Travelling is an amazing way to open yourself up to new viewpoints and create adventure in your life. It will bring you memories that will last a lifetime. Memories that you can visit again and again through the pictures you took on your vacations. Plus, travel gives you stories to tell about your adventures – maybe it was how you got lost, how you discovered amazing food or even how you were able to experience different cultures.

Sure, travel does take money. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 16 ways to travel on a budget and create lasting memories – without sacrificing the experience!

#1: Travel During the Shoulder Season

One key way to save more money when travelling, is to be flexible with your dates. Choose dates that are off season, including the shoulder season, when prices are guaranteed to be cheaper. Umm, what is the “shoulder season”? It’s that time just before or after the peak travel season.

Two main advantages of travelling during the shoulder season are:

  1. The temperature is usually more moderate (not too hot or too cold), and
  2. It’s not as busy!
Travel on a Budget Tip #1: Travel Off Season
Travel on a Budget Tip #1: Travel Off Season

#2: Be Flexible with Your Destination

Another area to be flexible is where you are staying. Locations that are central to downtown are much more expensive than places a short distance away. For example, one time when I went to New York, I ended up staying in a hotel in New Jersey for half the price! The best part was there was a bus that stopped right in front of the hotel and in less than an hour, I was directly in Midtown Manhattan. No fuss or transfers required!

#3: Consider Alternative Transportation Options

A large part of many travel budgets is the transportation costs, especially when you travel by plane or taxis. Let’s take a look at airfare first, as this is a huge cost to include in your budget. First tip: book your airfare early. For some strange reason, the closer it gets to the departure date, the more expensive the airfare will be. So, book early! Better yet, skip the airfare and drive – or take the bus – especially when short flights are involved.

Next, let’s look at taxis. While it’s convenient to take a taxi to get around, including going to the airport, it will definitely cost more. Look at taking public transit or shuttle buses as an alternative to taxis.

Travel on a Budget Tip #3: Consider Alternative Transportation Options
Travel on a Budget Tip #3: Consider Alternative Transportation Options

#4: Look for Savings on Attractions

One of the best parts of travelling is going to the tourist attractions of the area where you are staying. It helps to do a little research ahead of time. For example, is there a museum that you would love to visit? If so, check out their website to see if they offer free admission on certain days or after a certain time. Also, check out any current travel pamphlets to see if discounts are offered (think buy two admissions for the price of one).

#5: Limit Eating Out and Dine In

Eating out is always more expensive than cooking your own food – and that’s also true when you’re travelling. One option is to look for a hotel or Airbnb with a kitchenette. These kitchenettes will include a few pots, plates/bowls, glasses/mugs and cutlery. Aim to cook at least one meal a day at the hotel. But just because you have a kitchenette, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat out at all. So, when you do eat out, make it a treat – pick a restaurant that has amazing reviews and food!

Travel on a Budget Tip #5: Limit Eating Out and Dine In
Travel on a Budget Tip #5: Limit Eating Out and Dine In

#6: Stay Local and Do a Day Trip

Travelling doesn’t always mean you have to go somewhere far away, so become a tourist in your own town or in nearby towns. It’s worth picking a local destination that you can drive to, especially when you are travelling on a budget. That’s because staying local is the perfect way to save on airfare – and if you make it a day trip, you can save on hotel costs as well! One tip is to go on Google Maps and type in “local attractions”, to find interesting places near you that you can visit.

#7: Buy Travel Insurance

It might seem weird to suggest spending more money when creating your travel budget, but things happen. Whether it’s having to cancel a trip or dealing with a medical emergency at your destination, travel insurance will help protect you. So, make sure you buy that extra travel insurance, because if you need to use it, that’s when it will save you a lot of money.

Travel on a Budget Tip #7: Buy Travel Insurance
Travel on a Budget Tip #7: Buy Travel Insurance

#8: Book in Advance

Many places will offer a larger discount if you book early. If you have your heart set on a particular destination and time of the year, this is your best bet! It’s easy to bookmark a website and check periodically for specials and early booking discounts. One of the best times to grab these discounts is when a new season is launched – in particular, resorts and cruises.

#9: Look for Last Minute Deals

If places (think hotels, cruise lines, etc.) have too much inventory on hand, especially as the travel date gets closer, they will often hold a sale and offer last minute deals. You may have to do a little more looking around, but the deals definitely make it worth the trouble!

Keep in mind, this approach usually doesn’t apply to airfare – which gets more expensive the closer it gets to the departure date. So, if you’re not too concerned about where you’re going or when, this might be an option for you. The key here is to be flexible and focus on the experience!

Travel on a Budget Tip #9: Look for Last Minute Deals
Travel on a Budget Tip #9: Look for Last Minute Deals

#10: Put Together Your Own Group

If you have a lot of friends or a large network, this may be an option for you. Do a little research and see where you can get a group discount. Hotels and cruises are often willing to give discounts when you bring them a group offer. Once you do find a destination/hotel/cruise, then it’s time to get to work and bring people together!

#11: Pack Light – Only Bring the Essentials

When travelling, it’s important to pack light and only bring the essentials. Bringing extra baggage is a sure bet to incurring extra baggage fees – that quickly add up. However, you don’t want to forget anything that you will need (think toothpaste or weather appropriate clothing) – because then you’ll have to buy them when you arrive. My quick tip: create a handy packing list that you can use before each trip, so that you don’t forget the essentials!

Travel on a Budget Tip #11: Pack Light & Only Bring the Essentials
Travel on a Budget Tip #11: Pack Light & Only Bring the Essentials

#12: Don’t Buy Souvenirs

While it’s tempting to buy souvenirs as a memento of your travels, don’t do it! Souvenirs are over priced. Avoid buying stuff that will just sit on your shelf. When you do buy, try to buy local to support the local economy. It’s also a great conversation piece and will give you a story to tell for years to come! Better yet – take lots of pictures to show everyone when you get home.

#13: Use Travel Reward Programs

Travel reward programs are a great way to save on travel. Once you have accumulated enough points or rewards, you’ll receive some great perks – like a free stay or a huge discount! Plus, most offer discounts or sales throughout the year, allowing you to save even more.

For me, I love booking my hotel stays with – after 10 stays, I receive one night free! Okay, the value of the free night is only the average of what you paid for the 10 stays. So, once in a while, I have had to pay a small amount to stay at a more expensive hotel. But that’s okay too – it’s still a savings!

Travel on a Budget Tip #13: Use Travel Reward Programs
Travel on a Budget Tip #13: Use Travel Reward Programs

#14: Add a Vacation to Your Business Trip

If you have the opportunity to travel for work or business purposes, try adding a few vacation days before or after your business trip. You pay for the extra hotel nights, but your work pays for the flights! It’s a great way to save on travelling costs in your travel budget. That’s a win in my books!

#15: Share the Cost with Friends

Travelling with friends is always so much fun, plus you have someone to help share the costs. This works well if you are driving (whether it’s sharing the cost of a rental car or the cost of gas) and for accommodation costs.

For me, I’m a planner, so I like to have a list of things to see or places to go while I’m in the area. Check with your friends – before you travel – to see which activities appeal to them as well. Half of the fun comes from the pure anticipation of what you’re going to do while you’re on vacation!

Travel on a Budget Tip #15: Share the Cost With Friends
Travel on a Budget Tip #15: Share the Cost With Friends

#16: Give Yourself a Daily Spending Limit

You’re on vacation! Everything is booked and paid for – yeah! But wait – don’t forget to give yourself a daily spending limit. Just because the big ticket items like the hotel, flights, cruise or admission tickets are booked and paid for, doesn’t mean that you won’t be spending money. Give yourself a daily limit for things like eating out and miscellaneous spending. Most importantly, remember to track your spending so you don’t go over your travel budget!

So, as you start to plan your next vacation, remember the tips above on how to travel on a budget! These tips are so easy to follow and best of all, you’ll be creating lasting memories that will give you stories to tell for years to come!

Until my next blog post, here’s wishing you lots of joy and happiness!

With love,


Hi! I'm Joanne. I’m a Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CMA). Money management is a life skill that I passionately believe all people need to learn. As an accountant, I love helping people understand numbers and money. At BuildingJoyAndHappiness, I share my tips to money management and make understanding finances simple.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Sophia William

    Thank you for sharing these details. I am planning to go on vacation this year; however, I was worried about saving money on the trip. I will try to follow the points. I was also planning to go for cruise transfers as I think they are affordable and also arrive on time. I previously booked an airport taxi from Go Comfort and I was very impressed by the chauffeur and their overall service.

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