How to Save Money for Travel: A Step by Step Plan

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It’s no secret that travel costs money, but it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. It’s easier and cheaper than ever before to travel long term. But still, learning how to save money for travel can be a challenge at first.

How long it will take will depend on the length of your trip, your style of travel and most importantly, how effective you are at actually saving your hard-earned cash. If travel really is something you want though, then saving for it becomes much, much easier!

We have a guru level of experience when it comes to saving money for travel, and to help you to realize your dream trip abroad, here are our top tips and tricks to get you on the road faster.

How to Save Money for Travel: Step by Step

How to Save Money for Travel

Make a Plan

First things first, you must make a plan. Without a plan, you’re just going through the rest of the motions aimlessly. You might have a vague idea that you want to travel or that you’d like to spend a few months in Europe or perhaps fly to South America to learn Spanish. 

But without concrete aims and goals, it’s much more difficult to save. Sit yourself down, decide where it is that you want to go and make a plan detailing how long you want to be away. Of course, plans can change, but without a plan in the first instance, you won’t be going anywhere.

One big tip I can offer here, create a shortlist of your most wanted destinations. Make that list to have at least three places, a maximum of five. Once you have this set, think about the time of year you want to travel. 

You’ll find that, through a process of elimination with your research, you’ll be left with only a couple of places that will work for the time of year you are planning to travel. 

Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

Make a Budget 

Once you know where you want to go, you can start getting more detailed with your planning. Now it’s time to make a budget for the trip of your lifetime. When it’s about how to save money for travel, this is one of the most important aspects of the process.

When you’re setting your budget, it is very important that you include every possible expense that you’ll need to be covered for your trip. Break everything down from flights and visas to rough allowances for hotels, hostels, tours, food and even drinks. 

Do not forget to include transportation. Surprisingly, this is a big one and plenty of people have shown up in a place only to have the extra expense of taxi, train, metro that they forgot to factor into their budget.

Once you know how much you are actually going to need, you have a target and you have a tangible figure to strive for. I recommend going through this process for each one of the destinations that you are considering. 

Truth be told, no destination will cost the same and it is possible that one of your shortlist destinations is just too far out of budget for you on this go around. This is why I recommend having a couple of most wanted places and then factoring budget for all of them. 

Then all you need to decide is which ones fit your desire and budget. 

Juneau, Alaska

Work Out Your Income and Expenditures

Working out your income and day to day expenditure may seem like an obvious step when you are figuring out how to save money for travel, but often it’s overlooked.  These things provide the base for reaching your goals of saving money to travel.

As part of the saving process, you might factor in your salary and big expenditures such as student loans or your rent, but you need to be much more detailed to get on the road faster. 

Track your other recurring expenses, be it a Netflix subscription, your phone bill or your grocery shopping. But also give yourself a budget for other expenses such as trips to the cinema or nights out with friends. If you know what you are spending, you know where you can cut back to save money.

It can be an interesting experience to really dial in how much you spend and on what each month. Once you know this, it can be a powerful tool for tweaking your spending and increasing your savings. 

The Channels, SW Virginia

Set a Deadline 

With your budgets and plans worked out, you now need to set a deadline. This is the best way to get yourself motivated for travel because without a physical deadline you might just keep delaying the trip indefinitely. 

Write down a date, but be realistic, of course. Make sure you can actually hit your savings target by that date and best of all, give yourself a reason to save. The best way to do this is to book your flight ahead of time, then you really have to work and learn how to save money for travel!

Florida Keys Brewing, Islamorada

Evaluate Your Outgoings and Lifestyle 

When you are at home, it’s easy to get stuck in the ease of convenience. To help you to save money for your travel plans, it’s a good idea to evaluate your expenditures and lifestyle. 

Do you really need to eat out all the time? Cooking at home more will help you to save on expensive dinners or taking a packed lunch to work will cut down expensive costs every day.

Saving money can be as simple as buying fewer drinks at the bar or staying in more often. It might not be as much fun in the short term, but you won’t regret it when you’re on the beach in Mexico drinking Margaritas.

Camping in Kyrgyzstan


If travel is your goal, then once you’ve re-evaluated your expenditures, it shouldn’t be too hard to find ways to cut down on spending. With the motivation there and tour travels on the horizon, it’s time to downsize.

Cut down on the nights out, get rid of pricey subscriptions or move into a cheaper apartment. It might be hard at first, but it’s worth it in the long run! Remember, you don’t have to give things up forever. 

Saving money for travel is all about rearranging your priorities. Do you want to take that dream trip or watch NetFlix after work? 

Street Market in Havana, Cuba

Sell Your Stuff 

You’ll be surprised how much stuff you actually have when it’s time to pack up and start getting ready to travel. When you’re on the road, you might only need a backpack, so what happens to all the belongings you leave behind? 

When you’re preparing for your trip, you might want to consider this well in advance, because as you go through all those possessions you might just find that there are a lot of things that you don’t have much use for anymore. 

Be harsh on yourself too. When are you going to watch those DVDs again? How many times have you actually used those weights? What you don’t need though, someone else might be looking for. Don’t just chuck stuff away, but try and sell it to raise some extra cash for your travels.

We were able to fund two consecutive years of travel around the world by selling things in our lives that had no purpose. When you look closely, it is amazing how much stuff you have laying around the house that serves to real purpose in your life. 

I highly recommend utilizing platforms like Craigslist, eBay and Facebook Marketplace to purge the excess to help fund your travels. You won’t miss any of it, I promise. 

Taveuni, Fiji

Open Separate Savings Accounts 

A great way to keep on track when it comes to how to save money for travel is to open a separate savings account with your bank. You can even call it ‘Travel Funds’ or ‘Dream Trip Savings’, or whatever motivates you to keep adding into it. 

You keep your travel savings separate from other savings and accounts, and if you have a regular salary, you can even set up a direct debit that feeds directly into your savings account each month so you don’t even have to see the money you are stashing away! 

This is a super-effective step to saving money for travel. You’ll be able to watch the balance grow, which in itself is motivating. This is a key step in the money-saving process that has enabled us to travel far and wide. 

Eagle Hunter in Kyrgyzstan

Track Your Finances Using Apps

There’s no reason not to make use of technology these days and there are some excellent apps out there that can help you track your income, your expenditures, and your finances in one place. 

You can track how much you spend at the click of a button and you can see how much you’ve saved. Apps help you to know if you’re on track or not. Many apps can feed directly into multiple accounts, making things easier if you have finances spread all over the place.

Mint and Pocketguard are two of the most popular personal budgeting apps available. I’ve also used Quickbooks free version and Wave.

Allianz Travel Smart App

Use Banking Apps to Save 

Likewise, you can also use many banking apps to physically save money too. With many card providers, Revolut for example, you have the option to round up your spending to the nearest whole number. 

That means that when you buy a coffee for 3.50, you automatically have 50 cents put away into a savings account. It might not seem like much, but over a year, those round-ups add up! 

Maori tribesman in New Zealand

Work Overtime 

You might be quitting your job to travel, but in the short term, you’ll have to stick at it to make the money. If you can, work overtime to save up faster. I know, I know, the though of overtime makes you look like the photo above… at least it does for me!

You’ll be working longer hours and working more in the short term of course, but keep your eyes on the goal ahead. Work hard, but get out on the road quicker, and just see the overtime as an inevitable means to an end. 

The biggest rule of all-around overtime though is to make sure you put every single penny of the money earned into your travel bank account. Otherwise, why are you killing yourself for those extra hours?

Scooter vendor in SE Asia

Get a Side Hustle 

As well as selling all your stuff to travel the world, another excellent tip when it comes to how to save money for travel is getting a side hustle. 

If you can’t get any more overtime hours, or if you’re job doesn’t allow it, or if you simply can’t spend any more of your time working the same role, then consider getting another job. 

You might want to start freelancing in your spare time to save some extra cash, or you might have other skills you can put to good use in a part-time capacity.

You could even just spend your evenings or weekends working in bars or cafes. There are endless opportunities out there, you just have to be prepared to find those opportunities.

How to Save Money for Travel

Keep Inspired and Motivated 

But perhaps the most important thing of all when it comes to learning how to save money for travel is to learn how to keep inspired and motivated. Read travel blogs (like this one!), watch Youtube videos, read travel books and watch documentaries while you’re stuck at home saving. 

There’s nothing worse than losing sight of the goal at the end and you need to keep inspired. Book your flight in advance and work hard to hit your savings target. Before you know it you’ll be flying off around the world.

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How to Save Money for Travel: A Step by Step Plan


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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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