In this article, I’m going to discuss ways to save money on the areas of a do-it-yourself (DIY) trip that rack up the most expense and have room for cutting costs. Those areas are travel expenses, lodging, food, and licenses. Really, there isn’t much more to a fishing trip than those items, unless you’re going to start buying souvenirs, go sightseeing, etc.
The first area where you can save some money is travel expenses. No matter whether you choose to drive across the country and fish the shores of southern California for sharks, or head to northern Minnesota for smallmouth bass and big musky, you’ve got to get to your destination. While it might sometimes be better to fly to your destination, in most cases you’ll save money by driving. By the time you pay extra baggage fees for your gear, rent a vehicle and a kayak, etc. you might find that driving will save you a few extra bucks. While most people might argue that driving will take extra time, keep in mind that I once spent twenty three hours in the Minneapolis airport and arrived home from Montana AFTER a friend who drove home from the same location. Granted that’s not the norm, but with today’s airlines it seems to happen more than we would like.
Also, consider how many people are going on your trip. If you’re going solo, the gas expenses are all coming out of your pocket. If you travel with two or three friends, then the fuel costs can be divided up nicely and make a huge difference in our overall trip budget. Want to take it even a step further? If you’re driving a vehicle that has a higher MPG rating than most (like a large truck or SUV) consider renting a smaller vehicle that is better on fuel. You’ll have to ensure that the rental is capable of carrying all of your gear, passengers, and kayaks, but if you do the math and can get a good deal on the rental it might save you some more money. Not always, but sometimes, so it’s definitely worth looking into.
Next up on our list is the cost of lodging. There are three simple ways I can think of, and I’m sure one or more of them will suit your needs. First (and my favorite) is to camp instead of staying in a hotel. Campgrounds are usually much cheaper, and quite a few can be found right along bodies of water with great fishing, thus saving you yet more money on gas expenses. Try to find a campground with electrical hook-ups and a clean shower house, and you can have all of the comforts of home. The second method of saving money on the costs of lodging is to go during the off season if you’re heading to a popular travel location. For example, if you’re going to chase redfish in Florida, go during February and March. By going after the holidays and before schools begin their spring break, you’ll get much cheaper hotel rates. Also, don’t forget to keep your eye out on hotel chain websites and such for discounted rates or special offers. The final way of saving money on lodging won’t work out for everyone: go someplace you can stay with friends or family. Of course, don’t wear out your welcome and be sure to buy them dinner or something as a way of saying thank you. Speaking of dinner, that brings us to saving money on food expenses.
Saving money on food costs is really quite simple. While many of us view vacations as an excuse to eat out and enjoy some good local dining, the cost of doing so racks up quickly. Cut costs by going to restaurants at a minimum. Packing a week’s worth of food, or even just enough for a few of the days during your trip, will greatly reduce the amount you spend simply refueling your body. Plus, bringing along a small cooler and taking your lunch in your kayak will keep you on the water longer and thus catching more fish! If you’re camping, some great dinners can easily be made over a campfire or small portable grill.
Last but not least, we come to buying non-resident licenses. There’s not a lot of room for improvement here since the fees are set by local DNR or Fish & Wildlife departments, but you can cut a few bucks by buying a limited-time license versus an annual license. If you’re going to only be spending a week fishing in another state and not come back until next or year or so, there’s no need to buy the non-resident annual fishing license for said state. Most states offer non-resident license options for three, five, or even seven days at a much cheaper rate than the annual license. You’ll just have to buy whichever is best suited for the length of your trip.
I’ve listed just a few ways you can make your out of state fishing trip happen on a cheaper budget, but there are many other options out there. By getting a little creative, I’m sure you could cut even more costs. If you have some great ideas, please feel free to post them up in the comments on this article. We’d love to hear them!