I love to travel and explore new places but I'm also a girl on a budget trying to save money for a down payment on my first home. The two things don't exactly go hand in hand but I refuse to give up my love of traveling even if it means it takes me that much longer to finally purchase my first home. In my travels I've found a few ways to cut corners to save on traveling while still getting to enjoy the whole traveling experience and not having to limit myself while on vacation and also ways to save money to use towards traveling- and I'm going to share them with you!
$5 Savings Plan
The premise behind this has been floating around Pinterest for awhile now. Every time a $5 bill comes into your possession it gets put aside and not spent. Last year I saved $735 in $5 bills AND I hardly ever carry cash - just imagine if I did use cash more often how much I could have saved! The $735 is going to be used for my upcoming Vegas trip for my sister's 'Dirty Thirty' so I will only have to save up spending money and drinking money since my flight and hotel will all be covered under the $735 I saved in $5 bills - and I won't even miss that money because it will be like it was never even there!
Use Credit Card Rewards/Hotel Rewards
Last weekend my sister and I, along with her daughters, took a whirlwind weekend road trip to Minneapolis - a 10 hour drive from home. We stayed at a different hotel each night, for a total of three nights, and we didn't pay a single cent for the hotels. How? The first night we didn't leave home until 6 pm because my sister had to work late, so we only went about halfway to Minneapolis and spent the night in Fargo, ND. My sister booked the hotel using her Choice Rewards points, so the room was completely free. The next night, once we arrived in Minneapolis (Bloomington if we're going to get technical) we stayed at the Courtyard Marriot Mall of America. I'm a Marriot rewards member and since I always stay at Marriot properties everytime I go to Minneapolis (4 times now) I had enough points to get us a room for one night for free. The next night we stayed at the Radisson Mall of America with the Waterpark. I used my RBC Credit Card rewards to get us a room for another night entirely for free. Moving hotels every day isn't ideal but it was worth it to not have to pay a single cent for your stay!
Driving VS Flying
Last May I roadtripped to New Braunfels, Texas with my brother and sister-in-law. We did the entire 27 hour drive straight - no stopping at hotels to sleep and on the way down we stopped in Minot, ND and loaded up a cooler with drinks and snacks so there would be very minimal stopping - we just wanted to get there as soon as possible. We were gone from home for a total of 10 days and I only had to pay $575 for hotel for three nights (every other night was spent in the vehicle or at our aunt and uncles home in New Braunfels) AND my 3rd of the gas it took to drive 27 hours each way. When we had initally looked at flying there a one way flight was that much - yikes! Yes, a 27 hour drive is looong but for a girl on a budget it was definitely worth it!
Garage Sales/Online Garage Sale Sites
In the past 6 months(ish) I have probably made over $500 just by selling used items on my hometown's online garage sale sites on FB. People go crazzzy for designer items on those sites I've found. I'm terrible at buying things on impulse and then realizing I will never wear it/use it as soon as I get it home. I make my money back by selling it on those sites and whatever money I make goes into my vacation savings account.
Look at ALL the Options
2 1/2 years ago my friend Scooby and I flew from Minot, North Dakota to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Minot is only an hour and a half drive from where I live and is actually the closest airport to me. Scooby's friend Mri is a doctor doing her residency at a hospital in Harrisburg and we went on vacation for 10 days to visit her and go to NYC. Flying into Harrisburg from Minot and then back to Minot from Harrisburg was around $600 for both ways. When Scooby and I went to NYC from Harrisburg we took the Amtrak train, which cost us a total of $50. When you look at flying straight into NYC from this area flights are around $1000 for just ONE way. Scooby and I have both said that when we do eventually get back to NYC we are going to do it the smart way again - even if Mri isn't living in Harrisburg anymore it would still be financially smarter for us to fly into Harrisburg and then take the train to NYC again. Saving all that money allowed us to get a more expensive hotel in NYC for two nights that was only a block away from Times Square and also left us with more spending money for shopping and for the entrance fees to all the tourist-y things we did - the Empire State Building, Central Park Zoo, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Statue of Liberty. etc. Now whenever I look at traveling I spend hours searching for the most inexpensive way to get where I want to go. Sometimes the hassel of flying into an area that isn't directly where you want to go isn't worth it but its definitely worth it to at least check out ALL of the options!
Do you have any awesome tips on how to save on traveling? Let me know in the comments!