If you have been following us for a while, it should be clear we LOVE to travel (okay, obsessed might be a better word haha)!! However, travel ain’t cheap! This last year we have had soooo many questions about how we can afford to travel. This post was a little tricky to write because we have not “sold it all” and we don’t live on ramen noodles at home so we can travel. We actually have just made really simple adjustments in our lifestyle that have really helped us budget for travel! So if you are looking for a drastic lifestyle change, this post probably isn’t for you. However, if you are looking for simple and easy tips to save money for travel then you have come to the right place! Keep reading for our 10 Simple Ways to Save Money for Travel that you can start doing today!
10 Simple Ways to Save Money for Travel
1 – The Budget
First things first, the budget is where it starts. Decide where you want to go and around how much it will cost. Look at airfare, hotels in the class you would like to stay, and some activities you are interested in. This is not going to be totally accurate but it is a starting point. Then figure out how much YOU can afford. There have been times when we have been able to afford much pricier vacations and times that we haven’t. We have realized that this is life, and we try to roll with it. If you REALLY want to go to Paris but can’t even begin to think of affording a stay at a 5 star property then look elsewhere… no big deal. If you want to go Bora Bora but know it is extremely expensive, maybe consider visiting the nearby island of Moorea which is a little bit cheaper? We are all about the travel budget!
2- Set Aside a Separate Travel Savings Account
This might seem silly but having something set aside that you are able to see and fully control is really effective. There is nothing like seeing a savings account at zero to motivate me to get some moola in that bad boy! Start automating your paycheck to put some money in there each month. Even if you can only afford to put 5 dollars from every paycheck in, 5 dollars is better than nothing.
3- Cut Where You Reasonably Can
Get rid of things you don’t really need or you can do without. A 30 dollar monthly gym membership adds up. We decided to get rid of our local museum passes and find cheaper swim lessons for Beckham because it was worth it for us to be able to travel together more as a family. Decide where you can cut and DO IT! Here are some ideas of where to start.
Areas to Cut Down
- CABLE TV – Ba, bye.
- LANDLINE – Does anyone even use these anymore?? (oh wait, my parents do haha)
- GYM – Explore the world of free YouTube workout videos. You will be amazed! My favorites are PopSugar fitness and Yoga with Adriene.
- CELL PHONE BILL – We decided to get serious about our phone bill and decided we were NOT going to buy a phone through the provider anymore. What is called a “free phone upgrade” is really a subscription where you pay extra each month to get the newest and greatest phone. We now pay for the service only and buy our own phones and use them until they are totally hammered. Mine currently has a big crack in it. It has cut our cell phone bill in half and to be completely honest, I don’t need the newest iPhone each time it comes out.
- SUBSCRIPTIONS – Don’t ask me how but once upon a time, I somehow signed up for a two hundred dollar magazine subscription – WHAT??? The worst part is that I didn’t even realize it until the third bill came through. (Are you sure you want to take financial advice from me haha). Bottom line, it prompted us to go through all of our “monthly” charges and comb through what we were getting charged for. We now do this every month and it saves TONS of unwanted charges and headache.
4- Keep Track of All Spending
This sounds a lot easier than it is, but once the habit starts it isn’t too bad. There are free apps like Mint that are great or you can be lame like me and still use a pen and paper. Regardless of the method, when I start tracking my spending it helps me to think twice before I wreak havoc in the Target “One Dollar” section. Track every dime and you will automatically be more aware of where your money is going and where you actually WANT it to go – HELLO TRAVEL BANK ACCOUNT!
5- Limit the Money Spent on Food
So much money gets wasted on food which is honestly terrible considering that there are millions of people who can’t afford to eat. I digress and I also threw away a whole package of unused deli meat the other day so it was also a hypocritical digression…. Moving on.
Where to Save Money on Food
- DON’T EAT OUT – If you do, limit how many times you do. Eating out adds up really quickly.
- SET A WEEKLY GROCERY BUDGET – If you can tell, I like budgets. Well actually I hate budgets but they are so effective.
- WRITE A GROCERY LIST AND STICK TO IT – Stefen does the grocery store shopping most of the time because he will stick to the list I write way better than I do. No added lipsticks when he goes! Another option that rocks is doing grocery pick-up. Our local grocery stores let you order online, use the online coupons, and then do free grocery pick up! It is so easy, effective, and again I don’t end up throwing things into my cart that I don’t really need.
- CLIP COUPONS and PRICE MATCH – Okay so this takes a lot of time and I am not sure it fits into the “easy and simple” ways to save money because it is kind of a nightmare. Before I started my graduate degree I did this all of the time, now I have decided it is not worth the time that I had to spend on it. However, I was saving about 30-50 dollars a week on groceries. Try it out, see what you think.
- BUY OFF BRAND – Is there really a difference between Ziploc and Great Value quart freezer bags?
- PACK LUNCHES and EAT LEFTOVERS – Bless my sweet husband but he is such a champ and he keeps PB and J ingredients in his office and rarely eats out unless the company pays for it. It saves us SO much money on our monthly food bill. If I am feeling extra wifey and domestic (which isn’t often) I will pack him some leftovers with a nice note.
6 – Take A Look at Utilities
I have to be honest I am not super great at this and I could be much better! But these are some simple fixes that can save you those precious dollars every month.
How to Save Money on Utilities
- BE STRICT WITH THE THERMOSTAT & PROGRAM IT – I refuse to sweat inside my home in the summer to save 10 dollars a month. However, I am all over programming the thermostat to adjust to a lower setting while we are not in the house.
- USE THE QUICK CYCLE – I read this the other day and thought it was brilliant! If you use the quick cycle on your washing and dishwashing it can save all sorts of money based on the machines you use. Obviously, if you have things that need the hot cycle then by all means use it, but for regular washing, I am totally going to try this out.
- USE LED LIGHTS – In the end these are usually way cheaper.
- SHOP AROUND – We were overpaying for internet for almost a year only to realize that our neighbor was getting a much higher speed for $15 dollars less a month. Ask around and see (in a non-tacky way) what providers your neighbors use.
7- Set Up Price Alerts and Shop Around for Airfare!
This is something we feel passionately about, by simply setting up a price alert or moving up your travel dates by one week can literally save you HUNDREDS of dollars! We cover these tips and more in our post – 12 Genius Hacks to Score Cheap and Comfortable Airfare.
8 – Use the Month View When Booking Hotels
Again a simple travel hack that can save hundreds! Some hotels will have their rooms listed at 25-30% more one week than another. Because of this, I always use the “month” view when first booking vacations to see if there is anytime around my planned travel dates where the room rates spike or drop. I also look to see if any booking sites like Expedia or Hotels.com offer lower rates for the rooms I am looking at because often the hotel will price match the lower fare. Sometimes, you can even get a perk for booking direct. For example; Marriott will often offer a 25% discount if you are able to price match and book direct.
9- Make Your Credit Cards Work for You
In a perfect world, credit cards wouldn’t exist but they do. We make it a goal to not carry a balance on our credit cards month to month but we do use our credit cards A LOT to rack up the travel perks. There have been so many times that our airfare AND hotel stay have been completely covered by credit card travel points. Utilizing our earned points or miles is a major way we afford travel!
10 – Take the Time You Need
This tip is the least fun… sorry! But in all seriousness going on a trip that we don’t have the money for is fun for no one (Been there, done that, trust me – nightmare)! One of my parents’ biggest fights ever was when they were first married and fought over a two dollar frozen banana at Disneyland. (This should give you a tip into how long ago this was – can you even buy ANYTHING at Disneyland for two dollars now?)
Speaking of Disneyland – see our Ultimate 4 Day Disneyland Ride and Trip Itinerary to Maximize Fun and Limit Lines.
The bottom line was that if they couldn’t afford the two dollar frozen banana then they really probably couldn’t have afforded the trip. We have learned it is WAY MORE FUN to go on a trip after the money is saved than the other way around. If you are going to be on pins and needles the whole time about how expensive everything is, it would be better to wait and keep saving until you can go and really enjoy your time.