Have you ever wanted to travel with your family or friends but declined because you felt that it would be too expensive? Even if you had enough money to go on the trip, you would still need money for food and fun all while you stay within your budget. Are there any cost-effective ways to save money when traveling?
After graduating college and being out in the real world, this is the exact question that I asked myself. Most of the time there was no breathing room in my budget. I had to find a way to get over this feeling.
One day I realized that the debt isn’t going anywhere, but my life is passing me by. There will be plenty of time to pay off debt, but time to travel in my 20s is winding down quickly.
Last year I went on a trip to Portland, Oregon and I did my best to save as much money as possible for the duration of my trip. The trip was amazing and I didn’t have to sacrifice food, fun, or experiences to save money.
My friends and I enjoyed downtown Portland and the delicious restaurants and food trucks that Portland had to offer while staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. This was actually one of the most fun and least expensive trips that I have been on. Here are a few of the things that I did to save money when traveling.
**Bonus: If you are ready to start saving money for your travels, I recommend using this savings tracker. Click here to download your tracker and start saving.**
Take Advantage Of Carry-On Luggage
I live on the east coast so I had to fly to Portland. My biggest tip to save money when traveling by plane is to take advantage of carry-on luggage. Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item on the flight for free. Take advantage of this. As long as your bags are within the carry-on size limits, you will have no issues. Check individual airlines for their carry-on guidelines.
A small suitcase and Jansport bag were perfect for my trip. If you’re like me and have a hard time packing light, invest in a set of packing cubes to save space in your bag. For this trip, I used the largest one, the smallest one, and only one of the medium-sized cubes.
I packed four days worth of clothing, shoes, and a hotel sleeping bag comfortably in my suitcase. My personal item bag was used for travel toiletries, a few snacks, and my laptop. Using only carry-on luggage has the potential to save you between $25 and $50 on your trip.
Search For The Best Prices
While looking for ways to save money when traveling, be sure to shop around for the best prices. Use an incognito window to do your research when searching for flights and hotels. This keeps the price from going up based on your search history and cookies.
Your research should include round trip prices for your trip on major airlines and hotels and rental cars near your destination.
When booking a flight, don’t forget to check the prices of one-way flights as well. Booking a one-way flight there and a one-way flight home ended up saving me over $100! If you are planning your trip well in advance, use a service such as AirfareWatchDog to save even more money.
You will get email notifications when the flights and hotels that you are searching have the lowest available rates. Compare emailed rates to the rates from the research that you have already completed to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.
Flexibility is the key to save money when traveling. Hotels and airlines usually charge a higher rate on the weekend. If at all possible, try to start your trip in the middle of the week. This will give you the lowest daily rates.
Split The Cost With Friends
If you are traveling with friends, split the cost of the hotel with them. Have one person to book the hotel room and use the Square Cash App to split the cost between all roommates.
When searching for hotels, make sure to find one that provides a microwave and a refrigerator. This will allow you to store snacks and reheat leftovers. Head to the grocery store when you arrive at your destination.
Eating food from the grocery store for most meals is a great way to save money when traveling. Since you booked a room with a microwave and fridge, you will be able to purchase cheap meals and snacks to prevent eating out as frequently.
Being that you are traveling to new places, it makes sense to visit a couple of the local food spots as well. If your destination is known for their pizza restaurants, go try the pizza! Take advantage of traveling with your friends by ordering one pizza together.
Most people won’t eat a whole pizza, but the cost is much lower to buy a large pizza and share than purchasing a small pizza alone. If you decide to eat at a casual dining restaurant, make sure everyone orders something different.
Ask for extra plates and share each dish to experience multiple items on the menu without spending a ton of money.
The Bottom Line
Traveling and experiencing new things can be done on a tight budget. The key is to be strategic about your spending. Plan your trips in advance and save as much money as possible. Travel with people that you trust and splitting the cost of things will be a breeze. With today’s technology, finding travel deals has never been easier. Don’t put off traveling this year. Find the deals and go for it!