Travel Tips

Affordable Travel: What I’ve Learned

What is the secret to affordable travel?

This is probably one of the top three questions readers send me, along with…how do you eat cupcakes and not weigh 300 pounds? and I’m visiting (fill in the name of the city), what should I do?  So I thought it was time to put all my thoughts together and share my tips and secrets to affordable travel.

I’ve divided the tips into two groups…(1) increasing the amount of money you have to travel; (2) decreasing the amount of money you spend when you travel. This is what has worked for me…even during seasons of my life where I was living paycheck to paycheck. Some of these tips won’t work for you, and that’s okay! Choose what will work for YOU. If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments below, and if you use any of these tips, I’d love to hear your travel story! And feel free to let me know if you have any other questions you want me to answer!!

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the link.

Affordable Travel: More Money = More Travel

Save, Save, Save

I set aside money each month in my budget (and just like Dave Ramsey says, I name every dollar!) for travel. Different seasons have meant I was able to save different amounts of money each month, but I always make saving a priority in my budget. Saving money each month allows me to break up the cost of a trip over several months. It has also allowed me to take bigger trips, as I save up over a longer period of time.


The reality is that most people probably can’t change the amount of money in their take home pay each month so they are a bit limited in setting monthly savings goals. And that is where this next tip comes in for affordable travel. I hustle to increase my monthly income. And let me tell y’all, I hustle big because I don’t want money to be what stops me from traveling! Here’s a look at some of things I am currently doing, or have done, to increase my monthly income…

•Proctor SAT/ACT tests – It’s easy to give up a Saturday morning to proctor a test when you think about the time you’ll be able to spend taking a trip with the money!

•Babysitting – I have babysat more hours than I can even count in my lifetime! I started at 12 and used that babysitting money for a trip to the East Coast in 8th grade. I babysat all through high school for a three-week trip to Spain. And I have babysat as an adult for extra money.

Thirty-One Gifts – I have spent nearly 10 years as a consultant for Thirty-One selling travel bags, accessories, and other great home products. For me, it has been a great way to earn some extra money while using a product I truly love.

Hosting on Airbnb – Opening my home to other travelers looking for affordable travel has provided me with money to do traveling of my own. If you’re thinking about becoming a host, here are my thoughts on being the best host possible.

•Blogging – This blog is also a source of income and if you’re willing to invest time into a blog (lots of time!) it could also be a good way to make some extra money.

Rewards Points

I carefully choose my credit cards and checking/savings accounts and typically only use cards/accounts that offer me points or cash back. I then turn these points into cash for my travels.

***Note: If you feel like credit cards cause you to overspend and go over your budget, then this is not a good strategy for you! This works for me because in over 15 years of having credit cards I’ve never paid a late fee and I have paid my credit card balance in full every single month. So I’m actually coming out ahead by using the points. But the points aren’t worth it if you’re spending money you don’t have just to earn points!

Holiday Wish List

I often ask for money and things I need for travel for Christmas and birthdays since I don’t need a lot of physical things. This is a great way to add to your travel budget!

Make Difficult Choices

Travel is really important to me. So I’m willing to skip the line at Starbucks and wait for the movie to come out on Redbox to save money. I regularly look through my budget line by line and decide if each item is something I really need or if I could instead put some of that money towards travel.  For me, experiencing a new city is more important than a new outfit, so I’m willing to have a relatively small clothes budget in favor of a much larger travel budget.

I've found the secret to affordable travel is to save more money before I travel and to cut costs while I travel and now I'm sharing what I've learned!

Affordable Travel: Cut Spending = More Travel

Shoulder Season

Flexible travel dates? Travel during shoulder season (the time right before and after high tourist season at a particular destination)  to save money on your trip. This year I’m heading to Europe and I’m leaving at the end of May…before summer tourist season really begins. And this helped me save a lot of money on my plane ticket! If you have your heart set on a particular destination see if you can go just before, or after, it gets busy.

Follow the Deals

Sometimes this tip is really hard for me follow, but I have found I can travel more if I don’t have my heart set on particular places. If the goal is just to travel then I watch for deals and when I see a good one I snatch it up and make that my next trip! I use both Scott’s Cheap Flights and Dollar Flight Club, and I have Google Flight alerts set so I can be on the lookout for great flight deals. When I see a great deal I make that my next destination instead of spending whatever it takes to get to a particular place.


One great way to head out on affordable travel is to skip the hotels and book on a homesharing site like Airbnb. If you decide to book an Airbnb be sure to read these tips on how to be a great guest! A site like Airbnb allows you to save on your nightly rate compared to a hotel. You can also save on food by eating some meals in your home rental instead of eating out every meal.

Free Attractions

For almost any destination you can head to Pinterest and type in “Free things to do in (your destination)” and you’ll find some great suggestions! From free walking tours (like these walking tours in Paris)  to free museum days to free local attractions, you’ll find a surprising number of things to do for free. And when you can explore for free, that translates to affordable travel.

Savings Sites

Check out sites like LivingSocial and Groupon for deals in your destination city. One benefit of these sites is that you’ll save money. Additionally, you’ll probably find a few things to do that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Make Difficult Choices

It’s as important to make difficult choices while on your trip as it is while saving for your trip. Personally, I limit alcohol when I travel because it’s just not a cost I want to incur while I travel. I’d rather extend my trip by a day or two then drink while I’m there. I’ll also look for lunch deals at restaurants I really want to try and then just have a light dinner. When I travel I set a daily budget and then decide what’s most important for me each day.


For me, I have had the best experience being a loyal customer. For example, choosing one airline allows me to earn more free miles.

Hit the Ground

Save on transportation by walking around your destination or taking public transportation. Not only is walking a great way to explore a new city, but it’s cheaper than a taxi! Another way to hit the ground is to skip air travel and road trip for your next trip. A road trip is often less about the destination and more about the journey. So this is a great way to travel for less money!

If you have any other affordable travel tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments below! If you use any of these tips, I’d love to hear your travel story! And again, feel free to let me know if you have any other questions you want me to answer!!

p.s. You might be interested in my Top Ten Reasons to Try Airbnb and My 2019 Travel Plans

p.p.s. Also check out How I Afford to Travel Frequently and How to Find Cheap Flights

I've found the secret to affordable travel is to save more money before I travel and to cut costs while I travel and now I'm sharing what I've learned!

Healthy Travel Essentials

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HealthySavings #CollectiveBias

That most wonderful time of year is here…the holidays. And that means holiday travel! When I travel I like to keep a few essential items with me to make sure I stay healthy during my trip, so I can enjoy my travels! And I’m always on the lookout for deals, because saving money on travel essentials means more money in my savings account for the next trip!

Stock up on all of the essentials for healthy travel

If you’re not sure what you should include in your healthy essentials kit, I’m here to help you out with Healthy Travel Essentials Printable, designed to help makes sure all of the essentials are covered for your next trip and here’s a little peek at how I put together my kit…



Since I have a couple of trips coming this holiday season I headed over to my neighborhood Walgreens to purchase my healthy travel essentials. During the month of November, Walgreens is running a great promotion where you can save $15 on Pfizer products …and again, saving money on the essentials means more money for the next trip or another cupcake stop on the trip!  You can also find additional information on other great Pfizer products, such as Advil, Thermacare, Children’s Advil, Dimetapp, Robitussin, Emergen-C 30ct, Centrum/Caltrate, Chapstick, Nexium 24HR

Stock up on healthy travel essentials with this printable

Don’t forget to download your copy of the Healthy Travel Essentials Printable designed to help keep you healthy on your next trip!

Stock up on healthy travel essentials with this printable
What things on your list of travel essentials for healthy travel?

Travel Essentials Packing List

I recently joined a fabulous Facebook for Girls Who Travel and we had a great discussion about what items are most essential for when you travel and it got me thinking…what needs to be on your Travel Essentials Packing List?

Girl on the Move's Travel Essentials packing list

Tweet: Wondering what to pack on your next trip? @jmdenouden has a list of essentials you’ll need #travel

My travel essentials…

*Running shoes…running is one of my favorite ways to explore a new place so running shoes are a must. If you don’t run you should at least pack comfortable shoes since you’ll probably do more walking than normal

*Camera…take pictures of your adventures so you can inspire others to travel there as well!

*Sunscreen…because a sunburn when you’re traveling is just no fun!

*Ziploc bags…these have like 1000 different uses when you’re traveling…you just never know when they’ll come in handy!

*Moisturizer…I can live without makeup and my curling wand…but face moisturizer is a must!

*Chargers…Nobody wants to be on a trip with a dead phone/computer/tablet…and don’t forget adapters if you’re traveling internationally!

*Hand sanitizer…you don’t always know when/where you’ll have access to water for washing your hands

*A clutch/travel fanny pack…something that can stay with you at all times with your valuables and emergency contact information

*A positive attitude…things can easily go wrong when you’re traveling but just remember…you could be sitting at home! So it’s important to keep a positive attitude!

What items are on your travel essentials packing list?

Top Ten Reasons To Try Airbnb

If you’ve been curious about whether or not you should use Airbnb I’d recommend checking out these Airbnb tips and then peruse this list of the Top Ten Reasons You Should Try Airbnb!

More Posts in the Airbnb Series

Is Airbnb right for you?

How to be the best Airbnb guest ever

How to be the best Airbnb host ever

Tweet: Not sure if @Airbnb is right for you? @jmdenouden shares her top ten reasons why you should try Airbnb! #Airbnb

10. Experience local culture…You’ll get more of a taste of the local culture for where you’re visiting than if you stay at a hotel

9. You can save money!  The majority of the time, staying at an Airbnb listing is cheaper than staying at a local hotel…and if you book a whole house/apt, you’ll probably also have more room!

8. But you don’t have to travel dorm-style!  One way to save money when you travel is to stay in hostels which often mean sharing space with others so the advantage of Airbnb is you can save money while still have space to yourself

8. You’ll get insider tips…because you’re staying with a local (or in a local’s house) they can make recommendations for off-the-beaten path restaurants and attractions that you otherwise might have missed!

7. The review system…Airbnb has a review in system in place for both guests and hosts so you can find out more about where you’ll be staying ahead of time.  Hosts are motivated to make your stay great because they want to get positive reviews.

6. The process is simple…The website, and app, are user-friendly and incredibly easy to navigate!

If you've ever considered trying Airbnb check out these Airbnb tips and top ten reasons why you should use Airbnb when you travel.

5. You’re not limited to your hotels breakfast hours!  Want to sleep in until noon and then have breakfast?  You can do that when you’re staying at a house/apt with a kitchen through Airbnb…not so much if you’re staying at a hotel that only serves breakfast until 10am!

4. You’ll have more space…most of the time you’ll at least have access to a living room, kitchen, etc when you book through Airbnb!  If you book a whole house/apt you’ll have lots more space than a hotel.  If you only book a room you’ll likely still have access to common areas…which gives you more space than one hotel room.

3. You have more location options…in most cities all of the hotels are in one part of town (or maybe in small groups in different parts of town).  But with Airbnb the listings are spread out all over the city so you can truly experience different neighborhoods instead of being limited to tourist areas.

2. You can have the comforts of home when you’re traveling…curl up on the couch to watch tv, play games into the night, make yourself a cup of tea…the bottom line is staying in a home/apt is more comfortable than staying in a hotel room.

1. You’ll meet great people!  I have loved meeting all of the guests in our home and even though we rent out our entire house so we don’t stay there with them I have loved getting to meet different people from different walks of life…it truly broadens your horizons.

If you are planning a trip, I would highly recommend looking into Airbnb and seeing if there is a listing that is just right for your needs! If you’d like a discount on your first Airbnb stay ($40 in travel credit)( you can sign up through our link and I would also highly recommend checking out the hosting opportunities with Airbnb as it’s a great way to earn some extra money! I can’t wait to hear about your Airbnb experience!

Have you tried Airbnb? Do you think you’ll give Airbnb a try? What have your Airbnb experiences been like?

How to Be the Best Airbnb Guest EVER

We’re back for the second installment of our Airbnb series! If you missed week one where we talked about what in the world Airbnb is you’ll want to check out last week’s post. This week we’re going to talk about how to be the best Airbnb guest EVER! Because let’s be honest if you make a reservation request, you want the host to accept you…and you want good reviews so future hosts will accept you!

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the links.

Airbnb Tips: First-Timers

If you are getting ready to try using Airbnb for the first time as a guest I would encourage you to do a few things so potential hosts will want you to stay at their house…

  1. Add a picture to your profile…I want to see who is going to be sleeping in my bed!
  2. Complete the verifications…I want to know Airbnb has verified you are a real person in at least a couple of ways. You don’t need to complete every verification but if you don’t even verify your email, then I’m not so sure you’re legit
  3. In your inquiry, tell us a little bit about yourself and your visit…again I want to know a little bit about the person who is going to be sleeping in my bed!
  4. Fill out the details in your profile…like where you live!  You don’t need to give me a street address (this may seem like common sense but one guest did this!) but I’d at least like to know what country you live in.
  5. Use our link to get $40 in travel credit!

If I get a reservation request from a profile with no picture, verifications or any details…chances are I’m not going to accept the request!  I mean imagine if you got a profile like this on a dating website…you sure wouldn’t say yes to a date!

Airbnb Tips: Preparing for Your Stay

  1. Communicate your arrival time with the host
  2. Be honest! If you book the house for 3 guests, don’t bring 5 extra people with you…trust me this happens and hosts don’t usually like this. Also, if something happens, let the host know right away so they can fix things rather than wait to find out until you leave. One of our guests had the sink back up on them and because they let us know right away we were able to get a plumber to fix things right away and avoid any damage.
  3. Check with the host on the policy regarding using their kitchen. If you’ve only rented a room it might not be available for you to use at all times
  4. If you have any special needs, ask ahead of time! They might not be able to help you out but if they can they’d love to! We had someone stay with a baby and ask if we had a high chair so we borrowed one for their stay.
  5. Don’t forget you are staying in someone’s home…be nice and treat it kindly!  Use things for their intended purposes and try not to leave wet towels lying around.

Tweet: If you’re using Airbnb to travel, @jmdenouden shares how to be the best guest EVER! #Airbnb #travel

Airbnb Tips: Finding the Perfection Location

A few tips as you search for the perfect location for your next getaway

  1. Read the reviews before you inquire about a place…if other people have left negative reviews it should be a red flag. If other reviews are glowing, then this might be a perfect place to stay!
  2. Ask the host for recommendations and information because they probably know the area better than you do. If you really want to see a certain museum, ask the host how far away the particular museum is so you can decide if it’s the best fit for you
  3. Check the cancellation policy….you don’t want to end up losing money if you cancel outside of their cancellation policy window so make sure you check this before booking
  4. Be sure to look at the location on the map carefully. If you are going to depend on public transportation you want to make sure public transportation is easily accessible

If you are looking to use Airbnb when you travel, these Airbnb tips will help you be the best guest ever ensuring excellent ratings!
Frequently Asked Questions from Guests

  1. Do you have to provide your own food? It varies place-to-place…some homes will leave breakfast food for you but beyond that you’re on your own. We keep our fridge/pantry stocked with condiments and spices and breakfast food but beyond that the guests need to bring their own food
  2. Do you have to clean up after yourself? You don’t need to get out the mop and bucket but the general guideline with Airbnb is to treat it like a campsite…leave it the way you found it! We do love it when guests strip the linens off the bed before they leave…but it’s not required and we won’t rate you poorly if you don’t!
  3. Do you tip hosts? No need to tip hosts although some guests do bring gifts which is fun…especially if they are traveling from out of the country!

I’d love to hear from you!  In the comments below I’d love to hear if you’ve used Airbnb as a guest, what tips you have for first-timers? If you’re an Airbnb host, what tips do you have for guests? If you’ve never used Airbnb, what questions do you have about being a guest?

More Posts in the Airbnb Series

Is Airbnb right for you?

How to be the best Airbnb host ever

Top ten reasons to try Airbnb

If you have any questions about Airbnb feel free to leave a comment or send me an email at girlonthemoveblog01 {at} gmail {dot} com.

What is Airbnb? Is it Right for You?

A couple years ago my sister and I decided to try our hand at hosting on Airbnb. We honestly had no idea if it would be successful or not, but we figured it would at least be worth a try! So we took pictures of our house, put together our profile, started taking bookings, and quickly hosted our first guest. Since then we’ve collected quite a few Airbnb tips as we hosted lots of guests and used it as guests ourselves so we decided it was time to share what we’ve learned.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the links.

What is Airbnb?

In it’s simplest terms, for guests Airbnb allows you to stay in other people’s homes when you travel, often saving money from traditional accommodations. For hosts, Airbnb allows you to host other people in your home when they travel, giving you the opportunity to earn extra money.

It should be noted…Airbnb is different than staying at a hotel and so while Airbnb is a great thing, it is not for everyone! Here are a few of the differences between Airbnb and hotels…

*With Airbnb you are staying in someone’s home so their personal belongings are there…not a bad thing, just different than a hotel!

*With Airbnb guests and hosts have the opportunity to review each other so there is a high level of motivation for guests and hosts to be awesome!

*There is no daily maid service with Airbnb listings so you’ll need to pick up after yourself

How do I know if Airbnb is right for me?

HOSTS: If you are thinking about hosting on Airbnb as a way to make some additional income I would suggest asking yourself the following questions…

*Am I okay with other people (strangers!) sleeping in my home? If you don’t feel comfortable with strangers sleeping in your home than Airbnb might not be a good fit for you

*Am I okay with cleaning up after other people? You can either hire a cleaning service or clean up yourself, so if you don’t like cleaning up after others, than Airbnb might not be a good fit

*If I rent out my entire house/apt do I have somewhere else I can stay?

GUESTS: If you are thinking about being a guest on Airbnb, I would suggest asking yourself the following questions…

*Is it important to me to save money when I travel? If it is, then Airbnb might be a great fit for you because it is often cheaper than a hotel

*Do you have food allergies or dietary restrictions? If you do, Airbnb might be a great fit because most of the time you’ll have access to a kitchen so you can prepare food that fits your needs.

*Do you like fresh towels every day and having your room cleaned? If you do, a hotel might be best for you because there is not daily maid service with Airbnb

*Do you need flexible check-in and check-out times for your stay? Depending on your host they may not be able to accommodate early check-in and check-out like a hotel with multiple rooms. If you need flexibility during your stay, check with your potential hosts to see if that works, otherwise a hotel might be a better fit.

If you are planning a trip this fall I would highly recommend looking into Airbnb and seeing if there is a listing that is just right for your needs! If you’d like a discount ($40 in travel credit!!) on your first Airbnb stay you can sign up through our link.

Tweet: If you’ve ever wondered what Airbnb is and if it’s right for you @jmdenouden answers your questions #Airbnb

More Posts in the Airbnb Series

How to be the best Airbnb guest ever

How to be the best Airbnb host ever

Top ten reasons to try Airbnb

If you have any questions about Airbnb feel free to leave a comment or send me an email at girlonthemoveblog01 {at} gmail {dot} com.

If you’ve used Airbnb as a host or guest comment below because I’d love to hear about your experience!

Whether you are looking to become a first-time host or guest, these Airbnb tips will help you decide if this a good fit for you as you travel.