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Plan Well, Retire Well

After a year of quarantine, how can you save money and travel safely?

Two trees in front of large, rocky mountain. Says "Save Money on Travel Tips"

Travel is the spice of life!  Travel is an opportunity to see and do things differently from our daily lives, connect with family and friends, and re-energize ourselves. Whether you choose to out of the county, across the country, or around the world, thinking about ways to decrease costs can be helpful – maybe it’ll even mean you can do more travel!

How can you decide where to pinch your pennies and when to splurge when traveling? Your likes and dislikes will dictate what you consider reasonable. For example, some families love to camp for their summer vacation and others wouldn’t even consider using outdoor toilets!

“Stepping down costs” is a helpful strategy for keeping your expenses lower. For example, you can save money on food if you eat simply from food purchased at a grocery store rather than a fancy restaurant, one or two meals per day.  Making lunch your big/fancy meal is often cheaper than dinner.

Another example of stepping down costs is to plan some slow, quiet days that don’t require an admission ticket. It’ll save you money and may be relaxing too!

When traveling, think about what matters to you the most and what doesn’t matter, and then find ways to cut costs.

For cost-saving tips, look at the following list of tips submitted by others, including IL Extension’s Money Mentors volunteers.


  • Stay with relatives!
  • Take time to explore options.
  • Tent camping and take a propane stove to cook meals.
  • For extended visits, compare bed & breakfast or vacation rentals (like Airbnb or VRBO) costs versus hotel rooms.


  • Share a meal with your spouse/partner rather than ordering individually.
  • Find a grocery store and buy some meals to eat in.
  • Enjoy lunchtime picnics.
  • Travel with snack food.
  • Carry reusable water bottle.
  • Choose water with lemon rather than more costly beverages at restaurants.
  • Stay at a hotel that offers continental breakfast.


  • Search for flights in incognito mode.
  • Compare costs of different transportation modes; for example, driving versus flying.
  • Travel during off season.
  • Check prices for rental car locations away for airports; they may be cheaper.
  • iPass can be used in many states and may be cheaper than regular price tolls.
  • Explore city passes for touring a city by bus or trolley.


  • Buy tickets to events/attractions online in advance to save money.
  • Don't buy souvenirs or stick to your spending plan for souvenirs.
  • Consider national memberships to gardens, zoos, and/or museums that can be used in more than one location.
  • Check if a city offers multiple-admission passes for museums and other tourist spots.


  • Look for coupons and free events.
  • Ask about senior discounts.
  • Use membership discounts such as AAA or AARP.
  • Explore discounts such as those in organization's booklets or places like Costco.
  • Turn off your cellular coverage during international travel.

Names of companies, organizations or specific products are provided here as examples and not as recommendations. Please do your research before making any purchases.

For more information about travel, watch our recorded webinar: How to Save on Travel and Travel Safely.