Traveling doesn’t have to cost as much money as a lot of people think, but until you have enough to go on your ideal trip, money is your first big roadblock to get around. This article will show you some ways to save money so you can get a plan in place today.
While a mixed plan of travel hacking, frugal living, and/or hustling with a side gig is the faster approach to turning your trip into a reality, the idea I want to drive home for this article is: Find ways to save money that work for you, get a plan in place so your savings account is growing every day, and while you’re working on learning all the other tactics to travel on a budget, you’ll be surprised by how much you have saved.
You might be wondering, “How much money will I need?”
Skip that question for now.
You simply need a plan in place to start saving. You can work on planning your trip, discovering ways to make it cheaper, and ultimately figure out how much you’re going to need later.
Your goal should be to have a big piggy bank meant for nothing but travel. Ready to get started?
Ok, let’s jump in!
(BTW, this article contains no affiliate links)
1. Automatic withdrawals
An automatic withdrawal on your bank account is one of the best ways to save money. This will make sure you always end up at the end of the month with some money saved (instead of spending that last hundred bucks on something you really don’t need). At the beginning of each month, pay your future self first.
Here are some ways to do that.
Set up a Capital One 360 checking and savings account. There are no fees, everything is digital, and they even offer a $25 sign up bonus if you open your account with $250 or more – nice, more money towards your trip!
Capital One also offers a way to set up several savings goals in one account, which makes staying on track even easier with a plan like, “Dream trip to Europe”.
Digit states, “Save money without thinking about it.” And they accomplish that by analyzing your spending to determine how much you can save every day and tucking a few dollars away for you.
With an automatic savings plan in place, even if you’re only saving $3 per day you’ll have $1095 in a year. $6 a day is the same amount in 6 months time, or twice as much ($2190) in a year. Those are amounts of money that most of us should be able to manage. Set it, forget it, and start planning your trip.
2. Go on a digital hiatus
This is an extreme recommendation to throw out there for some, but here it goes.
Take a 1-3 month break from spending your personal time on a computer or phone, and pause all those streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Audible, etc.) or other online memberships.
Not only will pausing your monthly payments add up to a nice chunk of change, you’ll probably be a lot less likely to needlessly buy something online. Our brains are bombarded with hundreds of advertisements a day, most of them online. So if you’re prone to spontaneous purchases, this will likely be a big win for you.
3. Still have cable or a landline? Cut them or negotiate better rates
Similar to #2, go ahead and get rid of these. I know people who spend $200 a month on cable and internet packages. If you don’t want to get rid of them all together, you should at least negotiate your prices. Here’s a great guide.
4. Become a customer rewards junkie
I hate getting asked, “Have you got a rewards card?” so I’m sure you do too.
But if there’s a chance for you to go back to a place at least another time in the next year, spend the extra minute to sign up. Create a gmail account for this purpose alone, and then get an app like KeyRing to prevent turning your wallet into a skyscraper.
You might be surprised how much free stuff businesses are willing to give away.
5. Shopping list, check
I used to go to the supermarket on almost a daily basis, wondering what I was in the mood for. This is definitely one of the worst ways save money with your shopping. Instead, develop your own database of recipes you like with an app like Paprika 3 or Yummly.
Having a bunch of recipes ready to go makes it simple to pick your weekly meals on the weekend and create a shopping list. By shopping for only what you need you’ll probably be able to lower your expenses at the supermarket considerably.
6. Maximize grocery savings
Coupons are great, but they’re really not very practical because they’re so time consuming to collect and easily forgotten. Instead, an app like Ibotta rewards you with cash after you’ve made a purchase. All you have to do is quickly add the offers before you shop. When you get home later, snap a photo of receipts and get paid.
7. Replace your gym membership with free ways exercises
Even if you use your membership a lot, this could be another easy place to save hundreds of dollars over several months. Instead of going to the gym, get into body weight exercises, yoga, hiking, and other activities that don’t require money. There’s lots of info online around all of those topics, with great ideas for free exercise to stay fit.
8. Exercise more
If you haven’t been exercising, no better time to start than now! Staying healthy will not only keep medical bills down, it’ll make sure you’re able to have the ultimate stamina you need to get around when you’re traveling. If you’re struggling to get into a routine, just start with something as simple as you can get – walk for 10 minutes, turn around, and make it back to where you started in the same amount of time. Walking is great because it’s simple enough to listen to podcasts or audio books while you do it.
9. Save with travel buddies
If you have a significant other, working towards your common goal of a vacation should help you both be diligent. But unless you’re really wanting to do a solo trip, tell your friends about your plan and see if any of them would like to go (and help you brainstorm ways to save money). Not only will you get the same benefit of a common goal mentality, it will potentially make your trip budget much lower as you’ll be able to split costs on things like Airbnb or hotel rooms.
10. Eat less meat
Even if only a Meatless Monday, you can save more on your grocery bill. Add some simple vegetarian recipes to your cooking plans and see how much money you can save simply by reducing the most expensive ingredient in most meals.
11. Intermittent fasting
This tip is something that comes with various health benefits as well. This doesn’t mean becoming a monk and fasting for days on end. It’s simply a change in your daily eating patterns where you skip some meals. For example, you might skip breakfast, and eat lunch and dinner between 12:00pm and 8:00pm. Learn more about the different variations. It’s really nothing dramatic, but means at least one fewer meals a day – which saves some money.
12. Cut back on buying drinks during the day
This includes everything from tea to wine. Buy a water bottle and make sure you take it with you every day. If you get tired of water, throw some tea bags in your bag. If you need some pick-me-up in the afternoon, have some travel coffee packets with you as well. Stick to water at restaurants, and try to invite friends over for drinks afterwards. Possibly one of the most difficult ways to save money for many (me included), so just remind yourself it’s only temporary and for a good cause.
13. Pack a lunch
If you’ve been eating out or buying sandwiches for lunch, time to try packing your own lunch. Easier said than done for many people – the trick is in being prepared, keeping it simple, and reminding yourself how much you’ll save!
14. Shop for gas online, fill up before it’s a necessity
Look around for gas price apps like Gas Buddy. Make sure you’re always getting the best price you can at the pump. Creating a habit of filling up when you still have a quarter of gas in the tank also means you’re not left with whatever price is at the next gas statione.
15. Carpool more
Find someone at work who you might be able to carpool with easily. If that doesn’t work, let people know in your neighborhood that you’re looking to carpool. And if you still come up with nothing, there’s definitely an app for that – here’s one called iCarpool. Depending on where you live and how much driving you have to do, finding a carpooling friend is one of the best ways to save money.
16. Wrangle energy hogging appliances
Browse this list of appliances to see what’s the most energy inefficient. For example, it costs $16.98 to run a dryer every month. Get a clothesline and discover how nice it is to have clothes dried by the sun with the added benefit of saving a few more bucks.
17. Use power strips to turn multiple things off
If you can plug several things into a power strip, this can help cut back on energy lost even when something isn’t being used. You simply turn the strip off. If that isn’t possible for everything, unplug it when it’s not needed.
18. Consider how much your light bulbs are costing
If you use a lot of lighting in your home, replacing incandescent bulbs with LED ones could save hundreds a year, according to Forbes:
If you were to replace 10 incandescent bulbs around your house with 10 LED bulbs you could save more than $210 a year (assuming they’re on 10 hours a day).
19. Use your dishwasher better
Running your dishwasher is definitely more efficient than washing by hand, but there are two ways to save money and resources. 1) Don’t use it in it’s most powerful mode if you can run it before things have been sitting there too long. 2) Turn off the heating function and allow your dishes to air dry as it’s the costliest part of the process.
20. Tell friends and family about your plan
The earlier you tell your friends and family about your plans to get out and see the world, the better. They’ll be a lot more tolerant when you suggest a cheaper restaurant or need to stay in or call it an early night. Just be sure to keep them updated on how much progress you’re making so they can keep rooting you on.
21. Create a library habit
Libraries should not be forgotten. They’re an amazing public resource that offers a quiet, cool, and free place to escape for a few hours (with other amenities like internet as well). Take home some books and discover how easy it is to pause Netflix when you have a free way to beneficially occupy your time. Additionally, if you’ve been spending quite a bit of money on books, this will be another way you’ll save.
Have more ideas on ways to save money?
For this list of ways to save money, I focused on ideas that didn’t rely on credit card bonus tactics because leveraging credit card signup bonuses is an entire other article. I also focused on ideas that are relatively simple and add up to considerable savings. If you have any other similar ideas, please share with us in the comments!