My sisters, mom, and I recently traveled to the Grand Canyon. It was a trip that was on my mom’s “bucket list” for years. This is actually the first time in several years that we’ve taken a trip together as a family. Here are a few things I learned about how to travel on a budget when you’re traveling with others who may not be on a budget.
My sisters travel quite a bit with their family and their friends. They are much more seasoned as travelers and have more disposable income than our family. When I decided that this was an important trip for me to join in on, I was a little worried about the money and expectations. We were all splitting my mom’s part of the trip, but I was concerned about how we would handle meals during the trip. I know that food can easily make or break a budget when you’re at home or traveling.
5 Tips on how to Travel on a Budget
1. Open up the opportunity for an honest dialogue
This was the most important step in making this a trip that would fit my budget. I emailed my sisters and asked them questions about their expectations for when we were actually on the trip, and shared my concerns.
Growing up, when our family went out with other families, no one split the check. One family paid and then the next time a different family paid. It was a cultural norm that someone treated for a meal. I often feel that expectation when dining out, which is difficult when you can’t afford to pay for a large party.
Both of my sisters were very understanding and enthusiastic about making meals affordable during our trip. I’m not sure if this concern even crossed their minds, but by bringing it up beforehand, I was able to raise their awareness and clear up expectations.
2. Eat Simple Breakfasts
Our hotel didn’t provide breakfast as part of the stay. I told my sisters that I would like to buy simple breakfasts that I could eat in the hotel room each morning. I didn’t expect them to do it, but that that was what I was planning to do. It turns out they wanted to do it too so the first day we went to the grocery store and bought cereal, oatmeal packets, bananas, and peanut butter. I also brought apples and a large bag of trail mix I brought with me on the plane which lasted through the whole trip.
Coffee Tip: I’m a coffee lover and like my coffee strong. If you want a good cup of coffee near the Grand Canyon, RP’s Stage Stop Internet Cafe and Gift Shop is the place to go!
3. Have picnic lunches…or dinners
One thing we learned about the Grand Canyon was that people come for the hiking and not for the food! When we hiked in the Grand Canyon, we stopped at the Market and had a picnic lunch. It was delicious and cheap. We bought bread, salami, cheese, lettuce, chips, and hummus which we all shared.
The last night before we flew home, we did the same thing but had a picnic dinner in our hotel room.
4. Share Meals
The times when we did eat out, most of the time we shared two meals between three of us. This was a great way to try more things on the menu and keep from feeling overfull. Restaurant portions are so large these days that feeling stuffed or leftovers are usually a given. When you’re traveling, though, leftovers usually get thrown out. Sharing meals is a great solution.
5. Skip the souvenirs
It’s tempting to buy something from the gift shop at the Grand Canyon, especially when it helps fund the park. But if you’re on a budget and you’re desperately trying to declutter, skip the souvenirs.
I ended up buying one baseball hat on our way to Sedona because I forgot to pack one. I bought my family some Sedona Chocolate which was a clutter free gift and something small I knew they would enjoy.
What are ways that you stay on budget when you travel?
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