Saving Money While Traveling

I travel by car. I travel with kids. I travel in New York State. Combine the three and voila- I am one thrifty traveler! I’ve been thinking about what exactly makes me thrifty. Here are some quick tips that may help save you some money, and perhaps stretch your travel excursion a little further.

1. Go to the local grocery store for your meal.

We almost never go to restaurants while traveling. Price– especially at tourist attractions– are ridiculously expensive. Even more so when you have a carload of hungry, weary teenagers. I don’t like to pack meals, either. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are OK, but let’s not forget the reason we are traveling– to have fun. PB and J is not fun.

Grocery stores almost universally carry ready-made foods. Submarine sandwiches, pizza slices, and the like are great quickie meals. Shopping at the grocery store also provides the added benefit of mingling with the locals. You can really enjoy this part of traveling! I love to chat with local people. Sometimes they are full of helpful information, like the best parking places or knowledge about admission discounts. Or sometimes they are full of interesting stories about the local area. Plus, by shopping at the grocery store, you are pumping money into the mom and pop economy and not just the flashy tourist industry. In my opinion, its a terrific money saver and reaps benefits in other areas.

2. Bring your own beverages.

Listen to Mrs. Mecomber now: never buy beverages the closer you get to the tourist attraction. Drinks are the most expensive item on any menu, pound for pound. Plus, drinks are rarely nutritous and are loaded with sugar and/or caffeine. The last thing you need are young, full bladders and bloodstreams loaded with caffiene. This is a car trip, remember?

3. Join the AAA.

We are not members of the AAA, but are starting to look into it. My husband has come across some of their magazines, and he is impressed with their deep discounts and travel tips. He says it’s worth the $50 a year considering what you’d reap from all their benefits. As soon as we can, I think we’ll join.

4. Check the gas prices of the towns you plan to drive through.

I rarely buy gas in my own town before I leave. I just know it’s going to be cheaper elsewhere (the Utica area is the most expensive in Upstate NY, don’t ask me why). I never buy gas locally when I am traveling toward an Indian-owned area; their gas is so much cheaper.

The Internet has made shopping for gas so much easier. Check out or MSN Autos for gas prices. Keep in mind that gas prices do fluctuate daily.

5. Travel out of season.

In New York, the best time to travel is in autumn. Unfortunately, many of New York’s larger attractions close after October 31. However, not all of them do! This is a great time to scope out the smaller places. Also, sometimes the larger attractions are open for special occasions, such as a Christmas festival at an historic site, or hayrides for Thanksgiving.

Saving money for travel is not hard, it just takes a little extra legwork. But think of this; all the money you save will only extend your travels or enable you to travel again sooner!

About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (5)

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  1. Pat says:

    That’s right, audio books will help you kill time and sometimes make your children sleep too.
    You can get good children audio books from [the Amazon Audio store].

    Have a nice day.

  2. music says:

    very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

  3. Marsha says:

    I can attest to the AAA fees being worthwhile. Just this past Monday I had my tire changed on Pennsylvania’s Northeast Extension (part of the Turnpike system) where the de facto speed limit runs to 80 mph. I was alone with the kids and NOT happy about having to make the call, but the AAA affiliate was at my location in less than 20 minutes and had my full-size spare (another good recommendation if you travel with kids alone – with a full tire as a spare you can continue on your way if you need to use it rather than make another stop for a new tire) on and ready to go. Last summer I was alone with the kids when another car had a problem and we needed a tow. Car trouble is always a hassle, and more so when I’m alone with the children, but AAA at least keeps it from becoming a nightmare.

  4. Thanks for the comments! Yep, audio books do help. And thanks, Music, I appreciate the feed subscription.

    Marsha, it is great hearing a voice of experience! We are definitely looking into it in the near future.

    Thanks for your input!

  5. […] thanks to Kim at Frugal Hacks, who did a generous piece on my post, Saving Money while Traveling. She also included some tips from my New York Renovator blog, including how to irrigate your garden […]