Dreaming about all the places you’re going to travel to once the world opens back up again? I know I am!
I’ve been traveling and working from my laptop since 2019. I was planning to travel to eight countries in 2020, but because of the pandemic I’ve only been to two.
Global air travel has decreased by 85% from the previous year, but many expect it to come roaring back
Before You Start to Save Money For Travel
It’s important to stay motivated and focused when you’re saving money for travel. Otherwise, it’s easy to stray from your plans and spend carelessly. I’ve found that this has helped me:
- Define Your Travel Goals: Do you want to travel short-term or long-term? Who do you want to go with? What countries do you want to visit?
- Come up With Dream Vacations: Get as specific as you can here, like “I want to go to Hawaii for two weeks with my family” or “I want to do a North-American road trip to 12 different cities in four weeks,” or “I want to do a solo-trip through South America for three months.”
- Motivate Yourself: Set your smartphone and laptop background to pictures of your dream vacation, and talk to your travel partners often. You can also find online travel boards, and read travel blogs about your destination.
- Figure Out the Costs: Now that you know a few places that you want to go, budget for each of them by researching flights and accommodations. That should give you a range of targets to hit for your savings.
Now that you have a clear picture of where you want to go, here are 23 ways on how to save money for travel, broken down by potential monthly savings:
1. Track Your Spending
Amount saved per month: $100 – $1000
Tracking your spending can often be the first and most crucial step toward cutting down monthly expenses. Every weekday, write down all of the expenses that you incurred in the week, sorting them by ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential.’
You will be very much surprised at how much you might have actually spent on the ‘non-essentials.’ Experts refer to them as ‘phantom expenses’ for a reason because individually, these tend to be so small that we fail to appreciate how much we are spending on them until we add them all up.
2. Make Your Coffee at Home
Amount saved per month: $150
Many of us simply cannot imagine starting our day without a hot cup of Joe. However, if you are serious about saving up for travel, start making your coffee at home instead of purchasing one from Starbucks. The five or so dollars that you might spend daily adds up to an amount of $150 a month or $1800 a year. Contrast this with the cost of making coffee at home, which may cost you just 17 cents a cup per day, adding up to a sum of just $62.05 a year.
Therefore, the amount you save could be enough to fund a week’s vacation trip to Greece or an entire month’s trip to a country in South Asia (inclusive of the return ticket in low season).
3. Learn to Cook
Amount saved per month: $360
Eating out at a restaurant is getting quite expensive these days and even those ‘ready-made’ meals that you need to put in a microwave for a few minutes aren’t a cheap alternative. If you really want to save money for your travels, you need to learn how to cook yourself.
Cooking your own meals can save you somewhere between $5 to $12 per meal. Assuming you previously only opted for eating out, that adds up to an amount of $360 in savings every month ($4,320 a year). With that much money, you can book a two-week’ cruise to the Caribbean and still have some left for spending on other stuff.
Aside from keeping your food bill low, you’ll also benefit from eating healthier and have the peace of mind that what you are putting in your mouth is actually hygienic.
4. Downsize Your Car (or Get Rid of it Entirely)
Amount saved per month: $200 – $850
Unless it forms a part of livelihood, having a big, expensive car is unnecessary. The monthly loan payments, insurance fees, repair, and maintenance costs, plus fuel, can eat away a significant chunk of your income.
If the main purpose of you owning a vehicle is just to get you from A to B, there is no need to have one that is preventing you from acquiring any savings. Sell it and purchase a cheaper one instead. And, in case you live in a city with good public transport, just opt not to have a car at all.
5. Get a Travel Credit Card
Amount saved per month: ~$150
Many financial institutions have credit card offerings designed specifically for travelers in mind. After accruing enough miles and points on a travel credit card, you can redeem them to fund part (or potentially all) of your travel expenses. There is no reason not to get such a card if you are responsible with your credit repayments – those reward points are essentially free money for you to exploit.
6. Live With a Roommate
Amount saved per month: $800 – $2000
For a lot of people, especially those who are young, rent makes up a good portion of their expenses. By choosing to live with a roommate, you essentially cut your rent expense in half. Say, if your rent cost is $1200 a month, that means a saving of a whopping $7,200 a year if you opt for such an arrangement. That is more than enough to enjoy a week of extravagant vacationing in most parts of the world.
Even if you have your own home, still consider getting a roommate (or two if you have enough spare rooms). Charge rent and use it to pay off some of the monthly mortgage fees.
7. Invest in a Stock Index
Amount saved per year: $140
Investing in a stock index is an effective way to maximize your savings without much risk. The profit you earn from your investment could be used to fund your travels. One of the popular stock indexes is the S&P 500. If you invested an amount of $1000 in the index 5 years ago, it would now be valued at $1699 – that’s a $699 extra you can take out and use for your travel expenses.
8. Don’t Switch Your Phone Every Year
Amount saved per year: $500 – 800
Aside from the satisfaction of a new purchase, there is really no genuine reason to switch to a new phone every year if your existing one is functioning perfectly fine. While smartphone technology is certainly advancing at a rapid pace, the year-over-year improvement still really isn’t that much to justify wasting some $500-800 on a phone upgrade.
Rather, keep your existing phone with you for a couple more years. Not only will that help you save plenty but also you will be doing the environment a favor.
9. Ditch the Cable
Amount saved per year: $720
When the availability of streaming services as Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+, there is little reason to continue paying for cable. With the average cost of basic cable running around some $60 a month, by cutting the cord, it implies a yearly saving of $720 annually.
10. Quit Smoking
Amount saved per month: $480
A single 20 cigarette pack of Marlboro costs $8. Assuming you smoke 5 cigarettes a day, that is an expense of $480 a month or $5,560 a year! That is certainly a fortune you are spending on a habit that is also ruining your health and cutting away years from your life. Quit smoking and use the amount you save to make traveling your new hobby.
11. Get Fewer Haircuts
Amount saved per year: $120-$168
The average cost of a basic haircut is around $20 and $28 for men and women respectively. Instead of getting a haircut monthly, make it a bimonthly occasion. You will still look completely fine, but it will help you save some $120-$168 yearly.
12. Be Wiser With Spending on Clothes
Amount saved per month: $160 – $200
There are many ways through which you can cut your expenditure on clothing. For instance, for your everyday casual wear, consider opting for second-hand wear, which can cost up to 3-4 times less than their brand-new counterparts.
In addition, be sure to give priority to the lasting power of your clothing, even if it means initially paying more as you will end up saving much in the long run. Those $20 Chinese-made shoes may look like a good deal, but you will probably not only end up with less comfort but may also need to buy a new pair just after a few months of use.
13. Consider Couchsurfing
Amount saved per year: ~$800 – $3000
A major chunk of travel expense consists of lodging and food, but that can be cut down on or even potentially eliminated with Couchsurfing. This service connects traveling members with those providing free accommodation (and possibly even free meals).
With Couchsurfing, not only do you save up on costs, but it can also be a great opportunity to make new friends and expose yourself to everyday life in another location.
Getting responses on the website, however, does require building up your network. Without there being someone to vouch for you or if your profile lacks reviews, you will have a hard time convincing other to provide you with a homestay.
One way you can quickly build up your network is to find and attend a local Couchsurfing meet up, make friends there, and be added to their profiles.
14. Cut Coupons
Amount saved per month: ~$10 – $300
Sure, cutting coupons doesn’t sound exciting at all, but if your goal is to be frugal, this is definitely something you should be doing. That 10%-20% discount you are saving on your various purchases will, over time, contribute to a very significant cut in your monthly expenses.
15. Sell Your Old Stuff
Amount saved per month: $30 – $400
Don’t adopt the bad habit of hoarding away your old stuff thinking you might need it later – you most likely never will. Nowadays, with the availability of free listing websites, getting rid of your old stuff is super easy. Sell away everything that you don’t need and use that money to fund your travels.
16. Cut Down on Alcohol
Amount saved per year: $480
Alcoholic drinks can be expensive. Moderating the amount of alcohol you consume can really be helpful when it comes to boosting your savings (and your health). Assuming the average alcoholic drink you consume costs $2, and you normally drink 5 times a week, that adds up to $480. Lose the booze and enjoy the cruise.
17. Take Part in the Gig Economy
Amount saved per month: $250 – $1000
Partaking in the gig economy can be a great way to earn some extra money on the side. The daily commute you take to and from work in your car? Why not sign up with Uber or another ride-sharing service and take passengers along the route? Have a room you can spare at your home? List it on Airbnb. Can you cook some really good food? Organize a culinary event with EatWith.
18. Cut Your Landline
Amount saved per month: $80
Nowadays, there is hardly any justification to own a landline on top of your cellphone, and thus, pay the expenses for both of them. If you absolutely must keep a landline, switch to the cheapest provider available.
19. Cancel Your Gym Membership
Amount saved per year: $800
Why choose to go to the gym when you have the great outdoors available to you? Running, hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities can help you keep fit while also giving you the opportunity to enjoy nature all for free. Cancelling your gym membership fee can translate to a cut in yearly expenses of some $800.
20. Switch to a Remote Job
Amount saved per year: $1000 – $5000
Working from home is on the rise. The trend largely accelerated with the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic. Opting to work from home can save you a lot of money. We’re not just talking about a cut in daily commute expenses but potentially relating to every aspect of your lifestyle.
How? Remote working means that it is no longer necessary to remain near your office. You can move out of the city or even country to a location where the cost of living is far cheaper. Potentially, this can entail thousands of dollars saved without any real compromise to your existing lifestyle.
21. Open Up A Savings Account
Amount saved per month: $200 – $1000
An effective way to prevent yourself from overspending is to open up a savings account and transfer a fixed amount of money every time you receive your pay (after factoring in necessary expenses). By having less to spend from the start, you will automatically start to adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
22. Earn As You Travel
Amount saved per month: ~$500
You don’t have to spend much on travel if the travelling itself covers part (or all of the costs) by itself. There are many ways through which you can earn money while you travel. If you are good at photography, you can snap pictures and try selling them to agencies or stock photo websites such as Shutterstock.
Alternately, if you are a native English speaker (or any other international language such as Spanish or French), you may find many opportunities to be hired to teach in the country you are visiting.
You can also offer your services to hotels and hostels. There, you can teach yoga, help organize events, cook meals, or even give messages.
23. Start Writing
Amount saved per month: $100 – $4000
Writing is one of the most accessible ways of earning money on the side. There is no certification, courses, or special equipment required – just your laptop and a reliable internet connection. There are many ways you can earn through writing. You can do freelancing, start a blog, and monetize it with advertising or publish an e-book and sell it on Amazon.
Saving up for travel isn’t impossible; it just requires you to be a little more mindful of your expenses.
2020 has been a tough year for travel, but I’m confident that we will have the freedom to travel again soon. So try to follow some of these tips and make sure you have enough saved up!