10 Money Saving Travel Tips

May 20, 2021 | Personal Finance, Personal Finance Podcast, Saving Money | 1 comment

delicate arch in Utah - 10 money saving travel tips


As Financial Coaches who love to explore new places, you know we have a few tips to save money on travel!

Right now, it’s almost summer and I’ve officially caught the Travel Bug – I get a serious case of it every Spring. I can’t wait for the adventures ahead this travel season and I know I’m not alone.

I remember it was one Spring when I was in college that I took my first road trip. It was nothing if not budget friendly. After growing up and living in Texas, the Dallas area, for 20 years I had just learned about Guadalupe National Park. I headed to Dicks Sporting Goods, bought the cheapest tent and sleeping bags I could find – and kidnapped my little brother for the 10 hour drive West. The rest – as they say – is history.

What most people would do – If money wasn’t a Challenge

One of the top responses to our question “What is one thing you would do if money wasn’t an issue?” is “Travel more”. Right in there with “Quit my job that I hate” and “Spend more time with family”

I totally agree! Seeing new places is one of mine and Dylan’s favorite things to do. Exploring, new adventures, and shared experiences are a big part of our relationship. So travel is a great reason to prioritize financial freedom, and it was one of our goals as well!

What is a Travel Hangover?

Unfortunately, instead of saving money to travel, most Americans go in to debt. Many decide not to travel at all because they cannot afford to hit the road or take to the open skies. We’ve been in both positions. Going into debt to do what we love, or choosing not to go because we were too stressed about the money side of it.

We even have a term for that icky feeling when you come back to more debt and stress than you had before your trip. The feeling that even when you’re still on your vacation, you’re worried about how much you’re spending and dreading that credit card bill.

We call it a Travel Hangover.

It can hit as soon as you get home and can last as long as that credit card balance looms. Travel hangovers are the worst, and we want to help ensure you avoid them!

So here are some of the ways we save money on travel. By planning ahead, reducing expenses and staying on track with our other goals we get to do what we love most – TRAVEL!

Make a Budget

Set your intention before you travel to stick to a spending plan so that you don’t return with a “Travel Hangover”

I get it – saving money and travel don’t exactly go hand in hand. But if you want a shot at it you need to determine how much you plan to spend. This includes deciding on the type of trip you want to take. Then do some research on how much it will cost for travel, housing, and food.

Reviewing your budget, savings, and financial goals – decide how much you want to set aside leading up to your trip specifically for travel expenses.

Set a savings goal and as you plan your trip, make sure that you track the expenses and keep your plan within your budget.

Cellphones and Data

Cell phones make traveling convenient. You use them for everything GPS, music, and streaming movies. But if you’re not paying attention overage fees add up quickly and can cut into your travel budget.

Here are a few things to do that will help you avoid overage fees etc.

  • Download maps along your route from Google before leaving home. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling to remote places and find yourself in an area with limited signal.

  • Download your entertainment like music, podcasts, and audiobooks instead of streaming them.

  • Utilize “Airplane Mode” when roaming

  • In your settings, turn your Data Off. This allows you to still make and receive calls and texts but save on data since a lot of apps work in the background and use data even when you are not actively using them.

If you know you use more data while traveling it could save you money to change your plan for a month and then go back to your original plan when you return. If you’re traveling abroad, call your service provider and discuss details of fees associated when using data in another country and ask for suggestions to keep costs low.

Either way, it’s always cheaper if you plan ahead versus in the moment when you need it most.

Saving Money on Travel using Credit Cards

While you’re making phone calls – don’t forget to let your credit card company know that you’re traveling, this is especially important if you’re traveling abroad.

The last thing you will want is your credit card company thinking your transactions in another country are fraud and then locking your account down. To avoid this, inform them of your plans to travel. They will ask for date ranges etc. and make a note on your account.

Use your Miles

Are you guilty of hoarding the miles on your travel rewards card? If so it’s time to cash them in! This is a huge way to save money on travel – airfare alone can be a great deal. We’re not huge fans of using credit cards to get the rewards. But when used responsibly you can walk away with more benefits than costs.

Should you get a Travel credit card?

It honestly depends. We usually prefer cards with cash back as it can be used in whatever way you want. But we do have an American Airlines card with a $95 annual membership. But every year we also accumulate enough miles for us both to fly round-trip to visit family back in Texas. Pretty easy to know that $95 is far less than roundtrip airfare for two into DFW.

Additional benefits

Ask them about any additional benefits they provide that you may not be aware of. A common benefit is insurance for your rental vehicle. Meaning you can save money on the added protection for that rental car. They may have connections with certain airlines and hotels to get you discounts while traveling. So make sure and ask.

Watch out for Foreign Transaction Fees

It is also helpful to ask about any fees for using your cards in other countries. Many credit card companies charge Foreign Transactions fees which you will want to be aware of so you can plan accordingly. Other cards are not as widely accepted, Discover and American Express in particular are less popular abroad. So talk to each credit card company to determine which of your cards are worth taking and what fees to expect.


A commonly overlooked opportunity to save money is by planning for the food at home before you travel, and what you’ll eat on the road. Between letting fresh food go to waste before a trip and eating out while traveling, there are lots of opportunities to save money here!


To reduce your food bill and cut down on food waste, plan your meals for the week before leaving around what’s left in your refrigerator. Sift through what you have on hand, sort by the best by dates, and consider when you plan to return. See what you can whip up using the most delicate or closest to spoiling.

Make a grocery list and only shop for food you know you’ll eat prior to leaving town.


Freeze what’s in the fridge or in your pantry that:

a) You won’t be able to eat before leaving

b) You don’t want to take with you or

c) Won’t last until you return.

Cut up and freeze fruits, vegetables, cheeses, bread and other baked goods, tortillas, cooked beans, etc. and move it all to the freezer in freezer bags.

PRO TIP: Invest in a good cooler! They are worth the money due to how much you will save by not eating out as much and they help you bring your favorite foods on the road with you!


Regardless of the type of trip, you are going on, your pantry can save you a ton of money before going on a trip. We’re talking about snacks, people.

Keeping the peace and making sure no one gets hangry is a top priority on our trips – especially as vegetarians where options are limited and snacks on the road or in an airport add up fast.

PRO TIP: Using small snack bags or containers, shop your pantry for nuts, crackers, dried fruit, chips, or whatever your favorite snack is!


Whether you’re saving money on gas, snacks or sunscreen – a Costco membership can quickly pay for itself when you’re traveling. If you don’t already have one, consider getting a membership and stocking up before your trip. Don’t forget to look for locations along your route or near your destination as well!

Some of our favorites Costco buys include – filling our cooler with cold brew coffee for the road and buying delicious danishes from the bakery to have for breakfast when we stay at an Airbnb!


Food and accommodation are the biggest expenses, that is for certain. But when it comes to travel expenses, there are more ways to save money on the small things!


Roadside assistance can be a real lifesaver when you’re traveling across the country, but there are other great benefits as well!

You can save money at many of the hotels you stay at and did you know if you visit a AAA location they will even help you plan your trip and build a detailed itinerary? They will even print out turn by turn directions and give you all the maps you need, or you can simply ask for maps of the states/regions you are traveling to and it is all part of your membership!!

PRO TIP: Technology is great and all, but having the backup of a map is always a good call in our book!


Download the FREE app GasBuddy to enter your location and find the least expensive gas near you while you travel.

That’s it! Use the app and you’ll notice the savings adding up over time.


The more you travel, the more you start to realize that it can be frustrating and sometimes downright hard to find some of the things you need. Especially when you like to visit small middle-of-nowhere towns or destination areas. Selection is minimal and prices tend to rise as does the demand due to scarcity.

I mean, have you ever tried to buy sunscreen when you’re at the beach? It’s wild!

That’s why depending on if you are traveling by air or car, we have an appropriately sized kit of creature comforts and first aid.

Contents include:

  • Hand sanitizer (uh duh!)

  • Benadryl – oral and topical gel for bug bites

  • Antacids

  • NSAID Pain relievers

  • Bandaids

  • Sunscreen + After sun care

  • Tick Twister

  • Glasses cleaner solution and cloth

  • Wet Wipes

  • Tissues

  • Tampons

And whatever other items you use regularly.

PRO TIP: We put our kit in a small rubbermaid to keep it organized and easy to find, without overwhelming our glove box.

These are some of our favorite ways to save money on travel – and honestly, make our road trips easier and more enjoyable.

What was your favorite tip? How do you save money when you travel?

Would you add anything to this list? Comment below!

Want to travel even more? We think everyone should save for an Adult Gap Year!

1 Comment

  1. Sherise Luckado

    I really like reading an article that can make people think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!


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