5 Ideas to Reduce the Cost of Travel

An unusually gentle view of the California coast

Other than airfare, (which, unfortunately, has gone through the roof over the past couple years) lodging is usually the biggest expense when traveling.  Hotel stays are pretty pricey, so unless you have friends and family all over or a home on wheels, you might be finding the cost of traveling prohibitive these days.

Just as the fog burns off

There are alternatives.  With an open mind and a sense of adventure, you can still enjoy exploring new lands without paying an arm and a leg.  And you will come home with stories unlike any you’ve shared in the past!


Below you will find some of my best suggestions.

  1. Sleep in your tent.  There’s nothing quite like sleeping outside, with only a thin sheet of material between you and the stars (and a queen-size inflatable mattress between you and the ground!)  Through the years, I’ve stayed in my tent at State and National Parks, as well as on Public Lands.  Hiking new trails each day, photographing extraordinary Nature scenes, building sweet-smelling campfires at night, and listening to the gentle thump of raindrops before falling asleep are a few of the wonderful memories I’ve collected.  There is usually a small fee for a campsite, and, if not reserved in advance (which can be done online at the Park’s website), they are typically first-come-first-serve.  
  2. Stay in a hostel.  Fellow hostelers are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  I bunked with a young woman at a San Francisco hostel who later hosted me at her home in Germany, and a gal from London whom I got to know at a Kanab, Utah hostel met up with me in Paris, where we stayed in, yes, a hostel.  You can opt for a private room (the most expensive option, but still a fraction of the price of a hotel room) or a shared dorm room (the least expensive.)  Everyone shares the living area & kitchen.  Sometimes you share a bathroom.  Often, a hostel stay will include the opportunity for tours, various activities in a game room, and even food for purchase.  I recommend reserving your stay directly or through HostelWorld.com.
  3. Teach English as a foreign language.  Although I didn’t try this one, I came very close.  I researched a position in Chile & was learning Spanish through Rosetta Stone.  (Before committing, I decided that I was much more excited to explore the western half of this country.) However, I have a friend who taught EFL for many years, working in countries in Europe and the Middle East.  She loved the experience and is still in contact with many of her students.  If you’re interested, The TEFL Academy is a reputable organization.
  4. Do a different kind of work exchange.  I’ve participated in work exchanges twice in California and once in Upstate New York.  At Esalen in Big Sur, I paid a reasonable amount in addition to working part-time for room, board, and classes.  At Ratna Ling in California’s redwoods, room and board were payment for my 6-day workweek.  At Omega Institute, which is 90 minutes north of NYC, I worked 32 hours a week and received a small stipend in addition to room, board, and classes.  Check out CoolWorks.com to see the wide variety of possibilities available.
  5. Stay at an ashram, mission, or monastery.  Again, this is not something I’ve done, but looked into & met folks who’ve experienced it.  (And I have every intention of staying at the ashram in Taos, New Mexico at some point!)  This type of stay is not for everyone, as it is often necessary to observe periods of silence, keep your shoulders covered, or other protocol.  But costs are minimal, and you can often work in the kitchen or garden to offset part of your stay.  For more information, call directly or check out a few monasteries at this link.
The waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

There is a world of reasonable lodging options available to the traveler willing to try something new and different.  Don’t let today’s high prices of most everything keep you from visiting new destinations.  Look into some of these alternative ideas, or explore some of your own.  Happy traveling! 

Traveling south from Big Sur

Blessings for Traveling on the Cheap,


The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

43 thoughts on “5 Ideas to Reduce the Cost of Travel

  1. We’ve done some of the options. When I was a teen, I wanted to stay in a hostel and bicycle around the United States. I wasn’t super adventurous and my parent’s divorce and moving 2500 miles from home sort of satisfied my desire to get away. I wish now I had braved it, though. It sounds like you had a great experience.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. mmm maybe not, but the great desire isn’t there. There is so much to see. A friend of mine used to bike all over the country in his seventies, but it takes you away from home from so long, and I love my home and family.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great list of options. Airfare is just ridiculous these days and beyond the cost, the large carriers have lost the customer perspective. Never tried the hostel approaches, but we have been very happy with the camping options – be sure and sign up for the rewards programs if you frequent the KOAs and Sam Goody sites. That usually gets us several free stays and/or reduced rates. Thanks for the tips.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It’s a big thumbs up from us to travel with your tent ⛺️! And hostels … absolutely yes! This way, we were able to travel in Spain for 5 weeks! Great suggestions Lisa, thanks for the reminder!
    Oh, and once again, your photos are spectacular … wow, that one of Redwoods – amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

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