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Traveling is fun, there is no better way to put it. Nothing beats exploring new cities, parks, beaches and restaurants. The downfall is that traveling can also be very expensive. This month I am taking a trip to the Southwest United States to explore some national parks. I am beyond excited, but naturally also looking to save some dough while still having an awesome trip.

So, since I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic the past couple weeks I thought I would share some Economical Travel Tips that help me save money while traveling.

Here are the Five Economical Travel Tips:

1. Pack snacks

Healthy Homemade Granola Main

Traveling is a great way to have fun, unless you’re hungry. You know some common places you’ll end up while traveling? The airport, a stadium, an amusement park, the middle of nowhere… all of which either have overpriced or NO food. Avoid the struggle and pack some snacks, whether it’s nuts, fruit, granola bars or this Healthy Homemade Granola – all are great options.

Don’t forget, this goes for water too. Make sure to pack your own water bottle and refill it whenever you get the chance. It’s good for your wallet and the environment.

2. Find a place to stay with a kitchen (or at least a fridge)

The rise of Airbnb and other sharing services has led to more affordable travel options, especially with lodging and transportation. More importantly though is that when you stay at a house, apartment or condo, you usually get access to a kitchen. Which means you don’t have to eat out for every meal.

Eating out rarely gets taken into consideration when budgeting a trip, usually only the flight and hotel do because they’re the big ticket items. Food can cost up to $50 per day per person though! That’s if you’re somewhat mindful about not overspending too, $50 can easily turn into one dinner if you go somewhere nice. Save some cash and plan to eat a couple meals in while traveling.

Eating in does not have to add work, either. Sometimes just having access to a fridge allows you to make and store easy breakfasts, snacks and lunches! You could easily make this Simple Cinnamon Yogurt Parfait in no time with just a few ingredients!

3. Scour the internet and pick up the phone

Economical Travel Tips - Internet

Photo by: James Cridland

This is a little obvious, but you should take some time to plan a trip, and price shop. Flights and hotel deals are always changing, and there are constantly different deals flowing to different sites.

For flights, I recommend using Google flights, I think it’s the best tool out there. Skyscanner works for fine too.

For hotels, it can be a little more complex and get overwhelming, so I’m going to lay out two simple steps:

  1. Check Kayak for deals. The site is easy to navigate and has a lot of options.
  2. Once you find a deal or two that look good, pick up the phone and call them. Ask for a deal, or a better deal if you already have one. You’ll be surprised how often they come up with something “on the spot.” They want you to stay there as badly as you want this vacation.

4. Steer towards FREE

economical travel tips - free

Photo by: Ken Hawkins

There are a lot of free options when traveling, and you should take advantage of them when you can. I think of them in three categories:

  1. Free activities: Anything that involves exploring the city and zero cash. For example, heading to the beach, walking the city, going to parks, and sometimes even museums.
  2. Free perks: Anything that is included with another purchase, like free breakfast at your hotel and “buy one get one free” deals (foods, tickets, etc.).
  3. Free alternatives: Anything that you can do instead of a paid option. Some are easy to do, and some are a little harder. Choose your battles, here are some ideas: sit in coach, don’t check a bag (pack light!), and take public transport when it makes sense.

5. Spend when you want to spend

Being economical is all about getting the most value for your money. So while being cheap is good, it’s not good if it ruins your trip or takes away from any potential once in a lifetime moments. These economical travel tips should add value, not take it away.

If you love skiing but the lift pass is a couple hundred bucks, it might be worth it. If your dream hotel costs a little more than the Best Western down the street, do the math and see if you can afford it. If your favorite band happens to be in town but the tickets are a little pricey, consider the opportunity cost of not going.

Pick your battles, and spend within your limits of course. The point I am trying to make here is don’t get caught up in saving money so much that you don’t have fun. Because as I mentioned, travel is fun.

Looking for more economical tips? Check out these articles/tools:

Enjoy your travels, and I hope you put these economical travel tips to good use!

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