20 Budget Travel Tips: How to Travel on a Budget in 2024

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Budget Travel Tips

Wanderlust knows no bounds, but your bank account might. 

Fortunately, with a little creativity and savvy planning, you can indulge your insatiable desire for adventure without emptying your pockets. The key? It’s all about learning how to travel on a budget. 

From scoring flight deals to uncovering hidden gems, this guide to budget travel tips will equip you with insider tricks to stretch your travel dollars further than you ever thought possible. 

In the meantime, check out personalized savings account offers to take your travel fund to the next step!

20 money-saving travel tips and hacks

With these budget travel tips, United States tourists can find an affordable getaway.

1. Schedule your trip for the off-peak season

Schedule your vacation outside the summer months. AARP reports that The Pink Palm Hotel in the Caribbean offers a 51% discount in October, and the Kennebunkport Inn is 66% cheaper in November than in July. 

2. Opt for low-cost airlines

Passenger advocacy website AirAdvisor ranks Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Allegiant Air among the most affordable airlines in the U.S. If you do your research, you may find discounted flights from other carriers, too, especially during the off-season.

3. Consider budget-friendly accommodations

Many hotels offer discounts for booking in advance or joining a hotel rewards program. But you and your family might find better rates and spacious accommodations through a site like Airbnb or VRBO. If the weather cooperates, you might consider camping at a national park.

4. Pack light

United Airlines offers a baggage fee calculator, and most airlines charge additional fees for bags exceeding certain weight limits — often 50 pounds or so. Packing light will help you avoid these fees.

5. Use public transportation or walk

In crowded cities, parking can cost you. SpotHero reports that parking in San Diego can be $15 to $30, and Washington D.C. visitors won’t find a spot for less than $2.30 per hour. Many cities offer discounts on public transportation, and places like Miami and Kansas City provide free rides throughout the city.

6. Use travel reward credit cards

Many credit card providers have reward programs. Cardholders can rack up reward points when they use the card and later cash in these points for discounts on airfare, accommodations, or restaurants. 

MoneyLion can help you explore a wide variety of credit card options tailored to your travel needs and preferences.

7. Eat at local street food markets 

Many cities now have street food markets offering samplings of unique, local cuisine. Often, these vendors and food trucks are cheaper than high-priced restaurants, and you can feel good about spending money on the local economy.

8. Be mindful of roaming costs

Make sure to turn off data roaming on your phone when traveling, which will disable cellular data that can rack up high costs. If your phone is unlocked, you may be able to purchase a local SIM card to make calls, even on international trips.

9. Book tours and activities in advance

Chances are you can get cheaper tickets and rates on activities by buying them in advance, especially with theme parks. Walt Disney World, for example, offers discounted packages when you bundle park tickets with hotel accommodations. Concerts and sports events can also be cheaper when buying tickets in advance.

10. Travel with a group 

Traveling with a larger group can help you save by dividing the cost of accommodations, such as sharing a beach house. Additionally, you may be able to save by purchasing groceries as a group and then delegating who will serve as chef for the evening.

11. Bring a reusable water bottle 

A typical bottle of water costs over a dollar. That may not sound like much, but it can add up on a trip, especially in hot climates. As long as you have access to potable water, bringing a reusable water bottle helps keep you hydrated.

12. Research free walking tours and activities

Many cities offer free activities such as walking tours and museums. Alternatively, check the city’s website to research public parks or downtown events. You may be able to catch free street festivals and music performances or find a hiking or biking trail.

13. Shop at local markets for souvenirs 

Buy your souvenirs from a local market. You’ll save on the markups from larger retailers, and you’ll come home with something truly unique to the local culture. By purchasing from local vendors, you can also have greater confidence that your money is going back to the community.

14. Pay in local currency

When traveling abroad, make sure to pay in the local currency. This avoids any transaction fees when using your credit or debit card internationally. Paying with cash may help you more easily stick to a budget because you can only spend what you carry.

15. Opt for a city pass or tourist card 

Investing in a city pass or tourist card can give you modest discounts on popular destinations. For example, in New York City, your pass gives you admission to five locations. Make sure to research the pass ahead of time to determine whether the destinations align with your desired itinerary.

16. Use budget travel websites and apps 

Budget travel websites and apps can offer savings. Sites like Expedia.com help you sift through hotels and flights to find the best possible deals. You may get recommendations for restaurants or local activities to add to your trip.

17. Avoid tourist traps and scams

Do your research ahead of time and stick to your itinerary. Avoid places with aggressive marketing or that are located right outside popular tourist destinations, which are clear signs of scams. For a more authentic experience, eat and shop where locals eat. 

18. Join volunteer programs

Join a volunteer program. Not only will it give you the chance to give something back, but you may be able to travel as part of the organization’s mission. Your itinerary may be limited, but you’ll still have the chance to explore the local culture and flavors.

19. Consider house-sitting or pet-setting

Gain some extra cash through a side hustle. Even house-sitting or pet-sitting can give you additional income to put toward your trip. You may be able to offset the cost of airfare or accommodations through your side job.

20. Start saving gradually for your trip

Start saving now — over time, you may be surprised at how easy it is to save for your next vacation. Alternatively, put your money in a high-yield savings account to let it grow in the short term.

Save when traveling

At the end of the day, budget travel is a mindset – a commitment to prioritizing experiences over extravagance. By embracing the budget travel tips outlined in this guide, you may not only save money but also gain a deeper appreciation for the destinations you visit. 

With a little resourcefulness, the world can become your endless playground without breaking the bank. So, pack your bags, leave your fears behind, and embark on an adventure that will ignite your wanderlust while respecting your financial boundaries!


How do I travel cheaply when I’m still young?

Search for discounts on accommodation and airfare. Youth hostels can be great places for young adults to travel and can be found in many places around the world.

How can I save money on travel insurance and other necessary expenses?

Shopping around for travel insurance and other travel expenses can provide discounts. Additionally, researching travel costs can help you make travel plans that align with your budget.

How can I stick to a budget while still being able to enjoy my travel experience?

Plan ahead. Sticking to your itinerary can help you enjoy your experience without spending more than you intend to.

How much money should I save before traveling?

A single person can expect to spend $1,400 for a three-day trip. But plan your budget based on your destination and the length of your stay.

How do we travel on a budget as a couple?

Couples should plan their trip together. You can also hold one another accountable for your travel spending, which makes it easier to stick to a budget.

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