30 Tips on Saving Money for Travel
I am a thrifty person – it’s always been that way in my family. My Mum brought me up to know the value of money, and how far a good savings account can take you. That has literally been the case in my life: my savings have taken me thousands of miles across the globe.
I realise that saving doesn’t come as naturally to many of us though, and saving for a big trip can be a huge struggle if you’re not used to being careful with your cash. I’m going to let you in on a few of my own tips and tricks, as well as some age-old classics I’ve learnt from other people. Here are 30 tips for saving money for travel (or for anything else for that matter!)
1. Organise your current finances
Take a look at your bank accounts, your existing money, your income, your outgoings, and everything else in between. You want to know all of these inside out before you start anything else, as you need to know what you’ve got to work with right from the beginning.
2. Set up a separate savings account
Having a separate place for your savings to go is key in saving money for travel. Give your travel fund its very own place in your finances, and do your best to make sure you’re only putting money in, and not taking any out.
3. Choose the right bank
Many banks will give you rewards for opening new accounts, which can include anything from a monthly bonus for depositing a certain amount, to cool gadgets for showing loyalty. TD Canada Trust in Canada gave me a free Samsung Galaxy tablet for opening a certain account when I moved here, which is so perfect for my travels.
4. Figure out a weekly spending limit
Once you know your income and outgoings like the back of your hand, give yourself a fixed amount to spend each week. Anything outside of that can go right in your adventure fund.
5. Pay off your credit card
Getting rid of your existing debt is a great way to make sure that all your income is going to the right place when you’re debt-free. If you have existing credit cards or other debt, it would be a good idea to focus on getting rid of that first so you can start saving, then go away with a clean break from debt.
6. Create a money jar
I love money jars – they’re such a fun way of seeing your travel fun grow. I used to put every $5 bill that landed in my possession into a money jar, and I saved $150 within a couple of months. Setting up savings jars like this is a very easy way to save your spare cash.
7. Set up automatic transfers to your savings account
If you can find a bank account that puts a little away into your savings with every transaction you make with your checking account, it creates an easy way for you to save without realising it. It isn’t exactly going to make you rich on its own, but every little helps.
8. Cut out something that’s bad for you
Needing to save money is the perfect opportunity to get rid of something that is a) costing you money and b) bad for you. Quit smoking or ease off the beers – you’ll feel better for it, and so will your bank account. If you want to go that little bit further, save every penny that you would have spent on these things.
9. Stop buying stuff
Simple – stop buying things! If you keep in mind that you’re going to go off travelling anyway, you probably won’t be taking much with you. Stop buying things that you’ll eventually have to abandon.
10. Cook more
Eating out if the most expensive way to feed yourself. Take the opportunity to polish up your cooking skills, which will do you a lot of favours whilst you’re on the road as well. Need some cooking tips? Sign up for my monthly recipe book – always full of simple and easy creations!
11. Be thrifty with your bills
Turn down the heat, cut down on the electricity, shut off that tap, and crank up the saving power.
12. List and organise
The more you organise, the more you’ll begin to see where you can save money and know where you’re spending more than you need to. Once you’ve got your weekly budget sorted out, make a list of what you’re going to spend it on in the week, and stick to it.
13. Set an amount to transfer every time you get paid
Every time I get paid, I put a fixed amount in my bank account. Doesn’t matter what’s going on that month or week, it’s the same amount every time. Choose a reasonable amount depending on your income, and make sure you put it away without fail.
14. Take out cash and spend only that
This is a trick I’ve been doing for years. Instead of using my debit card, I’ll take my weekly allowance out in cash each week and use only that. I work well with a more visual amount of money to spend, so you might too.
15. Skip the last pint
If you’re out with a few friends, have one less drink than you would normally have. You won’t notice it, and it’ll be that little bit better for you. Put the money that you would have spent on that last drink right into your savings jar.
16. Search the free listings on Craigslist
There are people purging their belongings on websites like Craigslist, Gumtree, or Freecycle all the time – take advantage of them. If you think of something you need, make this the first place you look for it, and if you’re lucky you’ll find exactly the right thing for very little cost.
17. Go second-hand
If you do have a need for something, see if you can borrow it from a friend, or go and find it second-hand. This does not apply to undergarments or anything that’s been near someone else’s feet – those things you can always afford!
18. Pick up extra work
If you have enough time in your schedule to find a little bit of extra work, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to earn some more cash and occupy your time so that you’re not spending it. Take that extra shift at your current job, or search for odd-jobs that you could do on your day off.
19. Look after the pennies…
Get rid of the ‘Oh, it’s only $2’, ‘Oh that’s only an extra £5’ mentality, because these things add up. If you keep a handle on those small amounts that you don’t need to spend, they’ll top up your bank account faster than you’d think.
20. Learn to say no
I’m not suggesting that you lock yourself away in the name of saving money for travel, but make sure you save yourself for the things that are worth it. If you go out on the town once a week but have the same night every time, why not make it just once every two weeks, and make the nights you do go out more special. Saying no to plans is something I struggled with in particular, but once you get used to, your friends will too.
21. Identify wants vs needs
Before you buy anything, ask yourself if you really need it. This is a quick way to figure out what you’re spending your money on in terms of what you just want, and what you actually need. Once you get used to only buying the things you need, it’s a skill you’ll hold onto for life.
22. Be disciplined
My family has always been good at saving, so it came naturally to me from the start. Even if you think it’s totally out of character for you to be able to save, I can promise you that the ability is in there somewhere. Whip yourself into shape and learn that discipline. You can take that discipline around the world with you, and it’ll do you a lot of favours.
23. Learn to enjoy the little things
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Enjoy life from a different perspective and see what you can do for free or very little money. Visiting friends old and new and enjoying a cup of tea together (classic Brit!) was something I learned to enjoy instead of going to a bar for wine. Good for my waistline, good for my bank account.
24. Set realistic but challenging goals
If it’s really easy for you to save, you might not be challenging yourself enough. You want to set goals that you won’t be missing every month, but goals that will be pushing you. I’ve been saving like this for years, and sometimes I still only have £10 left in my account the day before I get paid – enough to feed me for the day and but not so little that I’m dipping into savings. That shows me that I’m saving just the right amount.
25. Stay focused with visual aids
To keep your head in the game for the entire time you’re saving, put up pictures of your dream destinations everywhere you go. Decorate your desk with shots of far flung beaches, or put a picture of that one thing you cannot wait to see in your bedroom at home, right where you can see it every day. If things get tough, take a look over it and imagine yourself in that moment.
26. Go vegetarian
When I was saving for travel I cut out meat almost entirely, and it saved me so much money. I still treated myself to a delicious steak maybe once every two months or something, but other than that I went super cheap with fruit and veg.
27. Cut something different out each month
If you get bored of cutting all these things out of your lifestyle constantly, change it up and quit a different thing each month. Maybe one month you’ll go veggie, another you’ll walk to work every day, or the month after that you could lay off the booze. (If you manage to do the latter after reading this article, tell me and I’ll personally come and shake your hand – you’re a better person than I am!)
28. Get creative
Saving money is all about being creative with the ways in which you go about your daily routine, or go about anything for that matter. From personal experience, this is especially the case with my home decorating. I move to a different place once a year, but still like to make my digs look like home. Right now I have a wooden stepladder that I found on the street as my bedside table, a cheap clothing rack as my wardrobe, and some framed transit tickets and magazine cut-outs as the decoration on my wall, among other things. Think outside the box in every way you can.
29. Stay inspired and focus on travel
Make travel the first thing you think about when you wake up, and the last thing you think about when you go to sleep. Picture yourself on that plane to foreign lands as much as you can throughout the day. The more you have it on the brain, the more saving for it will come naturally. If you’re having a frustrating day with saving, read through your favourite travel blog (ahem!), go on Pinterest to look at beautiful photos, or talk to friends who have already been to the destination you have in mind. Keep travel on your mind, and you’ll keep money in the bank.
30. Remember how worth it it’ll be!
I’ve had days where all I wanted to do was go on a shopping spree to cheer me up, or I’m so tired of everything I own that I just wanted something new to make me feel better. Saving comes naturally to me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want things every now and then. Then I thought about how much these things would cost me, and equated it to how much it would get me away from home on a plane. When you live in the UK, you can go very far for almost no money at all, so it worked on me.
Every time I got down about being penniless I pictured myself in the sunshine somewhere, and I knew that all that struggle would be worth the wait. I can tell you from my experience travelling for the last five years that when you really are out there, living a life of travel and creating unforgettable experiences, you’ll feel like you truly earned it. Travel will reward you for your hard work, and the more you put in, the more travel will give out again, and again, and again.
What are your top tips for saving money for travel?