If you’re planning a family vacation soon, don’t miss this comprehensive list on creative ways to save money on travel! (See other travel deals here.)
Are you gearing up to plan a family road trip, weekend getaway, or summer vacation?
Whatever the occasion, there are dozens of ways you can save a bit (or a bunch) here and there and really stretch your travel budget without sacrificing any fun memories.
How to Travel Cheap
There are SO many ways to save money on travel, but it will differ by person and family depending on your preferences for the type of travel, lodging, and vacations you enjoy — and that’s okay!
If you really want to save as much money as possible on vacations, it helps to think outside the box and get creative. Here are some of our best tips…
Cheap Ways to Travel: Save on Airfare
1. Drive instead of fly. Do the math on how much you’ll save to make sure it’s worth it, but more often than not, it saves quite a bit of money!
3. Plan flights for Tuesdays or Thursdays (when prices are usually the lowest).
4. Purchase domestic airfare 6-8 weeks before your travel date, as that’s prime time for best ticket prices.
5. Look at ticket prices on Tuesday-Thursday. They’re usually higher on Monday, Friday, and weekends.
6. Take advantage of airfare sales! Many airlines run seasonal sales throughout the year and it’s a great time to plan ahead and snag tickets at a discounted price. (We often post the best Southwest sales when they pop up!)
7. Do your research on flights. Don’t forget airfare search engines like Kayak or Expedia. Those can be valuable resources when comparing airfare costs.
8. Travel during off-season times. Airfare is much lower during the less popular times of year to travel. Avoid holidays if you can, because airfare is often 3-4 times higher than a regular ticket price during those times.
9. Sign up for airline rewards programs. Many airlines offer free loyalty programs that do NOT require a credit card! You’ll earn points for your travel over time and can cash them in for free flights.
How to travel for cheap: Save on Lodging
10. Try camping for free or very reduced nightly lodging fees.
12. Stay with family or friends if you have any in the area. Free lodging will always save you tons of money, plus you can spend extra time with loved ones while you’re visiting.
13. Plan a staycation — sleeping and eating at home and enjoying local attractions during the day.
14. Go in with family or friends on a bigger Airbnb or VRBO house. Most of the time, splitting a big place like this results in a much lower cost per night for lodging expenses. Plus, most of the time you’ll also save on food because bigger places have a kitchen that will prevent you from eating out so much while on vacation.
15. Search multiple hotel travel sites to find the best price. More info HERE.
Cheapest way to travel: Saving on Food
17. Stay at a place with a kitchen so you can cook at home and save on eating out. Buying groceries and cooking yourself will almost always be less expensive than eating out for every meal while on vacation.
18. Take advantage of complimentary breakfast. Many hotels and Bed & Breakfasts offer free complimentary breakfast each morning. Getting one free meal each day is a huge savings!
19. Pack your own snacks when possible — whether it’s for the car on a road trip, the airplane while traveling, or the destination to avoid over-priced snacks while on vacation.
20. Only eat two meals per day. If you’re eating really big meals on vacation, you might be able to get away with just two meals — brunch and dinner!
21. Take your own water bottles and refill them throughout the day. Paying to purchase water bottles or drinks can add up quickly.
22. Buy restaurant gift cards at Kroger to get 4x points – which you can then use to save on gas!
23. Place a grocery pickup order for a store near your ending destination so you can simply pick it up and not give in to impulse purchases.
24. Pack a picnic lunch and eat at a state rest stop — then see if they have coupons for other local restaurants or attractions.
26. Prepare freezer meals in a zip-top bag and take a slow cooker or instant pot along to reheat them.
Save with these Budget Travel Tips!
27. Find creative ways to fund your travel budget. If travel is super important to you and you don’t have wiggle room in the budget, find ways to earn extra money for vacations. Some examples might include selling items, taking surveys, or using rewards apps like Swagbucks. (Swagbucks offers gift cards for all kinds of restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and airlines.)
28. Travel in the off-season when prices are cheaper. We already mentioned airfare is a lot cheaper during the off-season, but so are lodging costs, resort fees, cruise prices, and entertainment expenses.
29. Scout out free activities at your destination before you travel. You can even post a question to your social media about free/frugal things to do in the area you plan to travel to.
30. Walk instead of drive. If you’re in a pretty walkable area for vacation, consider walking instead of renting a car or taking an Uber each day. (Looking for ways to save on rental cars? Check out these tips!)
More Money-Saving Travel Tips!
Check out all these other great tips for saving money on travel and vacations:
- 8 Tips to Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Spending a Fortune
- 5 Ways to Save Money on Food During Family Vacations
- 9 Money-Saving Vacation Tips
- How to Save Money on Meals While on Vacation
- How We’re “Selling” Our Way to Vacation
- How We Save in Order to Spend More on Travel
- 10 Ways to Save on Spring Break Travel
- 5 Ways to Save on Family Train Travel
- Get a Bang for Your Buck on Travel Expenses
- How to Get the Best Hotel Discounts
- 4 Creative Ways to Fund Family Vacations
- The Complete Guide on How to Use Swagbucks
- How to Boost Your Vacation Budget With Groupon
- Our Experience Staying in an AirBnB in Rome
- How We Prepared For Our Very First Camping Trip
- My Master List of Things to Take On a Camping Trip
- 5 Important Lessons We Learned on Our First Camping Trip
- Frugal Ways to Occupy Kids While Traveling
- 12 Ways to Save on Car Rentals
- 10 Ways to Save on Visiting National Parks with Kids
- Recipes for a Crowd of 26 People While on Our Family Vacation
- Cheap Meals for Large Groups of 25+ People on Vacation
- Easy Meals for 20+ People on Vacation