Think traveling on $25 a day is impossible? Think again! My two teens and I recently spent eleven days traveling around Colorado, which is an expensive state, averaging just $25 per day per person! That’s for everything- accommodations, food, fuel, attractions and miscellaneous expenses. Here are my tips on How to Travel on $25 a Day in Colorado so you can too.
How to Travel on $25 a Day
We stayed at a combination of free campsites, pay campsites, motels and couch surfed one night. There are countless free places to camp in Colorado because there is so much public land and forests.
We stayed three nights at two different free campsites which I found through Freecampsites. They were beautiful!
While there are expenses involved if you don’t have any camping supplies and have to buy them, the savings can be huge. I’d estimate our tent has saved us close to $2000 in hotel costs over the past five years and we don’t even camp out every night when we go on vacation. I’ve spent $300 or less on our tent, three sleeping bags, air mattress, cooler, etc. It was a good investment and I love camping.
We paid to stay at campgrounds four nights, each cost between $16 and $24.
We also used Couchsurfing one night to stay with a host for free. If you’re not familiar with couchsurfing, you should check it out. We’ve used it multiple times over the years and have had nothing but extremely positive experiences. I enjoy meeting local people and getting to know them and learn from their knowledge of the area we are staying.
Out of ten nights on our road trip, we only paid for a motel twice. I planned to get a motel as a reward for ourselves after we did a six mile hike with a 3,000 foot elevation climb. That night cost $124 with a AAA discount and is about what we would have been paying every night if we only stayed in motels.
Our second night in a motel was on our last night of vacation. Leaving the mountains, the temperature climbed to 100 degrees. There are limits to my frugality and camping in 100 degree heat is one of them. I found a place that looked reasonable online and checked what their rate on Orbitz was before asking them in person if they could beat it. They did. For $54.75, we enjoyed the AC and swimming pool.
Because we make travel a priority we don’t mind using alternative places to stay besides hotels all the time. This saves huge amounts of money.
Total cost for accommodations for ten nights $260.55.
This was our biggest expense, which is okay, because I really like food.
Take Food with You & Go to Grocery Stores on the Road
For breakfast, I made homemade granola bars and granola at home for the trip. We’re not big breakfast eaters anyway so we never ate out for breakfast as a separate meal.
Since we were camping some nights, we cooked some meals where we camped. I took pasta, rice and ramen from home and we went to local grocery stores to get fresh fruit, precooked chicken to add to the pasta or rice and other items.
I made beef jerky, cookies and chex mix at home before the trip and we bought some snacks I don’t usually buy because, after all we were on vacation. For drinks, we refilled our water bottles and bought soda in grocery stores for the cooler instead of ordering it at restaurants. You can save around $10 a person per day just by avoiding snack and soda stops from restaurants and convenience stores during the day.
Limit Restaurants and Choose Inexpensive Ones
Trying local restaurants is part of the fun of traveling to me, so we still ate out some. I used Yelp to find local restaurants with good reviews that were also inexpensive. One or two dollar signs on the app is what I look for which means they’re among the more inexpensive options.
I added all the grocery store stops for camping and snack supplies as well as any restaurant purchases to the food total.
Total food costs for eleven days for three people $377.16.
Leave the Gas Guzzlers at Home
This was a road trip so our only transportation costs were gas for my Camry, which gets decent gas mileage. That’s right, the three of us were tent camping and traveling for eleven days in a Camry. No gas guzzling RV or SUV needed. It’s kind of like putting a puzzle together packing the car, but it is totally doable. This wasn’t even our longest trip. The three of us spent 18 days together in the Camry a few summers ago and all lived to tell about it.
We didn’t do anything special to save on gas, although we could have used GasBuddy to find the cheapest fuel, we just kept our eyes open. I’m loving the cheaper gas prices these days. We were coming from Kansas, so while Colorado is right next door, we still drove well over 1,000 miles.
Total transportation costs for eleven days $126.17.
Our attraction costs were extremely low because in Colorado the attractions are all around you and free to look at. Nature oriented travel is usually the cheapest way to travel because you don’t have to pay high admission fees to attractions.
We enjoyed the local shops, used bookstores, and interesting architecture in the towns we drove through and even went to a free zoo on the way through Kansas. Look for free attractions before you go on Tripadvisor.
Soaking in a hot springs pool after a long hike was well worth the $18 admission for my son and I. My daughter wanted to stay at the motel and enjoy the internet so she didn’t go.
Our only other attraction cost was $15 for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Total Attractions cost $38.
We also kept track of all the miscellaneous expenses. This included a couple souvenirs and books I bought (The kids pay for their own.), postcards, ice and non food supplies such as tissue and allergy pills we bought along the way.
Total Miscellaneous cost $55.97
Grand Total 11 Days/10 Nights Travel
$77.53 per day
$25.84 per person per day
How awesome is that??
If you are willing to give up five star hotels. . . or hotels completely, and travel frugally you can afford to travel sooner than you think. Travel doesn’t have to be something you only dream of and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Let me know how you feel about traveling on a budget. Do you camp? What tips do you have to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.