No matter how cheaply you choose to travel, most adventures cost money. Whether you’re planning on taking a weekend trip or a year around the world, you’ll need to save some money beforehand. To help you make your travel dreams come true, I’ve gathered my 25 favorite money-saving tips to help you save more money. Once you’ve started to implement these in your daily life, get ready to embark on the trip of your dreams!
1. Prioritize travel
In terms of saving money, you probably won’t get anywhere without making travel a priority in your life. My colleagues usually ask me why I don’t eat out often, or why I walk home instead of taking a taxi when it’s late and I’m tired. The answer is ALWAYS because travel is my priority, and I’d rather spend my money on that.
2. Decide on your travel timeline and budget
Without having a concrete goal to work toward, it can be really difficult to know how much to set aside for it. Let’s say you want to take your trip in 6 months, and it will cost $3,000. This means you’ll need to save approximately $500 per month in order to make it happen.
3. Figure out your disposable income each month
This is a good thing to know in general, but especially important if you’re saving for a big trip. Let’s say, after taxes, you take home $3,000 per month. If your rent is $1,000 and your base monthly expenses (groceries, phone bill, etc.) are another $750, then you have $1,250 per month to use for your miscellaneous expenses, or to put away for travel.
4. Create a dedicated savings account for travel
Out of sight, out of mind… That’s the best way to ensure that your savings won’t be touched. Personally, I use a Barclays US online account for my travel savings, and I highly recommend it. Then, from each paycheck, put away your desired amount and don’t touch it again.
5. Write down every single expense you make
This one is simple – writing down each expense as it occurs encourages accountability for your expenses, so you know exactly where every dollar goes. Bonus points if you color code for necessary vs. unnecessary expenses.
6. Figure out the free things to do in your city
Take control of your outings with friends by knowing some of the free things you can do in your city. Then, when you’re planning a get-together, suggest one of the free things to do.
7. Eat before outings
Eating out can be the easiest way to spend your disposable income quickly. However, I get that it can be hard to cut it out completely, since that’s often how a lot of friends like to hang out. So, instead of ditching your friends, I recommend eating before you meet up with them. Then, when you arrive at the restaurant, just order a drink or something small. This makes it easier to spend less money when you go out.
8. Cut recurring memberships
That gym that costs $75 a month? Cut it and exercise at home. The cable subscription? Cut it and use a cheaper on-demand streaming service. If there are things you like but can live without, cut them.
9. …and recurring personal costs
Music streaming, video streaming, monthly subscription boxes…all of these things are recurring costs. If you aren’t using it every day, get rid of it.
10. Make smaller, more frequent grocery runs
Instead of buying all of your food at once and risking buying too much, break your grocery purchases into two or more store visits per week. Then, you’ll be less inclined to buy too much food or spend too much money.
11. Buy generic
When you’re at the grocery store, buy generic or store brands instead of brand names. You might only save a dollar here and there, but it adds up over time. Here’s an example: if you buy 20 items a week, and save 50 cents on average per item by buying generic, that’s $10 per week that you save. Over the course of one year, you’ll save $520 on grocery purchases alone, without buying any less food.
12. Treat yourself once in a while
Studies have shown that not treating yourself every so often can actually detract from your results. So, take small opportunities to treat yourself here and there, so you’re not tempted to make big expenditures later.
13. Take out a rewards credit card
You might wonder why I’m recommending taking out a credit card as part of a “saving money” article. Well, rewards cards can help you “save money” in the form of points and miles. If you are careful with your card and pay it off every month, you can earn some extra miles to help support your travels.
14. Cut clothes purchases
Instead of spending a ton of money on new clothes, take an inventory of your personal items. Then, make a list of the things you absolutely need in order to go to work. Then, limit your clothes purchases to these items, and avoid buying anything else.
15. Quit drinking
This one is self-explanatory. Your nights out on the town can add up, between transportation, drinks that can cost $10 or more per glass, and late night post-bar food cravings, drinking can be one of the most impactful expenses to cut out.
16. Evaluate your transportation situation
Having lived in a city that requires having a car in order to work, I know that “get rid of your car” is usually not a great piece of advice. Instead, I recommend evaluating your transportation options given the context of your personal situation. Determine how much it costs to drive your car (including parking, gas, maintenance, and insurance), and compare it to the feasibility and cost of taking public transit.
17. Get a roommate
If you’ve been living alone and feel like you’re forking out a lot of money in rent, consider getting a roommate to cut your rent significantly.
18. …or a few
If you can, rent a house with a few different roommates. In this situation, your rent will likely be even cheaper. If you have the opportunity, consider moving back in with family to save even more on rent.
19. Sign up for a family phone plan
Talk to your parents, your siblings, or your spouse and figure out how you can cut costs by moving your phones to a family plan. It’s a win/win because everyone will save money!
20. Pick up a side hustle
To me, this is one of the most important ways you can save additional money for travel. If you work a pretty regular 9-to-5 job, consider picking up a side job to earn some additional income. Even if your side hustle only brings in $50-100 a week, that’s a substantial cushion to your additional savings. If you’re good at graphic design, try designing logos for small businesses. If you like photography, shoot some senior portraits or engagement photos. Think about where your talents are outside of work, and try to monetize them in some way.
21. Sell your junk
Do you have an old TV you’re not using (since you cancelled your cable TV subscription)? Gently used clothes you don’t like? Try and sell them on Craigslist, Facebook groups, and more.
22. Ask for a raise/promotion
Although this might not apply depending on your situation, it never hurts to ask. Obviously, making more money in your job can help you put away more money for travel.
23. Do a monthly review of your expenses
At the end of each month, determine how you did compared to your goals. Did you put away enough money? Did you make too many unnecessary expenditures?
24. Put away the change
If you have any money left over each month (aside from the amount you’ve already put away), treat yourself to something small (see #12), then put the rest into your savings account.
25. Keep your eye on the prize
When it gets frustrating to eat frugally, avoid drinking, and cut recurring costs, remember what you’re doing this for. Keep photos of your desired destination pinned in places where you can see them, so you are constantly reminded of your goals.