There are moments when our wanderlust gets the best of us and we spend way more money on a trip than we first anticipated. When this happens, a stress can set in which has the possibility to ruin the rest of your trip. We want to avoid that and share some wisdom on how to save money while the road so that you can journey for as long as you desire. Ramona Creel is a full-time Airstreamer and is quite knowledgeable about the in’s and out’s of life on the road. We’ve consulted her on a few tips that she puts into practice so that you can enjoy the journey and save money!
What are you best money saving tips while on the road?
It all boils down to one thing – online research. There are a million ways to save on just about anything you need to buy while traveling. Before I buy anything, ANYTHING, I do a search online for related savings – discount codes, coupons, free shipping specials and time-limited sales. Sometimes I find these through third-party websites or I find them directly through the company I’m planning to patronize. Other times I find the deals via some of the apps I’ve listed below.
You can also make scheduling changes to score on big savings. Hit that fancy-schmancy restaurant during happy hour instead of dinner time, and your food/drinks will cost less. That hipster club everyone’s talking about may have a weekly event with free music/comedy from up-and coming local talent, which beats the price of the big names and you may discover a new favorite artist. Aim for that spendy museum or attraction on one of their monthly/annual “free admission” days – or visit with a local friend who has an annual pass and can get a guest in gratis. Many services will offer hefty discounts during certain times which results in your end goal of saving money. Also, if your travel plans are up in the air, you can save money and traffic by planning your trip during the off-peak season.
Do you use any specific apps to help you budget?
The apps and websites I utilize are related to conserving cash, more than budgeting:
- Yipit is a huge friend of mine – an excellent aggregator of daily deals (like Groupon and LivingSocial) for your area.
- Entertainment.com also serves its purpose – many of their discounts can also be found in other places (but at $20 a year for deals all over the country, an online membership is still worth having).
- RetailMeNot is a mostly-reliable resource for online shopping coupon codes.
- Goldstar is good for local entertainment – you just have to be careful about the service fees negating your discounts. (I’ve found their Red Velvet membership beneficial if you go out a lot – free comps with zero service fees, a 4-hour hold if you need to discuss plans with others before committing to an activity, and free cancellation on tickets when you have a last-minute conflict.)
- Restaurant.com is my go-to for dining out discounts – I load up on certificates when they have a super-duper sale (anywhere between 75% and 95% off), then eat out cheap for the rest of the year.
- CityPass can score you some sweet deals on traditionally touristy destinations as you travel.
And if you shop regularly with a particular vendor or are in an area where you’ll be frequenting a certain grocery/gas/restaurant chain, it can pay to sign up for their rewards club. You don’t have to stay on their mailing list forever – just as long as you’re in the area and the savings are worth it
What do you wish someone told you about budgeting when you first hit the road?
First off, don’t just buy something because you have a discount. If you can’t stand the product, it’s just going to clutter up your cabinet for a year before you finally throw it out. Avoid buying bulk if needed. It can be tempting to buy two dozen cans of pinto beans when you only needed one. Always ask the question – will I use this and is it worth the space it will take up in my rig?
Second, it’s all about flexibility. Learning how to plan ahead and comparison-shop keeps you from being at the mercy of any single vendor. Telling yourself, “I want to find a fun/cheap cultural event nearby,” rather than “I want to go to such-and-such show” gives you a lot more money-saving options. Checking local grocery ads and building your weekly menu around what’s on sale saves a lot more money and time than if you try to hunt up coupons for specific ingredients. Finally, giving the group of friends you’re meeting up with a choice of venues where you can purchase a discount certificate means that no matter what they pick, you can save a little dough!
Saving dough is always a good thing and wandering towards your next adventure with peace of mind is even better! If you have other tips and tricks to help save money while traveling, please share them us on social. We would love to continue inspiring our Airstream community!