How to Get Away Without Going Broke

This is a guest post by Stefanie O’Connell from the Broke and Beautiful Life. Be sure to leave a comment welcoming our newest guest contributor!

Memorial Day is just a few weeks away, which means summer is just around the corner, and it’s time to formulate a plan for those vacation days. If your budget restricts you from jet setting to Europe or booking a fancy all-inclusive, consider these affordable alternatives and savings strategies.

Visit Friends and Family

Structuring your vacation destinations around the locations of family and friends can help you save on one of the biggest vacation expenses, housing. If you stay with loved ones, you’re also likely to get a free meal or two. Your local connection can also serve as a personal tour guide on your trip or hook you up with insider information and discounts. Not to mention the added bonus of spending time with your nearest and dearest.

Read Reviews

Reading through review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor not only helps in filtering which activities, sites, and meals are worth having, but they can also be used for discovering other savings strategies. For example, if an attraction or restaurant has a high parking cost, many reviewers will post information on where to get cheaper or even free parking nearby.

Cash in On Specials

Review sites are also good about identifying which days and/or times are good for specials. For example, the local pub might have a weekday happy hour or the trendy dinner hotspot might have a sweet lunch deal. Even major attractions like museums may offer free or pay-what-you-can hours.

Check the Deal Sites

Deal sites have taken off worldwide, so regardless of where you’re traveling, you can check popular discount sites like Groupon for offers on restaurants, activities, and entertainment. Just note any expiration and blackout dates as you typically have limited time frame for using your deal when you’re on vacation.

Join the Loyalty Programs

The amount of free travel you can redeem simply by taking the time to track and check up on your rewards programs is incredible; nights and flights here and there add up significantly over time. If you travel for work, always be sure to register your personal rewards number on your hotel stays and flight bookings.

Cash in on Credit Card Rewards

Whether you earn cash back or miles from your rewards credit card, those accumulated extras and sign up bonuses can finance major trip expenses. If you’re able to book roundtrip airfare through rewards alone, perhaps you can afford that cross-country or transatlantic trip after all.

Ask for Useful Gifts

Rather than getting stuck with a bunch of gifts you don’t know what to do with every birthday and holiday, (how many journals and calendars do you really need?), ask for gifts that can help you fund your next vacation. Even asking for a less glamorous, practical gift like a grocery store gift card can help you save a lot in your monthly budget, freeing up more savings for your next big trip.

Rent Out Your Room

If you can sublet your living space while you’re away, you can save a chunk of your rent for the month and put it towards your travels instead. Even if it’s just a long weekend, sites like air b n’ b can help you get your room rented out and extra cash in your pocket.

What are your affordable travel tips and tricks?

Stefanie O’Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to “live the dream” on a starving artists’ budget at


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