The cost of living on the road can add up quickly, but a woman who has visited all 50 US states and every one of the seven continents has shared her hard-earned cost-cutting measures to help other travelers save money.
Ashley Nealy, 35, of Atlanta, capped off her epic 50-state challenge in October 2022 with a visit to the snowy Alaskan wilderness. In a single trip, she checked six states in five days.
After traveling both nationally and internationally, the avid explorer She says one of her biggest money-saving tips is to stop buying lots of expensive souvenirs and gifts for friends.
She said Well-informed person that she “stopped shelling out cash on certain souvenirs a long time ago” after realizing that the trinkets she would buy for friends and family, like magnets and T-shirts, were completely irrelevant since they hadn’t visited those places.
Ashley Nealy, 35, of Atlanta, spent several seasons on the move, scoring six states in five days on one trip.
Wyoming was one of his favorite states because he loved Yellowstone National Park. She capped off her epic challenge in October 2022 with a trip into the snowy Alaskan wilderness.
She explains: ‘Now I use various criteria to determine whether I should spend money on a souvenir, including its availability in other parts of the country.
‘In Vermont, I bought pure maple syrup from a local farmer. It was not available online and shipping would have cost a lot more money. I also bought a special cheddar that was only available at Cabot Creamery in Vermont.
Ashley advises that souvenirs are particularly exorbitant at the airport and it’s best to explore the local shops in your vacation destination for the best value items.
And before parting with your cash always ‘ask yourself if you have a good reason to buy it’.
Another budget tip the globetrotter offers is to never book accommodation far from the action.
While out-of-town hotels may be a bit cheaper, in the long run, he says, you’ll spend more on transportation costs like taxis, car rentals, and parking.
Before booking a place to stay, Ashley advises looking for attractions that are within walking distance to make sure you’re not too far from the places you want to visit.
Some hotels also offer free or discounted shuttle services that run around the city or to the airport, so this might be another option if central locations are not available.
MONEY SAVING TRAVEL TIPS FROM ASHLEY NEALY
- Do not buy meaningless souvenirs
- Avoid buying products at the airport and visit local stores.
- Book centrally located hotels so you don’t spend money traveling where you want to go
- Avoid chain restaurants
- Take advantage of free samples from food vendors.
- Never rent a car if public transport is available
- Stock up on gifts from your hotel, like coffee, tea, water, and toiletries
- Take snacks and extra food for the day from breakfast
- Carry a refillable water bottle with you, especially at the airport where drinks are expensive
When it comes to eating out, the American says she tries to avoid restaurants she can find in her home city or state.
The only exception is if you are visiting a location with the largest location in the chain or if it is the home of the original outpost.
She adds, “I’m also willing to go to a recognizable chain if it has a specialty menu that I can’t find elsewhere (or)…try casual chain restaurants that I can’t find at home.”
At restaurants or concession stands, Ashley says she tries to opt for dishes and drinks that are unique to the place. For example, poutine in Vermont and cheesesteaks in Philadelphia.
If you’re really looking to cut costs, Ashley says many restaurants offer free samples of things that can help you out for a short time.
After traveling both nationally and internationally, the avid traveler learned a lot about how to reduce her expenses.
She reveals: “At the Cabot Creamery in Vermont, the employees gave me free samples of cheese and pure maple syrup.”
However, one of the biggest things that cuts travel costs, Ashley says, is car rentals.
While renting a car can be expensive, it can also be very stressful trying to navigate a new destination, potentially ruining your experience.
Before shelling out for a rental car, she recommends researching public transportation options, as trains and buses are likely to “get you there for a fraction of the price.”
Lastly, Ashley says that stocking up on free items at hotels and airports can go a long way toward saving vital dollars.
For example, in hotels, mini bars often serve complimentary water, tea, and coffee.
If breakfast is included, it’s worth having a few extra snacks, and some hotels host evening receptions that are worth attending.
On the toiletries side, the adventurer recommends traveling with mini bins that you can fill with hotel supplies.
This means you don’t need to spend money on body wash, shampoo and conditioner on the go.
Meanwhile, airports often have water stations, making a refillable water bottle one of Ashley’s travel essentials.
“It saves me even more cash,” she says.