Tips for saving money while traveling

A few months ago while doing some research for my novel, a friend and I took a weekend trip to visit the city my novel is set in. With both of us not having much money to spend we began to rack our brains for ways to save money. I am very proud to say that for a 4 day, 3 night trip to a city that was over 1,600 miles away from my house round trip. I only spent $200.00 for everything. And when I say everything, I mean hotel, rental car, gas, meals, and even some gifts for my daughter. How did I ever manage that?


For the life of me I cannot figure out why I didn’t see the benefit from reward points long ago. There are a lot of credit cards out there which offer them, and yet for some reason the only time I ever used them for were gift cards. While a gift card is still nice, I never even thought about using them.

After a long debate over what car to drive – even with the high gas prices, splitting the cost of gas was cheaper than buying plane tickets and spending cab fare. We came across the idea of cashing in some reward points for a gift certificate to a rental car place. We priced a few cars out and presto had a nice rental car the entire four days for a grand total of $24.99, or $12.49 each.

Because our car was a mid-size car, our gas bill for the whole trip ended up around $180.00, or about $90.00 each. Instead of the $300.00 it would have been taking her car or the $450.00 it would have been taking mine. Even with the full price of the rental car, we would have saved almost $150.00 over taking my own car.


My friend’s husband traveled a lot for work, so a long time ago they signed up for stay points through a large hotel chain. Because of the points he had accumulated a few month prior, we received two of the three nights we booked for free, cutting our hotel bill down to just $85.00, or $42.50 each.

While most people do not have enough points starting out to get free nights, sign up for deals anyways. A lot of hotel chains across American have reward deals, and even if you don’t travel too much, when you do travel it wouldn’t be a bad idea to rack up points for the future. You never know, a few trips down the road and you could have a completely free room for your entire trip.


Knowing we could take advantage of the hotels free continental breakfast, we were only left with two meals and snacks to worry about. Before leaving for the trip we met at the grocery store. We bought some bread, sandwich meat, snacks, bags of chips, coffee creamer that did not need refrigeration, and a few frozen dinners. We each brought fruit already cut up and stored in Tupperware, pre-bagged vegetables, and small containers filled with different condiments for the sandwiches.

After packing everything in a cooler, lunch and dinner were taken care of. My $30.00 grocery bill fed me plenty for the four days. Not only was the feeling of saving money great, but so was the fact that I didn’t gain a pound from eating unhealthy restaurant food.

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** Bottom line is it’s easy to save money when traveling. You just need to shop around first to make sure you are getting the best deals, research the best mode of transportation at the cheapest cost, use points and rewards if they are available to you and above all plan ahead, get creative, and have fun. Happy traveling!

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Written by Minnie Hoffman

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