Travel on a Budget: 4 Money-Saving Tips and Hacks for Affordable Adventures

travel on a budget

Now that we’re in the post-pandemic era, consumers are eager to travel. But are their budgets able to keep up? It’s a good question, especially when 49% of people expect to shell out at least $4,000 to get away in 2023. That’s a fairly high figure, especially for younger travelers who haven’t had a lot of time to sock away savings.

This isn’t to say that you’re doomed to either forgo your PTO or try to make the best of a staycation if you don’t have a pile of money right now. There are several hacks that will allow you to indulge your wanderlust and still travel on a budget. Try the ones that suit you best — you could be chilling beachside or scoping out a new city in no time.

1. To save money… try an envelope challenge

As financial-style TikTok challenges go, the 100 Envelopes Challenge is about the most streamlined on the planet. You just need to buy 100 envelopes and label them from one to 100. On day one, you put $1.00 in the envelope labeled “1”. On day two, you put $2.00 in the envelope labeled “2”. You continue this pattern for 100 days, by which time you’ll have a total of $5,050. It’s a solid (and fun) way to save – at least if your salary is competitive and you can set aside more than $500 in the final week.

What if you’re someone who would rather keep up with your personal “envelope challenge” online? Or maybe the simplicity of the envelope challenge itself is attractive, but you prefer to pick a savings amount that’s a bit more in line with your own budget and goals.? Just download the Envie app. Envie is a free digital version of the envelope challenge and works on the same premise of setting aside certain dollar amounts daily.

Built by TeamWALT, the internal fintech from Southern Bancorp, Envie simplifies and gamifies the experience of saving up for your dream trip. Just plug in your preferred savings goal and Envie will help you move enough money over a specified period of days to achieve progress. It’s easy and keeps you engaged in the process. Best of all, you wind up with a pool of money that you can use for your next plane ticket or hotel room.

2. To get better rates everywhere you go… travel during non-peak times

Many tourist-heavy locations operate on a seasonal basis. This means you could be hit with higher-than-average costs if you visit those areas during peak times. On the other hand, you could save a bundle by going off-season.

Take Orlando, Florida, for example. Home to family-friendly attractions like Magic Kingdom Park and SeaWorld, Orlando is a destination hotspot. Unfortunately, it can be a madhouse in the summertime. As U.S. News & World Report notes, summer is also when prices skyrocket. You’re much better off trying to visit Orlando in the late springtime to take advantage of out-of-season deals.

Who knows? You may even be able to score unbelievable overnight stays at top hotels, VRBO rentals, and Airbnb locales. By not being choosy about when you go to a place, you could wind up saving a lot of dough. Plus, you won’t have to put up with annoying crowds or bumper-to-bumper traffic.

3. To limit your contribution… stack a personal vacation atop a business trip

Does your job require you to travel regularly or occasionally? Discover the advantage and value of business leisure! Frequently abbreviated as “bleisure”, this type of travel is on the rise. A recent survey from The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) discovered that 60% of respondents said they were planning a future bleisure excursion.

The upside of bleisure trips is that you’re only going to be on the hook for part of the overall travel price. Let’s say you have a convention in Chicago from Friday through Sunday. Your employer might be fine with you going from Thursday to Tuesday as long as you pay for the extra hotel nights. Be sure to ask the hotel if you can get your room for the same discount rate that’s being offered for convention guests during the actual event. You might be able to save enough more.

Bleisure getaways aren’t all play and no work. You’re there on behalf of your employer, after all. Nevertheless, by extending your stay, you can give yourself some much-needed downtime without paying for all your transportation or meals.

4. To minimize unnecessary spending… kick the “restaurant hopping” habit

Sampling the cuisine in another part of the country or world can be thrilling. A constant diet of restaurant hopping can be hard on your wallet, though. Eating out for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner can max out your travel budget fast and leave you with a super-high credit card balance. Talk about heartburn.

One strategy to avoid the need to depend on fast food restaurants or other eateries is to bring food with you. From sandwiches and fruit to pre-wrapped snacks and beverages, the food you take along will allow you to stay nourished without depleting your savings, allowing you to travel on a budget even more. Even if you can only manage to take a few items on the plane with you, that’s okay. Every little bit will pay off in the long run.

A similar technique is to rent accommodations that offer access to a kitchen, like an extended stay hotel suite or an apartment. Then, all you have to do is buy groceries and you can cook for yourself for the duration of your visit. It’s remarkably cost-effective and ensures you’ll be able to set aside dollars for an end-of-vacation restaurant night splurge.

Everyone deserves to get away from it all now and then. Just be sure that you don’t come back to an empty bank account and travel on a budget. Instead, put some tips into action early in the planning process so you can de-stress without financial stress.

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