How to Save Money for Travel

How to Save Money for Travel: 20 Must-Read Tips

Are you sitting at your desk or on your couch, daydreaming about lounging on a white sand beach while sipping a cocktail served in a pineapple? Are you wondering how you can make that dream a reality with your current paycheck and monthly obligations?

If you actually pay attention to where your money goes each month (i.e. actually write it down), you’d probably notice that you have a lot of miscellaneous, unnecessary expenses. Or that you’re paying way too much for services like your cable and internet or cell phone package.

It’s too easy to be complacent and put your future travel plans on hold. Stop that! Check out our list of easy money-saving tricks to help you set aside some extra dough each month and take that tropical beach vacation you’ve been dreaming of!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: How to Save Money for Travel!

20 Tips to Save Money for Your Next Vacation

1. Make a Budget

How to Save Money for Vacation: Make a Budget

Yes, it sounds cliche, but the best way to start saving for travel is to set a budget – and stick to it! Include all of your monthly reoccurring expenses like rent, utilities, and cell phone, and then build in some funds for groceries, dinners, and other miscellaneous entertainment expenses.

And if you’ve exceeded your budget before the end of the month, you’ll need to skip that after-work happy hour or the sale at Target. It’s not in the budget so it’ll have to wait until next month! Setting a budget and sticking to it will keep you accountable and help you to continue to save each month for a vacation.

2. Write Down Your Expenditures

How to Save Money for Vacation: Record What You Spend

The best way to get a really solid understanding of exactly where your money is going every month is to write it down. Write down every bill that you pay, every meal that you eat, every trip to the grocery store and gas station, and every shopping excursion. You should even write down the smallest expenses like your daily coffee or a snack at the convenience store.

Add everything up at the end of the month to compare what you earned versus what you spent. And if you want to track your expenses electronically, Tripcoin allows you to input and categorize every expenditure. It even calculates the statistics of your purchases to see what percentage is going to food versus travel versus accommodation, etc.

And once you get a clear picture of exactly what you’re spending, you can start making cuts in the areas where you’re spending too much. That money can be moved to your savings account for future travel plans!

3. Work Toward a Goal

How to Save Money for Travel: Set a Goal

If you can save $2,000 by December 1st, you get to buy yourself a plane ticket to Peru. Or you can buy yourself that stylish piece of travel luggage you’ve been eyeing. Whatever it is that you want, set a specific savings goal to work toward and reward yourself once you achieve it.

Print out a picture of whatever it is you’re saving for and put it on your nightstand or pin it up over your desk at work. And when you consider spending money on a needless purchase or outing, just look at the picture to remind you why you’re saving money.

We love to set goals and get rewarded for our achievements and doing this for yourself will keep you motivated to save! Be sure that your savings goals are aggressive but attainable. And be sure that your reward is tied to that vacation you’re saving for!

4. Set Your Savings Aside First

How to Save Money for Travel: Pay Yourself First

Have you ever noticed that even when you get a raise, you never seem to have more money at the end of the month? That’s because the more money we make, the more we spend. Our consumer-driven brains aren’t wired to save any excess for a rainy day.

So, when I had a regular 8-5 job, my little trick to combat this spending habit was to automatically transfer a certain percentage of each paycheck into a savings account. It felt like I had less money to spend which forced me to purchase less. And my savings grew every paycheck. I sacked that money away to fund my big trips abroad.

Set up an automatic transfer into a separate savings account at the beginning of every pay period. Don’t transfer so much that you’re overly strapped for cash, but enough that the excess money isn’t burning a hole in your pocket. Just make sure you do it first, as soon as you get your paycheck!

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5. Put Savings in a Money Market Account

Instead of putting your excess funds into a regular old savings account, invest it so that it can grow! A money market account is relatively safe from a risk perspective and will allow your savings to grow faster over time. More money in your money market account means more money to spend on travel!

6. Get Outdoors

Save Money for Vacation: Get Outdoors

Skip that monthly gym membership and get outdoors! Not only will the fresh air do your body good, but most outdoor activities are free! Jog around your neighborhood, go for a hike, join a pick-up soccer game, or swim in the community pool. There are so many free outdoor activities – why pay for a pricey monthly gym membership? Especially when you’ve got great weather!

And if you do need to stay indoors due to inclement weather, there are loads of awesome (and free!) YouTube workout videos to get your heart pumping. My personal favorite is dance along with the incredibly talented group – The Fitness Marshall. And I love the POPSUGAR Fitness workouts that don’t use any equipment.

The money that you save on a gym membership will continue to add up each month to help fund your travel plans!

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7. Cancel Subscriptions

As much as I loved my monthly Adore Me subscription, it made it too easy to spend money every month. Even when I got tired of being a member, I was too lazy and forgetful to actually cancel. Which is what most of these subscription services count on!

Make a list of all of your reoccurring monthly expenses like cable TV, Netflix, your cell phone plan, Spotify, and any food or clothing subscription services. Then cut out any that aren’t absolutely necessary. You’ll be shocked at how quickly these reoccurring monthly expenses add up, and trendy subscription services are one of the easiest expenses to cut every month.

Once you save enough, you won’t be around to get those subscriptions delivered anyway – you’ll be too busy traveling!

8. Quit Smoking

It’s gross AND expensive so stop it!

9. Apply for a Credit Card with Cash Back

How to Save Money to Travel: Credit Card

A few years back my advice was never to charge and to stick to a debit card only. But now there are so many credit cards that offer amazing benefits, it’d be a shame not to take advantage. Of course, you should be sure to pay your credit card off every month to avoid any interest fees.

Personally, I prefer a card that pays cashback because I find miles programs to be quite complicated. Plus it’s far less limiting in that I can spend my cash on anything I want!

We love the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card because we earn 1% cashback on all general purchases and double that on travel-related purchases like airfare, hotels, and food. So every few months we cash in and get a chunk of change. Plus there are no foreign transaction fees so we can use it all over the world!

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

And when you’ve saved enough money to start traveling, be sure to switch to a Charles Schwab debit card. It has zero international fees and refunds all of your ATM fees. Plus they have a great customer service team that are readily available via chat. It’s the perfect card to take traveling!

10. Get a Roommate

You’re probably not going to like this advice if you’re in your thirties, but having a roommate is a great way to save some dough. You can share the cost of your rent or mortgage as well as the cost of utilities, groceries, and internet service. Plus when you go on the big trip that you’ve been saving for, you’ll have someone to keep an eye on your house!

11. Threaten to Cancel

The best way to save money on your cable, internet, and phone bill is to cancel your service. And the second-best way is to threaten to cancel. Call your provider to inform them that you’re going to change to another provider and you’re bound to get a better monthly rate.

Cell, cable, and internet rates are rarely set in stone and they are usually pretty determined not to lose you as a customer. Let them know you’re switching to another company and see what kind of rate they offer you to stay. The better rate you negotiate, the more money you have each month to set aside for travel!

12. Don’t Buy New

Tips for Saving Money to Travel: Buy Second-Hand

I know it’s tempting to go into a dealership and walk out with a shiny brand new car – but you’ll save a bunch of money if you opt for used instead. Plus cars begin depreciating from the moment you drive them off the lot. So you’re not investing in something that is gaining value.

If you choose to buy secondhand goods you can save a lot of cash to use for future travel adventures. In Ho Chi Minh City we regularly utilize Facebook Marketplace and various Saigon-specific groups for purchasing used clothing and baby gear. Not only does it help us save money, but it helps the planet too.

Buy a used car, shop for clothes at thrift shops, and utilize Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to buy furniture or appliances. You’ll be amazed just how easy it is to find exactly what you’re looking for!

13. Brew Coffee at Home

How to Save Money for Travel: Make Coffee at Home

You’ve undoubtedly been told about the impact your daily latte has on your wallet. But just to reiterate, if you buy just one latte every day, you’re spending around $30 per week and over $1,500 per year. That’s the price of a round trip plane ticket and a week (or more) in a hotel!

There are some tricks that you can utilize that will make your home brewed coffee seem more like fancy coffee shop coffee. First, you can buy a pour-over coffee maker and quality coffee beans for a delicious cup of coffee at a fraction of the price. Personally, I like to froth my milk with a little cinnamon before adding my drip coffee.

Plus if you skip the daily Starbucks, you can enjoy your fancy coffee while lounging in your jammies in bed!

14. Learn to Cook

How to Save Money for Travel: Learn to Cook

Shopping for groceries and cooking your own meals is an easy way to save a lot of money each month. And not only that, it makes it a lot easier to eat healthy meals because you’ll know exactly what’s going into every dish! Load up on lots of fresh veggies at the grocery store and make stirfries and curries. It’s fast, simple, and delicious!

And if you get a bottle of wine or a few beers from the grocery instead of at a bar or restaurant, you’re sure to save money. You can sack all of that away to spend on future beers on that tropical beach you’ve been dreaming of!

15. Pack Your Lunch

Going out to lunch is another frivolous daily expense that can easily be eliminated if you want to save your money to travel. It’s especially easy if you cook dinner and make a bit more than you can eat. Just throw it in a Tupperware container and take it to work with you the next day.

Of course, a good old bowl of Cup of Noodles also works in a pinch. It’s cheap, easy to prepare, and totally satisfying.

16. Stop Upgrading

Do you ACTUALLY need the newest model of iPhone? Or is your phone working just fine and you’re simply giving in to societal pressures? The constant desire to have the latest and greatest gadget is quite costly. And it’s so unnecessary. The changes that are made to each phone iteration are minimal. And they happen about once a year – so your brand new phone will soon be outdated again!

Only upgrade your phone when you actually need to. Like if it breaks or if they make significant improvements to the camera. That doesn’t just go for phones – you should use all electronic devices for as long as you can before upgrading to the latest version.

The less frequently you make upgrades, the more cash you’ll have in your pocket to plan that next vacation!

17. Save Money on Parking

If you work in the city center and drive every day, you undoubtedly spend a chunk of change to park. Skip the premium parking spot and opt to take public transportation instead. You’ll save that monthly fee and you’ll help the environment by reducing carbon emissions. It’s a win-win!

18. Scout Out Happy Hour Deals

Tips for Saving Money to Travel: Happy Hour

Just because you’re saving money to travel doesn’t mean you have to miss out on fun! Restaurants often have great happy hour specials during specific times of the day on food and drink items. Avoid the expensive fancy dinner and opt for half-priced happy hour appetizers and cocktails instead – you’ll have a great time while saving some cash!

19. Host a Potluck

Tips for Saving Money to Travel: Host a Potluck

Or you can skip happy hour altogether and host a potluck at your house! Invite your friends and ask everyone to bring something specific – maybe an appetizer or a bottle of wine or a side dish. You’ll end up with a big meal for everyone to enjoy but at a fraction of the price of going out to a restaurant for dinner. It’s a great way to get everyone together without breaking the bank!

20. Have a “Switch or Ditch” Party

Switch or Ditch parties, also called Naked Lady parties, are a great way to get some new clothes without spending a dime! Invite a bunch of girlfriends and instruct everyone to bring any old clothes that they don’t want anymore (and a bottle of wine!). Then you lay out all the clothes and have everyone go “shopping”.

You’ll clean out your closet and also come away with some cute new (and free!) clothes. It’s the perfect way to pick up a new outfit for your upcoming vacation!

We hope this helps you save some dough for your next grand adventure!

Want more travel inspiration? Check out our favorite coffee table books!


About the Author:

  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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