I love to travel but I also like to save money. Especially while we work on paying our debt off, we will take vacations and look for ways to save as much money as we can on certain expenses. We’re trying to accomplish a lofty goal of paying off our debt we do still allow a few frugal vacations. I have become pretty good at planning fun family vacations, for cheap.
Saving money on where we stay is a huge expense. If we’re travelling with the family (like we did for a reunion last year) we will often look at sharing accommodations with another family member. If a regular hotel room is $130/night but we can get a suit for four or five people for say $50 more per night, with the sharing of costs it usually ends up being cheaper by the time it’s split up.
When we went to NYC a few years ago, rather than staying in a hotel downtown we opted to rent an apartment instead. This not only gave us more space, it gave us the ability to save money on food with access to a full kitchen.
The next biggest expense is often food. When travelling we try and do a few things. First, when possible we like to stay in accommodations that either include breakfast or a place we can prepare our own, this saves us a ton of money. We also usually buy our own snacks that we eat throughout the day to fill between a larger breakfast and earlier supper. This has always worked out well for us. We budget in one larger meal per day, usually dinner, and manage in between with the breakfast provided and snacks we buy. We also try and get a room with a refrigerator for drinks, and stuff like yogurt or cheese, common snacks for us. If a fridge isn’t possible we bring a cooler and use the ice machines that are on premises to keep these things cool. We have purchases a medium sized collapsible cooler for these trips.
With a young child it’s much easier for us to drive when possible. It gives us freedom to travel at our own pace and bring everything we need from car seats to toys so when possible we prefer to drive. If we have to fly we’d prefer to use reward points to save on costs. If we don’t have enough reward points or simple can’t use them because of restrictions we always shop around for the best possible deal.
Travelling on the cheap isn’t impossible but it definitely does require more planning than the average trip. Just because you’re looking to save money on your trip doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun at all. I have managed to have some pretty amazing vacations spending very little money. This includes trips from Europe to NYC. Though expenses are relative to the trip you have to set a budget accordingly and stick to it!