How To Travel On A Budget: Tips for affordable travel

I love to travel. And if you’re reading this, I’m sure you do too! Who doesn’t? My husband and I value traveling so much that we really make it a priority even though we are trying to save money. We’ve learned a few tips along the way for how to take amazing vacations on a budget.

For us, traveling is VERY necessary. It’s refreshing, it’s enjoying something new, it’s exploring new places. Opening you up to another part of the world. There’s so much out there, and just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to travel and make new memories.

Las Vegas, NV – on our honeymoon!

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Here’s some tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way!!

Stay Close To Home

If you’ve got cabin fever real bad – I FEEL YOU! If you and the family need to get out of the house – try going somewhere close to home! I can almost guarantee there are some amazing places to see and explore right in your own state.

Find out what people come to your area for. Is it the lakes? Crazy people watching? Awesome food? Great hiking places? Figure out what your area is known for (or an area nearby). If you travel close to home, you’ll save a ton of money on travel expenses such as flights (because you won’t need one), gas (because you’re not going far) and you can probably bring food from home in your cooler and go from there!

Lake Superior Grand Marais, MN – right near home for us!

Go In The Off-Season

Going in the off-season can help you save a lot of money on travel. First of all, the plane ticket is going to be less expensive. Second of all, the hotels are going to be less expensive. THIRD OF ALL, the crowds will be gone!! Can I get a Hallelujaaaaah!! The weather may not be 100% exactly what you want but think of all the people that won’t be there.

Off-Season in the U.S. is generally November – March. To find out when the off-season is for a particular destination – a simple Google search can tell you exactly when it is. Also, if you avoid MEA, Spring Break, Christmas Break, and other popular school breaks, you’ll avoid the higher costs of those weeks, so keep them in mind too!

I actually prefer going in the off-season, especially to state parks, and I don’t feel like the weather really makes a difference. It’s kind of nice going down to Utah and not sweating bullets! Las Vegas is another great place we’ve discovered that you can go for extremely cheap if it’s the off-season. Not to mention, so much fewer people!

Zion National Park, UT

Buy & Make Your Own Food While Traveling

Find an Airbnb instead of a hotel OR find a hotel with a kitchen. From my research and going on several trips, I have always found that Airbnb’s are about the same in price as a hotel. The plus of having an Airbnb is that there’s a kitchen! So, technically your value is much higher with an Airbnb because you can make your own food there and not go out to eat so much!

Make a list of simple meals you can make on your trip. Try to stick to recipes with minimal amounts of ingredients so you’re not wasting food or not using it all up before your trip is over. Airbnb’s are also a plus because they usually have the kitchen basics: spices, oils, etc. so you don’t have to worry about all that, but always check that before you book because it can be different for all of them.

Don’t forget about snacks, too! When hiking or when you’re out and about, always bring some snacks with you so you don’t cave and get fast food or something that won’t make you feel great, anyway.

Making your own food instead of going out for every single meal while traveling will seriously make your vacation costs much, much lower.

Road Triiiiiiip!

Pack your bags, you’re goin’ on a road trip. Road trips are awesome because you don’t have to pay for a flight! You also don’t have to pay for a car rental once you get to your destination. This can be a cheaper option for certain types of vacations. If you’re going somewhere somewhat close to you, or a place you definitely need a car, consider driving.

The other great thing about driving is that you can prepare meals at home and bring food with you! For road trips, I like to prepare a bunch of sandwiches and cold things we can eat right out of the cooler, like pasta salad. I also like to bring along fruit and premade coffee! This prevents too much gas station munchies and a sour stomach.

Red Rock Canyon National Park, NV

Go Camping

Camping is waaayyyyy cheap! You can have so much fun out in nature, building a fire, playing card games, lil Jimmy over there playing his guitar, laughs, ahhh……

LOL but seriously, camping is awesome. We love it. It’s super affordable, much less expensive than staying anywhere else. It normally is around $30 per night, compared to a hotel that’s usually around $100 per night. If you have a tent and some sleeping bags, you’re pretty much set! If you don’t, borrow them from someone!

When my husband and I went camping once, we literally just roasted weenies over a fire and ate cold refried beans out of a can. We put a mattress in the back of his parents’ van that we borrowed. Then we proceeded to camp like this for a week straight! We drove from Minnesota to South Dakota, to Zion National Park and back through Rocky Mountain National Park. The things we saw while driving and the hikes we were able to go on were absolutely incredible… all while camping and sleeping in the van! Even though it was a long trip it ended up being really affordable because we camped and ate most of our own food.

Campfire at Antelope Island State Park, UT

Visit A Friend Or Family Member

When you’re gettin the itch to get outta town, go visit someone that lives far away! This is a really easy way to save on lodging. Obviously, make sure it’s okay with the hosts first, but then you really only have to pay for a plane ticket or some gas to get there! You can have a lot of low-cost fun exploring a new area – going hiking or sightseeing.

If you’re doing this though, make sure the hosts know your appreciation! Go out of your way to help clean up, make them dinner, ask if you can help around the house with a project that they may need a couple extra hands for. Make it into a win-win situation for all.

Go With More People

Get a bunch of friends or family together and go on one big vacation! This way you can get a sweet, gigantic place and pay a lot less for it. And you’ll have some people to hang out with, too!

Make some “potluck” style meals or take turns making dinner, with each person making food for everyone on a different night. This makes the costs super cheap for meals and depending on how many people there are, you’ll probably only have to make about one meal for everyone… = more relaxation time for you. 😉

Yellowstone, MT with Family

Save Up A Little Each Month

Okay, so you know you’re gonna want to travel, but obviously, you’re on a tight budget. Traveling is a big deal for a lot of people. I know a lot of you are trying to save money, that’s why you’re here. Make traveling a part of your budget! Put away a little bit each month for traveling whether that be $50, $100 or $500 (depending on your goals) and your travel fund will add up fast!

This will prevent the terrible instance where you find an AMAZING flight deal to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go but you literally have no money for it. Doing this, you’ll always have some money stashed away for a trip if something comes up. It really helps, too, because you know you’re going to go on a vacation at some point. If you already have the money saved up, it makes it that much easier!

Sonoita Vineyards, AZ

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Some of Our Favorite Traveling Supplies

RTIC is great for just about everything, because it works just as well but is MUCH more affordable than other brands such as YETI. Great for people who are traveling on a budget (and, really, everyone).

Other tidbits:

  • REI Memberships are awesome because you have easy returns even if you’ve worn stuff! They also provide warranties.
  • We sometimes rent a car because we don’t want to put wear and tear on our own car for road trips.


Get out there and go on vacation!! You only have so much time in this life and although you have goals, if traveling is important to you, you can make it happen. It doesn’t have to be a crazy expensive trip. You can travel for pretty low costs with these ideas in mind.

What are your travel-on-a-budget tips? Let me know in the comments below!

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