How to put the budget in travel for cheap trips

Putting the budget in travel is easier than you might think. This is January and since November, I have traveled to Myrtle Beach, New York City and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Budget trip, cheap trips, travel on a shoestring, whatever you call it, saving money is the name of the game. Planning goes beyond the online search for deals. I have gotten the cheapest prices and deep discounts by planning ahead, changing my thinking and taking a few risks.

Woma n at shopping court
Caption: Gayle in New York City.

Consider my total round trip costs for these travel destinations:

  • My budget travel took me to New York City for less than $350.
  • Athens, Tennessee to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee was about $450.
  • Home to Myrtle Beach cost less than $550.

And, I never felt deprived despite the low budget.

I stayed in hotels or campgrounds, dined in trendy restaurants and bought souvenirs. At no time did I feel deprived or sad because of trying to spend as little money as possible. A budget vacation doesn’t mean that you are short on fun. Your mindset and willingness to take bold travel moves is what sets an adventurer apart from a tourist, and helps you cut costs.

Let me give you some ideas on how to make a cheap trip happen. I’ll give a breakdown for the above destinations in upcoming articles. In the meantime here are some tips I use to get the best vacation deals possible.

Scope out wholesale clubs for discount gift cards to restaurants and attractions.

Taking a road trip in a car can be cheaper than airplane travel.

A bus can be even less expensive than a car.

Hotel prices are generally better during the off-season, but best during dead week.

Tourist destinations tend to have better deals during the week.

High tourist destinations tend to have the best deals on the weekends. (Ever heard the term “great weekend rates”?)

There are free attractions in every city – if you know where to look.

Shop clearance racks in souvenir shops, or tread off the beaten path for the best souvenir deals.

Clip coupons for national restaurant chains and take them with you.

Use your AAA or AARP card at restaurants. Get a list of participating restaurants from your club.

No AAA or AARP? Some hotel chains extend a government discount to teachers. Military personnel may also get a reduced rate.

Checking in late at night? Try negotiating with the hotel. I have received as much as $20 off when checking in after 10:00 pm.

PT Cruiser on a map.
Caption: PT Cruiser on a map.

Are you reaching for your atlas yet? The only cure for the travel bug is a vacation. Be careful though! It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to recoup after the budget travel bug virus hits. The disease goes into remission, but never fully leaves. Once you start itching for the next road trip, the only thing you can do is fill the gas tank and grab the suitcase.

A bodacious vacation is right around the corner. Are you ready for the adventure?

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