People wonder how they can travel when they don’t have extra money lying around. They search for things like, “how to travel for free” or, “how to travel with no money…“
The only way to travel is to either:
- Save the money yourself
- Have someone else pay for you to go (scholarship, favorite cousin, etc.) – less freedom to travel how you want
- Get a plane ticket with limited funds and then see where the world takes you. (Which will probably be the train station begging for money after day 3…)
So, instead of relying on someone else to pay for your travels or winging it indefinitely, let’s find some ways to take the power back and control our own travel adventures!
Why Is It So Hard To Save For Travel?
When it comes to saving money for anything, especially leisure things like traveling, it’s just hard. It’s hard to look at your bank account and realize that you don’t have enough money to do what you want. It’s also difficult to see the 10 trips to Starbucks that ate up a nice chunk of your paycheck. You hate to realize that the only person who can control your spending/saving is you. It’s a hard thing to realize and an even harder thing to change.
So, some choose to ignore it. They never get around to traveling, stating that it’s “just too expensive”.
I get it. I really do. Right now, I’m currently saving for a trip to Thailand and it’s so bittersweet….why?
Because I’m taking out money from my already puny paycheck, not treating myself because “I deserve it”, and piling up money in a separate savings account.
Sometimes, I just stare at the growing cash and sigh with sadness that I can’t spend it now and happiness that I’m going to get to travel to Thailand!
To save money for travel, you have to look at it as a treat for yourself. It might seem impossible to save the money, but follow these tips and you’ll be able to save for anything.
14 Best Tips to Save for Travel With Any Budget
Tip 1: Get a separate bank account for your travel fund
Ask if your bank offers a savings account that makes it harder to get the money out. My bank closed this type of account down, but when I had it, I saved more money. I actually had to call in or go to bank to ask them to transfer money to my checking account.
If your bank doesn’t offer this type of account, then look into opening up another savings account somewhere else. I don’t think that it’s a good idea to have your checking and savings accounts together. It’s very easy to switch over money into the checking account on short notice….I know this because I’ve done it. Multiple times. In the check out line!
I’m better with my money now, I promise.
Note: Some bank accounts have “savings fund” features that seem to separate your money, only for you to find out later that you’ve been spending your travel fund (I’m this person, this person is me. I did that…)
Tip 2: Make a zero-based budget – know where your money is going
I dare you to look at your bank account and see how much money you spend in a month. Just do the last month, we don’t need to completely break down here… Examples to get started:
- Count up your subscriptions (book subscriptions, Netflix, Scribd, etc.)
- Count up the take-out food
- Count up the expensive groceries that you buy and don’t eat because you keep getting take-out
- Count up the money that you “loan” to people indefinitely
- Count up your debt payments
- Count up the bills that can possibly be reduced (insurance, phone bills, gas and light bills, etc.)
- Pin point required bills and then separate them from the wants for now. Don’t delete the “fun” bills, just keep note of them
No-Tact tip: If you come out negative for the month on your required bills, then you cannot afford to travel right now. To fix this, you will need to either get a higher-paying job or get a second part-time job/side gig. You shouldn’t be traveling anywhere if you can’t pay your regular bills. Travel is supposed to be fun! No one wants to go traveling, but come home and worry about getting groceries for the week or gas to get to work!
Tip 3: Now that you know better, you need to do better – Saying No
I don’t know about you, but I love traveling much more than shopping (and that’s saying something), more than reading (again, shocker), and more than going out with my friends to spend money (real friends will understand).
If you tell them, “hey, I’m saving up so that I can travel for a few months and/or so that I can move abroad”, they should be happy for you. They should work with you to have inexpensive fun as much as possible.
Some things won’t work in your financial favor, but that’s just reality. Everyone won’t be doing what you’re doing or understand. You just have to be able to say no when you look at the budget and see that there’s not extra money to blow.
Saying no doesn’t just include your friends and family, either. You have to be a master at telling yourself no, too.
We all have that small child inside that nags us to buy the newest book from our favorite author or to go and treat ourselves to a $50 meal after a long week.
Saving money for anything requires you to learn what is important and what’s just impulsive spending.
Tip 4: Allow yourself fun money
This might seem counterintuitive, but please don’t neglect yourself during this process.
If you know that you feel your best when your hair, nails and eyebrows are done, then PLEASE go and get them done. Don’t neglect these important personal care rituals that you have.
These feelings of neglect will slowly build up until one day you buy $1000 extensions, pay $300 to get it done, get the most expensive, elaborate nails that the shop offers, and get EVERYTHING on your body threaded/waxed…
And then, you’ll head to the grocery store on an empty stomach. Don’t do it to yourself! Do right by yourself! Let yourself have fun with money while also saving.
Tip 5: Forget about that money sitting there
Remember that this is your travel fund. It’s not an emergency fund. So what does that mean?
It means that you might have to save a small emergency fund so that you don’t spend your travel fund when something bad happens.
I know what you might be thinking: why not just use your credit card for emergencies? That’s a horrible way to mitigate an emergency because you’re just adding stress to the situation.
Now, not only do you have this emergency, but you have a big bill to pay off to constantly remind you about it…(I also don’t use credit anymore, so using it is not an option for me).
If there’s an emergency, then I have an emergency fund for it. No loans being taken out and no credit cards being swiped.
It sounds crazy but I am a lot less stressed now that I don’t use credit cards!
Tip 6: Make a list when you go to the grocery store
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it needs to be said. Do yourself a favor and write out your meals BEFORE you go to the grocery store.
If you do what I used to do, and blindly walk into the grocery store and make up recipes as you go, then you’ll overspend for sure.
This is true no matter how many people you have to feed. I’ve done it and I’m single with no kids. I’ve witnessed my sister do it with 5 kids and a fiancee!
- Categorize your ingredients to get them all at once (all produce at once, all pantry items at once, etc.
- Try to make meals that use some of the same ingredients to avoid buying new ingredients just to make one meal
- Try to use ingredients on hand as much as possible to save money and to prevent food waste
- Get frozen/fresh meat and produce last to prevent excessive melting on the way home
These are just a few tips, but try them because they will help with your overspending/food waste. It’s so easy in the grocery store to do it, too! They are master marketers!
Tip 7: Go to a different grocery store for certain items
Traveling to multiple grocery stores may not be for everyone, but for those who are open to it, this can help you save on grocery money overall.
I used to go to one store for everything until I realized that their produce was cheap, but their meats and snacks were crazy expensive!
The same happened at another store: their meats and unhealthy foods were super cheap, but the produce was almost double the price!
You feel like you can’t win! To fight back, I started going to both stores for the cheapest prices.
Grocery stores to try:
- Aldi – produce, canned goods, nuts (suuuper cheap!), wine, etc.
- Fresh Thyme – Produce, whole grains (different types of rice, oats, granolas, seeds, nuts)
- Walmart – large supplier of organic produce
- Sam’s club (buy nuts, seeds, seasonings, etc. in bulk that you use most often)
- Costco – Like Sam’s, use this store to buy most used items in bulk
Tip 8: Make coffee at home just like a barista
I used to hate when people would say to “make your coffee at home” and all they wanted you to do was make a regular ol’ cup of joe.
Not me! I make green tea matcha lattes, (with steamed/foamed milk), I make caramel lattes, and I even make a vegan coconut cream latte!
No lie, I went out and bought a handheld milk foamer (here’s an electric one too), a French press, flavored syrup, and coffee so that I could make my coffee at home.
It’s at a point now where I make better coffee for myself than the regular coffee shops. I always have to go back and ask for more sweetener, more coffee, if they actually put non-dairy milk in it, etc.
Now I don’t have to worry about it. AND I save more money because the supplies last a long time.
A few easy tips to remember:
- buy quality matcha powder for green tea lattes – visit your local asian market
- To mix matcha powder, I recommend using a milk foamer…It comes out smoother than using a whisk
- Pour plant milk/milk down the side of your cup slowly into hot coffee to prevent curdling!
- Use filtered water for coffee/espresso brewing
- For creamy vegan coffee, use oat milk (coffee shops use Oatly’s Barista, but Califa’s Barista Blend and Chobani’s Plain Extra Creamy is much easier/cheaper to find at your local grocery store)
- I also use Laird’s Superfood unsweetened coconut creamer for velvety smooth coffee!
Of course, there are recipes on YouTube and Google to learn more about making coffee at home. I highly recommend that you give it a try and have fun with it. Making coffee is a lot easier than you realize!
Tip 9: Watch your subscriptions to make sure that they don’t overdraft your bank account – avoid bank fees
Banks make so much money off of us with overdraft fees! Sometimes, they will refund them but you may have a certain number of times a year to overdraft. Overdrafts are really tricky because they count for every overdraft that you get.
For example, if you get an overdraft of $10 (happened to me before) and your bank overdraft fee might be about $34…Say you also forget that it overdrafted. Now it’s 3 days later and they’ve tacked on an extra $15!
That’s a nice chunk of money that could have gone to your Travel Fund.
Regardless of why overdrafts happen, the best way to prevent one would be to:
- look at every subscription or autopay that comes out of your account and when it comes out
- write these dates in your calendar in your phone/planner
- Save out money from your check/deposit to pay for each subscription (in between checks)
If you do get an overdraft, try to call your bank with a very nice and kind voice and ask them to refund it…They might surprise you!
Tip 10: Learn how to cook good meals at home – for real this time
Look on YouTube for new recipes and then tweak them to your personal tastes.
Not only will you learn how to cook simply at home, but you will save more money because you’ll have leftovers that you can freeze.
Don’t feel obligated to get the exact ingredients. Some recipes are just fine if you switch out one veggie for another or one type of meat for another. Use the food that you already have in your fridge, cabinet, bins, etc.
I promise it will still taste good!
Tip 11: Consider a new version of meal prepping
Don’t skip this part! I know, I know. Everyone tells you to meal prep to save time and money. BUT I have learned from two people that meal prepping doesn’t have to be so boring and bland
Watch these videos to learn how learn a new way to meal prep delicious meals:
- Rainbow Plant Life: Why Meal Prep (Almost) Never Works
- Pro Home Cooks: These FIVE Foods Will Change The Way You Meal Prep
You might spend a little money to get a food processor or a blender, but I promise that you will save time, food, and money by meal prepping.
You don’t have to meal prep every week, either, because that’s not sustainable for some (me, I’m some people…). Lastly, the techniques used in these videos are good general cooking tips so you can use them to improve your cooking overall.
Tip 12: Book Lovers – Read Your TBR
If you find yourself visiting bookstores and realizing that you already own every book that you would have bought, then its time to finally read your TBR!
This can save you hundreds a month! Go on a shopping spree in your own closet or bookshelf instead of Barnes and Noble, Half-Priced Books, or Amazon.
Go and read the books’ summaries on your TBR shelf. Feel the book cover. Look at the beautiful collectible book that you bought but never read…
Tip 13: Sign up for eBook subscriptions
If you just can’t bring yourself to read your TBR, then consider eBook subscriptions to cut down on costs.
If you are not a fan of eBooks already, I highly recommend that you give them a try. You can get access to millions of books for $10 – $14 a month through these subscriptions:
- Scribd: offers millions of eBooks, publications, audiobooks, etc. ($11) (Get 60 days FREE!)
- Kindle Unlimited: millions of books, short stories, etc. ($10)
- Audible: audiobooks, podcasts, meditations, etc. ($8-15)
Tip 14: Don’t tell anyone that you’re saving money!
I’ll say it again: Don’t tell anyone that you’re saving money!
This one is for those of us who can’t resist telling everyone about our exciting new idea to travel…that we’re saving a big lump of cash…
This one is for those who normally can’t say no to loaning out money to friends and family. I don’t see many people talking about this when discussing saving money, which is surprising. It’s an important thing to consider, because some people just don’t know how to say “No”.
We feel guilty because we’ve gone and saved up a few thousand and we see a friend or family member struggling. Remember that they have just as much control over their money. They can go and make extra money either online in most cases or in-person, too. Whatever their reasons, it’s not your responsibility to fix it every time. Some times, ok, fine. But not all the time.
You have to realize that saying “No” to people who can do for themselves will allow you to say “YES” to yourself.
In all honesty, others aren’t as serious about your travel fund as you are, so they won’t care as much.
Guard your travel fund!
These tips are designed to make your saving journey more realistic by saving you time and money.
Will they take some getting used to? Of course! If you’ve never meal prepped before, then it’s going to feel weird not having to buy take-out on your lunch break every day.
It’s going to be weird when you go to the grocery store and get out of there in under an hour with actual meals in mind. The zero-based budget might take you 2-3 months to get right, but that’s ok! Keep trying.
Saving money for your travel adventures shouldn’t feel like a burden. It should excite you to take out a few hundred and know that it will be paying for your hotel or that cultural festival that you’re planning to go to.
Learning to save now will guide you so that you can have a lifetime to travel on your terms!
Do you have more tips to save a travel fund? Share them below!
Thanks for reading,
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