Traveling as a couple doesn’t need to cost twice as much.
Image source: Getty Images
There’s nothing like going on a vacation together to bond with your partner. The two of you can get away from your regular lives, spend time together, and either check out a new area or go back to an old favorite.
The issue that couples often run into is cost. It’s not exactly cheap to travel, especially when you’re traveling together and need to spend more on everything from airfares to accommodations and food.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that couples can spend less when they travel.
1. Qualify for a companion pass
Perhaps the best way to cut your airfare costs is to qualify for an airline’s companion pass. When you book a ticket with an airline, you can use your companion pass to get your partner’s ticket at a lower cost. With some airlines, you just pay taxes and fees for the second ticket.
Several airlines offer companion passes, and to qualify, you’ll usually need to earn a certain number of miles in a single year with that airline. Some airlines also offer a companion pass if you get their credit card.
2. Team up to earn more travel rewards
Travel credit cards are a smart way to pay for your trips, but there’s just one problem -- those points go fast when you’re using them for two people.
The solution is to make earning travel rewards something that you and your partner do together. There are two ways you can do this:
Get credit cards separately after discussing which cards you need for your travel goals.
Add your partner as an authorized user on your credit card.
The first option is good for earning as many points as possible, because you can both earn sign-up bonuses separately. If a card has a 50,000-point sign-up bonus, it’s obviously better if each of you earn that.
The second option works well if you two have decided to combine finances. Although you won’t be able to double up on sign-up bonuses, some credit cards do offer a small bonus when you add another person as an authorized user. It’s also helpful if you want to put as much spending as possible on one card. Reasons you’d want to do this include:
The card has a high spending minimum to get its sign-up bonus, such as $25,000 the first year.
It’s an airline credit card and you can earn a companion pass by earning a minimum number of miles with it.
3. Share your checked luggage
If you and your partner each check your own bags, that could add $100 or more to your total travel costs. It’s worth seeing if you two can make do with one piece of shared checked luggage. You’ll save money and you’ll be traveling lighter, which can make for a more comfortable trip.
An alternative option for couples who need to check multiple bags would be for one of you to get a credit card with the airline you’ll use. Airline credit cards typically include one or more checked bags for both the cardholder and at least one other person on the same itinerary, so it could eliminate the checked bag fee for both of you.
4. Consider driving or taking the bus for shorter trips.
Don’t mind driving? Then you two may want to turn shorter journeys into a road trip. Depending on where you’re going, the cost of a car rental and gas could be less than purchasing two tickets on a plane or train.
Buses can also be an affordable way to get from one city to another. Your trip will take longer, but you’ll save money and you won’t need to worry about driving.
5. Try housesitting or a home exchange
Accommodations can be expensive, especially since couples usually need more space than solo travelers. There are, however, a couple ways you could score a free place to stay.
One option that many travelers have used to their advantage is housesitting. Find a housesitting site with listings in the area that you’re going, and you could locate someone willing to let you stay in their home as long as you take care of it.
With a home exchange, you and another person or couple essentially swap homes for a preset period of time.
6. Be careful with your restaurant spending
When you’re on a trip with your partner, it’s natural that you two will want to go to a few restaurants and share some special meals together. It’s romantic, it’s a good way to experience local foods, but it can also drive your travel costs up quickly.
Here are a couple of tips to avoid spending too much when you go out to eat:
Go light on the drinks. You’re better off buying alcohol at a local grocery store and enjoying it at the place you’re staying.
Consider getting your own appetizers and sharing an entrée, since the latter is usually the most expensive part of a meal.
Try some street food on occasion instead of a sit-down restaurant.
Traveling together on a budget
A trip with your partner can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. By applying a few money-saving strategies to your travels, you’ll both be able to go where you want without spending too much.
The Motley Fool owns and recommends MasterCard and Visa, and recommends American Express. We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule. If we wouldn’t recommend an offer to a close family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Ascent either. Our number one goal is helping people find the best offers to improve their finances. That is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.