I often get asked about how I am able to save money for travel which is probably the #1 issue holding people back from packing their bags and going on vacation. Saving money for traveling doesn’t need to be as difficult as it sounds. I simply took some time to analyze where I was wasting money and eliminated the waste. I also could optimize my lifestyle and since I was planning a long-term trip, reduce unneeded material assets. Here are my 7 steps to begin saving money for a vacation, whether long term or just a quick weekend away, these should get you started.
1. Get A Money Management App
Connect all your bank and credit card accounts to this awesome money management app and see what your financials look like. Keep an eye on spending and categorize new expenses. Set budgets that you think are reasonable and try to follow them.
2. Analyze Your Spending
After using Mint for a couple weeks, analyze the data. See where your disposable income is going and decide if it is wasteful. I found I was spending $25 per week at convenience stores and vending machines, things I didn’t think about, but it adds up to $100 per month! These things were totally unnecessary but could have been purchased at the grocery store in bulk for much cheaper if I truly needed them.
3. Cook More/Eat Out Less
Going out to eat can be quite expensive especially for couples and families. A meal out can cost 4x as much as one prepared at home and is probably not nearly as healthy due to the massive portions now a days. Help your budget and your body by cooking more often.
4. Quit going to convenience stores
Cut out the convenience stores and vending machines. Buy a reusable water bottle and some snacks beforehand and keep them with you. Planning is key to saving money, everything that is convenient is usually overpriced and budget-crushing. As I said before, I was spending about $25 a week without even realizing it. Resist the urge and focus on your goals.
5. Cut back on bars
If you spend a lot at the pub, cut back, there will be plenty of time to spend having drinks while traveling. I saved about $100 per week after analyzing my alcohol/bar expenses. Instead of going out, I just got my friends together for a few and a BBQ or focused on something far more productive. It was a win/win deal.
6. Realize you don’t need things
Do you really need an Iphone 7 in Vietnam? How is that new TV or couch is going to look while it sits in storage? If you plan to take a long trip, wait to buy high ticket or unnecessary items until you return. If it’s electronic, there will probably be a better version available anyways.
7. Create a separate account or fund
Open additional travel savings account that you can deposit a set amount into every week. This will ensure that you resist the urge to make an expensive purchase and blow your travel funds. I set up an additional account linked to my direct deposit and had part of my weekly check sent directly to savings, while the rest went to my checking account for daily expenditures.
Bottom Line: You have to want it!
These 7 quick and simple steps helped save me about $500 per month which a lot of was wasteful spending. Trust me, I have enjoyed that money way more while traveling. Climbing to the top of a mountain or having cold beers on the beach is so much better than convenience store snacks and the same old pub!
Still coming up short? Consider these options for cheaper travel
-Travel in the low season
Often prices drop and the crowds clear during the low seasons which is a great opportunity to get huge discounts.
-WWOOFing or Couchsurfing
These are great options if you would like to have free accommodation in your destination. WWOOFing does require some hours of work in exchange for your accommodation while couchsurfing is free. Both offer a unique way to travel and will introduce you to some local culture and contacts.
-Follow airfare deal sites
In my opinion, you should do this anyways! Why pay more for tickets? Keep an eye on AirfareWatchdog on Twitter. They have some awesome deals for around the world.