Vacation on a Budget

I recently got back from a vacation to Colorado Springs, Colorado. We spent 5 days and 4 nights away and although there’s usually no way around it, if you go on vacation you are going to spend money, we tried our best to stick to a budget and try to save in all places possible! So here I am sharing a few tips on how you can take a budget friendly vacation to a new place without breaking the bank!

This post will be specific to Colorado Springs and only two people but it could be applied to any vacation, anywhere in the US for any number of people!

Drive Don’t Fly

We drove to Colorado Springs from Iowa, it took us about 12 hours including stops to get there. I know that sounds like a long time but we left early in the morning and drove straight through and it wasn’t too bad. Although I would not recommend more than 12 hours in one day, you can get to a lot of places within a 12 hour’s radius of where you live! It cost us about $200 on gas, which beats two plane tickets everyday!

Reserve a Budget Friendly Hotel and Become a Rewards Member

I love Marriott hotels, because they have a great rewards program and every hotel, even their lower end ones, are clean and the staff is friendly. We stayed at a Fairfield Inn because it was the cheapest Marriott but it was new-ish, clean, staff was friendly and there was free breakfast. Also if you a rewards member, you get cheaper hotel rates and you earn points on your stay for free nights.

I also picked a “general” time of when we wanted to go and searched days for the cheapest rates. So if you are flexible with your dates, use this to your advantage. Also, I use search sites like Expedia to check what other hotels are priced at during that time just to make sure I am getting a good deal.

Take Advantage of your Dinner Leftovers and Pack Your Own Snacks

We were able to eat our leftovers for three lunches! We just warmed them up in the hotel microwave. That saved us a lot of money from having to buy lunch on those days. We also ate moderately for most of our dinners and spoiled ourselves with a “fancy” dinner just one night. And while we were on the road we ate super cheap!

We also packed a lot of our own snacks and drinks for the car and hotel. This meant we didn’t have to eat gas station snacks and drinks and had something to eat in the hotel room and while we were hiking for when we needed a snack.

Take Advantage of Free Activities

Research where you are going and plan out what you want to do on your vacation. Try to find anything that is FREE to the public. For example, in Colorado Springs we did all of these things for free:

  • Garden of the Gods
  • Red Rock Open Space
  • Helen Hunt Falls

There were probably more that were available too! By saving on some activities, we were able to spend money on other things we wanted to do or souvenirs we wanted to buy that did cost money. Try to pick a destination that you think will have a lot of free sightseeing.

A few last tips

You can always adjust how much you want to spend on things like restaurants and souvenirs – you can even be stingy. We thought that activities and experiences were the most important part of a vacation so that is what we wanted to spend the most of our budget on. Plus pictures are always free!


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