Don’t let your weekend getaway ruin your budget goals! When traveling, its easy to lose sight of your budget and spend more than planned. Even when you’re avoiding costly activities or souvenir shopping, the inconvenience of being away from home can get the better of your wallet. Paying for simple things like water or a cup of coffee in the morning can really add up over a few days.
Here are some simple things you can do to make your travels more budget-friendly. These are not “extreme” budget tips like “stay at a campground instead of stay at a hotel” or “collect 50 million coupons ’til you can get a free hotel night.” These are tips for those of us looking to save a few bucks while still maintaining some creature comforts.
Five Budget-Saving Tips
- Lodging with kitchen amenities – Stay at hotels/motels where rooms have a mini-fridge and/or microwave (at a minimum). The more kitchen-type stuff there is the better. This allows you to bring in your own drinks instead of needing to buy overpriced vending machine bottles of water. And you can keep leftovers from meals out and/or re-heat them for meals later.
- Hit up the local grocery store or bring food from home – Buy food from the local grocery store. Anytime my mom goes anywhere one of the first things that she must do is buy groceries. Some of the most hotel-friendly items are coffee, bread/pastry items, and snack items. This allows you to avoid buying your morning meal & coffee and spending just for snacks. You also give yourself more time since you can dine in the comfort of your own, not needing to get dressed and eat at a sit-down restaurant.
- Buy a local transit pass – Get a pass for whatever is the shortest or smallest amount of time that applies for your stay. Often there is a 5-day or a weeklong pass you can buy. It may seem like a lot to shell out, however if you plan on taking transit for more than one roundtrip it will often be cheaper to get a pass. It also makes it seem like you are a local. In a Chicago subway station someone asked me for directions because she thought I lived there.
- Travel on week days – This one is for those of you with more flexible schedules or the ability to take days off when you want. Weekdays are usually cheaper flights, hotel rates, and less crowded. For our next trip to Hawaii, there was an $800 price difference in flying on Saturday versus Monday. If you have flexibility take advantage of it.
- Pack early – This one seems like a no-brainer but sometimes you get busy and end up packing at the last minute. Then you realize you need a TSA-compliant shampoo and decide you’ll buy one at the airport or the hotel will surely have a free one. At the airport, shampoo sells for $10 when you know it should be a dollar. Many motels and lower-end hotels, in a cost saving measure, are not providing those items automatically. You’ll either need to visit the front desk or buy it from the hotel. When you make time to properly pack you’ll know what items you need and can avoid the overpriced spend.
What tips or tricks do you use to save a few bucks on the road?