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When you’re traveling, your main expenses will be transportation, entertainment, and food. It can be all too easy letting your budget get away from you, but if you follow some handy tricks, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to save some moolah.
Shop around for gas.
Don’t settle for the gas station that is closest to you. If you are in an urban area, there is likely a gas station that has the lowest price within 5 miles of you. There are two ways of searching for the best gas prices.
First, I use Google Maps. When I type in “Gas Stations near me” a list of nearby gas stations and their current gas prices is shown. I scroll until I find the best price.
Second, with a user rating of 4.6, lots of people swear by the mobil app called “GasBuddy”. It does the same thing that Google Maps does but it also has options for discounts through them. If Google ever fails me, I’ll switch to GasBuddy.
And while you’re at it…
Don’t buy food at gas stations.
When you stop for gas, don’t even bother stopping inside the store for snacks. That’s where the gas stations really make their money-the profit off the ridiculous food prices.
$3 for a small bag of Cheetos? $5 for a loaf of bread? No, thanks! Prices in convenient stores are only convenient for the shop owners.
Instead, shop at local discount food stores or dollar stores. Dollar make me holla! It’s surprising exactly what you can find at the dollar store. I’ve recently found a big bag of ChexMix for $1 that would have fetched over $2.99 at a grocery or convenient store. Lots of things are regular sized and still only a dollar.
It’s not “Used”, it’s “Pre-Loved”.
If you’re in need of some new clothing, like a weatherproof jacket or hiking shoes, don’t buy them full price at stores until you stop by a Goodwill or Salvation Army. You will be amazed at what people donate.
My first pair of hiking boots were only $25 from a Seattle Goodwill shop! They were just my size and I still use them to this day.
A good tip: research the high-income areas in town and check out those stores first. Rich people often donate items that still have tags on them! I buy plates and cookware there, too!
Another good tip: Shop at the beginning of a new season. People feel compelled to buy new things when a new season starts and stores are stocking for the season. Inevitably, people will donate old things to make way for the new things.
Eat lunch out and eat dinner in.
If you’re the kind of foodie that lives to dine at restaurants, consider doing so for lunch instead of dinner. Every restaurant I’ve worked at (a lot!) has a lunch menu that has reduced prices. The portion sizes are usually only 10% less than the dinner menu and you pay much less. You can try new food places on a budget.
Happy Hour isn’t just for drinks anymore!
I’m not a big drinker, but you don’t need to be when lots of restaurants have “food happy hours”. It’s becoming a new trend to see that restaurants are competing for business by offering discounted food during non-peak hours.
Lots of restaurants offer up to half-off appetizers from 3-5pm or 4-6pm. You can make a whole meal out of a few appetizers. It depends on the restaurant so all it takes is a phone call to ask or search online. If they are savvy enough to do this promotion, they likely advertise it on their website. A little research could save you half your restaurant bill!
Don’t buy bottled beverages.
Ever since finding drink powders and squirt flavoring bottles, I noticed that I started saving money on drinks. When water is too plain and you need some flavor, just add a dash or squirt to a glass of water. Then boom-you have an instant delicious drink. You can add however much you want and they last for several servings.
With flavors like Mio’s “Blueberry Acai” or “Strawberry Watermellon”, I’ve amassed a collection of a few different flavors so we can switch it up each time. Goodbye soda!
Bonus: the bottles are so small that they barely take up any room! Also, there are several brands that also add vitamins and are sugar free.
Find free or cheap things to do.
The best things in life are free. When I decide to stop in a metro area for a few months, I like to explore all the local parks it has to offer. I stop by State Parks and neighborhood parks. Most parks have picnic tables where I can bring my lunch and sketchbook. I also enjoy sitting in a hammock and catching up on my favorite new books.
As an artist, I love spending time at Art and History Museums. Most museums will have free admission on certain days of the month. For instance, many Seattle area museums have free admission on the first Friday or third Thursday. Just check out the website of a nearby museum and find their free dates.
Take less with you.
Every pound on your rig takes gas to move it. The more things you have, the more gas you need. If you are packing your vehicle to the brim with things you don’t absolutely love, they are literally weighing you down.
If you need help in becoming more minimal, check out my other post, 6 Tips to Minimize Your Possessions.
Comment below what ways do you save money while traveling on the road!