Leveraging Friends and Family for Cheap Travel

I use my friends and family to save money on traveling and I’m not afraid to admit it. Why pay for a hotel or Airbnb when you have friends and family more than willing to have you at their homes or second homes for free? Why pay for a rental car when your family has a spare they’ll let you use while you’re in town? This kind of trip also kills two birds with one stone. You get to travel and see places that you enjoy, while spending time with the people you love and maybe don’t get to see as often as you’d like.

I just got back from one of these trips down south and it was great! And while I never classified myself as frugal, this is a great way to take a lot of the cost out of vacationing. See the breakout of my expenses for the 7 day trip below:

Flight – $256
Restaurants & take-out – $182
Transportation – $68
Groceries – $40
Entertainment – $23 (park entrance fee and greens fee)
Grand total – $569 or $81/day

Spread that over 7 days and my trip only cost me $81 per day. Not bad considering some of these costs covered part of my girlfriend’s expenses and a thank you breakfast out for our hosts.

Things we did over the course of the week: saw a minor league baseball game, walked up to the highest point in Georgia, went on a boat, golfed, ate out multiple times, walked on the Appalachian trail, grilled, did Sudoku’s, watched a movie, etc. Not bad for 81 bucks a day, if I do say so myself. Plus for a majority of the trip it was nice to “sign-off” from being connected as where we stayed most of our trip did not have wifi or much cell phone service.


Views from the lake

I definitely plan on returning the favor to my friends and family down the road (once I move out of a shared apartment in NYC). Whether that be hosting guests in my RV while I travel, at my home wherever I decide to make it, or in my month long rental in Barcelona if I decide on that. Traveling is fun and it’s even more fun if it is with friends and family, on the cheap!

Do you leverage friends and family for cheap vacations? Do you invite others to your residence while they travel?

28 thoughts on “Leveraging Friends and Family for Cheap Travel

    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Haha – agreed, it works much better if you have friends and family living in places you’d like to visit. Great job returning the favor.

  1. The Bearded Dragon

    I definitely do this! We have friends/family in several attractive spots around the country and it’s always nice to travel to those places. First and foremost to spend time with loved ones, but it also makes for a semi-subsidized vacation! Unfortunately, not many people want to travel to where we live, so we haven’t been able to return the favor much, but I’m sure what goes around comes around. Cheers!
    The Bearded Dragon recently posted…Expenses: August 2015My Profile

    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      That’s awesome. Good job taking advantage of that. I’m sure some day your area will become desirable or you’ll move and people will want to go there. In the meantime enjoy visiting others 🙂

  2. Ali @ Anything You Want

    This is one of my favorite ways to travel! I took major advantage of visiting friends/family during college, when nearly everyone I knew went abroad to some fantastic location or another. I visited London, Edinburgh and Prague and got free accommodations (and local-ish tour guides)! I also had friends visit me when I was in Argentina and it was so fun to show people my little part of the city!
    Ali @ Anything You Want recently posted…5 Tips to Ensure a Great Airbnb ExperienceMy Profile

    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Wow that sounds like some awesome subsidized travel! I’ve visited London and Ireland due to friends working there in company paid for housing. All I had to pay for was flights, food, and booze 🙂

  3. Norm

    My grandmother owned a cottage on Cape Cod that I took advantage of many times until recently when she had to sell it. My aunt owns a timeshare in Aruba I’ve used once to stay there for a week, and another time to trade for a week in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. And I’ve slept on people’s floors all over the place. So yeah, I’m definitely not above it!
    Norm recently posted…Vacation Rewind: How Much Did Our Trip to Switzerland Cost?My Profile

  4. Tony @ Investing Track

    I usually stay at a friend’s place when I travel. I was lucky enough to go on a bunch of exchange programs in college, so I ended up making friends from all over the world. Whenever I’m in their hometown they usually pick me up at the airport and allow me to stay at their place for a couple of nights. Of course, I reciprocate the favor when I can.
    Tony @ Investing Track recently posted…How This Correction Will Play Out – Part TwoMy Profile

  5. Mr. SSC

    We typically stay with friends or family when possible. It’s a great way to have free money to use for something more fun while on vacation.
    That place you stayed sounds nice. I know Mrs. SSC’s big lament is that everyone is “too connected” and we don’t hang out as much on vacation as we did in the days of yore, before the internet and tablets and such…
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Layoffs – 3 weeks and counting…My Profile

    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Definitely. My relatives gave us some alone time as well. It was a win/win. Family can be really great 🙂

    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Most of my high school friends went to school in the same state or adjacent states, so I didn’t get to go too far. But I definitely take advantage of this now with people who work in other states/countries.

  6. Mrs. FI

    One of the benefits of befriending others and having family that live elsewhere is that you often have an option for lodging that is both more comfortable and less damaging to your traveling budget. We tend to stay with friends and family whenever we travel because not only do we get to spend more time with the people we love but we get to use that money we would have spent on a hotel for fun activities instead. I’d much rather treat our hosts to a nice dinner/breakfast than pay for a room anyway – it’s a great way to catch up and much more rewarding than a fancy room. 🙂
    Mrs. FI recently posted…Fun In AugustMy Profile

    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Usually I don’t ask and they just say “whenever you’re in town let us know we’d love to have you” so I just take those people up on their offers 🙂


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