How to travel on a budget

With the weather getting nice and school almost out, summer is just around the corner! It seems pretty appropriate to talk about saving money on your next road trip. Here are some ways I have learned to travel on a budget during our family vacations.

Traditionally, we have gone on road trips — I have only been on an airplane once (well twice, because I had to fly on my return trip). If it had been up to me, it would have only been ONE airplane ride. Anyway, back to the savings story.

Packing “lean”
My family has learned over the years to pack lightly, which I am told is a great way to save on fuel as well. (See “Save on fuel costs” below.)

A couple musts to keep in mind for packing: pack an extra pair of shoes, in case the pair you’re wearing goes out of commission. Pack items that you can wear twice — yes, it’s OKAY to wear some items two days when you are on a leisure vacation.

Pack munchies
Pack snacks and lunches for your trip instead of hitting a diner or drive-thru. A simple cooler bag with ice packs will keep your items cold and help you travel on a budget. We invested in a cooler that plugs into our car’s cigarette lighter because we hit the road quite often – it paid for itself after a few road trips.

Save on fuel costs
There are quite a few tips that work for saving on fuel any time of the year, here are some to keep in mind:

  • Take it easy on braking and acceleration, your tank of gas will last longer.
  • Use the cruise control on as often as possible, it will help on fuel economy.
  • Use the same gas station brand all over. Many stations now have reward cards and will have discounts on future fuel purchases.
  • When you’re out of range from your regular gas station, use your smartphone to find the best deals on gasoline. Visit gasbuddy.com to compare prices in your general area.
  • Don’t let the engine idle too long if you are stuck in traffic, waiting for a train, or watching the wildlife cross the road.
  • Keep your car tuned up. People tend to travel more in the summer months, so plan on a tune up every spring to keep your car running efficiently.

Taking it to new heights
I obviously don’t do enough flying to create a lot of tips for you to travel on a budget via air travel, but I would like to think that a lot of the tips above could still work:

  • As far as flights go, it seems like hotwire, expedia, Travelocity, etc. have some pretty competitive rates and researching them online would be a great option.
  • Travel light — it will keep the cost down by not having to check bags on your flight.
  • Pack a lunch — or cook back at your hotel room for a few meals instead of dining out the whole vacation — it will bring a substantial savings pretty much anywhere you visit.
  • Curb souvenir shopping — send a colorful postcard from wherever you are. It goes a long way with family and friends to send a personal hand-written note that let’s them know you’re thinking of them.

Thank you so much for reading ways that I travel on a budget. What kind of savings strategies do you have when you travel? Please share with us in the comments below.