Monday, May 9, 2011

Vacationing on the Cheap: A Few Tips

Some of my more memorable trips have included a hostel with bunk beds and several days on a Greyhound bus, but I realize that not everyone wants to spend their time off the way I do. Here, however, are some cheap traveling tips that can help any vacationer: 

* Remember that even if you're flying, you can bring your own food for your trip wherever you're off to. With a sandwich at an airport or in an Amtrak station costing up to $10, you can save some serious cash by packing snacks at home and taking them with you.

* If you need to get from a terminal (like an airport or a train station) to another place (like, say, a motel), look at options beyond airport shuttle companies and taxis. Sometimes city buses and/or light rail can get you to where you need to be for just a few dollars. 

* If you're taking a trip that involves a motel/hotel and you can swing it, plan your vacation for a series of weekdays rather than during a weekend. Motel/hotel rates are usually lower during the week than Friday-Monday, because there are fewer people traveling.

* If you are renting a car, however, be aware that rates for car rentals are the opposite: usually you get a lower rate on weekends, rather than weekdays. 

*If you're like me, you might enjoy eating your way through destinations. This is quite possibly my favorite part of traveling, and it DOES cost money. But let me tell you, Memphis would not have been the same if I would have forced myself to eat dollar store crackers instead of barbecue just to save a few bucks. HOWEVER. What you can do is figure out where you can still cut a few corners on food based on what you care about. For instance, with me, I don't really care what happens with breakfast when I'm on a trip. I like to buy quick breakfast foods (granola bars, toaster pastries, bagels) at a grocery store that will last me through my stay (a very cheap way to go) -- and then spend money on what really counts for me, which is mostly lunch, dinner, and dessert related.

*Most of all, of course, a vacation should be about relaxing, and not being stressed out about money. Plan out a budget in advance, allowing some money for spontaneity. If you feel safe doing it, consider paying for things in cash so that you don't absently overspend using a debit or credit card. 

On that note, friends, here's to another money-saving week, wherever you may roam!


  1. Stay at a hotel that offers breakfast as a perk. Eat up, then eat a late lunch/early dinner out. Then you just have to supply snacks (unless there are leftovers!)

  2. Jennifer - I agree, as long as it's cheaper to do that than to stay someplace that doesn't provide breakfast and buy your own. In my experience, it seems cheaper to go the second route, but if you have a coupon/discount/deal for a m/hotel that offers continental breakfast, that is a GREAT way to go!

  3. Some hotels offer free shuttles to and from the airport.

  4. Ah ha! Even better! Provided that you aren't actually paying extra for the service (like a much higher hotel bill), that is!