Travel More (but Spend Less) With These Money-Saving Tips

A mother and daughter enjoy drinks and music by the pool.
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Don’t let your finances kill your wanderlust.

If you started the year off vowing to visit new places and make unforgettable memories, monthly bills and day-to-day expenses can easily veer you off track.

Yes, it’s important to stay on top of your financial obligations, but what’s life without a little adventure? 

These 11 tips will show you how you can travel more and do it affordably.

1. Save Up for Vacation Over Time

First, you’ll need to estimate how much your vacation will cost. Add up everything. Airfare and lodging might set you back the most, but don’t forget about food, activities and souvenirs.

Next, you’ll take that (perhaps overwhelming) total and divide it by the number of months left until you plan to take your trip. Now you’ll know how much money you need to set aside every month to afford your upcoming vacation. 

This is a savings strategy that personal finance nerds refer to as a sinking fund

If you find the monthly savings amount doesn’t fit into your budget, push back your travel date, plan a less expensive trip, pick up a side hustle or implement some of these tips to save money fast.

2. Travel During the Shoulder Season

Airfare and room rates fluctuate throughout the year. Planning a vacation during the holidays or when millions of tourists are traveling to the same destination means you’ll pay a premium.

Save money by taking a trip in the shoulder season instead — that’s the period between the peak season and the off-season. October is a less busy travel month, so you’ll often see better deals.

3. Plan a Groupon Getaway

Groupon isn’t just for finding deals at restaurants and spas. You can book entire vacations — better known as Groupon Getaways.

Groupon advertises deals for hotels, cruises and airfare-inclusive international travel packages. Find something that works for within your budget.

4. Take a Day Trip

Day trips are a great way to travel more without spending a lot of money. After all, you don’t have to book a flight, rent a car or stay in a hotel when you visit a city within a few hours drive.

Planning a staycation takes your savings even further. Schedule some fun activities, get a spa treatment and eat at that fancy place in town that you’ve been dying to try. 

5. Find the Best Deal on Flights

When it comes to booking flights, there’s a right time and a wrong time to do it. Purchasing airfare two weeks before a vacation is not the move to make if you’re trying to save money.

The cheapest days to fly will generally fall between three weeks and four months before your trip. However, the best time to buy is also influenced by the season and your destination.

6. Skip the Plane and Plan a Road Trip

Even though it can mean being cramped in a car for hours, you’ll often save money by driving instead of flying — especially if the whole family’s coming along.

These road trip tips will keep your vacation budget friendly so you can travel more throughout the year.

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

7. Make the Most of Credit Card Rewards

Swiping your rewards credit card all year will help you bank points that’ll be useful when it’s time to book your trip. However, beware of falling for these mistakes when using your travel rewards credit card.

Among those mistakes is not knowing what perks come with your card. You could get reimbursed for expenses due to a trip delay, or your card could cover rental car insurance.

8. Avoid Extra Fees When Renting a Car

Credit card perks aren’t the only way to get out of paying for rental car insurance. Your regular auto insurance policy might include coverage for rentals.

If you need a set of wheels on vacation, try to avoid these additional mistakes when renting a car.

9. Stay in a Hostel Instead of a Hotel

If you aren’t picky about where you stay, choosing a hostel over a hotel can save you money.

You’ll usually sleep in a room with strangers, but in return for the lack of privacy you’ll get cheaper rates, group activities and the potential to make new friends.

10. Earn Income While Traveling

Squeezing a little work into your vacation can help offset costs so you can travel more for less. Work exchange opportunities, selling travel photos and house-sitting are all ways you can get paid to travel.

11. Spend Less Money on Food

It’s easy to spend more than normal on food when you’re traveling, but don’t let dining costs gobble up your vacation budget.

Try some of these tips on how to save money on food while traveling. Packing snacks from home and visiting the grocery store can save you from overpriced convenience store goodies. When you do venture out to a nice restaurant, consider appetizers instead of entrees or dine out for lunch instead of dinner.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.