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Simple Tips for Traveling on a Tight Budget

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It is possible to travel on a budget almost anywhere if you do it correctly.

My friends all know that I absolutely do love to travel. But they also know that my family is not rich. Like many other people we have to live within a set budget. Sure, my writing income helps but it doesn't pay everything. Yet, my family and I have have somehow managed to visit more than 80% of the states in the United States. We have also been to several Canadian provinces and we have just returned home from driving to Alaska.

In my opinion, it is possible to travel on a budget almost anywhere if you do it correctly.

The key to successful traveling is to plan ahead. Begin your research well in advance of your travel date. As soon as you have a destination in mind begin researching. Look for activities and packages that have extra value. For example, does your family enjoy visiting theme parks? If so check with the park. Some places (like Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennesse) have an option where if you arrive after a certain time you get to visit the park the next day for free.

This is like getting two days of fun for the price of one! Better yet, other attractions in the area are doing it too. Some places don't advertise that they offer this special. The only way to find out is to do your research. You will need to look them up on the internet or phone the attraction to ask.

When selecting a destination pick one that will keep most of your family happy. If you know your teenager hates to hike don't pick a summer camping trip to a lake. The same thing goes if your family hates roller coasters or museums.

To travel on a budget go during the off season. Not  only willl you have smaller crowds to put up with but you may save money. Smaller crowds means fewer paying customers. This can sometimes mean that motels will slash prices as they compete for business.

Eat breakfast at the motel if it is something that your family likes to eat. If your famly doesn't like bagels or waffles then you may wind up paying for a something you won't use. Motel breakfasts are not free. They are hidden in the cost of the room price. My family often is on the go before the breakfast hours begin. We use a cooler instead of eating at the motel or buying breakfast. This saves us money and helps us to get on the road faster.

If your family enjoys museums or zoos look into buying a membership. For years, my famly held membership in the aquarium in another city. The cost for the membership was about $10 more than buying one day tickets. When we wanted a quick weekend getaway we would visit the aquarium without the worry of the ticket price. Restaurants and businesses in the area gave a discount on meals by showing the aquarium card. We were able to save money that way too.

The often hidden benefit of membership in a museum, zoo or aquarium is that the membership may be accepted at other participating locations. One summer we decided to go on a zoo tour. My family went to three different zoos over the same week. We had expenses of travel, food and motel stays but not entrance fees. The reason was that our local zoo membership was accepted at the other zoos for free admission. That really helped us to travel on a budget!

I purchased the zoo membership months ahead of time as part of the family Christmas gift. This way, a chunk of our vacation expense was eliminated in advance.

It goes without saying that it is cheaper to eat from a cooler than from a restaurant. To travel on a budget we always pack what we think we'll use. Charcoal grills are often provided for free at area rest stops and picnic areas. Some zoos and theme parks (like Walt Disney World) will allow you to bring sandwiches with you to eat in the park.

When it comes to motels saving money isn't as hard as you might think. We've already talked about traveling during the off season and looking at what services you will actually use. Another way to travel on a budget is by asking for applicable discounts. Most people know that an automobile club membership can help you save money. However, many motels also offer discounts for wholesale club memberships. Other discounts that may be available are for being a teacher, government or state employee or police officer, business traveler, travel industry professional or senior citizen discount.

It also never hurts to pick up a motel magazine from the rest area or welcome center. These are often chock full of coupons or specials that will help you travel on a budget.

4 comments

Diane Zoller-Ciatto
0
Posted on Mar 4, 2010
Donald Pennington
0
Posted on Mar 2, 2010
Gayle Crabtree
0
Posted on Aug 13, 2009
carol roach
0
Posted on Aug 13, 2009

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Gayle Crabtree

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