Friday, May 4, 2012

8 Tips to Save While Traveling

(This is a guest post on Financial Excellence back in February.)

There is no better time to start planning vacation destinations than very early in the New Year when snow is still on the ground and the thought of a getaway warms the soul.

My husband and I love to travel and experience new destinations as much as possible.  We have traveled to at least three new destinations each year of our marriage creating many great memories.  Financially, we are able to do that by being smart while we travel and cutting back while on the road.  The following are a few tips that we use consistently while we travel to save money while enjoying ourselves to the fullest.

Stay close to home
It would be great to be able to go to Hawaii, Florida, California or Alaska every year; however, it is extremely costly to travel such distances, especially on a strict budget.  Instead, traveling 2-3 hours away from home in any direction can provide a complete change in scenery, fresh sights to see, new educational experiences and natural beauty to take in!

One great way to plan your next trip is at service centers along the way to your current destination.  We have found several potential long weekend getaways for the future closer to home than expected.

Bring your own food, snacks and beverages
One way to spend a lot of money while traveling is by eating out!  Many people have determined that on vacation, they shouldn’t be expected to cook or clean.  After all, they are on vacation!  Being frugal, we do not agree with this at all.

While traveling, pack a small cooler with pop, bottled water, snacks*, sandwiches and other finger-foods.  To keep it fun, don’t take items that you eat day-in and day-out.  Spice it up and make it an enjoyable experience!  With a little bit of planning and preparation, there is a substantial amount of money to be saved by avoiding convenient stores or fast food restaurants.

 *Watching your waistline?  There are always healthy snacks like carrot sticks, ants on a log, popcorn, grape tomatoes, nuts, grapes, berries, cut up apples or peppers and the like.  These are the best type of snack because they don’t require any refrigeration. 

Find an affordable hotel that provides breakfast.
I will admit, many hotels we’ve stayed have made very little money off of our stay because of the great continental breakfasts they provide. We take full advantage of continental breakfasts whenever possible.  If breakfast is not provided, bring some muffins, bagels, fruit or doughnuts to satisfy your appetite in the morning. 

Eat out only once a day
With the assortment of delicious snacks prepared for the trip, it is easy to munch on goodies throughout the day.  By doing so, you can limit the number of times you eat out in a day.

I use the word “lunner” to describe how we eat out.  We eat between lunch and dinner (between 1 and 3) while restaurants still have their lunch prices available. By doing so, we get the lunch rates, it great food, and fills us up for the majority of the evening.  This may not work for everyone, but it has worked for us.

Search for free entertainment
When deciding on the location of your next getaway, is Google “Free Things To Do (City, State.)”  On every single trip we’ve made, we have found free or inexpensive (less than $10) activities to keep us busy.  We have gone on scenic walking tours, visited President’s homes, strolled through the most amazing Farmer’s Markets, watched people make yarn out of animal fur, and many other entertaining and educational venues.

Bring a Backpack
It is extremely important to stay hydrated and nourished while traveling.  By carrying a backpack with you, you are able to keep healthy snacks and empty water bottles to fill up at area water fountains.  The flavored water drink packets are great to throw into the backpack for those who don’t like to drink water by itself.

The backpack is also great for carrying along items such as a wallet or purse, camera, GPS (if you have one, most have a pedestrian so you don’t get lost walking in an unfamiliar area,) and for storage if you pick up some pamphlets or find a great homemade gift somewhere in your travels.  We have purchased several unique gifts for people that we’ve found in our travels.  When we give the gifts, they always have a story behind them.

Public transit
If flying is required to get to your destination, we have found that public transportation is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be!  We were able to purchase a 1 week unlimited bus pass for $16/person while in Orlando enabling us to see many areas of the city that we would not have been able to travel by foot.  The same was true with Seattle, Miami, Washington D.C., and Gatlinburg!

Have fun!
No matter what may happen on a trip, most important are the lasting memories that are shared with those you love.  Missing a bus, finding out an attraction closed early, or that horrible sunburn that you got because you forgot the sunscreen at home all pales in comparison to the lifelong impressions these experiences burn on your heart.  

These simple, effective tips enable us to save enough money to go on 3 or 4 trips a year just by cutting expenses!  I would be interested in learning how you cut expenses while traveling.

No comments:

Post a Comment