The Best Budget Travel Tips — From Saving Money on Air Travel to Spending Less on Hotels

Best Budget Travel Tips

Introduction:The Best Budget Travel Tips — From Saving Money on Air Travel to Spending Less on Hotels

People are clearly considering travel this year, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them. A trip is in the plans (and/or wishes) of many Americans, whether it is a weekend getaway, staycation, cruise, or faraway excursion. According to an IPX1031 survey of 1,000 people, more than 90% of Americans intend to travel in 2023. The vast majority (86 percent) intend to travel out of state, with nearly 30 percent planning to vacation abroad.

When RetailMeNot polled 1,000 U.S. consumers about their spring and summer travel plans, 96 percent said they plan to take at least one trip between March and May. Their survey also revealed that the most important factor in deciding on vacation experiences and activities is price. Two-thirds of respondents agreed that inflation, particularly the high cost of transport, is influencing where and how they travel.

Travel is still possible despite financial constraints. Even a brief break from the daily routine provides relaxation, enjoyment, enrichment, and health benefits. We gathered some budget vacation ideas from travel and finance experts to help make those travel plans a reality.

How to Plan Travel Within a Budget

“Don’t let Instagram influencers make you think you can’t travel on a budget, and don’t believe travel isn’t worthwhile just because you don’t have a lot of money to spend,” Samantha Brown, travel expert and host of PBS’ Emmy-winning series Samantha Brown’s Places to Love, told Travel + Leisure.

With that encouragement, Brown offered some advice: “Road tripping saves on both costs and stress because so much travel anxiety can be attributed to airports and airlines.” “Take more road trips in your own car and explore your own state,” she continued. Travellers seldom consider their own backyard, but they should.”

Brown suggested looking into the National Wildlife Refuge System, which has over 560 refuges, including 100 urban national wildlife refuges near major cities. Hiking and biking trails, wetlands, and a thriving animal population are also available.

She said, “Think in terms of opposites: If it’s summer and everyone’s going to the beach, head to a city and enjoy all their free events such as outdoor concerts.”

Courtney Alev of Credit Karma, a consumer financial advocate, agreed with Brown’s advice to avoid popular destinations during their peak seasons, when prices are almost always higher. Instead, look into alternative, similar destinations. “A fun getaway does not always involve a flight,” Alev added. Look at nearby destinations and see where you can go.”

T+L A-list advisor Jonathan Alder agreed that travellers should look for lower-cost periods during the shoulder and off-season. He suggested looking into destinations other than the United States. “Many people may believe that travelling within the United States is less expensive or more valuable, but this has been far from the case in recent years.” Consider destinations that may not be your first choice because there are so many incredible countries out there.”

Saving Dollars on Air Travel

To get early access to coupon codes, RetailMeNot shopping expert Kristin McGrath suggested signing up for email alerts from tools like Expedia, Travelocity, and Google Flights. “Experiment with different travel dates,” she went on to say. “If your travel plans are flexible, look into different flight dates to see if you can find a lower fare.” You might be able to save money on your tickets by changing your dates by just one day.”

“When your travel plans are flexible, it’s usually easier to find cheap flights,” Alev added. Travelling during the week, putting up with a longer layover, or taking a red-eye flight often results in the best prices. Also, book ahead of time to avoid paying last-minute prices.”

According to a travel trends report from Expedia,, and Vrbo, the best day to book is Sunday, and the best day to depart is Wednesday. They recommend booking domestic flights one month in advance and international flights six months in advance. Of course, opinions on this subject differ, but it’s a good idea to compare and learn as much as you can before making a reservation.

Spending Less for Hotels

“Spend no money on lodging.” Consider house swapping or house sitting. “You can stay for free all over the world,” Brown told T+L, recommending TrustedHousesitters and Home Exchange as two sites to look into.

Meanwhile, McGrath advised, “For vacation rentals, book your stay as early as possible.” Book early if you want to go on a tropical vacation or if you want to go home for a specific holiday or event. Vrbo, Airbnb, and other vacation rental prices are typically lower when booked months or even weeks in advance.”

McGrath also recommended purchasing vacation packages that include flights, hotels, and car rentals. In addition to saving money, you’ll know the total cost of your trip when you book, rather than getting a low-cost flight only to be surprised by the cost of hotels and car rentals.

According to Expedia’s travel trends report, more affordable three-star hotel stays are on the rise. “Fewer stars don’t equal lower standards … Many properties still offer excellent amenities, stylish interiors, and unique vibes…just at lower rates.” The report goes on to say, “As nearly a quarter of global travellers plan to be more frugal in 2023, added value without compromised quality is vital.”

Budget Travel Without Debt

According to an Accrue Savings study, one in every five consumers has gone into debt for travel, with 81% incurring more than $500 in debt. Instead of having to pay for a previous vacation, the company recommends saving for a trip in advance.

To give your money a purpose, Alev recommends opening a separate savings account. “Dedicating that account to a specific getaway will make it easier to see how your savings are growing over time, and will help you avoid accidentally spending that money on something else.” She also recommended that you set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account or have a portion of your paycheck deposited into your savings account.

Rakuten retail and shopping expert Kristen Gall understands how difficult it is to resist purchasing items to keep a piece of that memory at home. “However, keep in mind that you don’t need every souvenir that catches your eye.” I recommend only buying items that you can’t get back home or that are small enough to not add to your luggage weight.”

With these expert tips and your own creative budgeting approach, now may be the time to start planning a well-deserved vacation.

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