Five Tricks to Traveling on a Budget

For many, planning a vacation full of excitement and fun while staying within a comfortable budget can create anxiety. To help alleviate some of this tension, AAA Travel pros are revealing five tricks to traveling on a shoestring budget.

“With adequate planning and preparation, budget-conscience consumers can travel on a shoestring budget without sacrificing fun,” said Amy Moreno, director of travel services for AAA Arizona. “Modest vacations can be among the most memorable!”

To help budget-minded travelers, AAA Travel experts offer five tricks to traveling on a shoestring budget:

  1. Determine your budget. Establish a detailed spending plan and stick to it. This should include transportation, accommodations, daily meals, sightseeing, activities, tips, and other parking costs—as they can add up quickly. To maximize budgets, travelers should seek discounts that can help stretch their vacation dollars. AAA’s Member Discounts, which are also available via the free AAA Mobile app, helps members save more than $100 annually.  
  2. Be flexible.  From travel dates, departure times and even your destination, flexibility is key to achieving travel savings. If a traveler’s intention is a leisurely getaway and not destination specific, an in-state trip could reduce travel costs significantly. Consumers can find travel destination-based deals by working with a travel agent.
  3. Sleep on the cheap. There are more than 31,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels across the country. Each is property is rated on a scale of One to Five Diamonds, from budget-oriented hotels and motels offering basic accommodations to luxurious hotels and resorts offering extensive services and amenities—all with acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. Travelers who opt stay in a Two or Three Diamond hotel as opposed to a Four or Five Diamond can achieve significant savings of $50 or more per night, which can add up to $150 or more savings over a long weekend.
  4. Be mindful of food costs. It is projected that Arizonans spend nearly a quarter of overall vacation budgets on food. In addition to creating a daily and per meal budget, pack snacks and seek hotels that offer free breakfasts or restaurants where kids eat free. By taking advantage of $30-40 in free meal costs per day, a family of four can save $90-120 over a long weekend or $210-280 over the course of a week.
  5. Make smart transportation choices. As the price of fuel falls within year-ago averages, the road trip will be the dominate travel mode this summer, according to AAA’s annual Memorial Day travel forecast. Before embarking on a summer trip, multi vehicle families should determine which household vehicle will drive them to savings. For example, a family traveling from Phoenix, Ariz. to San Diego, Calif. in a Toyota Sequoia should budget about $200 in round-trip fuel costs, according to AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator. In comparison, fuel costs for the same trip in a Toyota Camry would cost about $70 less at $130 round-trip. Utilize free tools including as AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator, Fuel Price Finder and AAA Mobile to budget fuel costs and locate the cheapest fuel prices along your route.

“Many travelers will be challenged to do more with less this summer,” added Moreno. “It’s never been more important for consumers to make sure that every dollar counts.”


For more information about traveling on a budget, contact a AAA Travel professional toll-free 1-877-870-9408 or visit your local AAA office.