5 Ways To Save On Food, Lodging And Fun While Traveling

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Feb. 20 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Just because this is your first vacation in three years doesn’t mean you should blow your whole savings account on a high-end luxury vacation. Over the years, I’ve found several methods that let me have an incredible travel experience without spending my entire budget on a single trip. I have never once regretted budget travel, and neither will you if you’re willing to try the techniques mapped out below.

Alternative Accommodations Save The Day

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Source: Pexels

One of the biggest offenders in traveling affordably is lodging. We want that luxury and comfort and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there are fantastic low-budget options that can help you save a bundle while still enjoying your travel.

When I travel, I focus on three primary options that make the trip cheaper and more fun because of the nature of the accommodations – and the people you meet.

1. Youth Hostels are a way to save a bundle if you’re willing to share common spaces and dorms (or go for the pricier option of a private room). Enjoy the friends you make along the way.

2. Glamping Rentals: Many places around the world offer fun spots like cabins, converted buses, yurts, or even tiny bungalows for cheap.

3. Budget Inns and Hotels: They offer cheap rates, clean rooms and access to basic amenities without compromising your safety or your budget.

Pro Tip: Look for a space with a fridge or cooler and ice to save on food, too.

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Making Your Own Meals

Another huge way I save on my travel expenses is by choosing a few key restaurants and times to eat out rather than blowing my wad on eating out every meal. At youth hostels and glamping options, for example, you have built-in shared or private kitchens in which you can cook most of your meals. If you’re staying in a budget motel or inn, grab cold cuts and make sandwiches and salads that you keep in the fridge or cooler.

Then, choose the key restaurant experiences you really want and focus on those only for your meals out. Think about which cultural food experiences or special restaurants you really want to try.

I also highly recommend anticipating that departure and arrival days will primarily involve eating out because of the time-crunch and lack of refrigeration once you check out of your inn.

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Getting Selective About Excursions

If you’re like me and the experiences and activities are what make your travel most memorable and life-changing, this one is going to be hard. I can say, however, that being selective on what you do – instead of just doing everything that looks amazing – will greatly impact the way you remember your trip and elevates the select experiences even more.

Choose the most important things and narrow down your list to the key experiences that you know you’re going to most enjoy or benefit from. Then, look for free and budget-friendly experiences for fleshing out your trip with other amazing activities and sites.

Be sure to do specific internet checks on the best things to do “for cheap or free” wherever you’re traveling. Here, you’ll find some of the most incredible experiences of your life that won’t cost a dime.

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Using Budget-Friendly Apps

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Source: Pexels

Whether you’re traveling in the USA or aboard, there are tons of apps and websites that cater to helping you budget your travel experiences. The only thing I paid full-price for an entire six weeks spent Down Under last year, for example, was a glamping site in New Zealand (and it still cost less than a cheap motel per night in the USA!). Everything else came through sites like Groupon, Goldstar, Rome2Rio or GetYourGuide. During six weeks Down Under last year, I literally saved thousands on whale watching, theatre and concert tickets, guided tours, submarine rides and tourist attractions.

Use Budget-Friendly Means Of Transportation

While the easiest thing is going to be grabbing an Uber or Lyft somewhere, having a little patience and taking the local bus can save you literally hundreds on a trip. I only ever take ride shares or taxis when I’m headed somewhere that public transit won’t go, if I am running late to a specific appointment, or if it’s too far to walk.

You can download apps or pick up paper schedules for the local transit anywhere you go. Use these to figure out how to get around town and give yourself extra time to ensure a less stressful experience.

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By: Rita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes about travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves a very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

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