More often than not, friends and family tell me they can’t afford to travel – and they wonder how I am always able to afford it. Let me be clear: I am not rich. I don’t make six figures, and as of this year, I now have a monthly mortgage to add to my budget! Planning my trips takes research, planning, and sometimes extra efforts to procure the funds so I don’t put myself in debt. But the key is that I prioritize travel as a budget expense. When you do that, you WILL find the room in your monthly budget to save money for travel! The question is how much?
Whether it’s nixing your Starbucks habit, making food at home, selling your old comic books, sticking to a strict budget, or earning free money from Rakuten, travel credit cards, and high-yield savings accounts like Current, there are so many ways to save money for travel – I’ve done and do ALL of these myself!
Here are 10 great ways to save money for travel:
1. Ditch the Starbucks habit
Seriously, more than ever these days, Starbucks and commercial coffee shops are sooooo expensive. Start making your coffee at home (there are so many great machines, high-quality coffee beans, and milks and creamers out there to make even better macchiatos and lattes yourself.) Depending on your habits, you could be saving anywhere from $40 to $150 a month on this expense alone – that’s a decent chunk to put away each month toward a trip!
2. Make your meals at home
On that note, stop buying your breakfast/lunch at work – make it ahead of time! Groceries, while also increasing in price, are still cheaper per meal than takeout. My husband and I recently set a strict eating-out budget of $60 per week, which means $30 for each of us. We can each use that for the occasional deli sandwich, Starbucks, or burger, or combine it and eat at a sit-down restaurant together one night. It’s helped us tremendously with staying disciplined and on budget, and we pocket the savings for travel adventures.
3. Check those subscriptions
Check your bank and credit card statements carefully – are you being charged for that subscription you did a free trial for two years ago and never canceled? Go through and cancel the recurring subscriptions you don’t need – even (especially) the TV streaming ones. In some cases, you can pause streaming subscriptions instead of canceling them entirely. This is helpful during times you’re not currently watching shows on those services!
4. Sell your old stuff/have a garage sale
It’s the oldest trick in the book – go through your house and do a purge. You’d be surprised what people will pay for: books, DVDs, clothing, kitchen appliances, and other knick-knacks can fetch you a healthy chunk of change on Facebook Marketplace or a garage sale. This is an easy way to save money for travel.
5. Start a side hustle
This should have been number one: side hustles can single-handedly fund your travels. I know, because they do mine! I offer marketing consulting services and sell Scentsy on the side of my main 9-5 job, and most of those profits go into my travel fund. You could pick up dogsitting or babysitting, deliver groceries, drive Uber/Lyft, sell homemade products, the list goes on!
6. Use travel credit cards!
I have an entire blog post about this – the potential of cash back and rewards cards is incredible! I utilize a perk and/or cash back/statement credit with every trip I take, thanks to one or more of my top three travel credit cards: Chase Sapphire, Capital One Venture, and American Express Gold. And the insane sign-up bonuses going on right now can help you pay for or upgrade flights, or simply save money for travel excursions.
7. Shop with Rakuten
I also am a huge and public advocate of Rakuten – get cash back for online purchases you would have made anyway! We got $750 cash back for purchasing a new bed, Ecobee thermostat, and supplies at Home Depot when we bought our house in May! Use my referral link for a bonus $30 after your first purchase.
8. Use a budget app
Use a budget app (or that good ol’ spreadsheet!) to track your money coming in and out each month. You’ll be able to identify other expenses you may be able to cut, or see where else your spending can be reduced so you can save money for travel. (For us, it’s eating out – hence our new weekly budget limit!) I’m a big fan of Mint and have been using it for years.
9. Try a “No Spend” Month
Have you ever tried a “No Spend” month? It’s a popular challenge where you can ONLY spend money on the absolute essentials for a month – your mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, gas, and mandatory payments. Everything else – eating out, entertainment that costs money, even extraneous subscriptions that aren’t essential – are off limits. At the end of the month, you take the money you saved and put it toward debt or savings – in this case, a travel fund!
10. Save it all in a high-yield savings account
Finally, make sure to open a high-yield savings account for all this money you’re going to be stashing away. I’m currently obsessed with Current – they offer a whopping 4% earned interest on up to $2,000 per savings “pod,” and you can have three pods per person (for a total of $6,000)! Bonus tip: if you’re married/combine finances with someone, you can each have three pods for a total of $12,000 earning 4% APY! That’s an extra $240/480 of free money per year. Use my referral link for a bonus $50 when you open an account!