Visiting Lake Tahoe on a budget

When Tyler and I decided to go to Lake Tahoe, it was not planned at all. It was Wednesday afternoon when he came to me and said, “Do you want to go to Lake Tahoe tomorrow?” I was like, “Uh duh” so we quickly started planning.

What to book first?

So the first thing I did was look up Airbnbs, searching for deals and not looking in getting anything fancy since I knew this was going to be a short trip and mostly spent outdoors. What you need to look for is a place near the main areas. This will save you tons of money on gas. We knew we wanted to visit Emerald Bay State Park so that was kind of the focal point when searching for Airbnbs. We luckily found one super cute, cozy, in a nice neighborhood and priced pretty decent at $197.00 a night. Just a disclaimer, there were cheaper options, we just liked the area and how it was a cabin with a front yard to be able to sip our coffees in the morning (highly important to us).

Should You Rent A Car?

This is up to you, we don’t like to put that much mileage on our car and all the wear and tear it can get, we decided to rent one for this trip. It didn’t cost much, I believe it was $140.00 in total. Again this is optional so if you don’t mind driving your car then you can save more money by not renting. 

Expenses on the Road

We love to snack while we’re road tripping, I mean who doesn’t? So what we did that saved us money is going to Target to buy our snacks in advance. That way we don’t stop at gas stations and buy a bunch of crap we don’t need or want. Even if it’s a few dollars, you can use that towards activities. Every dollar counts in my book and if I can save it, I will try. I’m definitely getting better at this the older I get lol. 

Eating In 

We knew this trip was last minute and although we had money to eat out every day for every meal, we didn’t think it was smart to just waste the money. We had some activities in mind and knew that was going to cost us, so we chose to eat in for dinner on our first night. We drove to the local Safeway and found some quick meals that cost us no more than $15.00, I mean that would be basically the tip if we went out to eat somewhere nice. We cuddled up by the couch and watched some Netflix before bed, it was so nice and did I mention a cheap date?  


This was the most expensive thing we did, I believe it cost $105.00 for the day for the two of us. It may sound like a lot but given the money we had saved here and there, it wasn’t too bad. I would 100% say this is worth doing!! The lake was/is beautiful and freezing cold but still, so breathtaking I already want to go back. We ate some nachos and hot dogs, that was maybe $22.00 which I guess it could have been saved but after being out in the water for hours, you get pretty hungry. I for one get so hangry so Tyler likes to make sure I’m fed before I snap! lol. 

Beach is free

The best thing about visiting South Lake Tahoe is that the beaches are FREE, some charge you for parking but you could find free parking nearby. Oh, and yes, I said beaches because that’s what they’re called. I thought because it’s a Lake, it wouldn’t be called beaches but whatever, it is what it is. We went to a few and just hung out. This is a great way to spend your day without spending money and best of all, it’s so worth it. As I mentioned, Lake Tahoe is beautiful, I can stare at it all day. The water is clear, cold, and amazing. 

Brunch is a must!

On our last day there, we wanted to treat ourselves to brunch. We found this cute high rated spot which was actually on our way home so it was perfect. When you have saved money throughout your trip, spending some of it on things like this doesn’t hurt or make you feel bad. It’s nice and earned because you’ve been good. Our brunch was probably $39.00 or something which isn’t too bad at all. The food was delicious and Tyler and I had a great time. 

Wasn’t too bad

Overall I think we spent no more than $600.00 for our 2-day trip including everything! 

I want to disclose I live 4-5 hours from South Lake Tahoe, so your expense may vary where you’re coming from. 


I think it’s important to take time off and just enjoy yourself. Life is too short and when you realize that you spend $600 on other things, why not spend it on something worth the money? We calculated that we have easily spent that much on going out to the movies, dinners, buying clothes, and just little things. We decided to cut back on those things and put our money towards little trips that we can cherish forever. 

Thank you for reading, appreciate you and your time. 

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