Traveling on a Budget: Tips from Galavnanting's Maren Hogan

Maren Hogan is the resident hotel reviewer for Galavanting, a travel site that realizes “women are interested in more than just fashion & style columns and reviews of ludicrously expensive resorts” and that “people without trust funds travel too.”

Maren is also co-host of and marketing chief for Galavanting’s other properties, including TBEX and

We asked Maren (via email) to help us to find alternatives to expensive resorts, how to “travel like a local,” and much more:

1. Where-to-Go

What are some of your favorite alternatives to vacationing at expensive resorts?

Honestly, I love traveling everywhere. But I do appreciate “glamping” type vacations where we’re “fake” roughing it. But honestly I can’t say that camping with style is THAT much cheaper than a resort. I like small boutique hotels, but I will rarely be okay with sharing a bathroom unless it’s with people I know. Like most travelers, I’ll stay anywhere that has clean sheets, a working shower at minimum. For optimal Maren results, add in free wifi and a pool. Expensive resorts are great for relaxation, but I tend to travel more for people watching and sightseeing. So either a hotel right in the thick of things where I can walk anywhere I need to go, or an out of the way motel with a serviceable rental out front, either way is good with me. I know it’s a little passe for some travel bloggers, but a cruise is super fun and economical and I don’t care what anyone says, I enjoy them!

2. What-to-Do

How can someone who is visiting a city for the first time see it the way a local sees it?

Talk to locals. The great thing about social media is it allows us to meet up with friends all over the globe. No matter where I go (within reason) I have friends or the ability to make them. That’s way number one. Way number two involves your feet. There is hardly any better way to see a city (like locals or otherwise) than by walking it. Fortunately, I get lost quite a lot and generally learn the streets quite well by the time I leave a city. Also I think asking folks about your age, no matter their station, is a great idea. Ask the bellboy, the busboy, the bus driver and the singer in the band. These people go somewhere and it’s your job to find out where. Finally, you have to be prepared for the obvious. That if something is raved about by tourists, it might actually be pretty awesome and it’s okay to enjoy it!

3. When-to-Fly

Is there a specific time of year when it’s easier to travel on a small budget?

I didn’t know they were called these before entering this industry but apparently there are shoulder seasons for every locale no matter how exotic. Some places like London or NYC will be expensive no matter when you go. Travel early or very late in the season. Go to hot places when it’s summer time and stay away from holidays if you can. Theme parks are cheapest between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the Caribbean is a steal during hurricane season.

4. How to Shop

Any tips for saving money once you have arrived at your destination?

I’m a big fan of public transportation, or as I said earlier, walking. If you’re on vacation or traveling for business and you’ve given yourself a little time, these are great ways to go. Cities like New York, London, Chicago, Paris and San Francisco all have easy to use subways and bus systems. But if you’re wearing heels, loaded down with bags or in a hurry, spring for the cab. In larger cities, take advantage of happy hour pricing at restaurants for appetizers and dinner. Since I’m a late riser by nature, I make the coffee in my room and wolf down a granola bar before leaving. You’d be amazed how much you can spend on a big breakfast or even just a latte in the lobby. Also, to keep in flight entertainment to a minimum, I grab a few books at a thrift store no matter where I am. Finally, if you are staying at a hotel with no free wifi, head on over to McDonalds, Starbucks or Barnes and Noble to do your heavy lifting internet usage. Grab a sandwich for lunch and get wifi at the same time (and for a lot less than 14.99 a day!)

Follow Maren on Twitter @marenhogan


Published: September 28, 2010