Would you prefer to listen to a podcast on this topic? This week's Financial Beeswax Saving Money While Traveling Stateside - Episode 7 discusses the same topic.
This blog is focused on ways to save money while traveling stateside; however, stay tuned for our blog and podcast discussing ways to save money traveling internationally in late June.
There are a lot of ways to save money when traveling stateside. Due to PAFS participating as exhibitors at conventions, we travel by vehicle to haul the displays and products we have at our booths. Our experience traveling on the road has taught us many ways to save.
Attending a lot of conventions can bloat the budget quickly as there are convention costs, hotel costs, gas, food, and a little entertainment if we have the time. We usually do not have the time, or we are too tired for entertainment, though.
Convention costs are fixed and non-negotiable, but there are ways to save on hotel costs. First, make hotel reservations as far out as possible. Room rates increase the closer it gets to the time of arrival. Since room rates are more expensive when booking closer to the arrival date, don’t travel without a hotel picked out. It’s fun to wing it, but it costs more in the long-run.
Also, make sure to take a copy of your hotel reservation with you to ensure the rate you booked your hotel at is the rate being charged at checkout. And, remember, hotels that call themselves resorts usually have a daily resort fee.
Other things to consider with hotels is location, alternative parking to valet parking, and loyalty programs. Hotels located in downtown areas typically have higher room rates. A higher room rate isn’t bad when paying for convenience, but something to keep in mind. You may want or need to be downtown, so booking your room in advance will get you a better rate. However, if you can stay at a hotel a few miles out and drive in the downtown, you may save money on your hotel stay and parking.
Many, if not most, hotels in downtown areas state that parking is valet only. Valet parking is usually not the only option. Most hotels are located near public parking, which can save you two-thirds to a half in parking costs. Unload your belongings at the entrance with a family member or the concierge and go park in public parking to save on fees.
Loyalty programs can earn you special deals and free rooms if you travel a lot and use the same hotel flag (chain). Most hotel loyalty programs are free and do not require the use of a particular credit card. If they do, find a different program with a different flag. Remember, too, that hotel room rates fluctuate with seasons. You can find better deals on off seasons.
Snacks and Drinks
One way to easily overspend when traveling is buying snacks and drinks when stopping at service stations. We lessen these costs by stocking up on our favorite snacks and drinks and hauling it with us. Also, we pack premade sandwiches and cut up veggies and fruit, too. Since we are not soda drinkers, we load the vehicle with bottled water. Or, you can skip the bottled water and use a 5-gallon water cooler and bring along water bottles to refill.
Another easily accumulated expense is using extra data on our phones, iPads, Kindles, etc. To ensure we do not incur additional data costs, we download any movies, books, podcasts, games, etc., that we will want to use while traveling. Download data at home alleviates the concern of going over on our data plan. Once we arrive at our hotel, we connect all of our electronics to the hotel wifi. If you are connecting to the hotel wifi, be aware of the safety concerns of others who can hack your equipment when you are on a public server.
Activities and Entertainment
The last thing we do is research activities in the area if we know we will have some extra time. Many places give discounts if you order tickets online. There are many places, such as gardens and museums that are free, but it’s easier to find them when you research them before arriving at your destination.
The last tip is to budget for your trip. Figure out how much you want to spend, divide that by the number of months until your trip, and start saving that amount each month. Make sure to budget a bit extra for splurges and unexpected expenses.
For more information on saving while traveling, check out these articles: