While Elisha and I don’t sail the seven seas, we do love to travel for extended periods of time.
We road trip to San Clemente, California every year for a few weeks to get some Vitamin D (in fact, we’re here now!), we travel to friend’s weddings, company trips, and family functions . . .
But traveling can be expensive.
If you saw our annual income, the amount we save, and the amount we spend, you wouldn’t think we would be able to just pick up and leave as often–or for as long–as we do.
Here’s some tips and tricks that have helped us travel on a budget!
The main expenses of road tripping are gas, lodging and groceries. Our car gets amazing gas milage, (we have to pack condensed to fit it all in that tuna-can. See how I fit a TON in one organized suitcase here). But if you’re driving a swamp mobile I can’t really help you with that one.
Lodging however, can be an easier fix.
1. Travel During the Shoulder Seasons
Better yet, travel during the off seasons! Our families always did this because we were homeschooled, and, because of our flexible occupations, Elisha and I are able to take advantage of ridiculously low Vacation Rental prices during slow months. Resorts and VRBO’s are practically begging you to fill up those vacancies. We’re staying in this adorable Vacation Rental in San Clemente for $85 a night!!
Bonus perk: Local events and tourist activities are also priced low during these times . . . and you don’t have to fight the mobs for parking and restaurant waits.
2. Ditch the Hotel
I get it. Eating out is a big part of the vacationing experience. But if you go on extended trips the expense can be way more than you bargained for.
You can blow hundreds in a day! Consider substituting those delicious restaurants, with a few tried and true home-cooked favorites. We find when we eat out less, we can afford nicer restaurants, and we savor the experience more.
1. Get a Kitchen
Rather than stay in a hotel, rent a Vacation Rental or Air BnB with a kitchen. These are often fully stocked with cooking utensils and sometimes even spices. This drastically cuts down on expense, even if it’s just for breakfast and lunch. No need to tip. No need to drive.
(C’mon. $14 for breakfast when I can fry eggs for $0.25, throw a bagel in the toaster and grab an orange from the fridge? I’ll put that $14 toward a steak dinner I’ll really enjoy.)
2. Pack condiments
Condiments take a meal from blah to bam! but the cost adds up quick. I like to grab condiments like dressings, mustard, hot sauce, pickles, peanut butter, butter, tortillas, sour cream, etc. from my fridge at home and plop them in an ice chest. Not only does it keep these items from spoiling, but when we get to our location, I only have to buy a few staples like meats and cheese to build a fun variety of meals!
3. Bring Versatile Spices
I like to bring 4-5 spices on our trips. Garlic Salt, Italian Seasoning, Steak Seasoning, and Spike (my favorite for Mexican food). With these spices, I can cook up almost any variety of Italian, Mexican and American food. They don’t take up much space, but they make a big difference when it comes to ease and enjoyment with cooking.
4. Choose Versatile Groceries
When you have condiments and spices, grabbing a few groceries (even at spendy tourist grocery stores) can be a breeze.
Meal plan for easily interchangeable ingredients.
For instance, this week, Elisha and I grabbed groceries for hamburgers, tacos, and spaghetti. All I had to buy was lettuce, ground beef, noodles, pasta sauce, onion, and hamburger buns! I threw in a frozen pizza for a quick lunch, some eggs and bagels for breakfast (I brought cream cheese, jam and fruit), and a can of beans to add to the tacos for a second Mexican meal. We were set!
This keeps grocery shopping quick and easy, and it’s simple to use up leftovers, because you can mix and match!
What are your favorite tips and tricks?