Our Top Tips for First-Time Travelers on a Budget

January 16, 2024

Traveling for the first time is a thrilling experience, but it can be challenging to plan a trip if you’re trying to stay within a budget. There’s a lot to consider, from finding the most economical airfare and accommodations to looking for discounts on activities when you arrive. The good news is traveling doesn’t have to break the bank. With careful planning and resourcefulness, you can still have a fantastic experience without spending beyond your means.

If you’re traveling for the first time, exploring new destinations and creating unforgettable memories are accessible and affordable with a few simple budget travel tips!

Plan Ahead

Planning is the key to traveling on a budget; the further in advance, the better. This approach will allow you to create a well-thought-out itinerary, set an ideal budget, and lock in tickets to attractions at a more affordable price. It will also allow you to research affordable destinations and compare different scenarios. Would it be more cost-effective to fly or to drive? What months are the cheapest to travel? When booking accommodations, compare the costs of staying at a hotel vs. a vacation rental and what each provides. Having a kitchen to cook your meals and laundry facilities aren’t just conveniences; they’re cost savers, too!  

When you stay at Scenic Stays, you’ll get extra perks like discounts and complimentary tickets for activities, depending on where you stay. Scenic Stays continues to expand and grow its discount program, so always check to be updated on additional promo offers!

Narrowing down travel specifics will allow you to visualize your trip, set expectations, and reduce last-minute expenses. You’ll also be able to save up more money once you lock down an ideal budget for the activities you want to do.

Book Early

When you book in advance, you’ll have a chance to get in on early booking discounts, lower prices, and better deals regarding flights, accommodations, and activities. Earlier bookings will see more availability at local hotspots and offer more options, as popular vacation rentals and attractions might sell out if you wait until the last minute. Don’t forget to arrange transportation ahead of time, such as renting a car or a bike when available. Knowing that your travel details are organized and confirmed in advance will reduce stress and allow you to focus on the most important part: Enjoying your trip!

Travel Light

Make a packing list of things you need and want to bring along. Consider the destination climate and season, and choose light, versatile clothing, essential travel gear, and any accessories that could make the trip more enjoyable. While it might be tempting to pack your entire closet, fewer belongings, and traveling light are more practical approaches.

Utilizing carry-on baggage will help avoid baggage fees and streamline your journey. No need to wait at the baggage carousel—you’ll be out the door and ready for adventure! Using packing organizers is also helpful to fit your things more efficiently, as is choosing a carry-on bag that is big enough to store everything you need. If you’ve selected accommodations with laundry facilities, you can wash things as needed, eliminating the need for excess items.

As they say, less is more! These budget-friendly travel tips offer more flexibility as you move around from place to place, allowing you to explore different destinations hassle-free!

Explore Dining Options

Food expenses can burn a hole in your pocket, and dining multiple times a day can add up quickly. One great way to cut corners is by taking advantage of farmer’s markets and preparing meals in your vacation home or condo during the trip. Research local restaurants to see if they offer discounts or early bird specials, and limit those high-dollar meals whenever possible. 

Don’t get us wrong, trying out local cuisine and exploring restaurants are a must when traveling; just make sure to balance your budget between eating out, eating in, and even some creative solutions, like having a picnic in a favorite spot!

Opt for Inexpensive Entertainment

As they say, the best things in life are free, and the best thing about traveling on a budget is you can have memorable experiences without spending a penny! There are countless free or inexpensive things to do in Northwest Florida alone, whether you prefer to rest and relax in Navarre, hang out on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, or enjoy the beauty of Destin. You can spend hours relaxing on white sand beaches, soaking up the sun, swimming in the clear emerald waters, and watching incredible sunrises and sunsets without spending a dime. Visit countless nature trails and state parks to enjoy hiking, biking, and more. There are also many free fishing spots in the area, and although a Florida fishing license is required, the fee is relatively inexpensive and worth the few extra dollars.

Check out community events and free activities such as festivals and concerts when in town. The Destin Harborwalk and the Village of Baytowne Wharf are local entertainment centers that often have fun, seasonal events, and many restaurants offer live entertainment you can enjoy!

Book Stays During Shoulder Seasons

Booking during the shoulder seasons of fall and winter helps when traveling on a budget, and don’t discount visiting in early June or late August. With schools either still in session or already back in session, you can snag a great off-season rate during this period! You’ll also often find reduced prices on accommodations and attractions, allowing you to enjoy the same incredible experiences at a fraction of the cost. Additional bonuses include fewer crowds, shorter wait times, and a more peaceful and relaxing experience.

Consider staying at a family-friendly resort like SunDestin. Situated right on the beach in Destin, this 18-story condominium features indoor and outdoor pools, a splash pad, a fitness center, a restaurant, a gift shop, and even a summer recreation program for kids, all just steps from our sandy shores. Offering cozy accommodations, a wide variety of amenities, and complimentary tickets to top attractions in the area, you’ll surely get a bang for your buck!

Remember, being mindful of your spending doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your adventure. There are countless ways to have a memorable trip without straining your budget if you know where to look! 

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