Recently, I was asked to be a guest contributor to the travel blog NextStop24. This site is incredible and it allows other travelers to leave reviews on places they have visited so that other people can see if that place is somewhere they would like to explore. Such a cool concept, right?!
You should definitely check it out!
Below is the article I wrote for their blog a few weeks ago and they were gracious enough to still let me share it on mine!
“If you were to ask someone about their main reason for not traveling very often, you’d most likely get one of two responses: not enough time or not enough money. We can’t travel without money, but taking too much time off work means not making any money.It’s a Catch 22 scenario, which, in turn, creates a strong desire to travel on as cheap a budget as possible.
We all have different concepts of our ideal vacation, but here are some universal tips on how to lessen the financial burden of planning and executing a low-cost trip.
1 | Set Aside a Vacation Fund
Everyone wants to travel the world on a shoestring. Let’s face it, life gets expensive! We have student loans, bills, groceries, kids, cars, clothes, etc. There’s always a certain area of our life that quickly becomes a financial priority over traveling.
Whether its $20 a week or $20 a month, set aside some money for your vacation. If you’re like me and don’t have an ultra-lucrative income, setting that money aside can really help. Saving $20 a week for six months will almost lead to $500 for gas, a 5-night hotel stay, a round trip plane ticket, or whatever you decide.
If you feel that urge to travel, make it a financial priority. Don’t buy those shoes that you already have in three different colors; put it toward your vacation fund instead, and you’ll have money saved up before you know it!
2 | Do Your Research
Research is so important when you’re trying to travel on a budget. We all want the cheapest option, but we also want quality. Look at all of the travel sites before booking hotels or plane tickets. Don’t just go with what you see first, but instead read reviews and check all of the amenities. If you’re staying at a campsite, look for places with free showers and water to save on cash. Also consider areas that allow free dispersed camping, such as America’s National Forests, which is a great choice if you’re willing to let go of luxuries.
If you’re staying in a hotel, look for places that have the beloved free continental breakfast and included parking. This will save you the cost on at least one meal a day, and you won’t have to pay extortionate fees to park your car! If you’re looking to stay on as tight as possible, just remember to read all the reviews thoroughly. Check aspects like staff friendliness, cleanliness, and internet connection. When it comes to staying overnight, cheapest is not always best!
3 | Travel in the Low Season
We have found that our favorite time to travel is in the low season. The prices are cheaper, everything is less crowded, and we often find that the staff are much more relaxed. Some places also waive their admittance fees, parking fees, or accommodation fees, just to attract more visitors. After saving $25 on entrance fees, $10 on parking costs, and a $35 on camping fees, you’re looking at an additional $70 that you can use for souvenirs, food, or gas on the trip.
If you frequently travel around the same area, be sure to research annual passes. For example, I’d highly suggest getting the 80-US-Dollar annual pass for US national parks; it grants you access to every single park and forest for a reduced price, and contributes towards their maintenance, too!
4 | Learn to Make Sacrifices
Sometimes, making small sacrifices can save you major money in the long run. If you’re looking to stay at a city hotel, book a cheaper option that’s a few blocks away from the center. In the majority of cases, the amenities are the same; you’re only sacrificing the location, but the way I look at it, you’ll get to experience more of the city off the main strip anyway!
If you’re able to sleep in your vehicle or RV, take advantage of stores that don’t charge you to stay in their parking lots overnight. We stayed at a different Walmart every single night during our last trip out east!
If you’re taking a road trip, pack as much food as you can to reduce your number of stops at fast food places. We saved more than $150 by packing our own food! If you don’t have this option, take advantage of cheap menus, local grocery stores, and the hotel fridge.
If you’re camping and you don’t needelectricity, opt for the spots that don’t offer it. You’ll pay exceptionally less! Making small sacrifices like these won’t change the quality or purpose of your trip. If you continue to focus on having a good time and making the most of what you do have, you’ll appreciate that you took the time to be financially smart!
5 | Round Up Some Travel Buddies
Traveling with friends is one of the most enjoyable ways to save money on a trip! If you’re renting a car, or staying in a hotel room or campsite, splitting the cost four ways will always be cheaper. This will allow you to splurge a little more on better meals, souvenirs, or a tour. So, encourage your buddies to tag along on that road trip. It’ll be way more fun and so much cheaper!
6 | Be Creative
These tips for traveling on a budget may not work in every scenario, but try to be creative! Every trip and experience is different, so, if you’re serious about cutting the cost of your next vacation, dissect your itinerary and see where you can make some sacrifices.
For me, traveling is a major priority, so I put in the time to create the most cost-efficient and memorable journeys. If money is your reason for not exploring more of the world, put in a little more time and effort to see how you can make it work with your budget.
If time is your reason for not getting out there, then you might want to re-evaluate how you spend the majority of your free time. Stop waiting for more money or more time to appear in your life. If you are serious about traveling, remember that you can always make more money, but you cannot make more time.”