How to Save Money for Travel: 8 Tips for Funding Travel

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Everyone wants to know how to save money for travel. Whether it’s to travel the world or to drive around your home country, you need all the tips to save money you can get. Here are mine, and a little of our experience with them. These money-saving tip could be for solo travel, couples travel or family travel.

There are a number of ways to save money to travel the world. In future posts, I’ll discuss how to travel cheaply and how to make money while traveling, but let’s start from the beginning. You want to travel. You don’t have travel money. Below I’m going to  list up eight tips on how to save money for travel.

How to Save Money for Travel

A lot of this is common sense, and a lot of it is “easy to say, not to do”—kinda stuff. I know that. However, I want to list it out all the saving money tips to show the options as I understand them.

Of course, this list isn’t comprehensive. I left out “hot tips” like gambling, petty theft and selling your blood, but hey, to each his own. If you know any more legitimate tips to save money that aren’t mentioned here, please get in touch and let me know. I want this list to offer as many travel money options as possible.

Some of these options work for anyone. Others might or might not apply to your family or situation.

Assess (and Conserve) Your Expenses

This is one tip to save money that almost everyone can do. Run through a list of everything you spend money on each month…or even each day. Mark everything as essential or non-essential. For the essentials such as utility bills, food, and rent or a mortgage payment, think about if there’s a way to lower their monthly costs.

It sometimes can be quite easy to drop your utility bills. Turn the lights off when you leave the room. Keep the room temperature not too cold nor too hot. Don’t use your clothes dryer if possible, as dryers use heaps of power. Instead, hang your clothes dry. You might as well get used to doing this now because that’s what most of the world does. Probably what you’ll be doing too if you’re doing some serious traveling. Flush the toilet every other time. Small things like this make a difference.

Drop All Non-essentials

For non-essentials, drop them all — or as many as you can. Learning how to save money for travel is learning when to say no now so that you can say YES later on. Stop going out for coffee, nice dinners, movies, and drinks with friends and coworkers. Unless you live in Angola or Flint Michigan, chances are that your tap water is drinkable. Stop buying all those plastic bottles shipped in from Fiji.

Cut your cable, and cut back on Netflix and iTunes. Look to books, board games and Youtube for family entertainment. Find online videos of the places you’re planning to visit. Or use your public library and websites like Open Culture to find video entertainment.

This might be a controversial suggestion for some, but if your kids have extra-curricular activities with hefty monthly fees, consider pulling them out sometime during the lead up to your takeoff date.

When it comes to phones, cut your landline unless you have a real good reason to keep it. And do you really need the latest iPhone? Take it easy fanboy. In fact, go ahead and look at your phone’s data plan. That stuff adds up, too.

Expect Some Sacrifice

If you want to know how to save money for travel, sacrifice is going to come in one form or fashion. Start by changing your mindset on the sacrifice: you’re not giving something up, you’re adding something new.

Previous guest Clark Vandeventer had a great strategy. Using an online banking app Smarty Pig, he would ask himself. “Do I want this caffè latte more or do I want to go to Thailand more?” Thailand won out, and he transferred that latte money to the bank. (He explains in detail at 44:36 of ep #13 of Epic Education Radio.)

Put Tax Returns / One Salary in the Bank

This was the way Keiko and I saved money for traveling while we both worked full time in Tokyo. If you are a dual income family, consider putting one salary directly into a savings account for your journey. Also, any windfall money: tax refunds, inheritances, lawsuit settlements, fantasy football winnings, etc — should go straight into the savings.

All the little things mentioned above are a great gradual savings plan, but if you want to know how to save money for travel fast, this is totally the way to go.

Deferred Compensation

This is a form payment some companies offer. Essentially, the company holds onto your salary (or part of it) for a set amount of months, and then gives it back to you in one lump sum at a designated time. Retirement and 401k money is a form of deferred compensation.

Some travelers would prefer to simply put that salary directly into a bank to gain interest, but this method works for some people to help them better live off of one salary. Katie Jacobson-Lang from Epic Education Radio ep #8 did this (she explains at 08:10).

Eat, Drink and Cook at home

You all know this, and you probably already do this, too, but cooking at home saves a heap of money in both long-term and short-term travel cash situations. In places like Taiwan and Vietnam, the time/money factor makes eating out the more economical choice. For almost everywhere else, take the time to shop and cook at home for a while.

You can fix more extravagant meals at home for the fraction of the price in a restaurant, or you can go really cheap and eat basic for a day, week or month at a time while you dream of that fantasy meal in France, Spain, MalaysiaJapan or wherever you’re planning to visit with all the money you’ve saved.

Park the Car

I know that this is impossible (or at least unreasonable) in many parts of Australia, North America, and other car-reliant countries. However, try to cut you car time wherever you can. One of the most common ways to defer a long-dreamt-of trip is for a car to break down or need some expensive repairs.

If there are ways to carpool or to walk, use a bicycle or take public transportation, do it. If there are ways to lower the amount of money that goes into your car gas/payments/insurance, look at the options carefully.

Change Where You Live

If you’ve committed to this and really want to know how to save money for travel, remember: your rent or mortgage is probably the biggest monthly expense. In order to travel, how can you lower those costs?

One way is to consider moving out of your place early. That could mean moving into a smaller place for a year, or it could mean staying with family or friends for a few months. Nothing saves you money and puts you in the traveling frame of mind like moving out of your house. Homelessness is a great motivator.

For some of you, this is unfeasible. For others, this could be a great way for your kids to spend time with grandparents before you take off for the big trip.

Another option is to take on a short-term tenant in your home or rent out a room on AirBnB. Some people even rent out their homes or home swap to travel, but we’ll get to that in a future post.

How to Save Money for Travel: Our Experience

When Keiko and I decided to start traveling full time, we did a number of things. I secured a small remote-working salary from my old job (more on that here) and we used a certain amount of savings that we had already accrued. However, we needed to save more.

I looked for free and cheap activities in Tokyo. There are a lot of them, actually, and so we spent a lot of time at galleries, museums, and festivals. We rode bikes and took pictures instead of going to amusement parks and movie theaters.

Keiko cut my booze and food consumption at home (I needed her help, to be honest). If I did go out with friends, I tried to limit our drinking and socializing to a six-pack on a park bench (you can do that in Japan).

Many companies in Japan also pay for your transportation to and from work (it’s a tax write-off), so I had a train card that went a specific route from our apartment to my office. Since this route was essentially free for me, I did everything I could to use that route to go anywhere in the city. I would often walk a few kilometers to reach a station near that free route. This only saved around a dollar or two every time, but I did it a lot (in fact, many people in Tokyo do this).

Do You Know How to Save Money for Travel?

Tell me what money saving methods have you used. What worked? What didn’t? Tell me all your money saving tips in the comments, or contact me directly.



  1. I really wanted to save money, but I could not. I found your tips really helpful and I think now I will be able to save some money.
    Thanks for your amazing article.

  2. prasanjitpcb says

    this really helps. I’m so happy to have found a site that actually helps. Going on a trip for the first time in a long time and traveling has changed so much. Thank you for all the great info.