Happy Say Hi Sunday to you!

  7. New blog follower! Come follow back and enter my great giveaways! http://www.peacelovepoop.com

  8. Great tips! Thank you 🙂

  9. We brown bag it a lot. It save us tons of money!