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Top Tips for Budget Travel

By: Desiree Hester

Does the warmer weather have you itching to venture into the great outdoors? Are you dreaming of future travels but weary about the potential costs your adventures might incur? Here are a few simple tips sure to save you money on your next great journey.

Budget for Your Top Priorities

When planning a trip, take into consideration the activities that are of highest priority to you and if plausible, budget for those first. If your bucket list items are pricey, you may find that you can make compromise, in areas of less importance, to accommodate your dreams. Preparing in advance can save you from the stress of unexpected expenses during your trip.

Prior to a past trip to Norway, we narrowed down a few activities that were on our must do list and planned our budget around those activities. Although we made some changes, like cooking most of our own meals and camping along the way, we were able to enjoy the adventures we had dreamed about and had the added benefit of having more opportunities to view the spectacular Northern Lights while camping.

Dine In

If you are not careful, food expenses can take a large bite out of your travel budget.  Thankfully, there are several ways to cut down on your food expenditures while still enjoying the local fare. Lunch specials are often cheaper than the dinner menu but will still allow you to sample what you want. Or, perhaps you can splurge on a good meal out every couple of days and prepare the remainder of the meals yourself.

Sampling the local cuisine is something my husband and I love, and feel is essential to understanding the local culture of an area. To partake of the local cuisine while maintaining a strict budget, we often opt for staying in vacation rentals that include kitchens where we can cook some of our meals. If we are on a road trip, we pack our camp chef and enjoy many of our travel meals around a campfire while camping. Shopping at local markets can also be a unique cultural experience and can give you an opportunity to see what the locals eat. 

Sleep in the Great Outdoors

 If you are sticking to a budget, you can find some wiggle room by being more creative with where you stay each night. If you are planning on spending time in the great outdoors, opt for camping in lieu of hotel stays. With a bit of research, it is even possible to find a campground that offers showers and laundry facilities, allowing you to reduce hotel stays even more.

If you are comfortable with roughing it a bit,  many camping options can be found on BLM land. Though the campsites are often more primitive, they are typically free and have the added advantage of allowing you to experience more solitude and an authentic outdoor experience. Or, if you want to immerse yourself even further, while dramatically reducing costs, backpacking is a fantastic option.

Last year we backpacked along the Teton Crest Trail in Teton National Park and were able to save a significant amount of money by avoiding restaurants or staying in hotels. In addition to the savings, we experienced true solitude and a deeper look into the beauty of the Tetons that some do not experience. We have even flown with backpacking/camping gear and experienced outdoor camping adventures in other countries.  We have found places (such as some national parks) have the option to reserve camping gear to rent when you arrive.

Travel in the Shoulder Season

Traveling in the shoulder season is one of the best ways to cut down on costs. Airfare is often more affordable, and accommodations are plentiful and less costly once the horde of tourists die down.  When taking a trip to the great outdoors, traveling in the shoulder season can also result in milder temperatures and fewer pesky bugs. Each year we take a fall road trip camping through an area laden in autumn color. The natural beauty is arguably at its best and the added advantage of lower season costs allows us to stretch our budget further than we would during peak season. 

So, whether your next destination is just outside the scope of your own home or you are preparing to embark across the globe, preparing a budget-friendly trip is easier and more realistic than it might appear. With a bit of planning and a mindful approach to your travel plans you will be well on your way to an adventure that will leave both you and your wallet happy!

About the Author:

Desiree Hester

Desiree is a photographer, blogger, world traveler and creator of The Wayfarer Journeys travel website. Through her words and photos she aims to inspire others to dedicate more time to being in nature and to add outdoor adventure into every trip that is taken. Desiree believes that anyone can benefit from travel and time spent in the great outdoors- no matter their skill level. Whether in her beautiful home state of Utah or while traveling abroad, she can be found hiking, back packing, camping, snow shoeing, cooking a mean dutch oven meal or out on the lake with her wonderful husband and fearless adventure pup, Waldo.  You can follow Desiree on Instagram at @thewayfarerjourneys

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