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How I Saved Money For Travel (You Don’t Need To Be Rich)


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Marga Belisle



Do you dream of exploring the world but think it’s out of reach because of your limited budget? Think again! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be rich to travel. With some careful planning, smart budgeting, and a few clever strategies, you can make your travel dreams a reality.


Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your experience. It’s all about being resourceful, prioritizing your expenses, and finding creative ways to save money. In fact, traveling on a budget can even enhance your experience, as you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture, connect with locals, and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations that are often overlooked by mainstream travelers.


In this article, I will share my personal tips and tricks on how I saved money for travel, debunking the myth that travel is only for the wealthy. Whether you’re planning a short weekend getaway or a long-term adventure, these strategies will help you stretch your budget and maximize your travel experience.


So, let’s get started on your journey to affordable travel!


Setting Travel Goals

The first step in saving money for travel is to set clear and specific travel goals. Having a concrete goal will not only motivate you but also help you determine how much money you need to save and create a timeline for achieving it.


Start by asking yourself some key questions: Where do you want to go? How long do you want to travel for? What kind of experiences do you want to have? By identifying your travel goals, you can then break them down into smaller, more manageable targets.


Once you have set your goals, calculate the approximate cost of your trip. Research the average prices for accommodation, transportation, food, and activities in your desired destination(s). This will give you a rough estimate of how much money you need to save.


Next, determine a realistic timeframe for saving the required amount. Consider your current income, expenses, and any existing financial commitments. This will help you set a monthly savings target that you can realistically achieve.


It’s important to be flexible with your goals and adjust them as necessary. If you realize that your initial goals are too ambitious, consider extending your timeline or adjusting your destination choice. Remember, the goal is to make travel a reality, so be open to modifications along the way.


By setting clear goals and having a plan in place, you’ll be motivated to save money and stay on track. Keep your travel goals visual and tangible as a constant reminder of what you’re working towards.


Creating a Budget

Creating a budget is a crucial step in saving money for travel. It allows you to track your income, expenses, and savings, and helps you make informed decisions about where to allocate your funds.


Start by assessing your current financial situation. Calculate your monthly income and subtract your fixed expenses such as rent/mortgage, utilities, and debt repayments. This will give you a clear picture of your disposable income.


Next, identify areas where you can cut back on expenses to free up more money for your travel fund. Take a close look at your discretionary spending, such as dining out, entertainment, and shopping. Consider if there are any non-essential items or services you can temporarily eliminate or reduce. For example, instead of eating out at restaurants, try cooking meals at home and packing your lunch for work.


It’s also important to allocate a portion of your budget specifically for your travel savings. Treat it as a fixed expense and prioritize it just like you would with your rent or other monthly bills. Set up a separate savings account dedicated to your travel fund and automate regular transfers to ensure that you consistently contribute to it.


Another helpful budgeting technique is the “envelope system.” Label envelopes with different spending categories, such as groceries, transportation, entertainment, and allocate a set amount of cash into each envelope at the beginning of the month. This visual method helps you stay within your designated budget for each category and makes you more mindful of your spending habits.


Regularly review and adjust your budget as needed. As your income or expenses change, you may need to revisit your budget to ensure that you’re still on track to meet your travel savings goals.


Remember, creating a budget doesn’t mean depriving yourself entirely. It’s about making intentional choices and finding a balance between your everyday expenses and saving for your travel dreams.


Cutting Everyday Expenses

When it comes to saving money for travel, cutting everyday expenses can make a significant difference in your savings. By making small changes to your daily habits and routines, you can free up more money to put towards your travel fund.


Start by examining your monthly bills and subscriptions. Are there any services you no longer use or can live without? Consider canceling or downgrading those subscriptions to save money. Additionally, try negotiating with your cable, internet, or phone providers to secure a lower monthly rate or switch to more affordable alternatives.


Another way to cut expenses is to be mindful of your energy consumption. Reduce your electricity and water usage by turning off lights when you leave a room, unplugging electronics when they’re not in use, and taking shorter showers. These small actions can add up over time and result in noticeable savings on your utility bills.


When it comes to grocery shopping, be a savvy shopper. Plan your meals in advance and make a shopping list to avoid impulse purchases. Take advantage of sales, discounts, and coupons to maximize your savings. Consider buying generic or store-branded products instead of name brands, as they are often more affordable and provide similar quality.


Another area where you might be able to save money is transportation. Look for alternatives to driving, such as public transit, biking, or carpooling, which can help you cut down on gas and parking expenses. If you do need to drive, prioritize car maintenance and keep your tires properly inflated to improve fuel efficiency.


When it comes to entertainment and leisure activities, explore free or low-cost options. Instead of going to expensive concerts or movies, look for community events, art exhibitions, or local festivals. Take advantage of your local library, which often offers free access to books, movies, and other resources.


Finally, be mindful of your dining out habits. Eating at restaurants can quickly add up and eat into your travel savings. Instead of dining out frequently, opt for cooking meals at home. Try meal planning and batch cooking to save time and money. Pack your lunch for work instead of buying takeout, and limit eating out to special occasions.


By making conscious choices and cutting back on everyday expenses, you can allocate more money for your travel fund without sacrificing your quality of life. Remember, every dollar you save brings you closer to your travel goals.


Saving on Transportation

Transportation costs can often take a significant portion of your travel budget. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can employ to save money on transportation and make your travel funds stretch further.


One of the most effective ways to save on transportation is to be flexible with your travel dates. Flights and train tickets are generally more expensive during peak travel seasons and on weekends. By opting for travel during off-peak times, such as weekdays or shoulder seasons, you can often find better deals and lower fares.


When it comes to air travel, be sure to compare prices across different airlines and consider alternative airports near your departure and arrival destinations. Sometimes, flying into a nearby airport and taking a short train or bus ride can be more affordable than landing directly at your desired location.


If you’re traveling long distances, consider alternative modes of transportation such as buses or trains. While they may take longer than a flight, they are often much cheaper and provide a unique opportunity to enjoy the scenery along the way.


When exploring a new city or destination, utilize public transportation instead of relying on taxis or ride-sharing services. Most cities have comprehensive public transit systems that are not only cost-effective but also provide a chance to experience the local way of life.


For shorter distances or when exploring a specific neighborhood, opt for walking or cycling. Not only will you save money on transportation, but you’ll also have the opportunity to discover hidden gems and get a closer look at your surroundings.


If you’re traveling with a group of friends or family, consider sharing the cost of transportation. Renting a car and splitting the expenses can often be more cost-effective than purchasing individual tickets for each person.


Another great way to save on transportation costs is to take advantage of loyalty programs and credit card rewards. Many airlines and travel companies offer frequent flyer programs or loyalty memberships that provide discounts, free upgrades, and other perks. Additionally, some credit cards offer rewards points that can be redeemed for travel expenses.


Finally, be sure to research and book your transportation in advance. Last-minute bookings are often more expensive, so planning ahead and being proactive can help you secure better deals and save money.


By implementing these transportation-saving strategies, you can significantly reduce your travel expenses and allocate more funds towards making unforgettable memories at your destination.


Finding Affordable Accommodation

Accommodation is another major expense when traveling, but with some careful planning and resourcefulness, you can find affordable options that fit your budget without sacrificing comfort. Here are some tips for finding affordable accommodation:


Consider staying in budget accommodations such as hostels or guesthouses. These types of accommodations often offer dormitory-style rooms or private rooms at a fraction of the cost of a hotel. They provide an opportunity to meet other travelers and often have communal areas where you can socialize and exchange travel tips.


Look for deals and discounts on accommodation booking websites. Websites like Booking.com, Airbnb, and Hostelworld offer various promotions, special rates, and last-minute deals. Compare prices across different platforms to ensure you’re getting the best possible rate.


If you’re comfortable with it, consider house-sitting or pet-sitting opportunities. Websites like TrustedHousesitters connect travelers with homeowners who need someone to take care of their house or pets while they’re away. In exchange, you get free accommodation in a local home.


Consider alternative accommodation options such as vacation rentals or apartment shares. Websites like Airbnb and HomeAway offer a range of properties that can be rented directly from the owners. This can be more cost-effective, especially for longer stays or when traveling with a group.


Travel during off-peak seasons or weekdays. Accommodation prices tend to be lower during these times compared to weekends or peak travel seasons. Be flexible with your travel dates to take advantage of the best rates.


Try negotiating prices directly with the accommodation provider, especially if you’re staying for an extended period or booking multiple rooms. They may be willing to offer a discounted rate, especially during periods of lower occupancy.


Consider staying in less touristy areas or neighborhoods. Accommodation prices tend to be higher in popular tourist areas, so exploring and staying in less crowded neighborhoods can often be more affordable. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the local culture and authenticity.


Don’t be afraid to try homestays or cultural exchanges. Websites like Couchsurfing allow you to stay with locals who are willing to share their homes and experiences with travelers. This not only saves you money but also provides a unique cultural immersion experience.


Remember to read reviews and do thorough research before booking any accommodation. Look for feedback from previous guests to ensure that the place meets your expectations in terms of cleanliness, location, and overall value.


By utilizing these strategies and being open to alternative accommodation options, you can find affordable places to stay and stretch your travel budget further.


Reducing Food Costs

Food is not only a necessity but also an important aspect of experiencing a new destination. However, dining out for every meal can quickly eat into your travel budget. Luckily, there are several ways to reduce food costs while still enjoying delicious meals and local cuisine.


One of the easiest ways to save money on food is to cook your own meals. If you’re staying in accommodations with kitchen facilities, take advantage of them. Visit local markets or grocery stores to purchase fresh ingredients and cook your own meals. Not only is it more cost-effective, but it also allows you to personalize your meals to your liking.


Eating out at local street food stalls or food markets is another great way to experience local flavors while keeping costs down. Street food is often affordable, delicious, and provides an authentic culinary experience. Just make sure to choose clean and hygienic stalls.


Avoid dining in touristy areas or popular tourist restaurants, as they tend to be more expensive. Instead, ask locals for their recommendations on affordable and authentic eateries that offer good value for money.


Take advantage of happy hour specials or lunch deals offered by restaurants. They often provide discounted prices for drinks or set menus that are more affordable than ordering à la carte during dinner hours. This is a great way to indulge in a dining experience while still staying within your budget.


Consider having a big meal during lunchtime instead of dinner. Many restaurants offer lunch specials or prix-fixe menus that are cheaper than the same dishes during dinner. This allows you to enjoy the same quality and portions of food at a fraction of the price.


Pack snacks and a reusable water bottle when you’re exploring during the day. This will help you avoid costly impulse purchases and keep you hydrated without spending money on drinks. Look for local grocery stores or markets to purchase snacks at more affordable prices.


Embrace the local food culture and eat like a local. Research local delicacies or street snacks that are popular among locals and try them out. Not only will you have a unique and memorable food experience, but local food is often more affordable than international cuisines.


Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, as it can significantly increase your food bill. Instead, opt for local non-alcoholic beverages or enjoy a drink or two as a special treat during your trip.


Take advantage of complimentary breakfasts provided by accommodations. This can help you stretch your budget further, as you’ll have one less meal to worry about during the day.


By incorporating these strategies into your travel planning, you can enjoy delicious meals while minimizing your food expenses and making your travel funds last longer.


Earning Extra Income

If you’re looking to boost your travel savings, finding ways to earn extra income can expedite the process. Here are some ideas to help you earn extra money specifically for your travel fund:


Consider taking on a side gig or part-time job. This could be freelancing in your area of expertise, offering your services as a tutor, pet-sitter, or virtual assistant, or even working in the gig economy through platforms like Uber or TaskRabbit. The extra income from a side job can be dedicated solely to your travel fund.


If you have specialized skills or knowledge, consider monetizing them through online platforms. You can create and sell digital products such as e-books, online courses, or even offer consulting services. Websites like Etsy, Udemy, and Fiverr provide opportunities to showcase your expertise and generate income.


Take advantage of the sharing economy by renting out a spare room in your home or even your entire home on platforms like Airbnb. This can be a lucrative way to earn extra income, especially if you live in a desirable city or near tourist attractions. Make sure to research local regulations and insurance requirements before proceeding.


Consider offering your language skills by teaching English as a second language. Many online platforms connect language learners with native speakers for conversation practice or formal tutoring sessions. This can be done remotely from anywhere in the world, providing you with a flexible income stream.


If you have a passion for photography, consider selling your photos online. Many stock photography websites allow you to upload and license your images, generating a passive income stream. This can be a great way to earn money while doing something you love.


Offer your services as a tour guide in your local area. If you’re knowledgeable about the history, culture, and attractions in your city or region, you can create unique guided experiences for tourists. Platforms like Vayable and ToursByLocals can help you connect with travelers looking for authentic and personalized experiences.


If you have physical items that you no longer need or use, consider selling them online through platforms like eBay or Facebook Marketplace. Decluttering your space and earning some extra money can go a long way in boosting your travel savings.


Lastly, consider crowdfunding as a way to raise funds for your travel adventures. Platforms like GoFundMe and Kickstarter allow you to create a compelling campaign and share it with friends, family, and even strangers who may be interested in supporting your travel dreams.


Keep in mind that earning extra income often requires time and effort. It’s important to find a balance between your regular job or commitments and any side gigs you take on. Consider your skills, interests, and available resources to determine the most suitable income-earning opportunities for you.


By exploring these income-generating avenues, you can boost your travel funds and make your dream adventures a reality.


Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean compromising your experience. With some careful planning and smart choices, you can have an incredible adventure without breaking the bank. Here are some tips for traveling on a budget:


1. Research and plan your trip in advance. This allows you to take advantage of early bird deals, discounts, and promotions on flights, accommodations, and activities.


2. Travel during the shoulder seasons or off-peak times. Not only will you find cheaper rates on flights and accommodations, but you’ll also encounter fewer crowds and have a more authentic experience.


3. Be flexible with your travel dates. Use flight comparison websites to find the cheapest days to fly, and consider adjusting your itinerary to take advantage of better deals.


4. Make use of budget airlines or alternative transportation options. Look for low-cost carriers or consider taking buses or trains for shorter distances. This can save you a significant amount on transportation costs.


5. Stay in budget accommodations such as hostels, guesthouses, or vacation rentals. These options are usually cheaper than hotels and offer a chance to meet fellow travelers.


6. Cook your own meals or opt for street food and local eateries. Eating out at restaurants for every meal can quickly add up, so try to balance dining out with self-prepared meals or affordable local food options.


7. Take advantage of free or low-cost activities and attractions. Research local museums, galleries, parks, and cultural sites that offer free admission or have discounted rates on certain days.


8. Use public transportation or walk whenever possible. Public transportation is often more cost-effective than taxis or ride-sharing services. Walking not only saves money but also allows you to explore the destination at a leisurely pace.


9. Avoid tourist traps and high-priced souvenir shops. Instead, shop at local markets and stores to support the local economy and find unique, affordable souvenirs.


10. Connect with locals and fellow travelers to get insider tips on affordable places to eat, drink, and explore. Locals often know the best hidden gems and budget-friendly options that may not be as well-known to tourists.


11. Set a daily or weekly budget and track your expenses. This helps you stay accountable and ensures that you’re not overspending or exceeding your allocated funds.


12. Look for free or low-cost walking tours or self-guided itineraries to explore the destination. This allows you to discover the city or town at your own pace without the expense of a guided tour.


Remember, traveling on a budget requires careful financial planning and decision-making. By implementing these tips, you can stretch your travel funds and make the most of your travel experiences without compromising on quality or enjoyment.



Traveling on a budget is not only possible but also immensely rewarding. By implementing the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can save money, stretch your travel funds, and embark on amazing adventures without sacrificing the quality of your experience. Remember, it’s all about being resourceful, planning ahead, and making smart choices.


Setting clear travel goals and creating a budget allows you to track your expenses and savings, ensuring that you stay on track to achieve your travel dreams. Cutting everyday expenses and finding affordable accommodation and transportation options can significantly reduce your overall travel costs. Additionally, being mindful of your food expenses and earning extra income can expedite the growth of your travel fund.


Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean missing out on fulfilling experiences. By researching and taking advantage of free or low-cost activities, connecting with locals, and immersing yourself in the local culture, you can create unforgettable memories while staying within your budget.


Remember that flexibility and adaptability are key when traveling on a budget. Be open to adjusting your plans, exploring alternative options, and seeking out hidden gems that may not be on the tourist radar. By doing so, you’ll not only save money but also have a more authentic and unique travel experience.


So, don’t let the misconception that travel is only for the wealthy hold you back. With the right mindset, planning, and a willingness to be creative, you can make your travel dreams a reality. Start today by implementing these budget travel strategies and watch as your travel fund grows, paving the way for incredible adventures around the world.