Sky-high inflation is wreaking havoc on summer travel plans, with travel costs up nearly 16%, gas prices at record highs, and food and beverages up 14%. 

If you plan to get away this summer, there are ways you may look to save. Here are 5 tips for traveling on a budget during inflation.

1. Did somebody say road trip?

With airfare up 23.6%, many families are opting to drive to a destination a little closer to home. Whether you’re looking to discover a small town just one state over, check out a theme park with the family, or visit a nearby National Park, some of the best adventures are those just up the road! Just be aware of varying gas prices and use apps like GasBuddy when you need to find the cheapest gas in any town.

You can even turn your road trip into an adventure using a tool like Roadtrippers, where you can build your route using just a starting point and an end destination, discovering amazing stops along the way.

2. Go where the deals take you.

Whether you’re looking to save on flights, car rentals, hotels, or activities, the savings are out there. You just have to know where to look. 

As a start, you can find military discounts for hotels, rental cars, flights, packages, event tickets and cruises on the American Forces Travel website. Then, you can hunt for even better deals using the methods below. Just always remember to mention your military status and ask if the provider offers military discounts!

How to Save Money on Airfare

If you haven’t used Google Flights to find cheap air travel, you’re seriously missing out! Check out this video from Project Untethered to learn how:

How to Save Money on Rental Cars

Supply for rental cars has been low for a while now, making prices skyrocket, if you can even find one. 

If you’re looking to save some cash on your next rental, try bundling a car rental with your other travel. Some providers offer discounts if you book your hotel, flight, and rental car together. Just make sure to check sites like Kayak, Priceline, and to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. 

Also, the car-sharing service Turo is a great alternative to renting cars from the major providers and has budget-friendly options as low as $30/day.

How to Save Money on Lodging

It’s useful to begin your hotel search with the accommodation-focused aggregator site of your choice (such as,, or Trivago). Once you’ve got an idea of your hotel options and you’ve got a few favorites, it’s time to open a new window and go straight to the hotel’s official website or give them a call.

If you contact the hotel directly, you can sometimes negotiate free parking, breakfast, room upgrade or even a lower price at the hotel’s discretion. While you can’t always expect to get any of these things, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

If you can’t find a hotel within budget or large enough for your group, there are so many hotel alternatives out there, so be sure to explore every possibility.

3. Save money on meals.

One of the most expensive vacations are those where you have to eat out for every meal. Skip the restaurant food and, instead, purchase groceries from the store that will enable you to make as many meals and snacks that you can. If you plan to go this route, just remember to book a room with the kitchen appliances you’ll need to prepare them!

4. If you’re going to take on debt for travel, be smart.

It’s never a good idea to take on high interest credit-card balances you cannot pay off immediately, but if you have the financial flexibility and can afford to take on that debt responsibly, you may want to consider a Career Assistance Program (CAP) Loan from AAFMAA. 

The CAP loan is a $5,000 personal loan at 1.5% Maximum Annual Percentage Rate, and you can use it for whatever you need it for, but exclusions do apply. Check the AAFMAA website for more information.

5. Plan a staycation.

If after everything, you still decide not to travel this summer, don’t let any paid time off go to waste. Even if you stay home to binge watch Netflix on your couch, we all need a break from work every now and again to recover and recharge our batteries. 

Consider one of these epic staycation ideas from NOMAD Paradise:

  • Have the family prepare a feast of international foods
  • Plan a picnic
  • Host your own girls’ spa day
  • Go camping
  • Read a good book
  • Watch a movie outside
  • Discover a new hiking trail
  • Try a painting tutorial on YouTube

Are you taking a vacation or opting for a staycation this summer? Let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments!

More Tips for Traveling (or Staying In) on a Budget

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