Over the years of traveling, we’ve mastered some budget friendly travel tips, that has not only made our traveling a bit easier but saved us a lot of money (so we can travel even more!). One of the dreams Scott and I had when we first got married was to travel the world with our future children. Even though it was daunting at first, we wanted to make our dream a reality. But traveling with a family can feel out of reach because the costs add up. In fact, that’s one of the most common questions I get is, “How do you travel with your family and stay within your budget?” This blog post shares all my best tips for being budget travelers, along with a free printable so you can get started planning your next trip right away!
Our Top 16 Budget Friendly Travel Tips
Become savvy travelers with these budget travel tips that help us find ways to avoid the common costs and additional fees you can run into when traveling. Whether you’re taking a road trip or experiencing international travel for the first time, you’re in the right place to save a little money in a lot of different ways that add up fast when traveling.
1. Pack Light
Y’all know we love a good backpack trip! Our family finds so much freedom in packing light – not only does it save on baggage fees (which add up quickly), it’s the best way to give us the physical space to be fully present and not be literally weighed down by bags. Meet me on my TikTok to see all my best packing hacks!
@mrsblinks Bigger bags = heavier bags… so we decided to stay at the same size for my 6 year old #packwiththeblinks #22adventuresin2022 #packforeurope #tiktoktravel #packwithme ♬ Paper Birds (3 min) – Jordan Halpern Schwartz
2. Travel Off Season
Traveling during peak season means peak prices. Traveling on the cheapest days can save you so much money. If you can travel off season – typically not during holidays or major school vacation times – you can save a lot on airline tickets to amazing destinations. Being flexible with your travel dates makes a big difference when you’re looking for the cheapest ways to make your dream vacation happen.
One of the best ways to find the best deals and cheaper flights is through SkyScanner, which I have highlighted before (ICYMI: tips are in the printable below!) SkyScanner can also help you get last-minute deals.
3. Grocery Stores
Whether you stay in vacation rentals or hotel rooms, grocery stores and local markets are critical, especially with kids. Buying some essentials can help save on food costs for meals like breakfast and fast snacks. We use groceries to help us save a lot of money but we still explore some local restaurants and street food. Another great option is choosing a hotel that serves free breakfast. Pro tip: set up an Instacrat order ahead of time!
4. Public Transport
If you’re in a location where there’s lots of public transportation like major cities, use it! It’s always more affordable than ride-share services or a rental car and it’s safe and effective. Plus, it can be a great experience for children if you don’t live in an area with subways or trains. It’s a great way to see a new city and there are no cheaper alternatives than local transport options.
5. Ditch the overpriced Tours
We love the convenience of an organized tour but when you are buying tickets for the whole family it can get quite expensive. If you are trying to save money I would opt for some DIY excursions. With just a little research you can plan excursions that are just as fun at a fraction of the cost. Not only is it a cost savings but getting to go at your own pace is pretty nice too when you are traveling with your kids.
6. DIY Sightseeing
You don’t need to pay for pricey tours to have a great experience. DIY sightseeing is just as good, if not sometimes better because it’s in your control. You may need to do more research and planning ahead of time, but it’s worth it to save money and customize your travel experience to your own personal preferences.
7. Use Points & Rewards
Not only can you use credit card points for things like free flights and hotels, but you can also use the perks that come with travel credit cards for certain amenities like special access to lounges and more. Learn more about our favorite travel credit cards here!
8. Go Where the Deals Are
The more flexible you are on your destination and timing, you more you can take advantage of travel deals. Shop the deals and you may find a great travel deal or a destination you wouldn’t have thought of going before!
9. Avoid Tourist Traps
There will always be flashy tourist traps that try to suck you in and get you to spend money on items or experiences that you don’t really need to waste money on. Be savvy about avoiding these!
10. Stay Outside of the Big Cities
Avoiding staying in the big cities will not only allow you to get a better taste of the real culture of a place, but it’s also usually less expensive.
11. Find Free Things to Do
Playgrounds, beaches, museums, walking tours, parks – there are always free options for entertainment anywhere you go, you may just have to get a little creative!
Negotiating prices is very normal, and sometimes even expected, in a lot of countries, so don’t be afraid to haggle! Marrakech was this way, so we had a lot of good practice at making deals while we were there! Read more about our trip to Marrakech here.
13. Ask the Locals
The locals always know where the best deals are! They also know where the best places are that you might otherwise overlook. Befriend your waiter, talk to people at the local parks, and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations!
14. Always Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
Water is one thing you shouldn’t need to spend money on while traveling. Buying bottled water can add up. Instead, always carry a reusable bottle and fill it up every chance you get!
15. Take the long route
Ubers and taxis can really add up. We love to walk when traveling as much as possible because we see more and find things we didn’t expect.
16. Limit Souvenirs
Souvenirs are great and all, but it’s more about the experience. Don’t go overboard spending money on souvenirs that are really just junk. We love postcards and we use them as framed art!
I hope these budget friendly travel tips will help you travel more, experience more, and spend less while doing so! Travel doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. With a little planning and strategy, you can travel on any budget!
Checkout more of our travel tips:
Visiting Porto Portugal with Kids: A Family Travel Guide
Visiting Paris with Kids for the First Time