Traveling is an amazing experience, but you need to budget ahead of time to make that experience even more enjoyable. Here’s how to save money for travel and see the world completely guilt-free.
How to Save Money For Travel: 5 Tips to Make Your Money Last
Traveling is a wonderful way to explore the world, meet new people, and experience cultures you never would otherwise. Like all good things in life, adventuring can be expensive. Check out these tips on how to make your money last while you travel.
In order to make a list of how to save money for travel, I broke the following ways into buckets which include the following:
- Pre-trip planning and budgeting
- How to manage your expenses on the trip
You can hit on all of these buckets by using my travel hacking spreadsheet, which includes a full spreadsheet for your award points, budgeting, and annual expenses to ensure you are saving the right amount of money for your travel experience.
Download the credit card tracking spreadsheet now to start your budgeting process.
You can watch Millionaire Mob’s video on how to use the travel hacking spreadsheet to better your travel experiences below from YouTube.
Now that you have the tool to succeed, you need to know how to save money for travel alongside the tool.
List of the Best Ways to Make Your Money Last While You Travel
If you want to save money for travel, you need to budget effectively. Build this into your financial plan. If you are upfront with yourself or family, you can travel like a boss and remain completely guilt-free on your trip.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planned for a trip without planning. It’s not a great feeling while you are traveling. You end up overthinking your purchases, not buying those precious souvenirs, skipping museums and more.
It’s simply not worth it. Don’t miss the important things on your journey.
Here is a list of our favorite ways to save money while traveling.
#1 ESTABLISH A BUDGET BEFORE YOU GO
Before you plan your trip, make sure you have an established budget for your expenses at home. Creating a budget based on your monthly expenses beforehand will help you figure out how much you can realistically save for your vacation.
For example, if you make your budget and realize you’re eating out too often, you can cut down on restaurant spending. Let’s say you save $200 a month doing this, you can save $200 a month for the 6 months before your trip – that’s putting an extra $800 in your pocket before you’ve even left for your adventure. Just make sure you don’t spend that saved money on something else.
Once you’ve finalized your home budget, create a separate travel budget with expected expenses.
#2 KNOW WHERE YOU WANT TO SPEND THE MOST MONEY
No matter where you travel, something will be expensive. The biggest travel expenses are usually lodging, transportation, and food. To make your money last, be prepared to pick one of these categories to spend more of your budget on.
For example, you may be a foodie who loves to try the local cuisine. This can mean that you have to stay in a cheaper hotel to be able to save that money for eating out. Or you could be willing to stay in a hostel with a bunk bed in order to afford a more spacious seat on your flight. If you have a daily caffeine habit that you can’t give up, try to find ways to save money on coffee.
Getting close to your trip and still need money? Check out these 33+ ways to earn money now.
#3 BE PREPARED FOR HIDDEN AND UNEXPECTED TRAVEL EXPENSES
Most hotels sneak in a variety of fees that you can’t always account for. Sometimes they’re hidden in the “Terms and Conditions” that nobody actually reads, or they could be slipped in the small print somewhere. In less-regulated countries, they may be omitted entirely.
Here are some examples of unexpected hotel fees:
- Resort Fees
- Booking Fees
- Room Change Fees
- Late Check-Out/Early Check-In Fees
- Local Tourism Taxes
- Sales Tax
- Parking/Valet Costs
- Towel/sheet/blanket Rentals (Mostly at hostels)
- Service Fees
Pro tip: you can sometimes avoid fees by having certain travel credit cards or being part of hotel loyalty programs.
Fees may not be that obvious. You’ll find dozens of car companies in Costa Rica willing to rent vehicles for $10 a day but will be surprised to find that when you arrive that cost may triple because of surprise fees.
In addition to paying expenses like sales tax on just about everything you buy, you may have to pay local taxes like Value-Added Taxes (VAT) in the European Union. Learn how you can get your VAT fees back and save money on taxes in the United Kingdom.
If you’re traveling abroad, you will want to avoid paying ATM, transaction, and currency conversion fees. A couple of dollars here and there can quickly add up to a huge expense you never budgeted for. Consider trying to avoid fees by using travel credit cards.
Tourist scams are everywhere that’s worth traveling to, and you’ll save a ton of money and heartache by avoiding them. Don’t take “gifts” from random strangers, never go to a timeshare presentation, and do your homework so you know what expenses to expect.
See Related: How to Save Money on a Night Out
#4 BE REALISTIC ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU’LL NEED FOR YOUR TRIP
Sure, you could stay in a $7 hostel in Vietnam, but will you want to do that for all 2 weeks of your trip? There are many ways to hack travel but at the end of the day, we all want certain creature comforts and amenities (free wi-fi, anyone?).
This is where you need to be realistic. If you only have $1000 saved for a trip and you’ve budgeted that you’ll need $2000, you need to find somewhere to cut costs. Can you re-book your existing hotel reservation at a lower cost? Can you fly from another airport to save money on the flight?
Do you really need to go to dinner at the Ritz-Carlton? Be honest with yourself about your spending habits so traveling doesn’t put you in debt. If you’re willing to work while traveling, learn how you can become a digital nomad.
Not sure how much you’ll actually need to travel? YouTube, One Chance Travel’s Blog, and TripAdvisor are great resources to find out how much things actually cost.
Also, check out Budget Your Trip which shows you the average daily cost of traveling and common local expenses in your favorite currency.
The easiest way to save money on your trip is to travel somewhere cheap! This doesn’t mean your trip has to be lame – Southeast Asia is a great example of an affordable destination that’s still absolutely beautiful and full of awesome food and activities.
When you end up booking your trip, ensure that you use the right search engines to find the cheapest route to get there.
You’ll likely want to go with your preferred airline to get points. However, I’ve actually found it to be a great experience trying out new airlines along the way.
It’s even better if you save money along the way. I mean you need to get there regardless. Lowest price usually wins the prize for me.
Bonuses with Millionaire Mob (only using our links):
#5 KEEP TRACK OF ALL YOUR EXPENSES ALONG THE WAY
While this tip is so much easier said than done, tracking what you’re actually spending is key to staying on budget. Tracking expenses = the single MOST important thing you can do to make sure your vacation budget lasts.
Use free software like Personal Capital to automatically track credit and debit card expenses, you can also add in cash spending manually.
Don’t wait until halfway through your trip to add all of these expenses up! At the end of each day review your spending so you know where you are in your expected costs for the trip.
Daily spending review methods:
- Cash-only: if you just use cash, count it at the beginning and the end of each day to see how you’re doing.
- Digital: use Personal Capital to track your daily spending, or check your actual bank balance on their site.
- Receipts: keep all the receipts you get, and create your own receipt in a notebook for the times you don’t get one. Tally them up at the end of each day, and don’t forget any!
- List: If you can remember, keep a running list of expenses. Use a pad of paper or the Notes app on your phone to write the cost, date, and expense.
If you plan your budget well and keep track of your actual costs, it will last your entire vacation. Let’s say you end up having too many fruity drinks on Friday night. You can make up the difference by eating cheaper on Saturday.
If you’re not aware that you overspent, you won’t know how to fix it!
NOW, GO PLAN YOUR TRIP! CONCLUSION ON HOW TO SAVE MONEY FOR TRAVEL
You’re ready to start planning your budget and trip! These tips should help you save money so you can plan a trip with a reasonable budget. You’ll do a great job tracking your expenses on the trip using tools like Personal Capital. Wherever you may roam, love with your heart but spend with your head.
What is your favorite way on how to save money for travel? Please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aimee Engebretson is a writer from One Chance Travel who fell in love with travel at age 14 when she traded in her future-car-fund for a trip to Europe. Paris would end up being the first of many trips, and she continues to travel at every opportunity today between her career projects as a local marketing manager.
Check out her YouTube channel for tips and tricks on traveling in California and Asia.