6 tips for making the most of summer — on a shoestring budget

Julia Fawal - Jul 3, 2024

It’s the season for new cities, beach vacays, camping adventures, and more. And while travel is an expense, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Richard Kerr would know — he’s a world traveler, both recreationally and as a former officer in the U.S. Navy (“I’ve been on an airplane pretty much every other week for the past 12 years,” he says). He’s also currently the VP of Travel at Bilt Rewards, a Lyft partner, which means he knows a thing or two about finding cost-saving measures.

Here are six of his top tips for traveling on a shoestring budget — so you can get out and explore the world without stressing about your wallet. 

1. Get an annual travel insurance policy

“The annual policy is always going to be more affordable than buying trip insurance for individual trips,” Kerr says. And it will protect you should an emergency cause your expenses to skyrocket. 

2. Embrace a packing list

Take the time before your trip to think through exactly what you’ll need to bring. It’ll save you from having to buy an overpriced phone charger at the airport. “I’ve been traveling for 20 years, and I still have a packing list every single time,” Kerr says. And — just in case your bag gets lost — consider popping a change of clothes into your carry-on.

3. Use your points

Shameless plug: Kerr recommends using the Bilt Travel portal to use points to book things like theme parks, food tours, boat rides, and more. But you don’t just have to use Bilt — airlines and hotels have amazing point systems too. Make sure you’re signed up for all loyalty programs before making reservations. An easy first start? Link Delta, Hilton, Alaska Airlines, and even Bilt to your Lyft account so you earn points with those companies every time you ride. 

4. Look into “Stop Over” deals

“Stop Over” deals allow you to take a multiday layover in a different city for free on your way to your final destination. “Airlines are trying to incentivize people to stay in their hubs instead of flying through. It’s like a bonus trip, and it’s not any more expensive than buying a direct ticket,” says Kerr. 

5. Scout out local grocery stores

“If you can splurge on one meal a day instead of all three, you’ll save a lot when it comes to food cost,” Kerr says. He also recommends making sure your lodgings have a microwave — ahead of time.

6. Decide what you do want to splurge on

“Don’t skimp on the things that are meant to make that destination noteworthy,” Kerr says. Maybe there’s a certain meal that’s renowned in the place you’re visiting or a once-in-a-lifetime excursion. When you pick out your splurge items deliberately, you’ll be able to enjoy them more fully.