How to Travel When You Can’t Afford It

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January 24, 2020

Do you ever get wanderlust but don’t have the money to travel? It can be so frustrating to see our friends sharing amazing vacation pictures on social media when the only trip we can afford to take is to the grocery store! While you’ll have to figure out if a trip is best for your family, there are definitely ways to travel when you can’t afford it.

First of all, it’s important to know that there are actual, scientific reasons why vacations are good for us. On top of that, it can be amazing to go someplace new and explore. Every time we go on a trip, we come back with a renewed perspective for the world around us. We hope we’re instilling this fresh point of view in our kids, too.

There are all kinds of benefits to different types of trips, whether it’s solo travel or an active vacation. If you’re itching to go, but don’t have a lot of money to burn, here are some suggestions!

Be Flexible

You’ll probably pay a lot more money if you’re very specific about your trip details, especially the destination. If you can be flexible, you’ll likely discover huge savings. Plus, rolling the dice and seeing which locales and prices dictate your itinerary is kind of exciting.

One time, we wanted to do a short trip somewhere nearby. We chose to search without any criteria or expectations (more on this in a bit) and found a $14 flight to Denver. Yes, for less than $20 we could fly from Idaho to Colorado. That barely covers gas money to the next town! 


Have you heard of CityPASS? The discount ticket booklets allow travelers to see and do more at a fraction of the cost. You’ll be able to explore and experience some of the most iconic attractions in 14 North American destinations while saving money. 

Wondering how it works? Inside the booklet for your destination, you’ll find actual admission tickets (unless otherwise stated, these are one-time use only). Be sure to read the instructions for each ticket and don’t remove them yourself — let the attraction staff do it. Also, some destinations offer mobile vouchers to make using your CityPASS even easier!

Last-Minute Deals

You would be amazed by how much money you can save by finding last-minute deals through a variety of websites. In fact, most online booking and travel agency sites (such as Expedia and Travelocity) have a section dedicated to them. There are also entire websites where you can save big on this kind of trip. Here are some resources:

Play around with these sites and search for others to explore. You might score a fantastic deal. A word of caution—once you’ve pulled off a great vacation at a fraction of the cost, you might get addicted to last-minute deals!

Affirm & Uplift

Did you know that you can finance a vacation without using a credit card or incurring interest? Two companies that offer this service are Affirm and Uplift. It’s worth noting that there may be other sites out there, but we like to stick with these because we’ve actually used them.

How it works is that you shop for flights or vacation packages on a participating site (most airlines and even theme parks are doing this now!). Look for the “pay over 12 months” offer and check it out. You’ll have to pay a very reasonable, one-time finance charge, but after that, the trip cost is split into installments. You can take your trip right away—even if you have payments remaining!

How to Search for the Best Travel Deals

As mentioned, you’ll get the best prices on flights, hotels, and even rental cars if you can be flexible. While you can scour each travel website for the best dates and destinations, there’s a much easier option.

We’ll use the booking site Skyscanner for this example, but others, including Kayak, have similar tools. Here’s how to search for the best deals:

  • Enter your departure airport
  • In the “To” field, choose “Everywhere” as your destination
  • In the “Depart” and “Return” fields, choose “Cheapest Month”
  • Select your cabin class and number of travelers
  • Hit “Search Flights” and check out the restuls!

Travel is all about having an adventure and finding new experiences. Keep an open mind and your next vacation might be sooner (and more affordable) than you think!

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