Top 10 Trip Money Savers

When contemplating a trip, I can feel the wheels start turning immediately on how to save money. I think of this as “The List” and initially rough draft it and then as the time draws closer to departure, I tweak and rework and hone it until I cover most of the bases.

For some adventurers this strategy can be burdensome but for others, like myself, it is all part of the fun. On a recent trip to Zion and the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon, I employed a number of money-saving tactics that were very successful. I’m sharing here and inviting you to grab whatever tips sound appealing and then also fill us in on your travel secrets.


  1. Bring Firewood From Home – watch for free firewood and stash it at your home. I fill my trunk to the brim and on the most recent trip, had seven nights of campfires and only supplemented one night (with other local free wood). **Reminder from fellow adventurer Rich- Always check  for firewood rules/restrictions on bringing in out of area firewood (invasive species concern).
  2. Make Ahead And Bring Food – I’ve brought along meat that I get on sale and freeze in advance as well as cooked potatoes and onions, home made hummus, pita chips, ingredients for nachos, couscous,  peanut butter, bagels, eggs (pre-cracked and carried in a mason jar), salad w/ veggies – you get the point. Pack food from home and save big.
  3. Alcohol Pre-Packed – If you drink, this also saves money. I don’t generally purchase alcohol while on the trip unless it’s a single splurge cocktail at a venue where I am seeking ambiance. My budget is friendlier to advance planning and limited cash allotted for spirits.
  4. Snacks – Load these up before leaving as a single stop at a mini mart that has you sauntering back to the car with chips and candy can become very pricey. Also packing from home discourages some of the junk binging. I pack Cliff Bars, tortilla chips, pita chips, apples, peanut butter, caramel cups for the apples when my sweet tooth kicks up, trail mix, beef jerky etc.
  5. Ice – Save big time by freezing ahead bottles of water. I save and use plastic bottles and actually freeze unsweetened exotic teas (often with fresh squeezed lemon included) and then they double as ice and trail drinks as they melt.
  6. Eating Out – two main strategies are On A Dime friendly and they are: eat early in the day as in breakfast (cheaper than dinner) and split. In the US our portions are absolutely crazy huge. Almost every meal is enough for two or even three people. Split but do not penalize the waitstaff. Tip on the amount it would be if all diners ordered individually. Pack leftovers to go and put them in your ice chest. **We recently indulged a $12 breakfast item (coffee was included) and it fed 2 people and then was also a leftover lunch for one! Divide that up and it was $4 per meal.
  7. Camping – I start with a search for free camping but I try to follow the before dark rule (arrive during daylight!) as free camping can at times be challenging to locate via directions and GPS. On a seven day trip to Zion and the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon, we paid $18 per night for only 3 nights out of 7. **Photo above was our free creekside camping 10 miles outside the entrance to Zion.
  8. Parking – I avoid fee parking like the plague.
  9. Park Fees – I’m a firm believer that $30 for a week of National Park use is a great value (good grief, a movie for two exceeds that for). Re: park fees – do a little research, Zion charges $30 per car which is a great value when split multiple ways or for families but they only charge $15 for solo walk ins and the parking is literally right outside the entrance so for a single person, paying half price makes sense. **Youth 15 and under at this park are FREE.
  10. Gas – Yes, you can save on gas. In addition to watching for the best prices or looking online as you travel,  don’t drive 80mph and shelve the air conditioner if the temps are comfy. And park the car and use a shuttle and finally, WALK, WALK, WALK as this will also save you about a gazillion dollars in medical costs as you age.

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