Are you looking to plan a vacation? Ready for your next adventure? Check out these strategies for cutting expenses and saving for travel!
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Traveling is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things we do in life. If you want to travel as much as possible, there are some things you can do to make it a priority and help yourself with saving for travel.
This post will go over ways to save money FOR travel, along with tips for saving money ON travel.
If you want to make travel a priority, there are some things you can do to help yourself stay motivated to save for your future adventures.
Saving for Travel – Staying Motivated
- Have a countdown to your next vacation – create one or use a countdown app
- Have pictures of your dream destinations posted somewhere you will see them often
- Get a scratch-off map to motivate yourself to visit new destinations (you could ask for one as a gift if you don’t want to spend money on it)
- Browse Pinterest and create boards for your dream vacation destinations
7 Strategies for Saving for Travel
1. Vacation Savings Fund With Auto-Deduction
This is one of the top ways that we save money for travel. My husband and I set up a joint savings account and named it “Vacation Fund” in our mobile banking app.
Most mobile banking platforms will allow you to set up automatic recurring deductions. You can do this once a month or more often if you get paid more frequently (for example, you could auto-deduct an amount monthly or on the 1st of the month and 15th of the month if you get paid bi-weekly).
We auto-deduct $200 each per month. So every month we have $400 going into our vacation fund. When it is time for us to book flights or lodging for an upcoming trip, we use the money that is available in our vacation fund.
Sometimes we will put extra money into the fund depending on the month and other expenses we have at that time, but a minimum of $400 is always going into our vacation fund each month.
I think the auto-deduction is a super important aspect of this travel savings tip because honestly, over time you don’t even realize that money is missing from your checking account. Most of us will spend whatever we have, so putting the money aside into savings right away ensures that it will be saved for travel.
2. Budgeting App
Using a budgeting app was very eye-opening for me, and it motivated me to save more money.
There are many budgeting apps available. I have used EveryDollar and Mint, but there are loads of other options to choose from.
A budgeting app forces you to think consciously about what you spend your money on each month and can help your get your spending priorities straight.
Not only do you set up a budget with a plan for what your will spend your money on, but you will also track your monthly spending to hold yourself accountable to the budget. This makes you very aware of where your money is going each month.
I know that I personally save so much money when I am budgeting and tracking my spending. It definitely makes you think twice about spending money on frivolous things.
Don’t forget to add your travel savings fund auto-deduction into your budget plan!
3. Eat Out Less
This one is pretty straightforward. You will save money by eating at home vs. eating out. You don’t have to cut it out completely, but try to limit the number of times you eat out, get takeout, swing through a drive-through, or buy a $5 coffee.
Make sure you have good meal ideas, snacks, and coffee available at home so that you do not feel as tempted to eat out.
4. Find Less Expensive Entertainment Options
Think about things that you like to do in your free time or with family/friends that won’t cost you money.
Instead of going out to the movies, make popcorn at home and watch a movie on Netflix.
Rather than going to a wine & design event with friends, have everyone bring a dish and drink over and do DIY projects together.
Skip a shopping trip and spend the day hiking and having a picnic.
Rather than going out to the bars, invite your friends over for a fun night in hanging out and playing games – you will save money and will actually be able to have conversations.
You get the point – think about what you like to do and brainstorm ways you can have fun and get together with friends and family without spending a bunch of money.
5. Try No Spend Day (or Week or Month!)
This strategy is very motivating for me! It is a fun personal challenge and a great way to save money.
You can set rules for yourself – will you spend absolutely no money one day per week, will you try to spend money on essentials bills only for a week-long period? Can you extend the challenge to a whole month of only essential spending? Maybe you will pull out money from the ATM for the week and limit yourself to spending only that amount.
Think about what would be motivating, but still doable for you. Write down the rules for your challenge, and have someone participate in the challenge with you to help hold you accountable!
6. Sell Your Stuff
This tip is a win-win! Declutter your house and make some extra money to put aside for travel!
You could try a 30-day declutter challenge like this one. This will help you break up the decluttering so that you feel less overwhelmed. Once you have things to get rid of, you can try taking your items to a consignment shop that pays you, having a garage sale, or selling them on Facebook Marketplace or another online selling service (Mercari, Poshmark, eBay, Craigslist, etc.)
7. Check Your Subscriptions
There are sooo many subscription services these days – workout programs, phone apps, music services, TV and movie streaming, cable, and more.
Think about which subscriptions you truly use and are worth paying for. Go through your phone subscriptions and make sure you aren’t paying for services that you don’t use or could live without.
If you have Hulu, Netflix, cable, and Amazon Prime, consider whether you truly need all of those streaming services and if there are cheaper alternatives. Maybe you could limit it to 1 or 2 streaming services.
How to Save Money On Your Trip
Now that you have strategies for saving money FOR travel, let’s talk about how to make that hard-earned money stretch further by finding the best travel deals.
Find Deals On Flights
There are many different platforms that can be used to compare flight deals. I personally always check these 3 platforms:
Each of these platforms work to find you the best flight deals. You can filter by location, date, time, direct flight, airline, etc. Skyscanner and Hopper will tell you if you should book now or if the price is predicted to go down in the future.
I like to check all 3 platforms because you never know which one will have the best deal!
Find Deals on Car Rentals & Lodging
We use Hotwire or Priceline to search for good deals on car rentals or hotel stays. There are special deals – Hot Rate Deals (Hotwire) and Express Deals (Priceline), and you can sometimes find some incredible values if you book these. We once got a 5-star hotel in downtown Chicago for $48/night.
The catch is that you don’t know exactly which hotel you will be getting, just the general area and the rating of the hotel. There is also typically no cancellation and sometimes you can’t choose which type of beds you want (king, double queen, etc.).
If we want to know exactly which hotel we are getting and have a more flexible cancellation policy, we book through Booking.com. We have found great deals through this platform as well. Booking.com also has booking capabilities for car rentals, flights, taxis from the airport, and even area attractions. So if you want to simplify your planning and save money, Booking.com is a good one-stop-shop.
Groupon is a virtual coupon service, and it is free to join. I always like to look to see what Groupon deals are available for the location I am visiting. I have found excellent deals on local restaurants and excursions (like kayaking or bike rentals) through Groupon. You probably won’t find a great deal that matches what you want to do every time you visit somewhere, but you get lucky every so often!
Visit During Off-Season
If your schedule allows it, consider visiting destinations during non-peak times. Not only can you save money by doing this, but you will also likely avoid crowds and have your destination more to yourself.
Consider Booking Flights at Off-Peak Times
Typically flying earlier in the week (like Monday or Tuesday) and flying later in the day or even overnight can be cheaper. If you are willing and able to catch a red-eye flight or leave on any day of the week, you will likely be able to get cheaper flights.
Eat Out Once Per Day
We actually find this pretty easy to do. We usually make sure to bring or buy some breakfast staples and snacks when we get to our destination. Bonus if you are staying at a hotel with free continental breakfast.
We are usually busy hiking or doing things throughout the day anyway. We like to eat a late lunch/early dinner for our one big meal of the day and then just snack the rest of the evening or treat ourselves to some ice cream.
It definitely saves us money to only eat one big meal per day and then we don’t feel as guilty ordering fun things that we might not have otherwise!