Ten Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Traveling and exciting vacations aren't just reserved for those with plenty of money to spend. You can enjoy a great vacation without breaking the bank with a little planning and preparation. Make sure to determine your vacation budget- carefully! Planning where to go, budgeting how much to spend, and shopping smart can help you travel to just about anywhere.


01Book a Low Hotel Rate


Several online booking sites offer hotel rooms at a steep discount. Hotels will list unsold rooms on these sites at a discount, so if you're looking for a deal, it's a great way to save anywhere from $20 to $50 per night on a room. Book quickly, though, because the supply can be small during busy times. If you don't find a room online, call the hotel directly - sometimes they'll have a special rate that you can only book through them.

scyther5 / Getty Images


02When to Purchase Airline Tickets


Book your flights about two months in advance if you can - airlines set rates higher farter out than that and then raise them again as the departure date draws nearer. Try to book your flights at the beginning of the week, on a Monday or a Tuesday, as this is typically when the rates are lower. You might find some success using the same types of online travel agencies as you use to find your hotel room. Some will even bundle your flight and your sleeping accommodations into a rate that's cheaper than purchasing them both separately.

OlgaLebedeva / Getty Images


03Take in Culture for Free


When you're traveling to a new city, take the time to visit local museums and historical attractions. Often, smaller, local museums are free, and you can get a feel for the town you're visiting. Larger museums may cost a bit more - however, if you're traveling with young children, ask about student discounts. Some cities have city passes - special tickets that allow entrance into several different area attractions, such as zoos, museums, and tourist destinations. These passes can be purchased at a cheaper rate than buying the tickets separately.

guruXOOX / Getty Images


04Travel to a State Park


Visiting a state or local park can be an exciting choice, away from the hustle and bustle of a city. If you enjoy hiking, camping, boating, or fishing, choosing an outdoor destination for your next vacation can save you a lot of money. Many parks are free or cheap to enter, and camping can be a breeze with the electrical hookups, grills, and even showers and indoor restrooms. Spend your days exploring the great outdoors, and save a bunch of money by cooking out over a campfire.

gradyreese / Getty Images


05Celebrate Openly


If you're traveling on a honeymoon, anniversary, celebrating a birthday, or any other special occasion, don't be afraid to speak up! Lots of hotel and restaurant workers enjoy helping their customers celebrate special occasions, and they might be able to give you an upgrade on your sleeping room, possibly a nice celebration amenity, or a free dessert after your meal. Even if you don't score a freebie, you may still enjoy extra attentive service or other perks such as a late check-out or a better table for dining.

kirin_photo / Getty Images


06Don't Be Afraid to Ask


Even if you aren't celebrating something, you may still be able to get an upgrade, whether from coach on the airplane to a suite at your hotel. If you're traveling during a slower time, you might be surprised at simply asking nicely. While some places might say no, others especially hotels, might offer an upgrade to a nicer room for a little more money at check-in.

PeopleImages / Getty Images


07Earn Rewards While You Travel


While you shouldn't take out a credit card just to be able to afford your trip, if you know that you have the funds to pay your travel expenses, then a credit card that rewards you for flying or hotel stays might be just the thing. Different cards have special perks, like airline miles for money spent on the card, as well as access to the airport lounges, upgrades, or hotel perks like free breakfasts, upgrades, or even a free night's stay. Check with your credit card company to see what kinds of travel perks yours offers.

SIphotography / Getty Images


08Save Money By Cooking Yourself


Consider booking a room at an extended stay hotel - these often have small kitchenettes that you can use to cook breakfasts or lunches in, saving your restaurant budget for dining out for dinner. While these types of rooms are designed for the long-term business traveler, these hotels will also book unsold rooms for short-term stays, if the arrival date is close enough. Even bringing sandwich fixings can save a bundle when traveling - a simple lunch in your room, versus a restaurant meal, can add up quickly.

KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images


09Check for Online Food Deals

Several coupon websites offer restaurant deals. Things like a free appetizer with purchase, a free dessert, or two-for-one dining can be found if you check around on the internet. You may be able to visit the restaurant's homepage for deals and discounts. Some places may offer kids eat free night, which is ideal for families. Others might have a special discount day. Even calling the restaurant directly may yield results.


10Plan Your Agenda to Save


Planning your travel activities - where you want to go and what you want to see - can save you a lot of headaches after you arrive, and a lot of money, too. Check to see if there are discount days for area attractions or special deals for restaurants you want to try. If you schedule your entertainment wisely, you may be able to take advantage of several discounted days and watch your savings pile up.

dima_sidelnikov / Getty Images

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.