I just recently went on a weekend trip to Chicago, and have two trips on the docket for July. So, today I wanted to share with you how I go about saving some money while traveling (more locally).
If you're looking for how to use credit cards to get airline miles, or how to get free accomodations this isn't the blog post for you. This is just me looking at the general areas of travel and things to consider when choosing what to do.
+ Transportation — Flying is super convenient and there are plenty of great deals out there for flights. But if it’s close enough and there’s a group of you going driving is a great option. I spent around $30 to get to Chicago and back while a plane ride would have been probably over $300. I could have also taken a train but that would have been around $150. And my final option would have been the megabits which is a cool $40. My point here is research your options.
+ Food — One great example of this is one night we were going to this really cool rooftop bar that had appetizers, but I knew it would be a bit more spendy. Some people weren’t hungry or had already gotten food so I grabbed a 6” sandwich from Subway on my way there, which was $4, filled me up and saved me a pretty penny. Another option is to split a meal with someone else there. And finally just look at the menu for cheap options. Even if it’s a more expensive place you can make a reasonable meal out of something there without spending too much. For example you could get an appetizer and a side instead of a main course meal.
Also if you’re staying at a hotel, take advantage of that free hotel breakfast even if it’s not the best meal you’ve ever eaten. And don’t forget to pack your own snacks. This is always something I do whether I’m flying or driving. You’re going to want snacks and it’ll save you money to bring your own instead having to buy them in the airport or at a gas station. Not to mention you’ll probably pack a lot healthier options then what will be available.
And finally in this category, depending on where you’re staying, go buy groceries and cook instead of eating out every meal. This is just one of my favorite things to do in general when we travel but making your own food is going to save you money too. Obviously you can’t really cook in a hotel room (unless it has a kitchen), but if you’re staying at an Airbnb or with someone else, cook that food.
+ Alcohol — I didn’t drink on my most recent trip, but the rest of the girls all brought their own alcohol or bought it from the store to drink in our hotel room so they didn’t have to spend as much when we went out. Obviously not drinking is cheapest in this category, but also limiting the amount you drink, or ordering cheaper drinks is another option too. I normally don’t order more than one drink at dinner when we go out, unless it’s happy hour.
+ Accommodations — Once again, shop around. Look at the differences between hotels, hostels and Airbnb. Are you traveling alone or in a group, because groups have pretty great buying power. Or can you stay with a friend you know who lives there? We usually always go with an Airbnb when we travel internationally because of price and it’s usually more fun so you can feel like you’re “in it” in a new city. We shared rooms in Chicago, and four girls in a room is obviously a lot cheaper than just one or two people per room.
Speaking of where we stayed, you’ll also want to consider location. While further out places are probably cheaper you need to do some research and calculate how much you would be spending on transportation to get to where you want to be in that city. Because if you have to spend a bunch on the subway or Uber, it might actually be cheaper to spend a bit more and be closer to the center of action. We could walk to dinner and the bars each night instead of having to get three Ubers for our group.
+ Entertainment — It’s definitely OK to pay for some activities especially if it’s significant to where you’re traveling, but don’t blow the bank on a ton of activities, when there are plenty of fun free things to do. I loved our tour of the Palais de Papas in Avignon, France, but I also love going on hikes or just exploring the streets of a new place.
There’s obviously many other ways to save some money. But these are some of the big areas you can look at. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun.