4 Ways I've Saved Lots of Money on Travel Through the Years

by Maurie Backman | Updated Aug. 12, 2021 - First published on June 29, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Woman listening to headphones and looking out the window of an airplane.

Image source: Getty Images

Here are some of the ways I've managed to see the country -- and other countries -- without busting my budget.

As a busy working mom with a gaggle of kids, I don't travel these days as much as I used to. But before we had kids, my husband and I traveled quite a bit, domestically as well as overseas. And since having kids, we've taken several cross-country road trips.

Travel has always been important to me, so I've always prioritized saving money for it. Here are some of the strategies I've used to keep those costs down.

1. I've maximized credit card reward points

A number of my credit cards offer generous rewards for things like gas fill-ups, groceries, and other regular purchases. In the past, I've banked my rewards and cashed them out to help pay for travel. I've also opened some travel rewards cards, one of which scored me a free flight a few years back.

2. I've stayed in some inexpensive places

I'm not the type who needs a luxury hotel, and that approach to travel has saved me a fair amount of money, especially when visiting countries overseas. Of course, I have, at times, taken that concept to an extreme. Years back, in Panama, I rented a room in a hostel for $8 a night that required me to share a bathroom and shower with half a dozen strangers. And on several road trips, we've camped out for the night rather than springing for a hotel. My logic is that when I'm traveling, I only need a place to sleep and bathe -- I don't tend to care about amenities, and that's kept my costs way down.

3. I've driven instead of flying

Having three kids means paying for three more airline tickets every time we go somewhere, and that gets expensive. That's why most of our recent travels have been road trips. That way, we've seen more of the country and not spent a fortune to cram onto an airplane.

4. I've rented private homes instead of booking hotels

Renting a private home is often cheaper than staying in a hotel, and it has another upside: you get access to a full kitchen. That's been a huge source of savings. A few years back, my family rented a private cabin in the mountains and cooked our own meals every day. Since restaurants in the area were limited, that worked better for my gang of picky eaters. Another time, we rented a private home with friends and took turns cooking for one another, which was actually fun and made the experience more memorable.

If you enjoy travel, you can make it more affordable, provided you're willing to compromise. These tricks have worked well for me, and meant I've seen more places and enjoyed a wide range of experiences without landing in debt.

Top credit card wipes out interest until 2023

If you have credit card debt, transferring it to this top balance transfer card secures you a 0% intro APR into 2023! Plus, you'll pay no annual fee. Those are just a few reasons why our experts rate this card as a top pick to help get control of your debt. Read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

About the Author