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Connection Corner

5 money-saving tips for traveling on a budget


I have wonderful memories of family vacations from when I was a child, but it wasn’t until I was a parent that I realized how expensive those special family moments can cost to create. Not all vacations have to be expensive, however. These five tips can help you stay within your budget while still creating wonderful memories.

Know your budget before you plan your travels

  • Knowing most of the predictable costs of travel can help reduce stress and prevent surprises along the way. University of Illinois Extension Consumer Economic Educator Kathy Sweedler has created a very useful travel planning spreadsheet that can help families map out most of the costs of upcoming travel. 

Be creative when it comes to meals

  • Eating out can get expensive quickly, so be creative about how you feed your crew. Find a hotel that offers free breakfast or has a kitchenette that would allow you to prepare simple breakfasts. Depending on the size of your group, renting a house or or condo might be more economical if you can prepare and eat meals there. When possible, pack simple snacks and beverages for a few meals of the day. Choose lunch to be your larger meal at a restaurant as it is often cheaper than evening meals, and sometimes easier to reserve seating. 

Plan early and research low-cost options

  • Prices are often cheaper when you book early and there is usually more availability which allows you to choose less expensive options. Consider lower cost adventures, such as camping, resorts that include free activities, or day trips to parks or beaches that don’t have a cost. 

Compare transportation costs

  • There are a lot of reasons to consider different forms of transportation when you travel and sometimes you can be surprised at the actual cost of travel. Try this handy transportation mode comparison tool to find the true costs of different forms of travel. 

Purchase some souvenir items and trinkets ahead of time

  • Souvenir items can add up quickly too, so try to purchase t-shirts, hats, light-up wands or other items you might purchase on the trip before you go for a fraction of the cost. If you are planning to purchase a few souvenirs along the way, it is a good idea to give your family members a budget, so they can each decide what they want to spend their money on. 

For more tips on traveling on a budget, check out the Saving on Travel website for additional information via blog, podcast or video! Another great resource while you are planning your next adventure is an earlier Connection Corner Road Trip post with tips on how to take the stress out of travel. 


Judy Schmidt provides leadership to 4-H metro programming in Peoria County. Schmidt joined Extension in 2001, working as a Youth Development Educator at the East Peoria Center and joined the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell unit in 2011. Her work focuses on 4-H youth development programming in the local metropolitan area, specifically leading positive youth development initiatives for after-school programs, community groups, 4-H clubs and other youth-serving organizations. Her areas of expertise include positive youth development principles, youth leadership, and work with teens as teachers. 

Schmidt attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her bachelor's degree in psychology and also for her master's degrees in Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a certified facilitator of the Matrixx System/Real Colors program by the National Curriculum and Training Institute. 


Connection Corner:  is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.