It’s no secret that my biggest passion outside of photography is travel! I love visiting new places and experiencing everything that place has to offer. Since this week is spring break and many people are traveling, I thought I’d share some of my tips for traveling on a budget! Like most people, I have a pretty tight travel budget. So, sometimes I have to get creative with my travel itineraries. A lot of people ask me how I get away with traveling so much at such a young age. The secret involves a lot of planning and being very flexible. Because I am so passionate about traveling I have manipulated my expenses and made it a priority. Below are some of my tips to help you do the same!
I consider myself something of an expert on finding great deals on flights. There are cheap flights to be found, but you have to be flexible in terms of dates and airports to find them. One thing we do is look at all 3 major airports in our area (DFW, Austin, and Houston) and compare those prices to our final destination. We are more than willing to drive a few extra hours to save a couple hundred dollars.
If you’re planning on flying somewhere a bit further away it can sometimes be cheaper to fly into a major airport (JFK, ATL, etc.) and spend a day or two there before heading on to your final location. Flight prices vary by day and sometimes a combination of two flights can be cheaper than the one! I’ve found this a lot especially with flights to Europe. Flying DFW to JFK, waiting a day or two, and then flying JKF to Europe is usually much cheaper than trying to fly straight from DFW to Europe.
One way I stay updated on cheap flights without constantly checking prices is through Scott’s cheap flights. If you sign up for the email list you can get free emails on the best flight deals when they happen. We’ve found cheap flights to Hawaii, Europe, and many other places through this email list lately!
Airbnb has been probably the biggest travel hack for me so far. When Seth and I travel alone, we always book Airbnb. A private hotel room is nice, but pricey. When we stay at someone’s townhouse or extra room, we get an excellent deal AND we get to meet new people who can give us a local’s perspective on the area! It’s a win-win. We actually stayed at an Airbnb for our honeymoon and it was one of the best decisions we made. There is no way that two college students could afford a Hawaiian vacation without cutting costs a bit. We stayed in a studio apartment next to the St. Regis hotel for 1/5th of the price. In Kauai, all beaches are public so we had access to the same beach as those paying way more than we did. And boy did we enjoy those sunsets!
I try to build my vacations around one central activity. Something that I know will cost me some money but will be well worth the cost. Then, I plan in free or low cost activities for the rest of the trip. I personally love the outdoors and nature. So, I spend a lot of my time in new places exploring the nature in the area – beaches, waterfalls, hikes, parks, etc. As a bonus, these activities are usually free! I also usually do a quick Pinterest search for “Free activities in ___” and can usually find a ton of blogs and resources.
For example, on our Kauai trip we knew that we wanted to take a helicopter tour and a rafting tour of the Na Pali Coast. Those were our two “big ticket” activities, but the rest of our activities were free! We toured the coffee plantation and a local brewery, visited almost every beach in the Princeville area, drove up to waterfalls, and stopped by the botanical gardens. All of these other activities were also super fun and we feel like we were able to explore almost everything the island had to offer even with our relatively low budget.
When you visit a new place, you definitely want to check out the local food. Eating out for every meal can be tempting, but pricey. It’s so easy when you’re on vacation to forget about spending money on food because you have to eat and you probably don’t want to spend your precious time cooking. We typically avoid spending too much on food by heading to a store right when we leave the airport and picking up some easy breakfast and lunch foods.
We are very active vacationers and to be honest we hardly ever have the time to sit down to breakfast or lunch anyways. This way we are only spending money on one meal a day and we make sure to do our research and pick a good spot! We usually choose one nicer restaurant to go to on a more relaxing day and the rest we try to aim for low to mid price range places with good reviews. The local “hole in the wall” places are usually the best bang for your buck!
We try everything we can to avoid renting a car. For those under 25, there are additional fees that make it just so unreasonably expensive to rent a car for a vacation. Since Seth and I plan on taking many more trips before we hit that 25 mark, we’ve had to find creative ways to avoid car rentals. We visit a lot of cities and have been able to get by using Uber or public transportation. If you plan to use buses, trains, or the metro, just make sure to look into it ahead of time to plan for the prices and know where to go.
I hope you find these budget travel tips helpful as you plan your next trip! Do you have any tips of your own? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to learn more!
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