Want to travel more but don't know how to save money for it? Here's our best tips on how to determine the amount of money you need, and how to save up for that dream trip!
1. Assessment & Goal Setting
The first step to saving enough money is figuring out how much you need to save. Map out your ideal trip and search online for a general ballpark of how much each thing costs. These don't need to be the actual hotel you stay at, but should be the general ballpark you're looking at (ex. looking at a 4-star hotel vs a cheaper hostel for budget travel). Add in some buffer for emergency costs (or for fun) and make sure you have at least enough to get home at any time. Getting stranded isn't fun!
- Look up all the expenses to get an idea of how much each thing costs
- Make an excel sheet to keep track of all the expenses. If applicable, convert to both currencies.
- Don't forget accommodations, mode of transit (train, airplane, bus), food, and anything extra, like special clothing you have to buy
- Be realistic about what you can afford. If you don’t make enough to afford that ideal trip in your head, ask yourself wether you want to a) wait and save for longer, b) be even better at saving, c) finding ways to earn more money, or d) changing the trip to align more with your budget. Be honest with yourself about what will actually make you happy and stay motivated.
2. Create a savings plan:
Figure out how much money you'll make, and how you'll save it for the trip. The three main areas to work on are cutting expenditures, saving when you do spend, and earning more money. You can pick one or two, or do them all! Here are some ideas:
- Cut expenditures
- Review account to see what you can reduce spending on, or cut out all together. Determine which purchases are necessary and can't be reduced, what are necessary and can be reduced, and finally at the unnecessary purchases and if they provide enough happiness for the amount of money it costs.
- For example, perhaps you made a few purchases at the drugstore that were more spur of the moment. Afterwards, do you find yourself using the item enough to justify the cost? Or is it lost somewhere because you forgot you even bought it a week later? These are purchases you can live without so try to identify this behavior to avoid it in the future.
- Set a budget of how much you want to spend vs save each week or month. Have a budget for food, transportation, entertainment, and so forth. Stick to this budget! If you can't, you'll need to adjust it to fit your lifestyle.
- Spend less on things you already spend on. Maybe don’t go out for lunch and dinner everyday, and cook more at home. Buy groceries that are cheaper, like sticking to fruits and veggies that are in season. In addition, shop around for deals when you do buy things by using apps like ibotta, honey, and ebates to find discounts, coupons, and rebates.
- Save money
- Start a dedicated travel fund. There's lots of different ways to do this. Some people like just starting a savings account that will automatically take a portion of your earnings each month. Out of sight means you're not tempted to spend it.
- If you like seeing the cash to stay motivated consider a cash jar or envelope, but make a promise to insert a specific amount every month. While saving change whenever you have it sounds like an easy way to save money, in reality it will take a realllllyy long time to actually save enough with that method.
- Apps like Qapital can help you save with little effort on your part. You can set all sorts of fun rules to like rounding your purchases up to the nearest dollar and saving that difference, or if you meet your daily step goal, bank $2.
- Earn more
- Add additional income to meet your goals though side hustles, a part time job on weekends or nights, freelancing, or starting a blog or youtube channel.
- Sell unused belongings, like old laptops, cameras, clothing. Maybe you can make something to sell if you have a crafty side!
- Shop around for credit cards or learn about the reward programs of the cards you already have. Sometimes it's as simple as opting in a rewards program to earn points on spending you're already making.
- Learn how to grow your savings. Whether it's investing in stocks with apps like Robinhood, or switching to a better savings plan, look into how your savings are growing right now, and see if you can improve it.
3. Stay motivated
Be as specific as you can in the beginning when you’re goal setting in terms of how much exactly to save, short term goals, and long term goals. You don’t want to set a goal too high that you lose motivation in the beginning. There are plenty of people who have traveled on very tight budgets and can just buy a ticket and figure out the rest later, but if you are the type of person who doesn’t like that, or don’t have the flexibility to do so, it can be pretty bad if something happens and you don’t have the emergency funds to get home.
Check in and assess your progress. Write in an appointment to check in with your progress on your calendar. Do you need to adjust some numbers in your budget? Maybe you got a raise or additional income, so you’ll reach your goal sooner. Or maybe you discover something new you want to do for your trip so you can add that into your expense sheet and update your savings goal.
If you’re a visual person, maybe having a little goal tracker to color in will be a nice way to motivate yourself and remind yourself. Maybe print out some photos or postcards and tack it on your wall so you can look at it and stay excited!
Do you have any tips on how you like to save money for travel? Leave it in the comments below!
Karin is the co-founder of Arden Cove and co-creator of the Anti-Theft Waterproof Crossbodies - bags created for women who want all the practicality and safety features without compromising in style. Shop ArdenCove.com.