Travel Adventure Awaits Even on a Tight Budget

Trae Bodge in Palm Springs, CA
Trae Bodge in Palm Springs, CA

Are you dreaming of a beach getaway, a trip to explore charming, distant capitals, or looking to reunite with friends or family that don’t live close by? If you’re hesitant to take a trip because of rising travel costs, you're not alone. According to a recent PayPal survey1, 1 in 4 respondents said they can’t afford any travel this year due to current economic uncertainty. But 72% of that group—and three in four Americans overall—are willing to change their day-to-day habits to make travel a possibility on a budget.

Planning for travel expenses should be done responsibly. Even though assessing the cost of accommodations, dining, transportation and more may feel overwhelming, there are plenty of easy and effective ways to do so.

Savvy shopping expert Trae Bodge has advice for how to do just that. Trae treats deal-finding, saving, and budgeting like a daily sport and has mastered affordable vacationing with strategies that not only help save on travel expenses but also help save in other ways to free up funds for trips.

Assess must-haves vs nice-to-haves

Trae in upstate NY with husband, Chris
Trae in upstate NY with husband, Chris

When planning for travel, Trae suggests identifying which sacrifices you don’t mind making and which are non-negotiables.

“It's a matter of taking a moment to identify what's important to you,” Trae said. “To me, it's all about balance and compromise, but not giving everything away so you feel like you're suffering just to save for the trip.”

Trae has found that being open to alternative accommodations can be a great way to lower the overall cost of a trip. By staying in a vacation rental instead of a hotel, for example, you can fit more people in one place, and save on food costs by cooking some meals.

For the past 12 years, Trae and her friends have rented a house in the Catskills in New York, and they divide the costs using PayPal or Venmo. These apps make it easy for you to send money quickly and securely to your friends and family. They can also help ensure you aren’t stuck covering costs that aren’t yours.


Know thyself and identify your overspending triggers

Trae in Vermont with husband, Chris
Trae in Vermont with husband, Chris

The excitement of travel can often make us impulsively splurge. Unchecked, these costs can easily overwhelm a budget as they accrue throughout a trip. That’s why it’s important to identify spending sore spots ahead of time so you can create a plan for potential splurges.

“Traveling can be a spending trap when you're in the mindset of, ‘I'm on vacation, all bets are off. I’m going to go to the five-star restaurant and the expensive boutique,’” Trae said. “If expenditures like this are triggers for you, that's a good thing to identify before you go.”

If you know you'll need to make purchases ahead of your trip—such as a new piece of luggage or noise-canceling headphones — PayPal Honey can not only help you find deals but also share historical pricing to help you know if you’re getting the best value.

Adopt a savings mindset all the time                                                     

To create space in your budget for luxuries like travel, Trae suggests adopting a savings-conscious mindset year-round.

“There are lifestyle changes that I started making years ago, such as making lunches and coffee at home,” said Trae. “My husband and I saved up for a diving trip to Honduras that way.”

And Trae is not alone: one-third of respondents in the PayPal survey said they are willing to search for online deals or coupons on everyday necessities to enjoy travel. Solutions like PayPal Rewards can help you earn points using credit card rewards to redeem for cash back on everyday items, which can add up and help you offset future travel expenses. PayPal's Pay Later can also be handy to use for big purchases ahead of a trip, such as airfare, that you have planned for but may want to pay on a more flexible schedule.

Be open to different journeys

Sometimes a large-scale trip just isn’t feasible, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid traveling altogether. You can find great destinations that are less expensive or that you can travel to by car instead of flying, that will still give you the getaway you crave without breaking the bank.

“Although we really wanted to go to Portugal last year, I couldn’t wrap my head around the price. So, we did a road trip to the Carolinas instead and it was awesome,” said Trae. “I think it's okay to make a change and save that bigger trip for another time when the prices are lower.”

Bottom line: creating a budget and savings plan for everyday expenses will help stretch your dollars and potentially make your travel dreams possible. And developing a well-researched travel itinerary that reflects an honest assessment of your trip’s “must haves” versus “nice-to-haves” will set you up for a satisfying—and affordable— journey.


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