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7 Considerations When Traveling on a Budget

Travel. It's something near and dear to my heart.

Not only is it a great break from the craziness of everyday life, but it's also a chance to learn about a new place, the people who live there, and the way they live their lives.

It's a way to gain perspective and to question long-held beliefs about why we live our lives the way we do - and whether there's a better way.

I've learned many valuable lessons from traveling - both practical and introspective - and I've figured out how do it inexpensively.

Here are some key considerations when traveling on a budget (or you can skip to the FREE CHECKLIST: 27 AWESOME WAYS TO TRAVEL ON A BUDGET).


Remember, you can vacation in places close to home to really save, but if you're going to fly and you aren't using airline points, you should try it!

We currently use the Capital One Venture One credit card (this is not an ad - we actually use this and we aren't receiving any money for saying so).

They typically run promos throughout the year where you can get a ton of points (money) for signing up (my husband and I each got ~50K points).

There's no annual fee on this card, and you can use your miles across a variety of airlines.

I've also noticed the flight times and layover options are better (the last card we had was specific to American Airlines and typically only offered us red eye flights with 2+ layovers when we paid with points).

We use our travel rewards credit card to pay for almost everything in our day-to-day life in order to get as many points as possible (and an added bonus is, when you pay off your card balance in its entirety each month, your credit score improves as a result).

This is probably the single biggest way we save on trips that require airfare, however, if you travel a lot for work, be sure to take advantage of that, as well!

If you're traveling to a cool city for work, extend trips for pleasure.

If not, find the closest place you'd like to visit and hop on a flight that's much shorter and cheaper than if you were traveling from home.


SELECTING YOUR FLIGHT: Before you decide on a flight (whether you’re paying with cash or points), try using an app like Hopper or Skyscanner to watch flight prices before purchasing. It’ll notify you when your flight has decreased in price, and will tell you the when it's best time to purchase.

BUYING YOUR FLIGHT: If your primary goal is to save money, make sure you’re not paying extra for seat selection, and (when possible) opt to carry on your luggage to save on check-bag fees (added bonus: you get in/out of airports faster when you don’t check). Finally, when making your purchase, pay with points if you’ve got them.

AT THE AIRPORT: Food and drinks at airports are overpriced, so bring your own! To be cost conscious and to ward off dehydration (which is common when traveling), plan to stick to water + bring a reusable water bottle (you can quickly fill up at airport fill stations).

Best case with food: bring something homemade or snacks you bought at a grocery store (we literally bring a sturdy plastic bag full of snacks because it doesn't count toward your carry-on), but even purchasing items from a gas station or cafe on your way to the airport will help (this goes for your return flight, too!).

And from one coffee addict to another: don't buy coffee at the airport. You can wait for the free cup on the flight, or wait to get nicer coffee at your destination!


If you know someone in the area (that you like and is willing to host you), then that's your most cost effective option.

However, if you don't or if you if you'd prefer your own space, consider using AirBnB, VRBO, or other vacation rentals.

For years my husband and I would stay in hotels and resorts when we traveled because that's all we knew, however, once we became AirBnB hosts and had to determine what amenities we would provide to our guests and at what price, we realized what an awesome deal vacation rentals offer to travelers.

Plus, you can customize your experience.

If you want to eat out most of your trip, you can find a smaller, more simple space likely for a little less money.

If you'd like the option to cook (more on this below), grab a spot with a full kitchen, usually for a nominal price bump.

You can also find places with private or shared pools, hot tubs, common areas, and more!

Not only have we enjoyed our trips more by staying in vacation rentals, but we end up saving money for a variety of reasons:

  1. The spaces we select are either cheaper than or on par with hotel prices in the area

  2. We always choose a space with a kitchen so we can cook (not only tons cheaper than eating out for every meal, but also healthier and allows for a non-rushed nighttime activity that doesn't involve eating dinner at a restaurant then trying to figure out what to do after - which usually means going to get drinks and more money spent)

  3. We choose places with free parking


If you're traveling to an urban area with public transit and plan to spend most of your time in the city, that'll be your most cost effective option for getting around (and in our experience it'll also provide a good story or two!).

However, if your trip is somewhere more remote, if you plan on visiting a variety of nearby cities, or if you'll be spending time in a city without public transit, then a rental car is not only tons of fun (some of our favorite memories from Greece, California, Colorado, Mexico and El Salvador wouldn't have been possible without our rental car), but also your most cost conscious bet versus using Uber or Lyft.

If you haven't yet, consider trying Turo; it's essentially AirBnB for cars. You rent a car from an individual who will meet you at a designated location upon your arrival and departure to hand off the keys.

We have found this to be not only cheaper and with larger variety, but also much faster than standing in line at the rental car kiosks at the airport.

The Turo app is easy to use and allows for quick filtering for things you'll need (like four-wheel drive in the mountains, A/C in the tropics, or a convertible in California 😉).

Turo is our go-to for car rentals.


When we travel, we try to minimize how much we eat out and, when we do eat out, we're selective!

That's not to say we don't enjoy going to restaurants- we do! But, similar to everyday life at home, eating out too much damages your wallet (and usually your health)... plus, we often find nicer quality foods when we select them ourselves.

If you opt for an AirBnB with a kitchen, you've got free rein. We'll buy small batches of real foods to cook, and healthy snacks for when we're on-the-go. We look for local coffee, a small creamer, a 6-count carton of eggs, asparagus, steak, mushrooms, chicken wings, a small piece of nice cheese, and a stick of Kerrygold garlic butter.

If we need more, we simply return to the nearest market/store and buy another small batch (we try not to have leftovers and, if we do, we either take them home with us or find someone [or someTHING] who would appreciate them [the street dogs in El Salvador are always so grateful!]).

I also love to buy a mini candle so when we cook at the AirBnB it feels homey. The nice food in the unique accommodations plus a candle and music is not only more cost effective but also often makes for a more special experience than most restaurants provide. If I don't use the whole candle, I bring it home to continue burning at our house so it doesn't go to waste (and, as a bonus, it gives me a nice visual reminder of our trip!).

If you're without a kitchen, it's still a good idea to buy healthy snacks to carry around with you so you don't have to run into cafes and restaurants every time you're hungry. We look for Larabars, nut thins, fruits and veggies.

As an example, on a trip to Colorado, our grocery bill was $100 and that provided us (two adults) with 3 dinners, 2 breakfasts, and coffee for every morning of the trip. Immensely cheaper than paying a restaurant.

But even if you do cook some or most of your own food on your trip, you're probably going to eat out a few times.

So, where should you go?

We like to ask the locals! They'll tell you where you'll get better quality at a better price (and it takes less time + is more reliable than digging through internet posts).

Also: try a cultural dish. It makes for a more fun experience + chances are the ingredients are local which may mean its cheaper to make (and on your wallet) + it probably tastes better because its fresh.


It's easy to blow tons of money on drinks both at home and while traveling, so one of the easiest things you can do to save money is to stick to water and bring your own refillable water bottle.

This plays a huge role at airports where a bottle of water is insanely overpriced (and also at airport eateries, whose prices aren’t much better). Many airports now provide fill stations with filtered water so it’s easy to find clean water when you need it.

But when it comes to drinks during travel, for many of us, the biggest hit to our budgets is alcohol.

If you’re at an all-inclusive this isn’t an issue, however, as mentioned, we prefer AirBnBs for many reasons, including price (in our experience, you really have to eat and drink a boatload at all-inclusives to get your money’s worth - a challenge my husband is all too happy to accept when we *do* find ourselves at these types of resorts 😂).

But usually, we just buy our own alcohol.

This gives us the option to drink with the meals we cook at the AirBnB, and to drink before going out (which means less money spent at the bar). If we checked a bag, we’ll bring what remains home; but even if we can’t bring it back, we’re all but guaranteed to have saved money if we were drinking on the trip.

So hit up the store for your booze (or consider a dry trip!) + stick to water otherwise.


How do you typically plan for a trip? I used to write out every detail of every day into an itinerary (and then be stressed when we didn't stick to my agenda).

However, after having experienced a few trips with no agenda at all - I’m hooked.

We’ll now arrive with essentially no plans (unless we’ve received recommendations from friends and family who have traveled to the location before us).

Before checking into our AirBnB and getting our groceries, we’ll find a local coffee shop to take a break after our flight/drive, and we’ll ask the people there what to do… and then we’ll ask again and again at every place we go thereafter (as someone who tends to be shy until I get to know people, this was a novel concept for me 🤯).

In our experience, asking locals for recommendations has not only resulted in some of our most fun memories, but our trips have also been less expensive.

Locals know where the well- or reasonably priced fun is. They’re a wealth of knowledge…. So tap into it. And you may just leave with a friend or two (we sure have!)


There are many simple things you can do to save money while traveling.

But remember - travel is about experiencing different places and cultures so, although we are cost conscious in everything we do, if we really want to do or try something that's going to cost us (and we've given it a good amount of thought), we rarely skip out.

And you shouldn't either.

You'll never regret it ❤


Planning a trip can get crazy, quick.

Use this FREE CHECKLIST: 27 AWESOME WAYS TO TRAVEL ON A BUDGET to help you stay focused and organized as you prepare for your next trip!

Grab yours today!




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