Lake Tahoe on a Budget

Outdoor trips are some of our most favorite trips! We enjoy being in the mountains, hiking and hammocking. Outdoor trips can surprising add up and cause you to go over your budget. In a tourist location like, Lake Tahoe, you could truly break the bank!

Here’s how we saved money while in Lake Tahoe:

1. Rent a car. You will spend more money ubering and lyfting around Lake Tahoe (yes Uber and Lyft are in Lake Tahoe). Plus if you fly in, Reno is a 45 minute drive to North Lake Tahoe. Utilize reward accounts to receive discounts or free rewards. We booked our car with Enterprise and received a free upgrade.

Cost of a 4 day upgraded car rental: $200

Cost of gas for 4 day trip: $30

2. Stay in a rental home. There are large hotel chains in Tahoe such as Marriott. They actually can go for $500-600 a night, especially during the busy season. We rented a cabin right on Kings beach that had a full kitchen and hot tub! We only paid $175 a night! Here’s a link to our Airbnb:

Cost of Airbnb: $650

3. Bring food with you! Before we got to Tahoe, we purchased snacks to bring with us. We brought cliff bars, trail mix, coffee and pancake mix. This saved us money to not purchase items from local Tahoe shops at tourist prices.

Cost of snacks: $15

4. Grocery shop, don’t eat out. We went to a Kroger grocery store in Reno, on our way to Tahoe. We decided to cook all of our own meals and not eat out at all! We had enough food for drinks, 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners and dessert!

Cost of groceries: $55

5. Treat yourself every now and then. We totally got ice cream after our kayaking adventure. We found a place that had an amazing deal! We found Sweet Tahoe Time Ice cream right next to Kings Beach. They had the nicest staff! For $6 you could get a huge bowl of ice cream smashed to the top with unlimited toppings! They even gave you an extra cup to get more toppings if you wanted to.

Cost of ice cream: $14 (Karolis got the extra large $8 ice cream of course 😉 )

6. Outdoor activities. We went hiking, hammocking, swimming and kayaking and only paid for kayaking. Bring your own hammock to rest after a hike and enjoy the views! There is no fee to hike on the trails in Tahoe but if you are to park in a parking lot it is $10 at each location. There are many areas to park in Tahoe legally and for free. You just might have to walk a little bit further! Because we did this, we never paid to park for hiking and swimming! We did rent a double kayak for 2 hours that cost $30 an hour. You can find cheaper rentals but you will have to carry the kayak down to the water yourself. We rented kayaks right on the beach.

Cost of outdoor activities for 3 days: $60

Overall, for 4 days and 3 nights we spent about $256 a day on a house rental, activities, food, car and gas. Not too shabby!

You of course could make this even cheaper by camping in the many places along Lake Tahoe.


We used a budget airline (Frontier) to get to Reno. It was $77 RT a person and a direct flight! We paid $160 for the flight + $30 for a checked bag +$40 for seat selection there and back. So it was $230 RT to fly to Reno!

How did we do? I think we made Lake Tahoe very affordable!

Remember to follow us on Instagram at @lifeofthepilotswife and on Pinterest at Lifeofthepilotswife

~Happy Traveling!


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