Tips and tricks I’ve used to add more travel and adventure to my life without going into debt

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If you’re like most people, you get about two weeks of vacation per year, three if you’re lucky. I don’t know about you, but 1-2 vacations a year is definitely not enough. Having a healthy work-life balance is very important to me so I figured out how to travel more with less money.

These tips will include a variety of ways for you to add more travel to your life without going into debt doing it. And no, I’m not going to suggest you quit your job and become a digital nomad. These are tips for the average person with a full-time job.

I originally wrote this post in 2019 when I was working full-time as a Marketing Manager. Now, I work for myself but I wanted to update this post because I firmly believe everyone should get to travel more often than their paid time off of a few weeks a year.

Turning work trips into vacations is one way how to travel more with less money

I make travel a priority so I have always managed to travel quite a lot every year. Yes, even before I became a travel blogger and writer. When I had a full-time corporate job, I was constantly getting asked, “How do you travel so much?!”

Over my years of working in the corporate world of Marketing and being restricted by vacation days, I have come up with the best ways to utilize days off for maximum travel and adventure. Hopefully, some of these hacks will help you get outside and see more of the world.

Ready to learn how to travel more often with less money? Let’s go! Here are my pro tips, followed by expert advice on how to maximize the number of vacations you can take every year.

5 Tips for How to Travel More With Less Money

1) Take full advantage of long weekends to travel more often

In Canada, we have a long weekend almost every month. When you maximize these days, it adds up to a lot of mini-vacations a year. Research where you can go that is a short distance away and explore these places.

Yes, it may take you a little longer to get to your destination of choice on a long weekend Friday after work. But waking up Saturday morning somewhere new makes it worth the time and effort. I’ve been in my car for several hours longer than normal due to long weekend traffic, but I have never regretted a trip.

Women at the Grand Canyon
At less than a 2-hour flight away, Las Vegas is a popular weekend destination for Vancouverites. Within close proximity is the Grand Canyon, which I visited over a long weekend.

2) Add a vacation day here and there to random weekends

Instead of saving all your days for one major vacation, think about using some of your vacation days to extend a weekend or two. This enables you to get away for several smaller trips. This works especially well when you tack on an extra day to a long weekend.

I once worked with a guy who didn’t like taking long trips so instead he took off every single Friday during the summer. Imagine having two months of long weekends? What a great way to travel more often with less money.

3) If you travel for work, add some time off to turn a work trip into a vacation.

My last job sent me to both Las Vegas and Orlando. You better believe I added a few days to the end of both trips to turn them into vacations. This might be my absolute favourite way how to travel more with less money because your flights are already paid for.

I have never had a boss who said no to me when I asked for vacation days after a work trip. This is the absolute best way to explore a new city and save money because you don’t have to pay for your flights.

Cinderella's Castle in Disneyworld
A work trip to Orlando, Florida for a Trade Show quickly turned into a mini-vacation to Walt Disney World Resort and Animal Kingdom. I took full advantage of being in Florida for work by adding a few days to explore these Disney parks. Pictured here is Cinderella’s Castle.

4) Visit family or friends

It’s true that visiting people doesn’t always feel like a vacation, but if you are in need of an escape and are tight on funds, this is the ultimate way to cut costs and still go somewhere. If you have a free place to stay, you can definitely travel more often!

Before you write off wherever you have friends or family living, take some time to research the area. I bet that with a quick search, you’ll find that whatever city you are researching, there is fun stuff to do!

5) Take a staycation

And finally, never underestimate the power of a staycation. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about the value of staycations. I still firmly believe in them. Often when we get an overwhelming feeling that we need a vacation, all we may need is a true ‘day off’ to unplug and unwind.

A spa day or a weekend spent being a tourist in our own cities can actually feel like a vacation. It’s not often we take the time to go out and do the activities that visitors experience. I bet that if you searched for the top activities in your city, you haven’t done them all.

Passport holder for Canadian travels

How to travel more with less money – a mindset shift

Now that you’ve learned some of my hacks on how to travel more, you may be thinking to yourself that a weekend getaway isn’t a vacation. It is! I want you to reframe your perspective on what you consider a vacation. One of the ways in which I am able to get away so often is that I utilize weekends and explore places that are close to home.

Not every vacation is going to be a week on the beach, or an 8-hour flight away. By shifting your perspective on what a vacation looks like, you will be able to go on more trips and feel like you’re on vacation a lot more often.

Now that you know how to add more vacation days to your busy life, here are some tips for how to travel more with less money. It all comes down to planning strategically.

Planning Your Wallet-Friendly Travel

When it comes to affordable adventures, strategic planning is key. Start by setting a realistic travel budget that aligns with your financial goals. Research the cost of accommodations, transportation, and activities in your desired destination to ensure your budget is practical.

Consider using budgeting apps or spreadsheets to track your expenses and monitor your spending while on the road. By planning ahead and sticking to your budget, you’ll be able to enjoy your travels without worrying about overspending.

Travelling during off-peak seasons can also help you save money on flights and accommodations. Avoiding peak tourist times not only allows you to enjoy a more peaceful travel experience but also opens up opportunities for discounted rates and special promotions.

Additionally, flexibility with your travel dates can lead to significant savings. Be open to adjusting your itinerary based on the best deals available, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the affordability of your adventures.

To make the most of your budget-friendly travel, consider joining loyalty programs and travel reward schemes. You know how much I love collecting travel points! Many airlines, hotels, and travel companies offer rewards for frequent travellers, which can translate into free flights, hotel stays, or other perks.

By strategically accumulating and redeeming travel rewards, you can enhance your travel experiences while keeping costs low. Take advantage of these programs to maximize your savings and make your adventures more affordable.

Travel points hacks guide

Finding Cheap Flights and Accommodations

One of the biggest expenses when travelling is transportation, especially flights. To score cheap flights, consider booking in advance, being flexible with travel dates, and using fare comparison websites to find the best deals.

Subscribe to airline newsletters and set up price alerts to monitor fare fluctuations and snag discounts when prices drop. Additionally, consider flying to alternative airports or using budget airlines to save on airfare costs. Remember, a little research and flexibility can go a long way in finding affordable flights.

When it comes to accommodations, explore a variety of options beyond traditional hotels. Consider staying in hostels, guesthouses, or vacation rentals, which often offer lower rates and a more authentic experience. Remember above when I mentioned staying with family and friends? It’s a great solution for how to travel more with less money.

Use booking platforms that offer discounts or loyalty programs to save on accommodation costs. Look for last-minute deals or consider house-sitting for a unique and cost-effective lodging experience. By thinking outside the box and exploring different accommodation options, you can find affordable and memorable places to stay. Pet-sitting is another way to travel for less. Sometimes, you may even get paid!

To further reduce your travel expenses, consider alternative transportation options at your destination. Instead of relying solely on taxis or rental cars, explore public transportation, biking, or walking to get around. I love exploring a new city on a bicycle. It’s a great way to sneak in exercise while sightseeing.

Many cities offer affordable and efficient public transit systems that can save you money while allowing you to experience local life. Renting a bike or using ride-sharing services can also be cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to explore your destination. By embracing alternative transportation methods, you can cut down on costs and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Hotel front desk
There is no better feeling than checking into a hotel that you booked on points!

Saving Money on Food and Drinks While Traveling

Eating out can quickly add up to a significant portion of your travel budget, but there are ways to enjoy delicious meals without overspending. Look for local markets, food stalls, and street vendors to sample authentic cuisine at a fraction of the cost of restaurants.

Opt for lunch specials or set menus at eateries to enjoy a filling meal at a discounted price. Consider cooking simple meals or packing snacks for days when you’re on the go to save money and avoid impulse spending on dining out.

To save on drinks while travelling, consider buying beverages from local supermarkets or convenience stores instead of bars or cafes. Look for happy hour specials or drink promotions at local establishments to enjoy your favourite beverages at a reduced price. I am a huge fan of happy hours!

Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it from public fountains or taps to stay hydrated without buying bottled water. By being mindful of where and what you eat and drink, you can enjoy culinary delights and stay within your budget while travelling.

Eating smaller portions is a great way to stay healthy while travelling
I have often grabbed a healthy lunch from the local grocery store and enjoyed it picnic-style at a local park when travelling. It’s so much more cost-effective than always dining in restaurants.

Embracing Free and Low-Cost Activities and Attractions

Exploring a destination doesn’t have to be expensive – there are plenty of free and low-cost activities and attractions waiting to be discovered. One of my favourite ways to explore a new destination is by taking a free walking tour.

Research local events, festivals, and cultural celebrations that offer unique experiences at little to no cost. Visit museums, galleries, and landmarks on designated free admission days or during off-peak hours to save on entrance fees. Take advantage of nature trails, parks, and public spaces for outdoor activities that don’t cost a dime.

Engage with the local community by attending workshops, classes, or cultural performances that provide insights into the destination’s heritage and traditions. Join walking tours or volunteer activities to connect with like-minded travellers and locals while exploring the area.

Look for discounts or group rates for attractions and activities to maximize your savings without sacrificing the quality of your experiences. By immersing yourself in the local culture and seeking out affordable activities, you can create meaningful memories without overspending.

To stretch your travel budget even further, consider leveraging loyalty programs, travel rewards, and discounts offered by credit cards, airlines, hotels, and other travel providers. Sign up for loyalty programs and credit cards that offer travel perks, points, or cashback rewards for your spending.

Use travel rewards to book flights, accommodations, or activities at a discounted rate or redeem points for upgrades and exclusive experiences. Take advantage of promotional offers, sales, and special packages to get the most value out of your travel budget.

Renting a bike to explore Bellingham
Many hotels offer free bicycles to customers. This can be a great way to explore the city for free.

Travelling off the Beaten Path – Affordable Destinations and Hidden Gems

When planning your next adventure, consider exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations that offer unique experiences and affordability. Look beyond popular tourist hotspots to discover hidden gems, cultural treasures, and natural wonders waiting to be explored. Research emerging destinations, lesser-known regions, and remote areas that offer a glimpse into authentic local life and traditions.

Off-the-beaten-path destinations often provide a more immersive and authentic travel experience, with fewer crowds and lower prices compared to mainstream tourist attractions. Venture off the tourist trail to uncover hidden beaches, charming villages, and untouched landscapes that offer serenity and tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of popular destinations.

Engage with local communities, support sustainable tourism initiatives, and respect the environment to preserve the beauty and authenticity of off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Wellness Travel Planning Coaching services
Learning how to travel more with less money takes more planning and research, but it’s always worth the extra effort. Take more trips without going into debt? Yes, please!

Empowering Yourself to Travel More With Less Money

I hope I have shown you that travelling more and spending less is not just a dream – it’s an achievable reality with the right strategies and mindset. By planning your budget-friendly travel, finding cheap flights and accommodations, embracing alternative transportation options, and saving money on food and drinks, you can make the most of your travel experiences without breaking the bank.

It’s important to manage your expectations before any trip. By setting intentions for what you want to get out of your trip, you are more likely to have a great time and feel like you had a vacation. Explore free and low-cost activities, connect with locals, and venture off the beaten path to discover affordable destinations and hidden gems that offer unique and unforgettable adventures.

With determination, resourcefulness, and a sense of adventure, you can unlock the secrets to affordable adventures and create a lifetime of cherished memories without draining your finances. Even if it was just a quick weekend getaway by maintaining the mindset that vacations take on various forms, all of the trips you go on, even staycations, can feel like a true holiday.

Conclusion – How to Travel More With Less Money

Remember, the true essence of travel lies in the connections you make, the experiences you cherish, and the lessons you learn along the way. So pack your bags, set out on your next adventure, and savour every moment of your budget-friendly travels. The world is waiting – go out and explore it without hesitation or reservation!

If working for yourself and becoming your own boss is something you have been considering, check out my interview with entrepreneur and author Kelly Trach. She offers some great insight into how to work for yourself and make money. Once you discover your genius, it’s all about monetizing it. Check out the post for all the details, including her free online quiz to help you find your genius.

If you’re not quite ready to dive into self-employment but still want more flexibility in your life, consider seeking online job opportunities. You can explore options here:

If you’re looking to travel more – for free – and who isn’t, then check out these travel hacks and points tips.

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How to travel more often
Five tips on how to travel more