Monday, June 17, 2019

Tips for Couponing On the Road - Guest Post

You’ve heard all about the couponing craze. Some shoppers are known to acquire 30 tubes of toothpaste for one cent, others boast about getting their balance to zero, and the lucky few brag about a store owing them money. Then you hear about people selling what they get for free at the local flea market or at a yard sale for just below retail value making other shoppers think they are getting a sweet deal.

TLC even made a reality TV series about extreme couponing:

This all begs the question: Is couponing ethical?

Well there is one big difference between you, the frugal wanderer, and them, the economy-crushing hoarders: you are constantly on the go, and you don’t have a lot of time, money, or storage.

In this post, we provide tips for the traveler to save big with coupons on small quantities of products so you can put your dollars towards other valuable travel expenses.

Go Digital

Have you seen someone in a grocery store carrying around a large binder or box and frantically scanning the aisles? If you have, then that is probably your typical couponer. Some couponing how-tos explain that being organized is the most critical function of couponing, and they include a list of bulky, space-hogging items like a laptop, a printer, local newspapers, store flyers, and that binder with the baseball card sorting sleeves. But when traveling, you don’t always have the luxury of these items.

The great thing about the internet and mobile smart phones and tablets is that digital coupons can be downloaded to your device and the barcode can be scanned by a cashier. This cuts out (pun intended) the need for paper, scissors, and the trip to the office supply store.

If you have a tablet, use google photos to store screenshots or download digital coupons. We recommend using an album or folder cataloging system that meets your needs. A popular one is organizing coupons by store department such as hygiene, produce, or pet supplies. Also, consider naming the file based on the expiration date of the coupon. This way you can sort your files by the expiration date and save time by focusing on those coupons that are still valid.  There are also apps you can consider using to search and redeem your coupons such as Ibotta and SnipSnap.

Know Where You Are

Every grocery store chain has its presence in select states. Knowing what state you are in or approaching will help in collecting digital coupons. The site linked above allows you to search by name of store chain as well as by a particular state.

According to, it looks like you will have your best chances at Wal-Mart Supercenters, Kroger, Food Lion, Publix, Safeway, Albertsons, ALDI, Stop & Shop, Costco, Winn Dixie, and Piggly Wiggly. All of these chains have a strong presence in 12 or more states with 500 (Piggly Wiggly) to 2,600 (Wal-Mart Supercenters) locations.

Knowing the best chain to target is invaluable when traveling in unfamiliar territory.

Plan to Buy Only What You Need

Unlike some other couponers, you don’t have a lot of storage, so it’s best for you to focus on the coupons that promise savings on purchasing one or two pieces of a product rather than those coupons that say “Save $4 on 5.” Many coupon databases provided by apps and websites have filtering features such as type, value, expiration date, brand, store, category, and product. Many of these databases also have keyword search features. Using keywords such as “one” or “two” will let you find lower quantity coupons for saving money and space.

Search Store Chain Coupons Before Manufacturer Coupons

In some cases, you can use two coupons on one product: the store specific coupon (Kroger) and the manufacturer's coupon (Tide).

Narrowing your search down to the chain based on state will make your searching so much quicker and more efficient. If you make your selections based on store chain, you can then search for additional savings based on a specific manufacturer. This strategy will reduce frustration and save time.

Pay Close Attention to the Fine Print

My cousin was one of those crazy couponers for a while, and her Facebook feed was full of pictures of 40 or more items with the description of “all for $1.” Now, she is a stay-at-home mom and crafter with a successful business, so she probably had the time to clip coupons while the little ones were sleeping. I’ve flipped through her couponing binder - very impressive, and a little overwhelming, to be honest.

I asked my cousin, “if you had to give only three pieces of advice to newbie couponers, what would they be?” Her first response was “read the fine print.” There is always some state that is excluded, a specific purchase that may be necessary, and the one that she said got her all the time: “cannot be combined with any other coupon.”

Following the tips outlined above may not make you eligible for TLC’s Extreme Couponing (if they ever decide to air it again), but, as a wanderer with or without other mouths to feed, we are sure that these strategies will help you save a buck and use it for gas money for your next adventure.

About the Contributor:

Zaneta is a Research Specialist and Writer for and Writing and research has been an integral component of her studies in anthropology, instructional technology, technical and professional communication, and adult education. A mountain biker-turned-paddler, she lives in Greenville, SC with her spouse, 12-year-old daughter, three lizards, and two Dachshunds.

I received compensation for this post.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.


Theresa Mahoney said...

I used to coupon when my girls were little, but now that they are about out of the house, we don't need 30 tube of toothpaste or 50 bottles of shampoo. I do applaud those who can go into the store and walk out with a cart full of stuff for pennies on the dollar though!

monique s said...

Such great tips, thanks. Travel can be very expensive and if there are coupons for the various sites that can save some serious money.

Nerlande said...

These are really good tips thanks for sharing it can’t wait to try it!