How to Travel on a Budget

maldives resort review

From The Maldives

Almost everyone I talk to lately seems to want to travel more. The biggest hurdle that most mention first is the money. So how do you travel on a budget?

You guys know this post gets me more excited than most since it’s about finances. If you’re new here, my day job is in finance so any time I talk budgets, I get excited! It’s weird, sure, but it also means I get to help you!

Traveling can be expensive but you can also be smart about it. There are many tips and rewards programs out there offering countless opportunities for saving. That also might be overwhelming for some people since there are so many choices. Let me share the apps and websites that we’ve found to be most helpful.

1. Download the Ibotta app.

If you guys missed my post on how to save on clothing and also beauty products, this is the exact same app. You can save on so many categories in one place. That is the major appeal for me. As someone who spends the majority of my income on travel, this was huge for me. There are a lot of travel companies partnered with Ibotta which means more opportunities for you to save.

how to use the ibotta app

2. How to save money on flights.

If there is anyone that spends more time stalking flights, it’s me. I love the thrill of getting a good deal and it pains me when prices surge and it’s time to purchase. I recommend starting to look as far out as possible (6 months is great) and tracking flights for a week to get a feel for them. If traveling domestically, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons tend to be the best. But truthfully, I’ve found minimal benefit in that and it’s usually on airlines I wouldn’t fly myself (i.e. Spirit or Frontier).

how to save money on traveling

If you don’t have a ton of time to devote to research, use a site like Orbitz, Priceline, or Hotwire to do the legwork for you. Here’s what you can earn in cash back if you go to these sites through the Ibotta app:

– Orbitz: 6% cash back
– Priceline: 7% cash back
– Hotwire: 4% cash back

Can you imagine how much savings that would be on an international flight?! Insane!

3. How to save on hotels.

Choosing which hotel to stay in can be overwhelming. It is for me! That’s why I had Matt write this post on how he does it because he is so good at this. Sites like Hotels.com have built in rewards that we also take advantage of. I love their “stay 10 nights, get 1 for free” promo. We use this religiously! It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in a luxury hotel or a budget friendly one, the promo applies. They will give you a free night where the value is based on an average of your past stays. That’s like a 10% discount.

how to get cash back on travel

On top of that, it’s an Ibotta partner. That means you can get 4% cash back. How do you do this? It’s easy. You just have to open the Ibotta app, find Hotels.com in the app (the search bar is in the top right), and then click to take you to the Hotels.com website. As with all the partners in the Ibotta app, all you have to do is navigate to the site from the app and it will automatically take care of everything else for you!

There are other hotel partners in the app if you prefer another. We are loyal to Hotels.com because of the rewards but in a pinch will also use HotelTonight (also in the Ibotta app). HotelTonight is great when you’re planning something last minute and need a hotel room that night. If you’re not as picky on where you stay and are willing to gamble (just a little!), it’s so handy! You can save 3% if you use the Ibotta app to get to their website.

Just an FYI, Booking.com, Choice Hotels, Extended Stay America and Hotel Storm are also in the Ibotta app!

asos bikini in tulum mexico at mi amor

From Tulum.

4. How to save on home stays like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO.

It’s no secret that going this route is almost always more affordable than a hotel. All of the experiences we’ve had on these websites have been extremely positive including the house we rented for our wedding party! Both HomeAway and VRBO are in the Ibotta app which means an extra chance to save for you. And both HomeAway and VRBO offer a $10 cash back offer if you use Ibotta.

how to travel on a budget

floral maxi dress for under $50

From Charleston.

5. How to save on your rental car.

While everyone might love having a private driver (I think that’s Uber’s tagline), rental cars can be a huge saver depending on where you’re going. If you’re not going to a big city like New York or Chicago, rental cars make a lot of sense. There are so many rental car companies out there that I’d use a site like Orbitz to compare them all side by side. And guess what, you can earn 6% cash back if you use Ibotta. Are you convinced that this app is everything you need in one place yet?

If you’re searching Orbitz and find that the lowest deal is available at Hertz, there is another cash back offer within Ibotta that gives you 3% cash back. Other than that, shop directly on Orbitz within the Ibotta app!

best pool in mykonos

From Mykonos.

6. How to save on local deals.

This tip is best if you’re traveling domestically to cities that are somewhat connected. Using sites like Living Social (4% cash back through Ibotta) to find a local restaurant deal or activity can be an added bonus for your vacation. Matt and I have often found tickets to a botanical garden or some other local event by using this kind of site. Googlemaps reviews sometimes even mention if there is a particular site that usually has a deal especially on tickets. Restaurants, not so much! This is also a great way to get a taste of the local culture.

travel blogger in santorini greece

From Santorini.

7. Luxury versus low budget.

This is one of the inner struggles. Everyone thinks that traveling is extremely expensive. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Do what works for you and works within your budget. If you’re using flight trackers through the Ibotta app to save, that will help with flights that are one of the two most expensive things about traveling.

The other most expensive thing is where you stay. You can use the Ibotta app to save but also decide whether you need to be in a luxury hotel or a budget hotel. Or in a hotel at all! What works for Matt and I is to mix it up. We’ll do some trips that are budget friendly like our trip to Tampa and others that are geared toward a more luxurious stay like Greece. We base this decision on the funds we have and also if we’re going to spend a lot of time in the hotel. If we aren’t, there’s no need to have a luxury room!

Do you have any tips on how to save money on travel? Do you regularly travel on a budget? Do you use Ibotta? Share what you know below!

*In partnership with Ibotta.

Let me know what you think!