“I can’t travel, I don’t have money.” A very common sentiment. Even I said that numerous times. Money is necessary. Whether you are traveling alone, as a group or as a family, you need money. Even budget travelers need money. Even if you get a chance to fly for free, you will still need money when you get to your destination.
Planning a budget is a learned skill. Disciplined practice and effort are needed to be successful in managing a balanced financial plan. If you are having a problem managing your money, set up a budget then identify your needs and wants. The most important key is to live within your means, and to do all that is possible to avoid debt.
According to Randy Alcron, “Money needlessly spent is a double loss. Not only is it gone, but its potential for earnings is also gone. Had we set it aside, it could have been multiplying on earth through savings or in heaven through giving… Saving is a discipline that develops authority over money. Instead of letting money take us wherever our whims include, we take control“.
How to save money FOR travel
I also ask fellow travelers for other ways to save money to help us achieve our dream trip or vacation.
1. Set a budget for groceries – and stick with it!
Yes, we go to a grocery store with a grocery list. Guess what? You left the grocery store with stuff not even on the list. Don’t be an impulsive buyer! Learn to spend wisely. “…It is the mites here and the mites there that are spent for this, that, and the other, that soon run up into dollars… Do not falter, be discouraged, or turn back. Deny your taste, deny the indulgence of appetite, save your pence…” said Ellen G. White
2. Manage your food expenses
2a. Bring your lunch: “For all the 9to5ers, eating out every day at lunch can be a nice break but it can also be very expensive. On average, a simple lunch costs around $15. If you do the math, you end up spending around $300 a month which represents $3,600 a year! By saving this “lunch money”, you can either go on several weekend getaways or spend a week or two abroad. Quick tip: I’m aware that bringing your lunch every day might sound a little too drastic. why not start eating out just 1 or 2 days per week and see the difference in your savings? Plus, you can use your lunch break to plan your next vacation.” – Melanie of BRB Travel Blog
2b. “Give up the daily dose of Starbucks and you will save a lot of money by the end of the month!” Read more on how she went from verging on bankruptcy to being in credit in three years… and travel was to blame here. – Hayley of LifeAsAButterfly
2c. “I’m sorry to say this, but it’s time to cut out the takeaways. Before you tap in your payment info on dominoes or run to the nearest Chinese takeaway. Think to yourself “Do I need this meal?”. Trust me. The answer is always NO. Wouldn’t you much rather be demolishing a pizza complete with views of the Colosseum? Why settle for your local Chinese when you can be sitting in Shanghai having an authentic Chinese meal? We managed to put aside €100 a month just by swapping our takeaways for “take-ins”. Why not give it a try? Swap your takeaways for supermarket food and see where your food bill savings can take you in the world!” – Lauren of Diary of A Spanglish Girl
3. Buy a reusable water bottle
Stop buying plastic water bottles. Buy a reusable water bottle or tumbler, attach a water filter, and take it everywhere you go. You save the planet and you save money.
4. Ditch your Cable TV
The cable is becoming a thing of the past. There are other ways you can get your entertainment for free or cheaper. I know someone who pays for cable tv and only watches CNN! That’s a waste of money wherein you can just watch news online for free. The internet is full of entertainment now!
5. Cut Your Landline
Who else is using a landline? We have a landline as a part of our Wifi and Cable package. Other than that, we have never used our landline. But IF you don’t need it, cut it. You have your phone to contact your family or friends or other people.
6. Get the cheapest postpaid plan
I am a stay-at-home mom, so I only need wifi at home. So we decided to downgrade our local phone data plan (we are expats, by the way), and get a Basic Plan. From QAR 500 to QAR 200 monthly, we saved QAR300!
7. Cancel your gym membership
“There are so many ways to workout and all for free. Saving that extra money each month can really add up. YouTube is a great place to find free workout videos. Also, Pinterest has great infographics for workouts. If you own a video game system. Buy used games such as XBox 360 Kinetic Zumba. Rather than spend money, find things around the house to use. Therefore try recycling items around your house to use for your workout. An empty milk container is great dumbbells when you fill it with water.” Read more on 15 ways to save money for a vacation here. – Amanda of My Sweet Beautiful Life
8. Skip the spa & salon services.
I get my hair done whenever I go to the Philippines to visit my family. It is cheaper, but with the number of treatments done to my hair, it can get expensive. I saved PHP 15,000 ($250) by getting hair treatments once a year as opposed to twice a year, and my hair still looks just fine. Also, my husband cuts his dad’s hair for free! That’s 100% savings for my dad-in-law!
9. Reduce your utility bills
Try opening your windows for fresh air instead of using an air conditioner. You can put on a sweater and keep the heat low. Keep your showers short. Don’t use light in the daytime. Turn off lights when leaving a room. Turn off the TV and lights when you sleep. Try opting for solar. My Mom saves 50% on electric bill monthly by using solar.
I understand in some countries, these may not be possible. We live in the Middle East, and it could get really hot in the summer. So we need air conditioner 24/7. But once it gets chilly, around December and January, we turn off the AC. As Suze Orman said, “Look everywhere you can to cut a little bit from your expenses. It will all add up to a meaningful sum”.
“Try to have minimum recurring expenses like EMIs for cars, houses etc, so that you are able to save money for travel.” Read more on how they managed their finances for traveling here. – GHoomophirosisters of GhoomoPhiro
10. Minimize Social spending
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is becoming expensive now – a new outfit, new movie, new restaurant, new cafe… I am not telling you to cut your social life! Just minimize.
“Save on things that don’t matter: We would spend a lot of money on eating out, shopping and watching movies before we were bitten by the travel bug. Now we have limited our entertainment. Home-cooked food is the best, movies can be watched on Television too, and we just need a few pairs of clothes to survive. It’s all about making smart choices. We don’t have more money but, we know where to spend the money we have. Just list down your needs and wants on a piece of paper and you are sorted. You know what to do, right?” – Anjali by Travel Melodies
11. Drive less
This is possible if your workplace or school is within walking distance. Gas is expensive. You can set a day to do as much as you can in one area, and only drive to work or school/daycare on weekdays.
12. Quit smoking
This is a no-brainer. Not it will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in a year, it will save your life! We don’t drink nor smoke, so I know it is possible to quit. If you can’t do it on your own, get some help from someone you know. What about alcohol? I would say quit, but if you can’t, bring it down to 1-2 bottles of beer a day.
13. Save pennies
“Piggy Bank for the spare change: It might sound trivial but works wonders. We started collecting the spare change late last year and you wouldn’t believe that we accumulated around 2000 INR in just six months. Since then, we have been doing this activity. Who knows this mini travel fund can buy you your flight tickets!” – Anjali by Travel Melodies.
“A penny saved is a penny earned.” – Benjamin Franklin
14. Open a savings account and set up an automatic transfer
“Alright, You have opened a savings account for all the collection of your travel fund. Now, the tricky bit is actually to save money into that account. The excitement from that decision of travel saving should be motivation enough, but people need a trigger to start something good. We all are most competitive with ourselves. You might also realize the pleasure of completing a level with a perfect score. Try putting yourself through money challenges kicks you off for saving.” – Read more of her most creative ways to save money for travel here. – Priyanka of ProTraveloholic
15. Get a travel credit card
“Get a travel credit card! If you plan to do any serious amount of traveling, then you should absolutely be using a travel credit card, which will earn you “points,” which can be used to pay for flights, hotels, cruises, and other travel-related expenses. For instance, I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit card. It gives me three times the points for all things travel. That means flights, rental cars, restaurants, hotels and hostels, cruises, parking garages, and more! Furthermore, It has no foreign transaction fees, and includes a rental car and trip insurance! Most travel credit cards will even offer a signup bonus, which will net you around $500 to redeem for travel. So choose the travel credit card that is right for you, and start earning points toward travel today!” – Logan of Unwork to Travel
16. Shop around
Use discounts and coupons: In the US (especially in the US), there is always sales and discounts. So don’t think that you have to buy right now afraid you might miss the discount. No. You won’t miss a thing. You can find great deals on hotel stays, activities near you at Groupon and Living Social
Use your rewards. If your favorite store has a rewards program, sign up with them. But there is a catch (don’t they always?). You have to buy more in order to get rewards. For me, I buy a lot of kids clothes, so I signed up with Carters, Gymboree, and Children’s Store. I get $5 – $10 rewards towards my purchase every few months.
Name Brand vs Generic: Don’t be fooled by fancy packaging or labels. Even if it’s only $1 or $5 difference, save any amount that you can whenever possible.
“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” – Benjamin Franklin
17. Sell your stuff
“Once I have stopped impulse buying, yet another problem arose – what should I do with all the staff already in my closet? Sell it online at Amazon, Craigslist or eBay! Things in pristine condition can cost almost as much as brand new things. I can’t imagine a better way to earn some extra cash. Take a look around. Maybe that TV or blender that hasn’t been used for many years is worth being sold? I sold a lot of cool but totally unwanted stuff before my first trip. I earned around €250, so I don’t see any reason why you can’t do the same too. Everyone has something to sell. Get fid of useless stuff and you would be surprised at financial benefits. And don’t forget to put this money in a saving account. Because every penny counts.” Read more on how to save for a trip here. – by Ivan of Mind The Travel
18. Earn extra income
18a. “If you can, offer your skills to others in your spare time. Numerous times throughout the year I babysat for a friend. Now babysitting sounds like a job for a teenager, but people like trustworthy and responsible people looking after their kids, so if someone wants to pay me £40 to sit in an evening, read a bedtime story, then put my feet up in front of the telly until they arrive home, that’s fine by me! Saving £240. I also made the most of an old qualification of mine and did some private swimming lessons for an hour a couple of evenings a week. It was flexible and I chose how much or little I did. Saving – £500 in just a few months.” Read more about how she saved £12, 000 to travel here. – Laura of Miss On The Move
18b. “There are several ways to generate extra income online. There are several platforms that pay you for taking part in online surveys – you won’t get rich with these but if you have some time on your hand you can earn a couple of dollars every now and then. If you speak more than one language fluently, you can become an online translator with Gengo. If you have special skills that can be of use to someone else, offer them on Fiverr and generate an additional income to save up for travel.” – Mike of 197 Travel Stamps
18c. “One of my favorite ways to save money for travel is to do focus groups. Focus groups (sometimes known as market research) are when companies look for consumers to get their thoughts on products or ideas. I like being involved, but I also love the instant money. You can get a myriad of projects, and you have total control over time or topics, so it’s always when it’s convenient for you. Some are as small as $50 all the way up to $400 (for me anyway!). Sometimes I get a product to test, taste test food products, or it’s just a discussion. The most I’ve ever earned in a month is $700, and I’m using these to finance my trip to Antarctica. Here is a non-exhaustive list of focus groups around the United States (some are in person and some are online!). Get out there and get some fun and easy money!” Read on How to Get Paid Research Studies and Paid Focus Groups here. – Carly by Flight of The Educator
19. Work in the travel industry
I used to be a flight attendant for 3 years, and that’s how I was able to travel the world. Plus the company gives discounted tickets to our immediate family which is great! Aside from working in the airline, try working for top hotel chains, or cruise lines, or run your travel blog, and you can find yourself being paid to travel the world. Why not consider life as a yachtie or volunteer abroad?!
20. Move Overseas
“I know it might sound ridiculous, but let me explain! I moved to Granada, Spain a year and a half ago to teach. The cost of living here is super cheap, so my money goes way further. If I want to travel, I have tons of new places within a few hours of me. Furthermore, the flights within Europe are super cheap (hello Ryanair and Easyjet). I feel like lots of my fellow Americans put off traveling in Europe for years upon years because they feel like they have to do it all. The flight is usually pretty expensive, so I get wanting to try to make the most out of your Europe trip and see as much as you can. However, when you choose to live in Europe, you don’t have that pressure. A weekend getaway to Berlin is totally feasible and probably way cheaper than it would have been coming from the states. If you can make living overseas, even if for a short time, possibly, do it!” – Nina of A World of Dresses
How to maximize your savings when booking your trip:
We have personally used Expedia (free cancellation), Google Flights (shows fares on all dates), and direct booking (frequent flyer program). However, you can check out other flight booking or metasearch engines like Kayak, Vayama, Momondo, Secret Flying, Priceline, Lastminute, Travelation, SmartFares, CheapFlightNow, CheapOair, One Travel, and many more. There are tons of them! Look for the one you like, and use it!
“Check out Skyscanner site to scan for promo rates airfare, they are a partner for most of the airlines that offer promos all year round.” – Rei Tanabi of Xtraordinarei
“Also try Flightdrop. It is the most modern, beautiful, and effective flight discovery app to date. It features hugely discounted flights departing from your area, helpful travel tips, and helps you book. It even has an Ambassador Program where users earn perks + free flights by sharing their referral link.” – Aaron Tian
Early morning flights increase your chance of getting cheaper flights.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest times.
Try and avoid holiday periods.
Join a Frequent Flyer Program.
We like to stay in a hotel. However, nowadays there are different kinds of accommodation to accommodate different kinds of travelers. These are hostels, guesthouses, dormitory, Couchsurfing, house sitting, home exchange, vacation rentals, resort, villa, camping (or glamping), apartment, etc. Do your research and read reviews before you book your room.
You can book your room using TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Agoda, Trivago, Hotels Combined, or to its website directly.
“I also always use Airbnb instead of going to hotels. That saves me a ton of money!” – Des Arg of AccordingtoDes
Stay more than one night.
Stay on weekends.
Call the hotel directly.
Check for family deals.
Use Hotel Rewards Program.
3. Car Rentals
We personally use Dollar Rent-A-Car. However, you can also try Sixt, Hertz, Thrifty Rent-A-Car System, CarRentals, Avis, Enterprise, and many more.
“One thing I do to save money is use Turo instead of booking through a car rental company. I just booked a car for Hawaii and paid $230 for the week. I checked Enterprise and they were going to charge me $330 with all of their fees.” – Bailie Butcher of Touring The World Up Close
***Do not forget to use your Credit Card Reward Points for your flight and hotel bookings***
I hope our tips will help you save money for your travel. These tips are not only helpful for your dream vacation, but also in general. What are the other ways we could save money to travel? Share with us in the comment box below.
How to save money WHILE traveling
Here are some links that I find very useful:
How To Make Money While Traveling: Lifestyle Business As Your Ticket To Travel The World by Logan of Unwork to Travel
Some Tips To Save Money While Travelling by Jony of Go4Explore
8 Travel Tips by Laurita of Espresso Con Leche (bilingual)
Travel Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Save Money while Travelling to a Foreign Country by Natasha of CratesGuru
How to Save Money While Traveling in Europe by Ivan of Mind The Travel
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*A Collaborative Post | All contributions, posts, and links were provided by the respective author and used with permission.
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