If there’s one thing I love *almost* more than traveling, it’s saving a buck. When I find ways to save money for travel that’s even better.

But here’s the thing:

Saving money can be hard! That’s why most of these tips are SO simple and require little extra effort.

World map surrounded by money. Save money for travel.
Saving money so you can travel more!

If you follow these 39 tips, you’ll be well on your way to taking that next trip in no time!

Mindset Shifts

Track your spending – You won’t know where your money is going until you start tracking it. There are some great free programs like Mint or YNAB (You Need a Budget).

Budget – Once you let the software track your spending for a month or two then set up a realistic budget. Add travel as a recurring monthly expense! You can usually set the budget up to a certain amount and then whatever you don’t use in a category one month will roll over to the next.

Related: How to Plan a Dream Vacation

Unsubscribe/Unfollow/Unlike – If you don’t see it, you can’t buy it. Unsubscribe, unfollow, and unlike anything that tempts you to purchase things you don’t need.

Compare the $$$ amounts – I thought I wanted to buy a new dress until I saw it was $80. That is the price of a lift ticket at a nearby ski mountain.

I’d rather be skiing than wearing that dress, but that’s just me. Compare the dollar amount for whatever you want to buy to something of similar value when you travel. Would you rather have that new coffee table or a plane ticket to Europe?

Girl on a snowboard on top of a mountain. Save money for travel so you can experience this.
I’d rather be snowboarding than have a new dress.

Basic Needs

Groceries – Yes couponing can be effective, but I find it incredibly time-consuming and even more tedious. What has worked for me is joining the loyalty program for my local grocery store AND going online to see how else I can save.

I shop at Food Lion and if you make an account online you can sign up for their “Shop & Earn” deals. You buy a certain amount in a department (produce, canned goods, etc) during the month and you can get a coupon. I save at least $15-$20 per month doing this.

Go to your local grocery store’s website and see if they offer a similar program.

Electric Bill – We should all do our best to conserve energy, but some power companies will also do a home energy audit. They will come out to your house and tell you how you can save on your power bill FOR FREE. Ain’t that something?

You may even get some free LED light bulbs out of it. LED bulbs require less energy.

Colorful houses along a cliff side. You can have views like these if you save money to travel.
I lived on sandwiches & cereal in college so I could see this after graduation.

Shop around – I am so surprised at the number of people who don’t do this. Just because someone you know has a certain insurance, cell phone provider, internet provider, etc does not mean it’s the one you should get. Shop around and find the best price for quality service.

Pay in full (insurance) – This one is mostly for car or homeowner’s insurance, but can apply to a variety of things. If you are able to pay up-front in-full you can sometimes get a discount. FYI if you are planning a wedding this is a huge money saving tip. 

Household Items/Home Improvement

AppliancesLowes Hardware has a “Dents & Dings” sale where appliances with dents or scratches will be sold at a cheaper price. You can find some incredible deals on items that have a dent in the side where no one would see them.

Simple Fixes – Youtube is an incredible place. Tyler has fixed our refrigerator four times, our dishwasher once, and the yard tools more times than I can count. You can save TONS of money from doing it yourself.

*I am not responsible for any injuries incurred. If you are in over your head, call a professional.

Furniture – If the quality of the item isn’t important, purchase from Wayfair, Joss & Main or Overstock. When we purchased a new couch, we went with quality because it’s a high use item and we wanted it to last. When we got a new coffee table though I chose to buy from Wayfair.

It still looks nice and does the job, but it cost about half of what I would have paid at a furniture store.

Girl jumping in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Travel gives you some incredible memories.

Decorations – Seasonal decorations are beautiful, but if you’re like me you won’t even be there to see them. Am I right?

If you love decorating your house then buy things that fit during all seasons.

Personal Care

Haircuts – Girls, space your haircuts out especially if you have long hair. I used to get haircuts once every six months when I was on a really tight budget. I’d recommend going once every 3-4 months.

Whatever you do if you want to save money for traveling do not dye your hair. I repeat: do. not. dye. your. hair. Embrace the hair color that God gave you because even with mousy brown like mine it’s beautiful as it is.

Side note: I’m already finding silver streaks in my hair and I’m just letting it roll. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Toiletries – Take the toiletries from hotel rooms that you stay in. Most places have to throw the toiletries away once you check out so it’s the best thing to do! I don’t think Tyler has had to buy shampoo or soap in a year because we do this.

The statue of liberty at sunset with a sailboat in front of it. I save money for travel so I can see these things.
Saving properly helped me to have a memorable weekend in New York.

Makeup – This will be a controversial one, I know. Unless it’s a special occasion I wear black eyeliner and that’s it. I buy it at CVS for $6 and it lasts me probably 6 months at a time. So I spend $12 per year on makeup.

Makeup is some people’s thing so if you’re one of those people ignore this tip. Otherwise, wear less makeup and wear it less often. Do keep up a good  skin care routine though.

Gym Membership – I saved $200/year on the gym when I switched from my local gym to Beachbody on Demand. There are also many apps that provide workouts for free or free workouts on Youtube. There’s Nike Training Club, FitOn, and PEAR.

Clothes – It’s incredible the number of ways you can save on clothes. Buy quality over quantity. Something that lasts 5 years is a better investment than something that lasts one season.

Buy items that can be paired with multiple other pieces. A simple white tee is a staple and can be paired with multiple pants/shorts.

Buy second-hand clothing. There are many second-hand stores where you can find clothes, shoes, and accessories sometimes with the tag still on them.

Instead of buying different flashy clothes, buy simple, staple items and buy different accessories to go with them. Pairing clothing with different statement earrings, scarves, or necklaces can give you a completely different look.

Entertainment

Free entertainment – If you live in a city be sure to check out things like free museum days, local parks, free live music at different venues (breweries, wineries, bars, etc.). Do a google search for “free things to do in *your city*” and you’ll find many blog posts on that.

If you live out in the country like I do, finding free entertainment is what we do. Drive around and listen to the radio (takes gas so technically not free), have a bonfire, ride four wheelers. You have to get creative when you’re 30 minutes from the closest civilization.

One of my favorite free activities is getting outside! Check out a national or state park. If you have a kayak, then float down the river. These are free and have so many benefits including more exercise and better mood.

Two waterfalls side-by-side. Nature is the perfect free entertainment.
Get outside for gorgeous scenery and free entertainment!

Related: How to Find Cheap Flights with Google Flights

Cut out alcohol – I’m not just talking about cutting out drinks at bars or restaurants. If you cut out drinking at home during the week you can save lots of money. Especially if you’re buying from local wineries/breweries where it’s more expensive.

I’m not saying you cut it out completely, but just watch your budget. Monitor your spending and see how you can cut back. Maybe only drink on the weekends if you’re out with friends or splurge for special occasions.

Stop eating out – Big shocker here, this is like the #1 tip for saving money. But that’s because it works!!! We will only eat out on the weekends and usually only a couple meals. I rarely eat out for lunch and typically pack a sandwich or leftovers.

If you hate cooking there are a few ways you can make eating at home more bearable. Leftovers are your friend. Make a double batch of something and then take leftovers for lunch or eat them for dinner throughout the week.

Buy premade items and throw it together for quick meals. Some premade things to buy at the grocery store: ravioli, spaghetti sauce, chicken salad, soups, frozen bags of veggies to steam, and the list goes on.

Find quick meals that you love and rotate the menu each week. For us that’s tacos, chili, spaghetti, fish & veggies, or pork chops & veggies. Those are my quick go-tos when I don’t have a specific plan.

Finally, meal prep. If you have prepared food in your refrigerator it is much harder to justify going out to eat. I know it takes a little bit of time, but it will save you time during the week and make it easier to eat at home. Even if you just cut up the vegetables or mix up some ingredients that makes a difference.

Burrito covered in cheese with a beer in the background. Save money for travel while at home.
Eat at home so when you travel you can go out and have delicious meals like this one.

Kindle/Apple Bookstore – Books and magazines can be so much cheaper when you buy a digital version. Is this ideal? Maybe not for everyone. I prefer a print book as much as the next person. But if you’re strapped for money this is a good way to save.

If you do eat out some ways to save are splitting a meal or ordering an appetizer as your meal. And just order water as your drink! I should take my own advice on that one.

Cut the cable bill – There are so many streaming options now, so do you really need all those channels that you have? Between Netflix, Prime Video and an antenna we have everything we want to watch.

If you want more options, then look into Sling TV, Philo, or another streaming service like Hulu or Youtube TV.

Medical

GoodRX – This app will tell you where you can get your prescription medications the cheapest. 

Talk to your doctor – If you are on an expensive medication then talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the issue. It never hurts to ask. They may be able to switch you to a generic drug or give you a prescription card that will make it cheaper.

Gifts

Look throughout the year – Instead of waiting until a few months before Christmas to purchase all your gifts, buy some periodically throughout the year. Especially if there is a sale on something you would buy anyways.

Simple/DIY – The old adage – ‘It’s the thought that counts.’ Sometimes hand-made gifts are even more special than something you would buy. I love giving baked goods or the cookie-in-a-jar or hot-chocolate-in-a-jar kits.

Man and woman side-by-side. We save money for travel so we can have these  experiences.
Tyler and I prefer to spend our money on trips instead of gifts.

Cards – A sweet card with a hand written, thoughtful note can go a long way.

Choose not to give them – Tyler and I don’t give each other gifts. Nothing for Christmas, birthdays, or anniversaries though he does break the rule on my birthday sometimes.

We talked about it and decided to prioritize experiences over things. So the money that would have gone toward a gift now goes towards our next trip.

How to Save Money for Travel as a Student

Textbooks – Do not buy at your campus bookstore unless the book is not sold anywhere else. First check Amazon, Chegg, or any other discount store you can find.

Student Discounts – Do not buy anything before you ask about student discounts. You can get discounts on anything from car insurance and gym memberships to clothes and shoes.

Related: Pros and Cons of EF Ultimate Break

College Days – Many restaurants and bars in college towns will have college days where they’ll give you discounts if you’re a student. Use this as your splurge day to go out!

Girl with wine glass in front of greenery. I am diligent about saving money to travel.
Wine tasting in Venice. I saved all through college to get here.

Work-Study Programs – This is more about making money, but the more you make the more you can save. Different programs have different requirements, but if you qualify then this is one of the easiest ways to work while in school.

Apps to Help Save Money

Ibotta – Save money for travel by getting cash back on your groceries and other household items that you buy. You can sign up for Ibotta here and use the referral code: jstjlmi.

GetUpside – Find gas stations in your area that provide cash back for filling up and you can get so many cents back per gallon! Sign up for GetUpside here.

Rakuten – This is a google chrome extension and one of my absolute favorite ways to save money. It is SO easy. Install the extension and while you are shopping online you can earn cash back from many major companies.

You don’t have to do anything extra, just click the button that pops up when you arrive on an applicable site. You can sign up here for Rakuten if you’ve never tried it.

Girl counting out dollar bills.

Miscellaneous

Save coins – If you use cash a lot, please don’t be one of those people who doesn’t save your coins. Put them in a mason jar on your night stand and collect them until that is full. Then take them to a coin counting machine and voila!

Employer match on 401(k)/IRA – You don’t see the results of this immediately, but you’ll thank your younger self when you get to retirement age. Take advantage of this free money and compound interest while you’re young!

Then once you’re older you can enjoy many more adventures.

Auto-draft to savings account – Set up an automatic draft to a savings account so you don’t see that money in checking. What you don’t see, you won’t spend. (hopefully)

Credit card points – There are all kinds of sites to teach you how to use credit card points to travel for cheap. One of the best ones out there is The Points Guy so if you’d like to get into travel hacking then check him out.

Saving Money to Travel More

As you can see there are many ways to save money so you can travel more. Of course, all of these won’t apply to everyone so to start just pick one or two that you can implement and then get used to those. Once that has become a habit, then come back to this list and add a few more!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I make a small commission from these links at no additional cost to you.

How do you save money to travel? Are there any money-saving tips that I missed?

18 Comments

  1. Great points! We try to trim anywhere possible to expand our travel budget! Sure, I miss owning cars and having a bigger flat… but the past 3 years of travels would have been impossible with all of that, Experiences > Stuff !!

    1. Thank you. 🙂 Yes, I guess it gets difficult if you’re a nomad trying to save money. Then you have a whole other category of items to try and save money on like lodging!

  2. Great ideas. I need to unsubscribe from all my emails, they’re so tempting with all the sales on at the moment. We have saved loads by not eating out much with the isolation.

    1. I definitely understand that! It can be tough when those emails are always right in front of you. We have too. My husband was the only one who usually ate out for lunch and just from him not eating out we’ve been saving a lot.

  3. Great ideas! I already cut Peter’s hair, but he doesn’t care! Stopped dyeing mine two years ago and went native – except my daughter and I got carried away in lockdown the other day and I now have some purple mixed in with my silver! Looking forward to spending money on travelling again.

    1. Oh my goodness Jane! Haha that sounds like something that would happen to me. I cut my husband’s hair for the first time the other day and I think I’ll continue doing it even after lockdown! Those few bucks adds up. I am looking forward to it also.

  4. Great tips Anna. Not all apply over here though. I do so well on most, except eating out. It’s one of my few pleasures that I allow myself. Can’t give it up. 😃 btw I have tons of grey hair, I just roll with it.

    1. I wondered after posting if some of these would work for people outside the US. Good to know! I think as long as we choose our “splurge” categories then we’ll be fine. 🙂 Looks like that is what I’ll be doing with my hair too because I definitely won’t be paying to have it dyed every three months!

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