We have all been there: drooling over the Instagram of that one friend, the one who always seems to be jet-setting off to a new destination. We have all dreamed of traveling to see new places, and I always love a good vacation! But, sometimes our budgets have other plans, and it can be especially hard to plan for travel when you’re in high school or you are a parent paying for a high schooler as they graduate. I wanted to put together some of my best tips for traveling on a budget today! You can start dreaming of your next trip, even if it’s just an overnight jaunt to a nearby city. Travel is good for the body, and the soul!
-Plan with safety and convenience in mind: Never go on a trip without telling someone, and if you’re in high school, be sure to tell a trusted adult when you’ll be leaving and returning. Have your car checked out before you go on a long road trip, so you don’t risk blowing a tire or having your car break down (thus costing tons of money) while you are away from family and friends. Make sure you can charge your phone somehow, and bring along emergency cash, food, and water anytime you are driving a long distance, especially in the colder months or extreme heat.
-Make a budget: Decide what you will be able to pay, and if you’re traveling with friends, make sure you are upfront about what you and they will be paying for. It’s never fun to have a surprise that you weren’t planning for, or having to foot the bill for something you didn’t know you were responsible for. You can even use an app like Paypal or Venmo to create a money pool and budget accordingly. Be considerate of others if you are planning a group trip, and come up with ways to make it affordable for everyone, even if it means skipping a fancy dinner and packing your own food. Remember it’s about relationships, not the money spent. Make a budget and stick to it, so you’re not left with credit card debt as your souvenir!
-Don’t book your travel on a sketchy site: One of the best ways to lose your hard earned money is to book with a scam website. Don’t fall for emails that say you will win a free cruise or trip, unless you trust the sender. Be sure to double check any bookings you have made, and try to go through a well regarded travel site like Expedia or Kayak, to minimize the risk of putting your credit card and information out there for hackers. If possible, book using a credit card with fraud protection versus a debit card that can drain your accounts. You can also use the airline tools that show you the cheapest fares, in order to select any flights that will save you money.
-Organize meals and snacks ahead of time: one of the biggest areas that will cost when you travel is food. You can minimize the amount of money you’ll have to spend on dining out by taking advantage of things like a continental breakfast at a hotel, or packing easy to eat items like instant oatmeal, granola bars, or beef jerky in order to skip at least one meal a day in a restaurant. Even something like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches may not be glamorous but they will save you quite a bit. When you do eat out, check Yelp for affordable places to eat, and order water to drink (even the few dollars adds up). If you’re going to be dining at places you know ahead of time, like chain restaurants, consider buying gift cards before you go at your local grocery store. You’ll earn gas points when you purchase them at most grocery chains, and it’s money you’d already be spending, so it’s a great way to save on gas.
-Look for cheap travel ideas: If you keep an open mind, you can travel on a shoestring, even if it’s just camping. Camping can be a great way to get out of town without paying for a spendy hotel. Travel is so good to clear your head and get a change of pace, and camping can do just that, even if it’s a short drive away. Gather up some friends, and get into the great outdoors for a trip that won’t break the bank