Ways to Save Money While Traveling
Over the past couple years, I've done a fair amount of traveling. Now I wouldn't say I'm a cheap person, but I certainly enjoy saving money. Being that I don't mind traveling using minimal resources, I've developed some tips that can help others while planning and traveling. Be advised-- these tips may not work for everyone. If you're willing to live without some certain accommodations, you can plan a trip on relatively small budget.
1. Set a Budget
Speaking of budgets, they are my first tip! Set a budget before traveling as opposed to planning and setting a budget after the fact. Stick to your budget too! Don't let yourself come home broke. In a future blog post/video, I will talk about how you can maximize your trip based on your budget.
2. Go Camping!
Sleeping accommodations can easily become your biggest expense while traveling, but they don't have to be. Camping is generally the cheapest way to go. The majority of campgrounds are under $30 per night. There are also many campgrounds that are *free*! On freecampsites.net, you can find many of these places.
If you get tired of camping, there is also airbnb.com which allows people to rent out rooms, couches, etc. to travelers. This has become very popular and is worth looking into if you prefer sleeping in a bed. It's pretty cheap as well!
In big cities, hostels are popular places to stay too. Primarily solo travelers stay at hostels, many of which are from different countries. You're sure to have an interesting experience staying at one of these, as they tend to be highly social places.
Keep hotels/motels as a last resort. It could be worth it to split a room with three other people, but otherwise try to avoid hotels.
3. Travel with Friends
This is probably the tip that can allow for the largest amount of savings. Instead of solo traveling, find a couple of travel companions. You can split gas and accommodation costs, which will allow you to travel at a fraction of the cost.
For example, I went camping with my cousin Allie back in June. We went for 3 nights and drove around 700 miles round trip.
If I would have went alone:Gas: 700 mi / 28 mpg = 25 gal. of gas x $2.00 per gal. = $50 total
Camping: $15 per night x 3 = $45 total
Traveling with 1 other person:
Gas: $50 / 2 = $25
Camping: $45 / 2 = $22.50
Total: $67.50 per person
You can see that there is a significant difference between the costs of traveling alone and traveling with companions. The more people you travel with, the more you save... Until you would need to take an extra vehicle or get another campsite.
4. Shop for Your Food
Yes, fast food is convenient, especially for those transportation days. You're better off taking a minute or two to stop and make a sandwich instead, because the cost of restaurant food adds up quick. Even at fast food restaurants, it's easy to spend $8 or over on a meal. If you research some quick, easy, and cheap meals to make on the road, you can spend significantly less money on food. Perhaps bring a camp stove-- that way you can still have hot meals. Consider buying generic food brands. Cheap fruits and veggies are great for snacks too.
5. Road Trip!
My last tip (for now) is to drive rather than fly whenever practical. A road trip will nearly always be cheaper than flying. As long as you aren't in a giant hurry to get somewhere and have a reliable vehicle, driving is the way to go. Keep an eye on gas prices. 2016 has been pretty good for gas prices. If we get back to $4 per gallon like it was a while back, this advice is virtually null and void.
Public transit can be cheap and useful if visiting big cities though, so don't count that out just yet. Megabus has cheap fares to many cities.
Driving works better in the sense that you can get to wherever you want, as opposed to needing to take public transit or a cab get around. Plus there's the fact that if you bring people along, you can split the cost of gas and it'll be even cheaper.
Let me know if these tips have been helpful to you. Again, some of these tips may not be practical to use depending on the person or the specific trip. Whether planning a large or small trip, keep these ideas in the back of your mind. Maybe it'll save you some cash!