ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Travel on a Budget

Updated on November 26, 2017

Most people think of vacations as expensive. Taking a vacation is only possible maybe once or twice a year, and it requires thousands of dollars.

...where did this idea come from? I love to travel - love it! Having a limited income has never stopped me. Here are my top tips for taking a vacation and spending less than $100 all around.


Take Short Trips

Studies have shown that a short holiday is equally as relaxing and enjoyable as a longer holiday. Essentially, you won't get any more out of a long vacation than out of a short one - and the longer the vacation, the more expensive it will be.

Take my advice and go on several short trips across the year instead of one or two long trips. It will mean you get to visit more places, take regular vacations and blow less money in one go.

My average trip length is 2-3 days - more than enough time to get away from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy some quality fun time, but not enough time to get tired of travelling and long for the comforts of home.

There are definitely some trips I would LOVE to take which I want to spend much more than a few days on - but that's a different post altogether. I'd advise people who want to travel further afield to spend months or even a year abroad, making it cost effective by working as a teacher in that country. If that's not an option, there is still plenty of fun to be had closer to home. Which brings me to...

Don't Go Far Afield

One of the biggest costs for a vacation is travel. Make travel expenses a non-issue by exploring a place close to home.

Americans have thousands of options within arm's reach, wherever they live - there's no excuse to blow thousands of dollars on plane tickets. If you want nature - find a state park close to home and drive there or book flights for less than $100. If you want a city - most places are within a few hours' drive of several great cities.

If you take a vacation close to home, all you need to pay for is a few gallons of gas - my husband and I traveled to DC and back for $60 worth of gas, and it cost even less to visit Erie and Cleveland.

Look at the hundreds of great things to do which don't require expensive traveling. You'll be surprised how many great traveling options there are which cost next to nothing.

Six Amazing Cities Within 4 Hours of My Location (Pittsburgh)

Pittsburgh (Start Point):
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

get directions

My starting point for travel.

Cleveland, OH, USA

get directions

Erie, PA, USA

get directions

Philadelphia, PA, USA

get directions

New York:
New York, NY, USA

get directions

Washington DC:
Washington, D.C., DC, USA

get directions

Baltimore, MD, USA

get directions

How Often Do You Go on Vacation?

See results

Skip the Expensive Sights

Any city you visit will have tons of pricey attractions - but why bother visiting them when there are so many free things to do around the city. For free you can:

  • Visit museums and galleries (depending on the city)
  • Take a walk downtown
  • Take in some amazing views
  • Check out markets
  • See tons of famous sights and buildings without the guided tours

For example, my husband and I were in Seattle recently - skip the expensive art gallery and aquarium, don't bother with the exorbitant costs of the Space Needle. DO, however, check out Pike Place Market absolutely free (unless you buy things), take a stroll by the water and explore downtown, taking in some of the awesome sculptures and artwork on and near the buildings.

Spending money on the tourist traps is not necessary - there are so many cool sights and fun things to do for free.

Don't Stay in Hotels

I'll say it again - don't waste money on a hotel. Every trip my husband and I have taken, we have either stayed with friends, with family, or we have camped. It saves a lot of money - and for a short trip, it just adds to the fun.

This isn't just an option for trips into the countryside like visits to State and National Parks - it's a realistic option for city trips too.

For example, when we visited DC, we camped at a place 30 minutes outside the city and drove in each day to see the sights and enjoy ourselves - as a result we spent $20 a night instead of $100 or more on a hotel room.

Camping is a great thing to do with friends even as part of a city trip (in the Summer at least). Tell stories, have some wine and make a campfire. Ten times better than watching dull TV in an expensive hotel room.

Staying with friends and family is another great and free option - if you know anyone in a city you'd like to visit, ask if you can come and stay for a weekend. As a bonus, you might even get a free guide to tell you all the best cheap and free places to go during your vacation.

Still Want a Hotel?


Save Pennies for Vacation Activities


Plan Your Budget

It's a good idea to know how much money you have available and what your priorities are for your trip. If you're dying to visit some museums you know charge an entry fee, set aside some money for that. If you can't bear to miss out on some of the local wineries, make sure you put it in your budget.

For me and my husband, we always put some money aside for eating out when we take a trip. We love to try out local specialties on the menu in new cities, not to mention local microbrews. Don't miss out because you're trying to get by on as little money as possible - make sure you budget for a few things which you love to do. It's easy if you compromise on other costs, like travel and hotels.

A great way to get together some money for vacation without eating into your budget is to start a money jar. My husband and I put all our small change into a giant wine jug and I often set aside a few dollars from my paychecks in a separate account for fun activities (currently I have $250 saved for my planned trip to England in October).

Travel With a Friend

Traveling companions can make or break a budget. If you're traveling with a large group of friends or with a large family and kids, taking a dirt cheap vacation will be tricky - everyone will want to do different, usually pricey things, and you'll spend hundreds of dollars without even realizing it.

The way I do it is to travel with my husband - we have the same budget and have the same goals - have tons of fun for next to no money. Find a friend who likes to travel but wants to do it as cheaply as possible. If possible, avoid large groups. That way, you won't feel guilted into spending more than you want to in order to accompany your friends.

Traveling with a friend is also a money-saver as you can share meals (if you both have small appetites), share a hotel room (if you fork out for one) and split the price of gas and any other expenses like parking.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)