No matter which way you go about it, traveling requires money. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who have plenty of money to just take off on vacation, you’re likely going to have to save money for your next trip.
Many people say they can’t travel because it’s too expensive and they have too many expenses for them to be able to save up for a vacation. While there are some expenses you just can’t cut, most people have several “phantom expenses” they can eliminate or reduce to help them save money and build their travel fund.
Here are 25 tricks to help you save money for travel and head out your next adventure even quicker:
- Commit to your travel dream
The first thing you need to do to save money for travel is to commit to saving money and remember why you’re doing it. Saving money isn’t fun and can be difficult, but anyone can do it if they truly set their mind to it.
- Assess your expenses
Create a spreadsheet and list all of your daily and monthly expenses. Divide these up into two columns of “Needs and “Wants.” Now you can start eliminating those “wants” to free up money for travel.
- Create a savings plan
Set yourself a goal for your savings. Try to figure out approximately how much your next trip will cost and set that as your goal. Use your assessment of your expenses to help you create a plan to build your savings.
- Start a dedicated travel fund
Open a new saving account, ideally a high-yield online one (I personally use Ally.) Use this account solely as your travel fund, adding to it daily, weekly, or monthly. The key is to make feeding your savings a habit.
- Cut back on fancy coffee drinks
Do you get a specialty coffee drink every day from Starbucks or your local coffee shop? Cutting back the number of times you get coffee every week or opting instead to get the much cheaper drip coffee can save you quite a bit of money over a year.
- Kill the cable TV
Ditching your cable or satellite TV can save you more than $100 every month. (I used to pay around $115 for DirecTV after my promotion ended.) With more and more streaming services popping up, there’s not really a need for cable TV. So if you still haven’t become a cord cutter yet, do yourself and your bank account a favor and kill the cable.
- Eat out less often
Restaurants are one of the biggest threats to your budget. It can be really tempting after a long day of work to just order take out or head over to one of your favorite restaurants, but this can cost you hundreds of dollars every month. Learning to cook can be a very satisfying thing, along with saving you tons of money. There are countless sites, including Pinterest, that provide an almost endless amount of great recipes you can try.
- Buy second-hand
Why pay full price when you can pay nearly half the price for something? Buying second-hand clothes, electronics, books, etc. can save you a decent chunk of money. There are several clothing stores and websites that sell second-hand clothes in great condition, and don’t forget about Amazon!
- Sell your stuff
Along with buying second-hand, you can also try selling your stuff. Take a look around your apartment or house and see if there’s anything still in good condition that you don’t use anymore, such as electronics, movies, books, clothes, etc. There are several sites you can use to see you unneeded items, like Amazon, Offer Up, and Craigslist.
- Spend less on lunch
This could be as simple as not ordering a soda, which costs at least $2.00. I almost alway just order water when I eat out. Not only does it save money, but it helps you drink more water, too. Also try not to spend more than $10 on lunch. Just saving a couple dollars here and there can really add up if you’re buying lunch every day at work.
- Reduce or eliminate your car usage
This one really depends on where you live and how often you go places. If you live in the United States, you know it’s nearly impossible to get around anywhere without a car unless you’re somewhere like New York City. We don’t really have the best or extensive public transportation. If you can, try to walk or bike to places more to save money on gas, or try using Lyft or Uber rather than owning and using your own car. If you find yourself often running errands, try to combine them into one day to save on gas.
- Reduce your utility bills
Try opening the windows to let the breeze in during warmer weather, putting on a sweater when it’s colder, doing fewer loads of laundry, taking shorter showers, or turning off the light when leaving a room. All of these are little things you can do that can add up to at least a few extra bucks every month.
- Quit smoking
This is pretty much a no-brainer. However, it may not exactly be easy for many people. Try getting someone you know to keep you accountable and help you quit so you can spend your money on travel instead.
- Cancel your gym membership
Do you really need that gym membership? That membership often comes with a hefty price tag. Get your exercise outdoors instead. Take a run outside and enjoy the fresh air, climb normal stairs instead of the gym’s stair climber, ride an actual bike. There are plenty of ways to get exercise in the great outdoors or at home. Many parks also now have those strange public fitness structures.
- Skip the spa
To put it plain and simple, spas are expensive. Unless you have a real need for a massage, skip the luxury and save that hard-earned money for a more life-changing luxury of travel.
- Stay in at night
Going out to clubs and bars can cause your account balance to go down fast with nothing to show for it. Instead, invite friends over and make your own drinks. A bottle of wine can cost you less than just one drink at the bar.
- Keep your distance from the financially irresponsible
Sometimes the people we’re friends with can be one of the worst threats to saving money. Watching other people go out at night or buy the latest technology can make it hard for you to do the responsible thing and save your money. Be sure to keep your travel goal in mind, but don’t let it cause you to be the group’s party pooper. It’s okay to spend a little every now and then.
- Ditch your landline
Not too many people still have a landline phone, but if you do, consider ditching it. Almost everyone has a cell phone nowadays and there’s really no need to have both.
- Skip the movie theater
Going to see a movie in a theater has become ridiculously expensive. Tickets alone seem to typically cost $10-$15 and then there’s the soda and popcorn. Skip the movie theater and either rent them through iTunes or Redbox or wait for the movie to come out on Netflix or another streaming service.
- Downsize your apartment or find a roommate
Is your apartment bigger than you really need or do you live by yourself in a two or three bedroom place? You can save a lot of money by either downsizing your apartment or finding a roommate to split the rent with.
- Cut out alcohol (or at least cut back)
Alcohol is expensive. Either cutting back on the amount you drink, or eliminating it completely, can have a significant impact on the amount of money you can save for travel.
- Cut coupons
You can find coupons in many different places. Grocery stores offer loyalty cards and online coupons, Groupon gives you discounts on all kinds of things like restaurants and experiences, and there’s websites like Rakuten or Swagbucks that give you even more ways to save or get money back.
- Sign up for travel deals/newsletters
Subscribing to mailing lists for travel companies and airlines can help you save big when actually booking your travel. You will get special deals, last-minute sales, and updates straight to your inbox.
- Get a travel credit card
A travel credit card gives you more opportunities to earn/redeem travel perks, such as free (or at least reduced) flights, hotel rooms, and much more. These can also come with other benefits, like no foreign transaction fees, access to airport lounges, and travel insurance. Be sure to do your research to figure out which card is best for you. I personally recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
- Start a side hustle
The modern sharing economy makes it fairly easy to earn extra money on the side, whether it’s driving for Lyft or Uber, becoming a tour guide with Get Your Guide, renting out a room on Airbnb, or doing freelance work through sites like Upwork or Fiverr.
There are so many ways to cut your daily or monthly expenses, be more frugal, and just have more of a travel mindset. By just implementing a few of these tricks, you can get closer to your next trip a lot sooner than you thought possible.