5 Tips for Traveling on A Budget

As a young professional fresh out of college, I make an entry-level salary.  Since I’m not making that six-figure salary that I one day dream of earning, when I go out of town with my friends, my spending has to be done wisely.  I love traveling but I have learned how to incorporate frugality into my vacations and road trips.  I’ve been to New Orleans, Atlanta, New York City, Chicago and a few other big cities, but every time I go out of town, my friends and I do serious strategic research before hand to find the cheapest plane tickets, hotels, car rentals, etc.

I have compiled a list of helpful and frugal tips for your next out of town trip:

1.  When it comes to getting a good deal on airline tickets, sign up for airfarewatchdog.com , Bing Travel and Momondo.com

Instead of signing up for the standard deal sites like Orbitz.com or Priceline.com, which all offer the same exact prices anyway, sign up for AirfareWatchdog.com.  This site is a great resource for finding good deals on airplane tickets because they send out free email alerts from all airlines that fly out of your home airport; this way you’ll know when tickets go on sale and can plan your trip according to when it is the best time to fly.  Two other great sites are Bing Travel and Momondo.com.  These websites predict upcoming airfare prices based on past data.

2.  Check Consumer Reviews for Hotels on Hotel Booking Sites

When it comes to staying in a hotel in a city you’ve never been to, check people’s reviews on a few different sites!  When I went to New York City with a few friends, we were looking for an affordable hotel and ended up booking a hotel (which shall remain nameless because I don’t want to defame the property) that had amazing pictures and offered a great nightly rate.  When we got to the hotel and saw the surrounding area we were fearful for our safety.  The hotel service and cleanliness wasn’t that great either.  After the trip had ended and we returned home, I went to leave a review comment on the website we booked the hotel through, and sure enough, there were plenty of other complaining customers that had the same issues that we had.  If we had read those comments before hand, we could have saved ourselves the hassle of staying at such a crummy hotel.  The key to going out of town on a budget is to find a nice hotel for a good price. I know many people say that you get what you pay for, but you can find a nice hotel for a good price.  Continuously check hotel booking sites to scope out the deals months in advance of the trip and check the hotel reviews and you should be able to find a good hotel at the right price.  Remember when you are looking for affordable hotels read the comments people leave because they may include helpful tips for finding better hotels at better rates.

3. Skip a Restaurant Meal at least Once a Day

I never eat three meals a day, so this rule is easy for me to follow. One vacation while visiting a close friend in Chicago each day I had a nice big lunch, no breakfast, and when it came to dinner I got something light and cheap, which put my food allowance to $20 a day.  In the end, I was in Chicago for four days and only spent $75 to $80 on food the entire trip.  You can still go out to a nice restaurant once a day and enjoy your vacation, but instead of doing that for EACH meal, do it for one meal of the day, and then be frugal for the remaining meals.

4. Bring Snacks on Car or Air Trips

Airport food is always expensive!  Every time I travel and I know I have a long plane ride or layover ahead of me, I make a quick trip to Walmart or Walgreens and get some healthy and cheap goodies to pack for the trip.  The actual drinks and food on the airplanes is overly priced and doesn’t even taste that great to begin with.  If you have a layover at an airport, food stands within the airport are usually mark up two to three times the actual price, which can really hurt your vacation budget.  And as far as car rides go, you can get to your final destination faster and save more money if you shop ahead of time at a grocery store for snacks and drinks to keep you satisfied for the long road trip.

5. Ask for Discounts

Many facilities offer discounted rates for Auto Club members, AARP members, and other groups. These discounts are not always posted or announced, so make sure you ask. Often when I go out of town I get a discount for being a member of the business fraternity that I joined in college.  Simply asking about discounts can save you money on rental cars and hotels.

These budgeting tips have helped me save hundreds of dollars on trips and I hope they help you live the life you want while still managing your personal finances successfully. If you have a great frugal traveling tip, feel free to post a comment and share it with me and the rest of the viewers.  Even better, tweet me at @MissMoneyBee on Twitter and I will retweet your tip for everyone else to see. 😉

About the Author

Samantha Savory is a 20-something-year-old recent communications graduate whose mission is to financially succeed and thrive in this economy. She writes about personal finance and anything related to shopping and saving money.