Traveling is adventurous, fun, and exciting. It can also be very expensive. If you’re anything like me and your desire to experience new places flares up way too often to ignore, you find a way to make it work. Unless you can afford fancy lodges, expensive rental cars, and eating out for every meal, being away from home can make a person go broke very quickly. If you’d like to be able to visit more outdoor destinations without emptying the piggy bank here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:
1. Don’t get sucked into retail environments like strip malls, gift shops, or any other tourist traps. Just remember, the more time you spend hiking and exploring the free and natural world, the less money you’ll ending up spending on stuff that will be sitting on your mantle collecting dust for years to come.
2. A significant amount of money can be spent just on lodging each day. My solution to this is camping. Primitive tent camping can range in price from free to about $30 a day- depending on how primitive you want to get. Some forests and parks offer free or very cheap backcountry camping as long as you obtain a permit. If you’d like to have some more amenities you’ll pay closer to $20 or $30 a day. Today it’s easier than ever to find out where the best spots are, especially with websites like Tripleblaze. So, if you’re going to be staying somewhere for more than a day or two, camping can save you a lot of money over staying in a hotel.
3. Although eating out can be very tempting, especially after a long day of hiking, the cost adds up fast. My solution is to limit myself to one restaurant meal per day, at the most. I pack a large cooler with healthy items like juice, sandwich meat and cheese, fresh fruits, and yogurt. Other good food items to take along are bread, oatmeal, granola bars, crackers, canned soups and canned veggies. These are just some of my favorites. Feel free to pack whatever healthy snacks and meals you enjoy.
4. If you’re going to be flying or renting a car give yourself enough time to search for the best deals. My favorite airlines are Spirit and Southwest. My favorite car rental service is Alamo. Plus, there are so many good websites for comparing deals such as kayak.com, hotwire.com, and orbitz.com. Although spur-of-the-moment trips can be exciting, you usually end up paying top dollar for anything you book last minute.
5. If you’re taking a road trip or plan to visit several National Parks or State Parks look into park passes. You can pay one flat rate and get into any park for a whole year instead of paying full price for each one you visit.
Traveling to and hiking in new territories is my absolute favorite thing to do. Of course, everyone has their own money-saving tips and tricks. These are the ones that I always stick to and they end up saving me the most money. I’ve been able to take several small trips over the past few years always on a small budget.