I try to be frugal with traveling, but sometimes, it’s worth the convenience or comfort to pay an up charge.
Save if you are going on a long-term trip or staying at an AirBNB. Storage will be plentiful, and with more time to explore your surroundings, you’ll likely end up taking a few breaks at your home base. Splurge on short trips where you’re staying in a traditional hotel room. Chances are, you won’t be spending a lot of time in the hotel room, and you’ll have a better experience by finding local coffee shops or bakeries for a snack fix. Having to spend $4 on a bottle of soda is worth the risk if you primarily will be out about, and also lack proper storage in a hotel room.
Save on some of your more expensive daily toiletries like salon-grade shampoo and conditioner by buying empty travel containers and filling them yourself. Splurge on things like dry shampoo and hairspray where the containers and how it is dispensed matters. I also splurge on body wash and face wash (the hotel complimentary versions are usually awful on my skin) and good sunscreen that I like enough to actually want to use. My typical travel kit is broken down by price in another post.
Save on classic breakfasts and alcohol with soda or juice mixers, and since they rarely are much different in selection or quality from place to place. Bacon, breads, and eggs are low cost items in most countries, and a lot of the time, I grab a Kind bar instead of a sit-down breakfast anyway. Splurge on lunch, dinner, craft cocktails, and anything that is unique to where you are (or if it cannot be found where you are from). My favorite splurges are Asian food and locally roasted coffee.
Save as often as you can. Buy airfare on sale or fill up your gas tank at Costco. Learn the public transportation of where you’re going, and calculate sample prices on Lyft before you travel. Push your threshold for comfort on short trips. Splurge on international trips or long rides. It can be more affordable in the long run to rent an SUV for a road trip even if it is a splurge at the time, because you won’t be racking up mileage on your own car.
Save by traveling off-peak or utilizing loyalty points, and consider how much time you’ll actually be spending in the room before you book an upgraded suite. Splurge on large group travel or when you’ll be spending a lot of time in the room to work on a project or if the weather is expected to be poor.