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About three years ago, Jake and I got the travel bug after a visit to Los Angeles for one of his medical school exams. For some reason, we didn’t travel much before that (I think we thought it was not in our budget), but now we travel any chance we get. In fact, one of the big reasons we were drawn to Birmingham, AL is the close proximity to so many fun southern cities and beaches. When I see people I know in real life, they’re always commenting about how much we travel. Jake and I have learned instead of gifting each other material items, we’ve found our money is best spent creating memories on travels. For holidays we now write each other heartfelt notes and save our money for a trip. We don’t buy each other gifts for Christmas, our anniversary or our birthdays; though we both know what the other likes, we just buy ourselves our own gifts that way we maximize our budget. I used to think traveling on a budget wasn’t possible, so I wanted to share my tips I’ve learned over the years.
How To Travel On A Budget:
- Drive If Possible: While I much prefer to fly, driving saves a lot of money and is better for last minute trips. Sometimes it can be quicker to drive if the distance is under a 4 hour drive due to the wait at the airport and going through security. Our driving limit is usually 5-6 hours and luckily we have many close cities within that range.
- Airbnb: When Jake and I travel, we mostly stay at Airbnbs because they are a lot more affordable than a hotel. They are at least half, if not 1/3, the cost of a hotel. We’ve had great experiences with them, but recommend only staying at ones with great reviews. I also recommend finding ones with a private bathroom. When we went to 30A we were able to have a whole apartment to ourselves for much less than any hotel in the area.
- Plan Ahead: Unless your destination is an easy drivable distance, I recommend planning at least 1-2 months ahead. With flights especially, the price goes up last minute. I find that the one month mark is where the flights get raised a lot. When planning flights, the sooner you can book them, the better rate you will get.
- Fly From A Major Airport: One of the few drawbacks to Birmingham is that we don’t have a major airport hub. I have found that flights from Atlanta are a lot less for this reason. This was the same case when we lived in Oklahoma City; flying from Dallas was a lot more affordable.
- Pack A Carry-On When Flying: If you’re flying, packing a carry-on is a great way to save money. Unless you’re flying Southwest Airlines, almost all airlines charge a baggage fee. Packing only a carry-on and personal bag is very doable for a weekend trip.
- Set A Budget: Before going on a trip, setting a budget is so important. Doing activities and eating out can add up fast, so I recommend coming up with a budget. Research the cost of places you want to go and things you want to do.
- Make An Itinerary: Anytime we go on a trip, I map out our vacation. I like to find unique things to do and not waste any time. I have found that most sightseeing is free, so I try to balance out that with activities we have to pay to do. I also like to research restaurants and look at the menus/prices before we blindly go. We rarely eat at fancy restaurants when we go out of town, so we can stay within budget.
- Pack Snacks: Anytime we travel, I pack as many snacks as I can reasonably fit in my bag. Eating 3 meals out a day can put us over budget quickly, so we usually snack in the morning and do a brunch and eat dinner out.
- Pack Drinks: When we travel a drivable distance, we always pack some drinks like water and wine. If it’s not a drivable distance, we will stop by the grocery store to get drinks. Drinks at restaurants are very expensive, so we try to limit our drinks while out. Investing in a big Yeti cooler for travel has more than paid for itself.
- Saving Up Credit Card Points: We use a Southwest Airlines credit card to get airline points and I know Hilton/Marriott credit cards offer amazing perks for getting hotel room points.
About This Outfit:
This weekend I met up with my parents in the coast of Alabama. This is another amazing Chicwish find and fits true to size. I’m just under 5’5 and this dress calls for heels because of the length. I loved this gorgeous dress because it is perfect for summer and is of amazing quality. I am fully embracing all of my summer outfits until the end of this month when I’ll share how to transition into early fall.
Stay tuned, I will share more about my weekend trip to the Alabama coast on Thursday. What are your budget friendly travel tips?