No matter if you're traveling across the state, country or seas, traveling can cost significant amounts of money. From transportation and accommodations to activities and experiences, it's no wonder many people see traveling as a luxury.

Luckily, traveling on a budget is easier than you may think. Whether you're taking a quick weekend trip or spending a week abroad, knowing how to travel on a budget can save you money, time and stress and allow you to visit all kinds of unforgettable places.

Consider these budget travel tips to make your vacation more cost-effective.

1. Make a Plan and Stick to It

Planning your trip is a great way to allocate your time and money. Sticking to a plan gives you an idea of how and where you'll spend your time, which helps make spending more predictable.

This doesn't always need to include a detailed itinerary, though it should at least account for travel, accommodations, and excursions or activities. By creating a travel plan, you can prevent last-minute accommodations, travel needs and unexpected spending.

2. Pack Appropriately

If you pack the necessary clothes, shoes and other necessities, you can avoid purchasing these items while traveling. Research the weather where you're traveling to anticipate the wardrobe you should pack.

For example, if you're traveling to the mountains, the weather can vary significantly depending on the time of day and year. Regardless of your destination, it's beneficial to pack layers to prepare you for unexpected weather.

3. Travel in the Off-Season

Most travel destinations have busy seasons, which are typically times of the year when the weather there is nice. For example, holidays, summer vacations and school breaks are common travel times for families. Airlines and hotels increase their rates during these times, making travel much more costly. Plus, destinations get crowded during peak travel times because they're considered the best time to be at that place.

Consider traveling in the off-season to avoid crowds and high travel prices. Research when peak travel is at your destination. Traveling right before or after the peak season can be more cost-effective while still allowing you to get a similar experience. Alternatively, you could travel at a completely opposite time of year for a unique trip.

4. Don't Eat Your Cash

Many travelers enjoy eating out on vacation to experience local cuisine. However, the cost of eating out adds up quickly, especially if you go to overpriced restaurants and get meals and drinks every time.

Eating out less and being smart about your options can save money. For example, meat and seafood prices often depend on market prices, which can increase retail prices. Alcoholic beverages also typically cost more than water, soda or tea. Be mindful of what food and drink options you choose.

Depending on your accommodations, you could also cook your own meals. Shopping at markets tends to be more affordable. Plan out a few meals and do your own cooking to avoid eating all your cash.

5. Fly in the Middle of the Week

Because most people work or have kids in school during the week, they do their traveling on the weekends. Airlines add premiums to their flights to increase the cost during these days.

Midweek flight tickets are lower, and you'll probably find accommodations for less, as well. Additionally, the airport will be less packed during the week, making getting through lines easier and less stressful.

Look for Free Things to Do

6. Look for Free Things to Do

If you want to save money on activities, research free things to do at your destination. For example, consider attending local events or look for attractions that may waive their fees on certain days.

Generally, it's best to avoid tourist traps, as they typically upcharge for activities. You may also consider simply walking around and exploring alone or asking locals what to see. Sometimes, a self-guided tour is the best way to explore a new place.

7. Bring Your Own Water Bottle

Drinking water throughout the day is important, but buying a bottle of water every time you get thirsty adds up quickly. Bringing your own water bottle is budget-friendly and sustainable because you can refill it anywhere.

Depending on where you're traveling, you may need to be careful what water you drink, though many destinations have water fountains you can refill with for free. Additionally, many cafes will allow you to refill your water bottle. Even if there's a small charge, it's typically cheaper than purchasing an overpriced bottle of water every time you're out.

8. Learn to Haggle

Haggling involves negotiating the price of something. Prices in travel destinations are often marked up because many tourists will simply pay the price listed. Depending on what it is, you may be able to haggle and get a discount.

Some vendors or shops anticipate haggling, though you'll pay full price if you don't do it. For example, haggling at markets where vendors sell various items and souvenirs is common in some places. You could score a handmade souvenir for much cheaper than in a big store.

9. Go for a Travel Package

Travel packages can be a great way to book a trip on a budget. Travel packages are pre-planned trips that typically include travel and accommodation needs at one discounted price, allowing you to save money by booking them together rather than separately.

Some travel packages also include deals on amenities like activities and meals. For example, many cruises include your room, fare and meals at one price, and then you can choose to purchase upgraded packages depending on your budget or needs.

Travel packages allow you to experience various destinations with less stress.

Save Big on Travel With AAA

Save Big on Travel With AAA

One of the many perks of having a AAA membership is the travel benefits. AAA offers numerous ways to save money and experience various destinations at a great price.

Choose from one of our discovery trip packages or get advice from our travel advisors to plan your own trip. Our travel agency has been in business for over 100 years, giving our advisors the expertise necessary to help you plan everything from passports to international driving permits.

Learn more about AAA travel services or sign up for a membership to start reaping the benefits and savings.

View All Blog Content

Traveling on a Budget: Tips and Tricks
Get tips & advice delivered right to your inbox.


chat logo