The 15 Different Types of Budget Travelers (Which One Sounds Like You?)

CREDIT CARDS - TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
Find out which budget traveler archetype matches your adventure style.
Updated Dec. 6, 2023
A girl with a backpack

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When planning a vacation, how important is the budget to you?

You may be someone who would love to travel more, but you’ll want to maximize your planning so you can travel for nearly free on points or miles. 

Do you spend a lot of time finding ways to save money on big travel experiences, or are you more focused on sticking to weekend getaways?

Identifying what type of budget traveler you are could help you to better align your aspirations with your financial goals.

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The domestic explorer budget traveler

maria t hoffman/Adobe man enjoying summer field with dog

You may be the type of budget traveler who wants to stay in the U.S., as the thought of paying for flights overseas could be out of your comfort zone.

If you’re all about those long weekends within driving distance, make sure you’re doing all you can to save money on gas.

If you like to take short domestic flights, you don’t need to focus on foreign transaction fees. Instead, check out one of the top-rated travel credit cards that offers rewards you can use in the U.S., whether that’s for the flight or for hotel stays.

The adventure-focused traveler

Don/Adobe woman kayaking lake jenny alone

Lavish meals and fancy tourism destinations are nothing to you compared to a good backpacking, kayaking, or rugged mountain path trip.

You like to camp in a tent, spend as little money as possible by bringing all the gear you need in as little backpack space as possible.

Maximize your savings by visiting the National Parks on free entrance days. Also, consider getting an Interagency Pass Program. If you frequently visit several federal agencies, it could save you a lot of money as it waives most day and entrance fees.

The endless traveler who sticks to a budget

Atstock Productions/Adobe female tourist pointing at credit card

If you’re an endless traveler, meaning you spend a lot of time traveling but keep costs low, you fit into this area. You work to travel but with a financial savviness about you.

The best savings tool for those who travel often is a rewards travel credit card. Look for the lowest interest rate you qualify for that maximizes the types of trips you like to take.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

The family traveler on a budget

JacobLund/Adobe family with luggage trolley at airport

Your type of trip is to the amusement parks, perhaps just a few towns over for a totally fun gaming center, or, if you’re near the coast, a few days at the beach.

As a family traveler, you’re traveling with more people, and you may not be too focused on the perfect view from a top-of-the-line hotel.

If you’re a family traveler like this, consider visiting amusement parks early or late in the season when discounts are available, and look for two-for-one deals.

The frugal budget traveler

Wayhome Studio/Adobe female colleagues having lunch outside office

Your goal is to spend the least amount possible in every situation. You pack your meals, don’t buy souvenirs, and keep things far more practical than tourism-focused.

As a frugal budget traveler, skip the credit cards and stick to a cash-only budget instead. But consider throwing in some extra money for something special to reward your hard work.

The traditional budget traveler

1st footage/Adobe family enjoying beach waves on holiday

You may go on the same trip year after year and know exactly what to expect. When costs jump, you know it and look for a better deal.

But costs are rising, so expect to spend a bit more each year or consider changing your traditional vacation.

To make the most of these experiences on a budget, be flexible enough to stay a bit further away from those travel destinations you love. 

For example, if your family always traveled to Myrtle Beach, check out the more affordable hotels in North Myrtle Beach for a similar experience.

The never-eat-out traveler

Nicholas Felix/peopleimages.com/Adobe happy senior woman eating fruits

As a never-eat-out traveler, you can't stand to pay $4 for a beverage or $20 for some pasta just because someone served it to you.

You like to travel, but you also like to pack lunches and eat breakfast in the hotel room. You may even prefer to cook dinner for your family.

To maximize your savings as this type of traveler, book with care. Skip the condo on the beach and look for one in the city to get the amenities you need for less. 

Choose to rent a house where you can cook instead of booking a hotel if there’s a group of you.

The giving-back budget traveler

Davide Angelini/Adobe multi ethnic friends enjoying time together

Your idea of a fabulous trip is one where you can give back, perhaps work through a mission program, or visit a location that needs help building homes.

You may be a part of an organization like Doctors Without Borders or Habitat for Humanity. You’re more interested in putting your money toward helping others, so you spend less on sightseeing and more on inexpensive meals.

If you’re the giving-back traveler, use your credit card for good. Some credit cards allow you to donate your points to charities you like to get behind. Charitable donation credit cards can be fulfilling and super easy to use.

The savvy senior budget traveler

insta_photos/Adobe senior male tourist enjoying natural landscape

Perhaps you’re a bit older, and the type of trips you’re taking are a bit less adventurous than they used to be and more focused on frugal activities.

You’re all about finding the discounts at the restaurants, the senior discount for the early show, or choosing activities where there are more deals to be had.

To maximize savings opportunities, check out programs like AARP that offer help finding discounted travel resources if you become a member.

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The business traveler

JacobLund/Adobe businesswoman in hotel lobby

The travel you do is often for business, from conventions to client meetings. You enjoy meals out, good quality hotels, sightseeing, and rides to and from the airport catered to you.

How are you a budget traveler? You’re doing it on the company’s dime, but that doesn’t mean you should overspend.

You can earn cash back on a business travel card, which could help support your business’s tax deductions later.

The advanced planner budget traveler

Halfpoint/Adobe woman using tablet to plan trip

You travel when there are deals and discounts. You’re not cheap about what you do, but you certainly expect a bargain.

Like heading to Orlando in the fall when discounted dining and hotels are available or a trip to Colorado in the spring when the hotels aren’t packed and offering deals.

If you’re an extravagant budget traveler like this, look for credit cards designed for those destinations, like a Disney-focused rewards card if you plan to spend a trip seeing the Mouse every year.

The Airbnb budget traveler

pikselstock/Adobe female tourist getting keys for apartment

Hotels? No way!

You’re after a great, affordable Airbnb that offers all the comforts of life wherever you travel. You want to relax around a fire, cook a meal, and enjoy a few drinks.

To maximize your savings, choose a longer stay (you’ll save more per night this way), look for newer or less reviewed properties starting at a lower rate, and take advantage of early bird discounts.

The travel-rewards budget traveler

Goffkein/Adobe man booking flight on laptop

Where are you heading for your trip? As a travel-rewards type of budget traveler, you’re after whatever deals the airlines or your credit card is offering to you.

Your goal is to travel to any location, no matter how far away, if you can get free airline miles or a discounted hotel to do so.

If that’s your goal, compare travel credit cards until you find those that offer the biggest bang for your buck based on the airlines you have available to you or the specific locations you like to visit.

The group budget traveler

cppzone/Adobe hikers with backpacks hiking mountain

Heading off with just one other person is nice enough, but you know you’ll reduce your costs when you can split them several ways.

That’s why you’re a group budget traveler, one that’s okay with sleeping in bunkbeds if it means your costs are lower for the trip.

To maximize savings, consider looking to VRBO and Airbnb instead of hotels for bigger discounts. You may even want to consider renting an RV with friends and splitting all the costs.

The stay-with-family traveler

gstockstudio/Adobe happy family enjoying lunch together

Your vacations are to see family across the state (or even around the world). It’s not so much about seeing the sights as it is about spending time with the grandkids who live in another city or the cousins you only see once every few years.

Staying with family already saves you great money on hotels and perhaps a few meals. Maximize your budget more by checking out the best savings accounts to help you grow your money to use on your next trip.

Bottom line

JenkoAtaman/Adobe businesswoman using phone in hotel lobby

When it comes down to it, travel is exciting and a time you’ll likely spend a good amount of money.

If you’re dreaming about retiring early so you can travel more, make sure the credit card you offer fits your current lifestyle.

Maximize any rewards you get to keep your travel costs to a minimum. These travel planning secrets can give you more spending money down the road and the ability to build your savings now.

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Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.

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