Traveling is a great way to enjoy new experiences, learn about the world, bond with your family and take a break from the monotony of long summer days. Since the cost of travel can be prohibitive, many families don’t get away as frequently as they’d like or miss out on places they’ve dreamed of visiting. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to travel and explore the world without breaking the bank.

Compare Cost

With so many airlines, hotels and tours to choose from, planning a trip can be overwhelming. Thankfully, many websites simplify this by allowing you to enter your travel dates and preferences to compare prices and features from different companies. These websites are particularly helpful for comparing costs on a single website and keeping track of your findings. Many travel comparison sites also show ratings, so you don’t waste your money on a seemingly good deal that turns out to be a bad deal. Different travel comparison sites focus on particular aspects of traveling. Some of the most popular include,,, and

Search Smart

When searching online for travel deals, there are a few tricks to know. Many websites use cookies and can see when you’ve been searching for specific hotels or flights. There is some evidence, according to William McGee, aviation advisor for Consumer Reports, that pricing may be based in part on your search history. An easy fix is to clear the cookies in your browser before visiting the same travel website again, so the site cannot track you following specific companies, destinations or deals.

There are also many theories about the best time to book your flight, with the most common being on a Tuesday afternoon, six weeks before your trip. While this exact date is subject to debate, it does seem that airline fare sales tend to start on Tuesdays. Your best bet is to start checking fares early and pay attention to any patterns. Some airlines also have better deals if you book at least two weeks before your trip.

Road trip!

If you’re traveling as a family, the cost of airline tickets for everyone adds up quickly. Depending on how far you plan to travel, a road trip might be a good option. Your journey can become part of your vacation. Gas for one car, which can hold everyone, will likely cost much less than airline tickets for multiple people. It can also be better for the planet. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, rent an RV to save on both your travel and lodging costs (but do the math for the added fuel costs). You can typically find RV parks along any route for much lower prices than staying in a hotel. It can also be a fun bonding experience for your family or group to travel this way.

Discounts and Deals

Websites like and offer significant discounts on specific travel deals. Because they only offer deals to particular places within a range of dates, this is a good option if you want to travel but you’re flexible about destination and dates. Depending on your age and interests, some companies host trips and tours with lodging, attractions and travel costs included. Traveling with a tour group can result in deeper discounts than traveling alone. Topdeck and Contiki are popular group tour hosts that cater mainly to young adults and offer specific budget travel options. For all ages, Flash Pack and Austin Adventures are excellent choices.

Companies such as Costco or AAA also offer travel packages at discounted prices. By signing up for a free membership on certain websites, such as you can earn free nights and get exclusive discounts on hotels.

Another way to reduce your travel cost is to save up money with a travel rewards credit card that caters to your vacation interests.  Many airlines offer credit cards on which you can earn miles to redeem for future travel. Some specific travel destinations, like Disney World, also have credit cards you can use to earn rewards toward future vacation costs. Capital One and many other credit card companies also offer similar travel reward credit cards that provide greater travel flexibility.

Travel locally

It’s easy to overlook sight-seeing activities and destination hot spots that are close to home. If you have the travel bug but lack the time or money for a big trip, do some research to see what opportunities and adventures you can find nearby for a weekend or day trip. This can save you a lot of money on travel and lodging expenses. Plus, it’s easier to pack food for a short journey, which can also save you money instead of eating out. You might be surprised at what exciting new things you’ve been missing locally or nearby.

Realize that with a little creativity and effort, traveling doesn’t need to be out of reach just because of a small budget. If you plan ahead and travel smart, you can find lots of opportunities to explore the world around you.


Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer and owner of online bookshop.

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