7 Ways We Save Money While Traveling
Hello and happy Friday friends!
It's not technically Friday as I write this: I am reporting in from a semi-collapsed state of exhaustion in our hotel bed in Nashville, Tennessee.
Today was spent passing cow fields, car accidents, and inching our way through Atlanta traffic, all while fighting a slightly nauseous sensation, and an overwhelming sadness to be leaving Florida. It took FOREVER to edit and upload today's YouTube video on my phone, and the car sickness surely didn't help.
Mrs. Midwest is ready to be back home to her dog, her kitchen, and the quiet hum of her dryer. Am I boring? Perhaps...
But as I burrowed into these sheets tonight, I felt like it would be a good idea to shake off the day with a little bloggy-blog. Nothing makes me feel quite as accomplished as finishing a good blog post, so here we are friends!
My most recent YouTube video was all about frugality, and I've been traveling all week, so we are bringing it home with this blog today ladies! This week's Friday Listicle is on theme: we're talking TRAVELING FRUGALLY!
1. We cook MOST of our meals
We've discovered that the BEST way to save a ton of money while traveling is to book a place that comes with a kitchen. Obviously we can't cook our meals DURING the travel, but as soon as we hunker down at our final location, we go for a quick $50 - $100 grocery haul.
For comparison's sake, a single dinner out for two can cost between $25 - $50. Add on top of that the many breakfasts and lunches you eat on vacation, and you're looking at a pretty stiff food bill while traveling. Instead of paying between $500 and $800 for food while traveling, we're able to keep it under $200, AND enjoy our favorite treats. When we want a snack or a special meal we will go out, but for the most part, it's nice to just relax during the evenings with some familiar food.
2. Pack efficiently: don't forget things!
Have you ever travelled and forgotten a ton of important items? I always think, oh it's not a big deal... I can just purchase some replacement items! But the problem with this is that vacation areas often charge a much higher price for replacement items than it would cost to just remember everything.
There's nothing worse than having to drop $50 on a "Venice Beach" hoodie just because you forgot to bring warm clothes. Look at the weather in advance, and don't forget the little things!
3. Budget your souvenir spending
This one is similar to the one above, but it's more about restraining yourself in buying souvenirs and gifts while you travel. People often treat vacation spending like they do vacation eating: the calories, and the DOLLARS, don't count! But try not to get caught up in the fun of vacation, forgetting that you need to pay for that hefty credit card bill when you return home.
It's nice to purchase for family and friends while traveling, but try not to break the bank with your generous attitude. Likewise, avoid purchasing items at airports, rest stops, or anywhere extremely "touristy." These places NOTORIOUSLY mark up their items. I like to save my purchases for off-beaten shops or flea markets; charming, AND frugal.
4. Don't stay AT the attraction
Now this advice isn't foolproof: I really wouldn't recommend staying offsite a resort if you're visiting the Caribbean or Mexico, but for many other types of vacations, staying offsite from the main "attraction" can really save some money. Whenever we go skiing, we avoid the ski resorts and opt in for a condo or apartment nearby. We save a lot of money AND avoid having to spend more on resort food.
We've even saved a ton of money this past trip by staying NEAR the beach, but not on the beach. Beachfront vacations are notoriously more expensive, so just be careful! As usual, take this advice with a grain of salt, but always remember to look into the option when planning your next vacation.
5. SKY MILES, SKY MILES, SKY MILES
With Dave Ramsey running around telling people to chop up their credit cards, I can't help but shake my head a little. Sure, credit cards have their evils if you abuse them, but a wisely adopted credit card has the power to send you on your way to many wonderful vacations.
Every year when my husband and I take our ski vacation, we have gotten our flights AND checked baggage (including our ski bags,) for FREE with sky miles. We use the American Express, Delta Sky Miles card, and put ALL our purchases on it. This has saved us hundreds of dollars, and allowed us to afford nice ski vacations that would have otherwise been out of reach for our one-income family.
6. We use our personal connections...
Now I'm not recommending being a weird mooch or anything, but it is often really wonderful to use personal connections when you travel for accommodations or recommendations. We have been able to stay up North at a friend's ski chalet, and even bunk overnight at my friend's gorgeous home in Canada!
We live by the rule that there is no harm in asking if we can stay with someone. If not, connections are STILL amazing for learning about the best places to stay, visit, and eat while on vacation! In fact, this past week we stayed at the condo of one of our connections through my husband's work. We still paid to rent the space, but it was nice to be able to pay someone we actually KNEW and not a faceless hotel chain. Plus, we got a nice discount!
7. Air B'n'B or VRBO
We typically avoid hotels like the plague: person-to-person rentals can be MUCH cheaper. Sure, they're not as fancy, but if you're looking for an inexpensive way to travel, online rental sites are the ticket my friend! In fact, my husband's parents did Air B'n'B throughout all of Italy, and actually had some incredible experiences with their hosts.
I don't like the idea of staying in a stranger's guest bedroom, so we will often Air B'n'B a private wing of a house, an apartment, a mother-in-law suite, or a separate condo. The best thing about this is that you can see the reviews and ratings of the host before you visit! Happy savings!
Alright, in total, I hope you remember that vacations are absolutely times to let lose and enjoy yourself, but don't wreak havoc on your bank account in the name of relaxation and adventure! Keep your head on straight, and your wallet zipped tight, and you should be able to have a balanced vacation full of fun AND financial frugality.
Thanks for reading my loves. I think it's time for me to brush out my hair and snuggle into this gorgeous bed.
All the best,