Stretching Your Travel Budget
Between last year’s skyrocketing gas prices and a dozen eggs costing as much as a movie ticket, budgets are tight across the board. But just because you can’t afford your daily omelet doesn’t mean you should have to cut out all your spring and summer travel! With a little preparation and research, there are plenty of ways to stretch your travel budget and still have an amazing trip.
The need to prioritize may seem painfully obvious, but sometimes when we’re on vacation, everything feels like a priority. We want to experience as much as possible, so we’re often willing to pay more than we normally might to do it. But when sticking to a travel budget, it pays to decide which things matter the most to you. Are you a foodie? Then by all means, prioritize dining out every night. Just know that might come at the cost of that luxury hotel room. Love a classy hotel room at the end of a long day? Consider McDonald’s for lunch instead. (This is not actually a joke. International McDonald’s restaurants are a weird guilty pleasure.)
If you’re flying, nothing hurts worse (okay, maybe other than a canceled flight) than finding out your bag is overweight and having to pay a hefty bag fee. Even bags under 50 pounds can cost a pretty penny. Packing lightly doesn’t mean leaving all your creature comforts at home. Follow our packing guide to eliminate the baggage fee cost and stretch your travel budget even further.
Capitalize on free or reduced cost
Again, this seems obvious, but it isn’t always. National parks near your destination are an amazing way to stretch the budget. With entrance fees generally around $35 (always double-check before going), touring a national park can provide an entire day’s entertainment and exploration. Flat Creek Inn is the closest hotel to Grand Teton National Park and is also within driving distance to Yellowstone—more on this next week.
Another great budget-stretching tip is to take walking tours. If your budget allows for traveling to Europe, the app Rick Steves Audio Europe is an excellent resource for taking expert tours at no cost. My husband and I have done these tours in several cities, and it’s both fun to have access to Rick Steves’s travel knowledge and entertaining to laugh about his quirky personality. If you’d rather stick closer to home, a quick search on your phone’s app store shows similar options for U.S cities.
If Jackson Hole is on your destination list (we’re admittedly biased, but we think it should be), here’s a short list of free activities ‘round these parts. As always, be sure to double-check hours and availability.
- Ice skate in Town Square or Teton Village (winter only): If you have your own ice skates, you can skate at either of these rinks for free. If you forgot your skates at home, rentals are available for $15 at both locations. Bonus for skating at Town Square: free hot chocolate at the Stage Stop.
- On the first Thursday of every month, Wyoming Stargazing offers public stargazing events. As long as it’s above zero degrees Fahrenheit, astronomy educators will show you planets, stars, planetary nebulae, galaxies, and more. Check out their website for more information.
- Visit the Jackson National Fish Hatchery. I do not find this appealing as an adult, but as a child, I was fascinated by fish hatcheries. Located approximately four miles outside of town, the hatchery is open daily from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Visitors can observe fish in aquariums, streams, and several indoor tanks, as well as view photographic displays. As this is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, be sure to check the website for any closures due to federal holidays.
- The National Museum of Wildlife Art was featured in a previous blog, and while the museum itself is not free (currently $18 admission), there is a ¾ mile sculpture trail with mixed-media replicas of various native wildlife.
Make the most of travel rewards programs
Admittedly, I am not an expert on this, but several awesome websites are dedicated to travel rewards points and programs. Many of those can help stretch a tiny travel budget even further. I frequently read through these websites, picking up tips and tricks. It’s also worth checking the benefits on credit cards you may already have to see if they cover baggage fees, car rental insurance, or other travel-related fees.
There’s no better time than right now to start planning your spring and summer vacations. Jackson Hole is always a popular travel destination, and hotels fill up quickly! Flat Creek Inn is the perfect home away from home this summer. Call us at (307) 733-5276 or visit our website today to book your summer stay.
Breanne Kunz was raised in the Pacific Northwest but grew up spending summers in Idaho and frequently visiting Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. She is a wife and mom who likes to write. She occasionally travels (not as much as she’d like) and always eats.
Burley Packwood, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
(n.d.). 10 Free Things to Do in Jackson Hole. Jackson Hole Traveler. Retrieved January 9, 2023, from http://www.jacksonholetraveler.com/article/10-free-things-jackson-hole/
(n.d.). 5 Free Things To Do in Jackson Hole in Winter. Jackson Hole Traveler. Retrieved January 9, 2023, from http://www.jacksonholetraveler.com/article/5-free-things-jackson-hole-winter/