Travel on a Budget: Wisconsin Dells

Welcome to Pen, Paper, Passport! A budget travel blog!


When you’re a college student on a budget, it’s hard to imagine the idea of traveling around the world with limited funds. Sometimes you’re forced to rely on your parent’s travel plans and hope they extend an invite.  Or you have to  pool your friends together for a quick road trip! Let’s be real – being cramped in a car with buddies or hanging around your parents isn’t ideal. I’ve been traveling since I was thirteen years old, on the smallest budget you could imagine, and have done a few amazing trips.

In this blog I will explore how far your dollar can actually go. I will break down my best finds and share my best tips to ensure your vacation is enjoyable. I want to share with you the secrets of successful frugal travel! I will give you real numbers and let you follow every move I make!

My goal is to make sure you are exploring life! Don’t let lack of funds discourage your love to experience things!

Blogger, Kayla Urban, scoping out frugal finds in a Dells tourist shop.

I want to tell you how to budget for a weekend trip to Wisconsin Dells, Wis. For any regular Wisconsinite, you’ve likely been there on a family vacation.  But you’re now an adult and should enjoy the Dells like one.  Obviously, there are staples and must-see places but let me share with you how I saved on my trip to the Wisconsin Dells.

I only got to spend a week price hunting and comparing because it was a last-ditch effort to get out of Milwaukee and this is what I came up with.

First, if you’re out of state, start looking at flights to Milwaukee (MKE) and plan on driving at least two hours to the Wisconsin Dells area. If you are a Wisconsinite, you’ll likely drive, like me.

Resorts are NOT in my budget.  I’m a 20-something-year-old-busting-my-butt-through-Grad school and my extra money will not be spent at a resort. To get a better deal, I  first checked out my favorite travel sites:,, and

TripAdvisor will give you a feel of what lodging in your budget is actually worth it. With real reviews and real feedback that can weed out those bedbug-ridden places, TripAdvisor can help you score that diamond-in-the-rough location. will help you compare prices, has a price match guarantee and allows you to book rooms with no money down, and free cancellation! is my go-to website to check out local homes/B&B’s that can offer more personal hospitality. I am a firm believer of meeting the locals that can share the secrets to making your travel even better


Where did I stay? With a budget of $100.00/night and the need to get into a water park for free, I opted to stay at the Blackhawk Motel. They offered the best motel setting, price, and freebies with the stay. I obtained the Noah’s Ark free waterpark passes and spent a good amount of time there. Killed two birds with one stone.

What about food? Another place where  TripAdvisor can help. Put in your location and budget, and see places nearby that match.

Big money saver and tip of the day: Bring a large cooler filled with sandwiches, snacks, and beverages. Be prepared for fun, but also keep your food budget as low as possible by bringing what you have at home with you. Even the average $2 TV dinner is $2 is a quick way to stay full and satisfied as you’re exploring the local attractions!

What about entertainment? Need adventures outside the waterparks or want to go on one of those infamous duck tours?  Hit up those Dells information booths or hope to score a Dells Season Opener Card from your local radio station right before summer starts… OR visit for all of the deals they have posted. Never pay full price for the Dells, there is always a way to save – tons of buy 1 get 1 offers or % – off deals!

Ducks Tour Guide!

Want to save even move? Go in the off-season. Most resorts are so desperate to fill their rooms in the winter that you can score a room for $60/night. Remember, look at exactly what type of room you are booking and if they have an indoor water park to make it worth it. You can score a weekend away for less than $250 for two people at the end of November!


Tune in on Oct 23rd when I talk to you about my travels to New York!

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