Travel is expensive. There is no way to get around that. Even if you are a frugal traveler who backpacks and couch surfs, there is always going to be something that is costing you money. I don’t make crazy money, but I learned a few tricks along the way to save money to make my dreams come true. Saving money for travel can be difficult, but these 10 easy ways to save money for travel will help you save money and make your dreams come true without completely changing your lifestyle!
1. Eat out less
One of the number one things that seems to destroy a budget is eating out. Those extra coffees and burgers add up so quickly! I tracked it one month and couldn’t believe that we had spent over a couple HUNDRED dollars eating out. Now, we make a point to eat at home more which has minimized the cost of our meals, helped us eat healthier, lowered our gas expenses, and helped us save for travel! Eating out isn’t the only thing to cut though. Spend less time going out to bars and spending money on going out in general. Saving for travel is often a conscious, intentional, effort that requires giving things up. It may require making choices and giving up a few things.
2. Do a Side Hustle
The reality is, no matter who you are, traveling costs money. You may be able to find free experiences, but there is always something that is going to cost you money. As a teacher in Florida, I don’t make enough to save for travel. Actually, if I wasn’t married, I wouldn’t make enough to even live in the city I teach in! That’s a different story though. I have found that in order to do what I want in life, I needed to put in extra work. One of the best ways to save money for travel is to simply earn more money! I couldn’t change my salary unless I changed my job, but I could pick up another job.
Because of this, I decided to drive Uber Eats on the weekends and during the summers to earn travel money (Sign up with my referral code so we both can get a bonus). Uber Eats allows me to work only when I feel like it. I can stop when I’m tired and there is truly no commitment. This allows me to make extra money when I have the energy and desire, and also rest when I truly need it. Likewise, I also created a portrait photography business to fund my photography equipment. I’ve tried so many side hustles and have found those to be the most profitable. Sometimes I get tired, but I remind myself that living the dream comes at a cost. I’m willing to put in extra work to make these amazing experiences happen.
3. Work Extra Hours or Jobs
This one isn’t ridiculously easy, but it will help you make some extra cash to stash away. If your job offers overtime opportunities or extra gigs for more cash—take them on! For example, I teach middle school and I have taken on afterschool tutoring and coaching soccer as ways to earn more money before. I have also looked into ways to earn income outside of my normal job. All of these extra hours and unbudgeted funds can be put straight towards preparation for travel.
I see a lot of articles all over the internet about “easy ways to make money,” but the reality is that money isn’t easy to make. It takes hard work. If travel is something that you are passionate about, then take time out of your day to work towards earning more money. A lot of these “get rich quick” schemes are either too expensive to start (like starting your own business), or too slow (like making money off your blog). Those things all take money and time. Unless you are going to invest in them full-time, they are likely not even going to break even. Go the old fashion way and pick up an extra job or take on extra hours. Take all of that income and put it into a savings account for travel, and you will be soon be on your next flight.
4. Make Money off of Online Shopping
Ok so here me out on this one. It’s not going to make you millions, but at least you can feel better when you shop. Honey is browser extension that I use every time that I shop. It automatically searches the internet to ensure that you have the best deal on an item, and it helps you find coupon codes from across the internet to save even more money. Plus, every time you shop and activate honey, you gain reward points that you can save for gift cards! I used honey for about a year for every online purchase I could apply it to. In the end, I was able to save up enough to get a giftcard to buy some new hiking gear. Even if you don’t have money to do much “shopping,” Honey can help you save money on essentials and earn cash back.
5. Create a Budget
This is one of the ways to save money for travel that sounds the most boring. It’s not a quick fix to your finances, but it may be the single most important thing you can do to be able to afford to travel. Sit down and seriously look at the money going in and out every month. Where is your money going? Would you rather have those things or travel? Create a REASONABLE budget and stick to it. Make sure that you have a plan to put money into savings EVERY SINGLE MONTH. If you are not actively saving for travel, you will not be able to afford it when the opportunity comes around.
I’ve got to be honest, I am TERRIBLE at sticking to a budget. I can do all the math and make all the decisions, but it’s just a struggle for me to keep up with. I find that apps like Mint that track your spending in different categories help to keep me accountable. When creating budgets, I also create one every single time that I travel. When planning a trip, I always write down every expense that I can anticipate in order to properly plan for the trip. This includes pre-planning excursions that may cost money, rental costs, and any gear that may need to be acquired before the trip.
6. Travel Cheaper
This made seem obvious, but one of the easiest ways to save money to travel is actually to need less money! The cheaper you can travel, the less money you will need to save up for your adventure. You can shrink your travel expenses by staying in hostels instead of hotels, Finding cheap flights, traveling in the off-season, and taking advantage of free activities! Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, you just have to make a decision what exactly is worth saving for and how much you can afford to spend.
Here are some of my quick, cheap travel tips:
- Travel during the “off-season”
- Use credit card cash back and rewards to fund travel
- Look at Airbnbs or Private Hostel accommodations instead of fancy hotels
- Cook your own meals! (Or buy groceries and pack sandwiches)
- Bring a reusable water bottle instead of buying individual drinks.
- Pre-plan an excursion budget and shop around so that you get the best value for your money
7. Find Secret Ways to Stash Away Money
I’ll be the first to admit it: I am terrible at saving. I have learned that sometimes, I just need to trick myself into saving more money to make my savings grow more quickly. There are a couple of ways that this can be done. Some people follow the “Five dollar rule” where every time you get a five dollar bill, you put it in a jar for savings. Another way that I save is to have a completely separate bank account for my travel savings. This way, I’m not pulling from it for day to day expenses or bills.
The last way that I force myself to save money is through auto-depositing money each week into stocks. I use both STASH and Acorns for this (Follow those links to get $20 for free just for signing up (Stash) and $5 for free with Acorn). Each week I set somewhere between five and twenty dollars to pull from my account and go into Stash. The amount is so small that I barely notice it gone from my account, but when I go to travel, I get to take all of that money out and spend it on extra excursions. Acorns rounds up each of my purchases on my credit card and puts that amount into savings for me. I hardly notice it, but it can make a huge difference!
8. Get Rid of Debt
Ok, this one isn’t actually a ridiculously easy tip. It’s actually a really hard thing to do, especially if the world doesn’t align in your favor. However, if you can make it possible, one of the greatest ways to save money for travel is to eliminate monthly payments. There are all kinds of tips across the internet about how to do this, but the reality is, debt is crippling. If you are in debt, travel isn’t an expense that is easily affordable. Take basic steps to start reducing your debt. Be willing to part with things you may want and only keep what you need.
If you have an expensive car payment, consider trading it in for a cheaper car and putting that extra money towards other debt each month. If you have a large rent or mortgage payment, look at downsizing or moving to a cheaper neighborhood in order to have a little more freedom in your checkbook. Like I said, getting out of debt isn’t easy, especially if you have acquired a lot of it. However, making small steps each month to knock that debt down will get you closer to your future of being able to afford to travel.
9. Live with Less
Less home. Less waste. Less car. Less electricity. Less clothing. Less everything. The more you own and want, the more it will cost you. When Eric and I downsized to our tiny home, we purged roughly 60%-75% of everything that we owned. To be honest, we don’t even miss it! In doing this, we were able to shrink our monthly rent payment to a personal loan that will be paid off in 5 years. After 5 years, we will have no debt at all because our cars will be paid off and so will our tiny home. This allows us a lot of flexibility in the future that a giant house and mortgage would have never allowed.
By attempting to live a more minimalist lifestyle, we find that we have less need for extraneous things. Note: I did say “attempting.” I honestly love to shop, but living in a tiny house has given me a set amount of space to fill. Once that space is filled, the shopping is done forever. This keeps me making more mindful purchases. Even if living in a tiny home isn’t your style, you can practice saving money by canceling subscription boxes that send you random things each month, only buying what you have on your list when you go to Target, and not allowing any random Amazon purchases that aren’t necessities. Taking these little steps will start to make your monthly budget feel a little more flexible.
10. Ditch your Extra Subscriptions
Each month, money is leaving your account. The important question is: Where is it all going? One of the easiest ways to increase how far your money goes is to audit your expenses each month. Make a list of ALL of your monthly payments including the cloud storage, netflix accounts, gaming subscriptions, and any loans. Add up how much those are really costing you and then make hard decisions. Would you rather have live cable or go to Santorini this summer? The what would life look like if my car payment was smaller? Each of these questions and decisions will get you closer to your savings goals.
What are your favorite ways of paying for travel? Comment below your tips and tricks!