5 Ways to Travel on a Budget

Many people avoid traveling because it can be expensive. The idea of visiting and exploring a new place is exciting and well worth the investment – but you shouldn't break the bank when you take a trip! There are so many ways to reduce the cost of traveling, from saving on the flight and hotel to the activities themselves. These five tips can help you travel more economically to give your wallet a break. Good for any budget, try some of these tips while planning your next vacation to secure the trip you've been looking forward to.

1. Strategic trip timing

Men water skiing

The first way you can travel on the cheap is to be strategic when timing your trip. This means that you should consider traveling in the "off season" for the location you're looking to visit. Some locations have less flexibility, such as the beach or seashore, but every destination has a slower season, which usually means lower rates and cheaper flights.

Trip timing should also be considered when the popular travel times are. That is, vacations in the spring and summer, and holidays at the end of the year. Traveling outside of these windows can also lead to you saving money and seeing less crowded hotels, flights, and activities while you're on your trip.

The key to strategic trip timing is to be flexible. Research the location you've had in mind and see if it has an off season, such as when the seasons change at the beach, or when the theme parks are less crowded. If you're looking at international travel, spend some time researching the seasons, both weather and tourist, as this can give you insight into when it's most popular to travel. Strategically timing your trip to miss the peak season can save you money on all fronts and may help you have a more peaceful, less crowded trip.

2. Book your trip over time

An offshoot of strategically timing your trip, you should also consider planning your trip over time instead of all at once. It's easy to make the decision to travel, decide on a location, and want to book everything in advance right now. But taking your time to plan after picking your destination can lead to cheaper travel opportunities overall.

Choosing your location first, then booking hotel, flight, and excursions later will save you money because you have time to shop for a deal and book when the price is right, versus paying whatever the rate is at a single moment in time.

Doing research is key to saving money, and I can't stress that enough! The first part of this is already complete, as you researched the off season and found an off-peak time to travel. Now that you have that, you're free to shop for deals and discounts. Understanding the cost of everything, not just the flights or hotel, can also save you money. Start researching the prices of excursions, activities, meals, and more that you'll enjoy on the trip.

The next few tips will help with this process, but booking your trip over time is guaranteed to save you money because you're taking each step methodically and when the price suits your budget. Allowing yourself to take the time to research each piece and book when you're ready, as opposed to all at once, will definitely help you travel more cheaply.

3. Deal tracking

Deal tracking is a great way to travel more cheaply because it takes the two tips we just covered and helps you spot the perfect time to book a piece of your trip. Comparing pricing to find the best deals can be time consuming but is well worth the effort. There are a few tools you can use to save some time and energy, as well as ensure you find the best deal for your trip.

Google Flights is a great way to compare flight prices and find the best deal and time to book. Flights often change prices daily and can be cheaper to book on a Tuesday afternoon compared to a weekend. This is because many airlines set new rates or discounts on Monday, so by Tuesday afternoon many airlines are competing for your business. Keep the timing of your flights in mind. Sometimes flights are cheaper earlier in the morning because people have to get up early to make the flight. Google Flights takes the rates of many airlines as well as third party sites and compiles the information into one page. From this page you can book your flight just like you would on any other site.

Scott's Cheap Flights is another tool you can use to find deals on flights. This is an email subscription that delivers deal alerts based on the airport you'd like to depart from straight into your inbox. The email includes information about the price, flight details, how long the deal may last, and a link to book the flight. This may be a good tool to implement while you're working on the other tips, as it can help you choose a destination or window of time to travel, along with saving you money on flights to a specific destination.

4. Earning rewards and saving points

Another great way to travel more cheaply is to use credit card miles or rewards to reduce the cost of your hotel stay or flights. Many credit cards now have a rewards program where you can get a percentage back from most purchases. There are also hotel credit cards and airline credit cards which may offer a sign-up bonus that can provide flyer miles or hotel rewards points that you can use on a future trip. Be sure to thoroughly research the credit card details before signing up to ensure the bonus or benefit will apply to the trip you're planning.

The Points Guy is a great resource for understanding how to use rewards to travel cheaply. This is a site that educates readers on travel news as well as how to accrue airline points to receive flight discounts and insight into the credit card market. Visiting this site will give you a beginner's guide to understanding points and miles. You may be able to look up your current credit card on this site or under your personal account with the bank to learn more about what your card offers and how to redeem the benefits.

A popular way to earn rewards and save points is to join airlines' or hotels' clubs online. This allows you to earn points for your previous flights and hotel stays, often within the last year. These points won't always amount to cheaper travel right away, but any points you accrue can help save you money on a flight or hotel stay down the line. Joining the club may also lead to bonus points, which helps you gain enough to upgrade your account or receive discounts.

5. Consider trip alternatives

Fishing in Oregon

The last way to travel more cheaply is to consider trip alternatives. Making some adjustments like driving instead of flying, staying at an AirBnB, using VRBO, or choosing a more budget-friendly hotel can help you reduce the trip's overall cost. While this isn't always an option given the nature of the trip, keeping alternatives in mind while you're planning can help reduce the costs in every step of the planning process.

If you have a destination in mind and can't seem to make all the pieces fit your budget, consider an all-inclusive resort or a cruise if the destination allows. This can reduce other costs like food, transportation, and even the hotel stay, while still allowing you to visit and enjoy your preferred destination. Choosing either a resort or a cruise can also offer discounts and ideal booking time to travel more cheaply, but the inclusivity may also reduce the cost and give you more trip for your dollar.

There are so many ways to save money and travel cheaply. From following discounts and saving points to planning your trip for the off-season or outside of peak travel, you can do it at a discount no matter where you want to travel. Traveling cheaply can take a bit longer in terms of planning, but it helps you plan your ideal trip within your given budget.

About the Author

Cory Lee

After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee's thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the U.S. when he was younger, and then started taking things internationally when he turned 15. Since then, Cory has traveled to 21 countries across six continents, all while managing to start up his travel blog Curb Free with Cory Lee, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not-so-accessible travel adventures with others. Cory is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in a nationwide segment for CBS News, Lonely Planet, and many others. His blog won the 2017 Best Travel Blog Gold Lowell Thomas Award. He hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.

Cory Lee's ride is a Quickie Q700 M.

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Date: 5/11/2021 12:00:00 AM


Latest Comments

7/14/2021 | Mike Dorfman
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7/13/2021 | Donald Norris Fessman jr
I Kirk, my name is Don and I wanted to thank you for your inspiration. I've been a professional ...

6/18/2021 | MaryKay
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