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15 Tips for Frugal Travel

Updated on January 9, 2011

If you’re living a frugal lifestyle then you don’t want to compromise that frugality when you travel. And if you aren’t living frugally then you probably don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on travel so you need to cut costs where you can in order to be able to afford to go on a vacation at all. The following fifteen frugal travel tips can help you save money on your vacations whether you’re already frugal or not:

1.     Plan ahead. The sooner that you start planning your trip, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to reduce the cost of the vacation. There are many reasons for this including:

o   You can get the best rates on flights, hotels and other trip expenses. Planning ahead allows you to do a lot of comparison shopping, waiting until the perfect time to get a good price on your vacation.

o   You can save up to pay for the trip instead of putting it on a credit card. This allows you to avoid interest charges on your vacation expenses.

o   You can start looking around for ways to cut costs at your destination, such as getting discounts on tickets to the events that you want to enjoy while you’re there.

2.     Create a budget. It is crucial for anyone interested in doing anything frugal to create a budget. You have to determine how much money you can actually afford to spend on a vacation. You have to commit to finding a way to stick within that budget. Then you need to track your travel expenses so that you don’t go beyond the budget that you’ve identified.

3.     Limit the length and frequency of your travel. If you normally take a two week vacation, take just a week instead. If you usually travel three times per year, cut it back to two. These small changes won’t affect how much you enjoy your vacations but can greatly reduce the cost of travel.

4.     Use your miles and points. If you use a rewards credit card or are part of a frequent flyer program then always check if you have the option of paying for your travel with points instead of with cash.

5.     Don’t rent a car. If you’re traveling to a destination where you can easily get around using public transportation or even walking then don’t add the expense of a rental car to your trip fees.

6.     Keep your eye out for fees because they add up. For example, you should find out what the fee will be for checking a bag on your airline. Maybe you can just take a carryon for no cost instead.

7.     Do a home swap instead of paying for a hotel. Find someone who wants to visit your city at the same time that you want to visit theirs and trade homes for a week or two. There are websites set up to facilitate this type of transaction.

8.     Go grocery shopping at your destination. One of the reasons that people spend a lot of money on vacation is because they waste money dining out at every meal. If you reduce the cost of food during your trip then you will significantly lower your travel costs. Go grocery shopping when you get to your destination and purchase low-cost snacks and lunches. You can eat these instead of buying lunch in restaurants. Other tips for saving money on food during vacation include:

o   Take advantage of free meals available at your hotel. That continental breakfast may or may not be tasty but if it’s free then it’s money you don’t need to spend eating at a restaurant.

o   Look for coupons and discount codes to local restaurants at your destination. This will reduce the cost of dining out. Likewise your hotel may offer discounts at certain restaurants that they’ve partnered up with.

o   Buy an entrée and only an entrée when you do eat out on vacation. Skipping the appetizer, dessert and alcoholic beverages can save you a lot of money at restaurants.

9.     Limit the number of pricey tourist attractions that you visit. It is certainly important to visit the key museums and attractions that you want to see at a particular destination. However, you should make sure that you only spend money seeing the ones that really matter to you. Don’t pay to see something just because it’s famous and everyone else who travels to a place sees it.

10. Seek out free entertainment during the trip. To further reduce the cost spent on travel attractions, mix those pricey tourist stops with free and cheap entertainment preferred by locals. Check out local newspapers, the bulletin boards at coffee shops and online sites to find out what’s happening for free in the area. Not only will you save money on your travels but you may also find that you have a more interesting experience than normal on your vacations.

11. Ask about discounts before buying tickets to anything. Examples of discounts that may be available including discounts for AAA and AARP members, military discounts and student discounts. It’s always worth it to ask!

12. Skip the souvenirs. So many tourists waste money on souvenirs that they really don’t need or use. They buy them for themselves as “memories” when they could just take photographs of their trips instead. They buy them for others as gifts that are entirely unnecessary. Skip the souvenirs and save yourself some cash during your trip.

13. Buy only what you need for and during the trip. It isn’t just souvenirs that people waste money on. They buy new swimsuits for a trip even though the ones they have are perfectly fine. They forget to pack toiletries and then buy them at their destination. Make sure that you spend time packing properly so that you have what you need on the trip. Don’t buy any extras that aren’t necessary.

14. Travel with friends and family. Now, this can be an iffy one. If your family members like to travel in a more luxurious style than you do then this can end up costing you some money. But if you have similar travel styles and can split the cost of things like room rental and car rental then this can be a fun way to save money on your trip.

15. Offset the cost of travel by earning an income on vacation. Check out the Top 5 Ways to Turn Vacations into Income for additional information about this option.


Submit a Comment

  • esatchel profile image


    8 years ago from Kentucky

    Great tips on saving while on vacation. When you are on vacation, is so easy to forget that the charges are piling up, especially if you are using a credit card. It is so easy to buy this $5 soda and that $20 t-shirt and then wonder how you spent so much money, after you get home! Ann

  • kevrock529 profile image


    8 years ago

    Excellent read! Setting a budget has helped me tremendiously. I used to set a vacation, take my credit card and just charge away. The month after see the card statement and could never believe my eyes. Setting a budget and sticking to it for sure is key.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    Great tips and ideas

  • profile image

    Lene Lynn 

    8 years ago

    Excellent article! I am one who has learned to live very frugally. It's not easy but it's worth it, I like the challenge...:)

  • anujagarwal profile image

    Anuj Agarwal 

    8 years ago from Noida

    Good and easy to follow tips. If one will follow these tips, I'm sure it will save enough money.


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