5 Ways to Summer Travel on a Budget

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When I got the crazy idea to move everything I own into storage and take off on a summer blogging tour, I never realized the #1 question I would be asked is “How can you afford to do this?”

While at first I was a little caught off guard by the nosiness of people, I then realized that people were just curious how I was able to visit multiple destinations every month on a very limited budget.  And when I say limited, I mean less than most people make in a month!

My theory has always been experiences and relationships over money and possessions. For me, traveling on a budget and making sacrifices along the way is well worth the experiences I encounter and the relationships I make.

I will warn you that this is not super plush traveling on a budget.  This is like sleeping on couches, cooking for friends, spending days volunteering instead of trips to amusement parks and giving up things like shopping, kind of budget.

These are my 5 Ways to Summer Travel on a Budget:

1. Cash in those Frequent Flier Miles.  Try to fly the same airline for work or vacation throughout the year, that way you will start accumulating enough points to earn free flights.

No, this is not a road trip, I’m flying, train riding, subway taking or bussing it everywhere I go.  I do not own a car that would make it from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, so I can most definitely tell you it wouldn’t make it from Los Angeles to Canada!

I also love that mass transportation allows you to meet new and interesting people.  It would be a little difficult to strike up a conversation with someone new when sitting in a car by yourself!

2. Trade in your Debit Card for an American Express. An American Express is not a credit card, but rather a bank card in which you must pay off the balance each month. By using this instead of my debit card each month I’ve been able to earn hundreds of dollars in gift cards to restaurants, airlines, hotels and more in the past year!

I recommend this to all my friends because it will give you the points that lead to free stuff for your travels without getting you into debt!

 3. Call in your couch crashing favors for the year. This summer there’s no hotel, motel or Holiday Inn for me, rather couches, air mattresses and twin beds at the parents house.

Hotels are an extremely expensive part of travel.  At over $100 a night (and well over that in some places) my entire summer travel budget would be used up in about 2 weeks if I were staying in hotels!

I am very fortunate to meet people who live all over the country and are willing to let me “crash their house” for a couple of days. But, the great thing with social media is that almost anyone can do the same!

By putting out a simple status update, “does someone have a place I can crash in Boston for a couple of days?” may get a response from a second cousin or an old friend that you could stay with and take the opportunity to catch up with while you’re in town! That’s what I like to call a “Budget Travel BONUS!”

 4. Trade in a day at a theme park for a day of volunteering. It may not seem like the “fun” option, but in the end I promise you will remember that day you volunteered to help build a home in New Orleans or helped serve food to the homeless in NYC, over the memory of riding a couple of roller coasters and eating some funnel cakes and corn dogs.

 5. Cook dinner for the friends you are staying with instead of eating out.  This is a great way to save money and say “thank you” to your gracious hosts!

Some of my favorite budget friendly meals that can easily serve 4-6 and take less than an hour to make are:

Happy Travels Y’all!!!