Wondering how to save money for travel? Here are my 19 top tips for bulking up your bank account so you can travel the world without stressing about money!
As a budget traveler, I am always looking for ways to save money on the road.
From doing work exchanges, to shopping at street markets, to befriending locals and learning about their culture, traveling on a budget is super rewarding and fun.
But what about the money-saving process that occurs before you even get on a plane?
You need money to spend on the road, so how do you actually save money for travel?
For me, the budget traveler mindset continues even when I’m at home. Frugal habits that you develop when traveling on a budget can actually help you save money at home too!
And if you’re not planning on working while traveling, you’ll be funding your trip solely with money you’ve saved at home.
Though I’m not a finance expert by any means, I am a really good money-saver!
Here are some of the strategies I use every day of my life so I can optimize my savings and have more money to spend on traveling.
Be sure to check out my ultimate list of 50 Budget Travel Tips if you want to save money on the road.
How To Save Money For Travel – 19 Money-Saving Tips To Help You Bulk Up Your Travel Fund
These 19 money-saving strategies are all methods that I personally use in my own life.
Anyone can adopt these habits if they try!
I won’t go into too much detail about jobs, because everyone has different work situations with different incomes.
If you’re unsatisfied with your job or your income, and you believe your work situation limits your ability to travel, that is something you’ll have to analyze on your own.
But you don’t need a fancy career with a high salary to travel the world! For most of my adult life, I’ve just worked in restaurants to save money for travel.
With the right money-saving habits, you should be able to hone your spending habits so that saving money for travel is much easier.
Here are 19 tips to help you save money for travel!
1. Think About What You Actually Need
The first step to saving money is just looking at your life as a whole. Look at where you live, your belongings, and your hobbies.
Think about what you are paying for every day, and make sure everything has a purpose.
You may find that there are so many things you don’t need! From subscriptions to clothes and accessories to old books, etc.
Cutting down on stuff in your life that you don’t need can help you save money, declutter your space, and help you feel refreshed and organized.
2. Sell Things You Don’t Need
If you find there are some material things that you don’t actually need, make some extra cash by selling them!
Facebook Marketplace is my go-to for selling stuff.
Ebay, Craigslist, neighborhood Facebook groups, and other local websites are handy places to sell excess clutter.
3. Avoid Buying Things You Don’t Need
Once you’ve cut down on clutter, try to avoid buying more stuff that you don’t actually need.
You may be sensing a trend in the first few points of this article. But seriously, adopting a non-materialistic mindset can help you live a much simpler and cheaper lifestyle.
If you are going to buy something, consider buying it secondhand first.
Not only will it be cheaper, but you’ll help reuse material goods that are already in circulation (which is a more sustainable way to live!)
4. Cook At Home
Cooking at home is one of the best ways to save money.
At home or even while traveling, cooking your own meals is much healthier and much cheaper than eating out.
Try to make a habit of cooking at home 80% and indulging with amazing meals out 20% of the time.
5. Be A Smart Grocery Shopper
Everyone needs food, so if you’re trying to save money for travel, find the cheapest places to buy food.
And I’m not talking about getting fast food or processed snacks instead of a healthy meal. I’m talking about buying real, healthy foods at more affordable places.
Local street markets often have the same produce as the grocery store but cheaper and locally grown.
For items you need to buy at the grocery store, buy stuff that is in season!
Buy reduced goods or buy in bulk and then freeze them. Sign up for loyalty cards at your usual grocery store for discounts.
There are ways to save money while buying food if you get creative.
Read next: How To Stay Healthy While Traveling
6. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine are vices that aren’t essential.
Though many people find joy in these things, you’ll spend much more money if you feel like you need them every day.
If you do feel like you need coffee or alcohol daily, make drinks at home instead of buying each one out at a cafe, bar, or restaurant.
7. Find Hobbies That Are Free
Hobbies are essential to a full and happy life.
Never stop doing things that you love. But you can save a lot of money for travel if you spend most of your time doing free activities.
Examples include reading, yoga, walking, running, hiking, swimming, breathwork, meditation, sports, singing, dancing, etc.
Most hobbies require some form of equipment, but once you buy a book or a yoga mat or a soccer ball or a guitar or some running shoes, you can enjoy yourself for free. And remember, buying these things secondhand will save money as well!
8. Research Cheap Flights
A great way to save money for travel is researching your flights for a while before you book anything.
If you’re not used to traveling, it’s very easy to just book the first flight you see because it’s convenient.
Taking the time to browse flights on different airlines and different third party websites, like Skyscanner or Google Flights, can give you an idea of all the options and help you choose the best flight.
Also try researching different routes and different nearby airports to find the cheapest options.
Taking your time and shopping around makes it easy to identify the most affordable flight when you actually go to book.
Check out my ultimate guide to finding the cheapest flights abroad!
9. Research Visas Ahead Of Time
If you’re thinking of traveling to a foreign country, look up the visa requirements straight away.
Many countries require visas, even if you’re just visiting for a few days. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to visas!
If you leave your visa applications to the last minute, you may need to pay for expedite fees.
Just be prepared and leave yourself plenty of time to research and apply for a visa.
10. Consider Work Exchanges
My favorite way to save money while traveling is a work exchange. Though this is something you do while you’re actually abroad, you can research it before you leave home.
Before a trip, it’s a good idea to browse your accommodation options to see what costs are like.
If you’re interested in getting free accommodation abroad, you can work in exchange for a free stay at a number of local businesses or homes.
Not only is it a cheap way to travel, it’s a fun, unique, and culturally immersive way to travel.
You can browse through work exchanges on websites like Worldpackers before your trip. You do need to sign up for a membership to apply for work exchanges, but you can browse the options for free.
Use my code GABBY to save $10 USD on your Worldpackers membership!
11. Find A Side-Hustle
Everybody these days talks about side-hustles and how you can use them to boost your income.
Not everyone has time for a side-hustle, especially if you work full-time and have other commitments like kids or pets.
But if you do have free time and you have some skills that are in demand, finding some extra freelance work is a great way to save money for travel.
I’ve been travel writing for years on top of my full-time hospitality jobs, and it’s been a huge financial help for me.
12. Get A Credit Card With Rewards
Find a credit card that gives you cash rewards or travel points for everyday purchases that you have to make anyway. It’s a free way to make money!
Do plenty of research and talk to a financial expert to make sure it’s the right card for you.
And only consider getting a credit card if you know you can make your payments every month. Otherwise you might lose money instead of making money.
Read next: Budget Traveler’s Guide To Travel Insurance
13. Use A Bank With High-Interest Savings Accounts
When saving money for travel, it’s important to think about where your money is actually being stored.
With inflation on the rise, keeping money in a savings account isn’t really helpful because cash is losing value. Keeping it in a checking account is even worse because they generally pay super low interest.
Many people advocate for investing, but I am not in any position to recommend that because I don’t know enough about it.
However, if you can find a savings account with a high interest rate, and you consistently deposit money into it, you can noticeably see your balance going up each month.
14. Sign Up For Flight Rewards Programs
Signing up for flights rewards programs is a free and easy way to get cheaper flights and hotels.
Every program is different, and honestly, most of them aren’t that great. You usually have to buy tons and tons of flights before you get enough rewards to use.
That being said, it’s still free to join. And if you travel often, it’s worth doing because one day in the future you might actually get a free flight!
15. Pay Off Any Debts
Debt is a tricky thing, and it’s different in every situation. But sometimes, paying off your debt more quickly will save you money in the long run because you’ll pay less interest.
I’m mainly referring to smaller debts like car loans or student loans, not for big loans like mortgages. If you can afford to just pay off a whole mortgage right now then you probably don’t need to be researching budget travel tips!
But if you have any smaller debts to pay off, it may be cheaper for you to fork over lots of money at once to get rid of it as opposed to making small payments over a longer time.
Again, I’m not a financial expert so definitely speak to someone professional. But it’s something to think about!
16. Create A Budget
Many financial planners will recommend having a budget to stick to for your daily life.
Budgets are not for everyone. I don’t normally make a budget, mainly because I’m so obsessed with saving money as it is.
But if you’re someone who benefits from planning, organizing, and seeing visual charts and graphs, writing out a budget may be super helpful.
You can even put aside a certain amount of money each month for a travel fund.
17. Find A Saving Buddy
Just like a fitness buddy who will hold you accountable for working out, find a saving buddy!
If you know someone who is also trying to save money for travel, link up and motivate each other.
Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a partner, if you speak about your goals out loud with another person it can make them feel more legitimate.
It’s easy to brush off money mistakes in your head if no one is watching. And it’s easier to make good financial choices if someone is watching.
That’s also helpful because you and your saving buddy can plan fun, budget-friendly activities together.
18. Research Your Destination
Researching your destination is a must whenever you travel abroad. You want to make sure you’re prepared and educated about the local lifestyles and cultures.
This can also help you save money because you can research what things cost and get an idea of what you might spend there.
Then you can make travel decisions that are better for you!
Researching may feel like a chore, but it will help you plan the best trip possible!
19. Adopt A Minimalist Mindset
I’ve mentioned this a few times in this article, but adopting a minimalist way of life is a great way to save money and live a simpler, happier life.
I’m not saying this is for everyone, and definitely don’t give up things that make you happy.
But the more you simplify your life, the more you can focus on intangible things like relationships, experiences, learning, and hobbies.
We live in a consumerist world where the media is always telling us we need to buy things to be happier, better looking, and more successful.
The less you rely on material things, the more you can find the strength within yourself to become happy, confident, or successful.
I’m really not trying to preach anything or tell anyone what to do, I’m just sharing what I’ve learned through many years of traveling and self-development!
Thanks for reading my top tips about how to save money for travel!
Here are some other budget travel articles that will hopefully help you save money on the road:
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