You don’t have to be rich to travel the world, as long as you save money and have a plan in place. In fact, cutting your expenses and creating a travel fund can make you more excited for the planning process, it can contribute to your getting into the habit of saving in general, and can get you that vacation you’ve been dreaming of.
Yes, it’s true that most Americans lack savings and can possibly consider traveling too much of a financial sacrifice. So, here are some easy tips to cut your expenses and save money for traveling anywhere in the world.
Before you start: Track your costs
Any good plan starts with a baseline. Before you even consider where you’d like to go, take a sheet of paper and brainstorm all the places you spend money every month, as well as where you would LIKE to spend. For example, some obvious categories will come up:
- Rent / mortgage
- Electricity and gas bills
- Phone and Internet
- Weekly groceries
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, you might also be led into a false sense of security when it comes to saving money. For example, how much would you normally spend on eating out or going to the movies? Has your gas spending gone down because of less travel? Remember to consider these aspects, too.
Have a look at your bank statements going back a couple of months, and see what other miscellaneous things you might have missed.
Finally, make a list of non-negotiables – so, whatever you can’t actually cut down on (see mortgage payments). Categorize whatever is left and you might be surprised to find a lot of “phantom expenses” – money you spend almost all the time without really accounting for it.
The outcome of this exercise will be that you can identify costs you can reduce or take out completely, in favor of a travel fund.
7 Amazing Tips to Save Money for Travel
So, now you have a baseline of your spending. How can you save for traveling now you’re more aware of your monthly budget?
1. Track your spending
Every month, track your spending with new thinking: how can I set some money aside from every shop, or from every expense I’d normally still need to make? How much money can I save on your groceries, for example? Or can I forego an unnecessary expense like an Uber in favor of walking somewhere not too far?
At the end of every month, check how much you’ve spent vs how much you’d like to save. Adjust constantly so it all make financial sense for you and your family.
You can even use your spending to your advantage! Sign up for cashback sites like Rakuten (Ebates) or Join Honey. These companies give you cashback for shopping using their affiliate links. They have different payout periods but I earn about $1,000 back per year by shopping on these links. It’s great because you can add their Chrome web browser extensions and then when you are on a website that offers cashback there, it will automatically pop up and let you know.
Many credit cards and bank account debit cards are also offering cashback for specific brand purchases.
2. Set a goal and timescales
Saying you want to go traveling one day is too non-committal and easy to push back saving for. However, if you find a destination you’ve been dreaming of, research it to see what the actual costs would be to get there and have the vacation you want, and then pin a date in the calendar when you’d like to go, things become a lot more real.
Having goals motivates and focuses us as humans. Mark a date in your calendar by when you’d like to save the money you need. Then, break it down into achievable amounts: per month or per week. Being able to check off the savings as you go through the calendar will give you a great feeling of achievement.
3. Have a separate bank account
This may be the oldest trick in the book but it also helps your focus. You may have a savings account already, for emergencies or for other goals. Set up a different one dedicated to your traveling dreams. No matter how much you put in there, it’s a nice measure of progress and another tangible way to move closer to your travel goal.
A creative way to save money without noticing is to round up your transactions. Set up an account with Acorns. They easily round up your transactions and transfer the extra money into a separate account. I just signed up and already have $100 saved. We don’t even miss those extra pennies – but they add up! If you use my link, you can get a cash sign-up bonus.
4. Save money by cooking more
During the pandemic, home cooking has become the new normal. So you’re probably already saving a significant amount of money by not going out and tipping etc. However, could you save further by cutting down on some of your takeout orders or by buying more fresh produce to cook from scratch?
I know this isn’t obvious for everyone, because of either budget or time constraints. But, if it’s an option for you, there are now so many chefs with YouTube channels, apps, and books out to help you make delicious meals from scratch and save money. And it’s better for your health, helping you stay away from ultra-processed foods, too!
5. Renegotiate your contracts
From your cable bill to your cellphone plan, you’re probably sitting on hundreds of dollars of potential savings. Most of us tend to just renew our plans every year automatically, especially for something as mundane as our gas and electricity bills. However, the market out there is competitive and rewards those who shop around.
For a couple of hours spent online comparing providers, you could find a cheaper one to switch to, or the information you need to renegotiate with your current provider. Just remember that whatever money you save monthly from those bills needs to go straight into your dedicated travel fund.
6. Sell some old stuff
It’s very likely you have clothes and shoes you don’t wear anymore, or old stuff you may have received as gifts and you simply don’t need or want. Check out websites like eBay or Poshmark and get rid of some old items, stashing the cash into your travel fund.
I have many blog posts on how to make extra money selling your stuff online. Check them out!
If you want to get into the work of a yard or garage sale, that’s a great option too. Include the whole family with collecting things in your home to sell, pricing the items, and putting them out in the driveway. Get the kids involved with selling their items and learning how to negotiate! You might be surprised at how good they can be at getting top dollar.
7. Sign up for deals and travel newsletters
With a bit of Googling, you’ll find lots of newsletters that can direct you to save money for travel planning. Websites like Scott’s Cheap Flights or Skyscanner allow you to create alerts for cheap flights to your dream destinations and can save you tons of money.
I personally use rentalcars.com for any kind of rental car research. The problem sometimes is there are restrictions for booking with a third party website. For instance, if you book right on the company site, they won’t charge you for a spouse as an additional driver but on a third party site they do.
For air travel and hotel search, I use Kayak.com. It’s a site I’ve used for many years now. There are a few airlines that aren’t on there, like Southwest so be aware of that when you are doing your research. It allows you to see tons of flight options, prices and even gives you the best times to fly for your goals – cheapest, shortest, nonstop, etc.
Travel planning is actually one of the best ways to save for travel. Not buying a packaged holiday and avoiding some obvious tourist traps like expensive hotels etc. can make any destination a lot more affordable.
If you thought saving money for traveling was hard, these tips should get you started, even if you do start small at first. Any amount is a good amount and you can see it tally up against your goal. And why not start with saving for a smaller holiday first, then a bigger one later on? That way, you’ll reward yourself twice with the same type of effort! Good luck!
Until next time,
Bexa Boss Lady