Travel can get expensive no matter how much you budget or plan for it. But there are ways you can cut down on everyday expenses to help better afford a life of travel. The real question you have to ask yourself is “am I willing to give this up to travel?”
For, I gave up many things in my early days of travel. To this day, I have cut back spending on things so I can have experiences. I can tell you firsthand through visiting 44 countries and all 50 states in the United States, travel has been the biggest gift and life experience for me, and there is no dollar amount I could put a value on it. These life experiences are more valuable than anything I could buy at the store.
If you are ready to get serious about travel, let’s start looking at ways you can cut back on your expenses. And I recognize you can’t give up everything in your life – these are just ways to cut back to get you closer to whatever your travel goals are. You can choose to be as strict or lenient as you desire.
1. DAILY COFFEE RUNS
It seems every year companies raise their prices of coffee. And they should. They are a business after all. You could pay upwards of $3.00-7.00+ for a single coffee beverage depending on where you went for it, its size, and how complicated it is to make.
Looking at the numbers, say you went with a large fancy drink that cost about $7.00 and you got one every single morning on the way to the gym, you are spending about $210 a month and $2492 a year.
If you gave up the daily coffee run for a year, you could afford a trip to just about anywhere! For example, if you are based in the United States, you could take a decent or even luxury trip almost anywhere in the world (depending on the time of year and length of stay). You could easily afford a week-long trip in the Caribbean at luxury all-inclusive (it would probably cost less than $2000), you could spend a week at Disney, Bali, Sri Lanka, Morocco, a cruise – really anywhere.
So think about the coffee expenses if you have them daily. They do add up.
Magazines don’t really cost that much money in general. Subscriptions may cost up to $50 a year (some more, some less). I used to always buy a stack of them at the grocery store and could easily stack up $50-100 worth of magazines depending on what was out.
If you purchased magazines as I did, you could save several hundred dollars a year, which could ultimately be a plane ticket.
3. GET GENERIC EVERYTHING
Start buying generic brands for everything. Honestly, generic is very similar to name brand anyway!
4. BYOS (BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS)
Travel with snacks in your back when running errands, so you don’t stop at your favorite snack place.
5. GET A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic water bottles. Make sure to keep it with you at all times.
6. CUT THE GROOMER
Wash your pets instead of bringing them to the groomer.
7. EDUCATE YOURSELF
Read up on finances. There are tons of great books for finances that can completely change your money mindset and ultimately, help you save better. You could read or watch videos – YouTube is a great place to learn for free.
8. SIMPLIFY EVERYTHING
Simplify your life and live on the bare minimum. You’d be surprised at how little you really need!
9. STOP THE EMAILS
Unsubscribe from store emails, so you don’t hear about their promotions. This can also help you declutter your inbox.
10. SAVE YOUR COINS
Keep a jar of all your coins and cash them once it gets full. Keep your jar somewhere near the front of the house, so you remember to put coins in it.
11. HAPPY HOURS WITH FRIENDS
This is where the money goes to die. Believe me, when I say, I get it. Work is stressful and happy hours are a fantastic way to decompress and be with your friends.
Depending on how tight you want to start saving, you do not need to give up every single happy hour. I used to go several times a week and had cut it back to one time. Even with happy hour specials, drinks can be expensive and can lead to food, and ultimately lead to a bigger tip.
My suggestion would be to set a dollar amount either per paycheck or month and that is it.
I love the salon as much as you do and I like to have gel nails. However, it is expensive. When I get a manicure and pedicure, after tip it is $90! That is $180 a month, which is $2160 a year. Giving up the coffee and nails for a year could take you on a fantastic trip to Hawaii or even a summer of backpacking Europe or Asia.
There are so many great things on the market now that you could just paint your own nails or let them breathe and only get them done for special occasions.
13. HAIR APPOINTMENTS
I am 10 months into the year and I have received one haircut. I probably will not go again this year. I have no need to. But I wasn’t always like this. I would go every 6-8 weeks and get color and deep conditioning. Heck, even a blow-dry, and that would cost around $40 on its own.
If you happen to be the old me and get your hair done regularly, and that can include extensions, color, cut, styling, etc – if you absolutely do not need it, stop doing it. There are hundreds or thousands of dollars to be saved right here.
14. QUIT PAYING FOR ACTIVITIES
You do not have to quit living to save money for future travel but you should try and eliminate paid activities. Try and find all the free stuff to do or figure out ways to make free things fun.
If a bar or club charges for entry, find a different one. You and your friends will still have a fantastic time. If you love going to live shows every week, cut it back and see if there is anywhere to see free performances.
Massages can be extremely expensive. If you are looking for an easy way to save money and you get frequent massages, this is it.
Quit buying things for the sake of buying them. Just because there is a deal does not mean you are saving money. You have to actually buy the item to get the discount and therefore, you spent money.
You do not need to redecorate or buy an entire new wardrobe for each season of the year. Instead, buy pieces that work all year. It is easier to buy classic pieces that will last and work with anything.
Don’t get sucked into the crazy swipe-ups everyone has on Instagram. Every day I see hundreds of swipe-ups and the people who are sharing them are under 30 millionaires who built businesses off you constantly buying stuff. I’m not saying you shouldn’t support them, I am saying you do not need to buy everything. It doesn’t matter how cheap it is or how many five-star reviews it has.
You don’t need everything you see online.
17. GIFT EXPERIENCES
Give your friend’s and family’s experiences as gifts instead of objects. They’ll love the gesture!
18. PAY IN FULL
Always pay off your credit cards in full, so you don’t have to pay extra. Pay close attention to your card deadlines.
19. MOVE TO A SUBURB
Move to an area where housing is less expensive. For example, if you live in a city, move to a suburb.
20. AUTOMATE WHAT YOU CAN
Automate your finances, so part of it immediately always goes to savings. This way, you won’t have to pay attention to how much to put in each month.
See if you can refinance your mortgage to save yourself some money. Interest rates are currently historically low – even if you save 1-2% on a mortgage owing, it can add up.
22. USE LIMITS
Put limits and reminders on your cards, so you don’t go over a certain amount. You can set this up on your phone.
23. DOUBLE YOUR DETERGENT
Make your own laundry detergent to save a few bucks.
24. PHYSICALLY SEPARATE OUT YOUR SAVINGS
Use envelopes to separate your savings into different categories. Then, file them away in a safe.
25. AUTO-PAY YOUR BILLS
Put your bills on auto-pay, so you don’t rack up extra fees. This is essential for saving.
26. SWITCH YOUR AUTO INSURANCE
Shop around for cheaper auto insurance. You might be surprised at what you find. Even if you save just $20 a month, that adds up to $240 a year!
I will firsthand tell you I waste money on owning a car. My car is paid off and that is the only reason I have not gotten rid of it. But if you do not need a car and have ample public transportation, get rid of it.
You’ll be able to cancel your insurance, payment, taxes, gas, repairs, etc.
28. BE CAREFUL OF ATMS
Use your own bank’s ATMs. If you don’t, you can rack up a pretty penny in fees.
29. GET REUSABLE PRODUCTS
Purchase reusable containers instead of using throw-away ones.
30. MOVE BANKS
Move to a new bank with better rates. Often, credit unions are the best!
31. GET A CD
Consider getting a CD. However, make sure that you’ll actually keep your money in there for the entire term, or you’ll have to pay a huge penalty fee.
32. UTILIZE CASH-BACK SYSTEMS
Use cash-back apps. There are a few of these, like Fetch or ibotta. Even though it takes a while to earn cashback, it’s nice to get a return on things like groceries that you had to buy anyway.
33. FOOD DELIVERY APPS
We have all fallen prey to these, I do every week. This is where I spend a lot of money and it adds up quickly. How did we get to a point where we allow ourselves to pay $40 for a $15 meal if we just got off the couch to go get it?
I recognize no two situations are the same and sometimes it just makes more sense (that is my rationale). But you can easily accumulate hundreds of dollars a month using these apps.
If you really want the food, consider just picking it up yourself, which would eliminate up to 50% of the cost you spend, or just don’t get it at all. It will always be cheaper to eat at home.
34. MEAL KITS
I know these are super convenient but some of them are about $75-100+ a week for about three meals. If you wanted to and planned for it, you could easily make $75 dollars work for TWO weeks of dinners at home.
35. EATING OUT
If you are going to eat out, plan ahead. You could eat a snack at home and just get an appetizer, go at lunch when it is cheaper, order water instead of alcohol, and/or get it to go. All of these things add up.
36. DON’T PAY FOR LUNCH AT WORK
If you work in an office that orders frequently, do not get sucked into this. I had an office job a long time ago and the girls would spend upwards of $20+ per day. On average, that is $400 per month OR 4800 per year.
37. CANCEL THE GYM MEMBERSHIP
Cancel the gym and take free classes online or get outside and get active.
38. QUIT DATING
Dating can be expensive – if travel is a priority and you aren’t in a serious relationship, you could stop casually dating for a while to save some money.
39. DON’T BUY CONVENIENCE ITEMS
Bottled water, 20-ounce sodas, travel size anything – skip it unless necessary. These items are often more expensive than their full-size versions.
40. GIVE UP SMOKING
Cigarettes in some states are more than $7 a pack. Simple math: $7 a day is $2555 per year! That is a vacation in itself.
41. MONETIZE A BLOG
Start a blog about something you love and monetize it. Blogs can be created on absolutely any topic. Once you learn more about SEO and you optimize your articles, you can easily start earning some money.
42. CREATE GOALS
Make a financial goal and work towards it. Every day, remind yourself of this goal. Be sure to set at least a short-term and long-term goal so you can start accomplishing them early on.
43. USE COUPONS
Use coupons when purchasing anything. Take advantage of coupons sent to you in the mail and sign up for coupon emails online.
44. FREELANCE WORK ON THE SIDE
Freelance is a side hustle for some extra income. If you love the graphic design or something else, start offering it on sites like Upwork or Fiverr for some extra cash in your wallet.
45. MEAL PREP
Meal prep to save money. Make all of your meals right before the week begins so that you won’t be tempted to eat out.
46. LOWER YOUR DATA
Lower your monthly data on your cell phone and try using WIFI more often, and you’ll see a huge difference.
47. USE AN INCOME TRACKER
Track your spending with an income tracker. These can be physical or digital. They can also even be in an Excel spreadsheet that will do the math for you!
48. DON’T GO TO THE MOVIES
Have a movie night at home instead of at the theater. So many movies can be for free, even from your local library. Invite your friends over and make your own popcorn.
49. OPEN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT
Open a savings account that lets you earn more with low fees. Forget those accounts with a $500/month minimum, and find one with a high-interest rate. Discover is a great place to start.
50. CUT SUBSCRIPTIONS
Cancel your subscriptions. You probably don’t need access to Paramount Plus, Hulu, and Netflix. Pick one that has the most offerings for you and stick with it. If you already subscribe to Amazon Prime for deliveries, books and tv/movie viewing – get rid of the other ones.
51. USE LESS WATER
Take shorter showers to lower your water bill. Put a timer on or make a playlist that allows you to only shower for five minutes a day.
52. FIND LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Join airline loyalty programs. Then, when you do have to travel, you can start racking up the points.
53. SHOP AT CHEAPER STORES
Buy foods from cheaper grocery stores. Think of places like Aldi’s where you can get more for less.
54. TRAVEL IN THE OFF-SEASON
Plan on traveling in the low season. Traveling in the summer is usually the most expensive time to travel because everyone is on vacation.
Start a Go Fund Me. You may be surprised at how many family or friends want to help you out so that you can go on your trip.
56. WORK MORE OR SWITCH JOBS
Ask for a raise or extra hours at work. By showing your boss that you want to take on more work, they may just give you what you’re asking for.
Alternatively, you could switch careers. Often you will find sign-on bonuses and this could go directly to your travel fund.
57. UNPLUG AT HOME
Unplug what you’re not using to save money on electricity. Your electricity bill can drop drastically by simply unplugging things like hairdryers and lights that aren’t being used all day.
58. BUY IN BULK
Make your important purchases, like groceries, in bulk. Head to places like Sam’s Club or Costco for these purchases.
Learn to DIY! You don’t always have to pay someone else to do something for you. Plus, YouTube is filled with tons of tutorials.
60. DON’T UPGRADE
Don’t upgrade your electronics or technology. There’s no need to buy a new phone or microwave every year.
61. USE SECONDHAND STORES
Purchase what you need secondhand. If you really need something, head to your consignment store in your town.
62. START A SECOND JOB
Get a second job if you have the time. Places like coffee shops usually have flexible schedules.
63 LIMIT YOURSELF
Give yourself a weekly spending limit, and don’t go over it. Consider $40/week as a good starting place.
64. UTILIZE FLIGHT TOOLS
Use a tool like Skyscanner to get lower flight prices. This tool, in particular, will tell you the cheapest time to travel.
65. NO MORE CLOTHES SHOPPING
Stop buying new clothes and instead wear the ones that you already own. Find new ways to mix and match what you already have and it’ll be like owning new clothes.
66. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE EVENTS
Go on dates by only attending free activities. Lots of towns host free events, which can be perfect for a date.
67. SELL YOUR STUFF
Have a garage sale and get rid of things you just don’t use anymore. As a good rule of thumb, if you have not used something in the last 6-12 months, and don’t have any future plans for it, get rid of it. If you aren’t using it now, you won’t use it then.
68. JOIN A RIDESHARE
Become a rideshare driver in the nearest city to where you live. If you have a car, this can be an easy way to grow your savings. Plus, if you’re a first-time driver, there’s usually a bonus.
69. STOP USING YOUR CARD
Use cash instead of a card; you’re less likely to spend more. We have more of an attachment to physical money!
70. SELL YOUR CAR
Consider selling your car and taking public transportation instead. This is a lot easier in a city. You could also even ride your bike.
71. RENT OUT A ROOM IN YOUR HOUSE
Put your spare room on Airbnb, or move in with someone else and put your entire house on Airbnb.
72. CUT UNHEALTHY FOOD
Eat healthier foods; they’re usually cheaper! This is especially true with vegetables and fruits.
73. EAT WHAT YOU HAVE
Finish all of your food at home before purchasing more. If you still have food at home, get creative.
74. STAY IN HOSTELS OR COUCH SURF
Consider staying at hostels or couch surfing for your trip instead of hotels. This can certainly add up.
75. NO MORE CABLE
Ditch cable if you can. This can be a substantial monthly expense, especially if you don’t use it very often.
76. SLASH YOUR DEBT
Work on paying off your debt. By paying off the debt you already have, you can significantly grow your savings.
77. USE APPS
Download a money-saving app and tracker like Mint. Apps can help you stay on track of how much money you are spending.
78. HAVE NO-SPEND DAYS
Plan for some no-spend days. This is great to help keep your current habits under control.
79. DELIVER FOOD ON THE SIDE
Deliver food with Doordash or another food delivery service. All you need is a car and a phone to do this!
80. USE YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY
Utilize libraries for movies and books. It’s completely free to get a library card no matter where you live.
81. HAVE A FRIEND HELP
Have a friend cut or dye your hair for you. There’s no need to spend $200+ just to get your hair done.
82. STOP USING THE DRYER
Air dry your clothes instead of using the dryer. You can invest in a drying rack which can help with this.
83. FIND AFFORDABLE WAYS TO HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS
Limit going out with friends, or make sure you only go to places with free things with friends!
84. BE WARY OF THE TEMPERATURE IN YOUR HOME
Watch the temperature that you keep your house at. By not using your heat or air conditioning or changing it by a few degrees, you can cut expenses.
85. STOP BUYING LUXURY MAKEUP
Most every makeup brand has a cheaper dupe at the drugstore.
86. DECIDE ON WANTS AND NEEDS
Get clear on your wants versus your needs. Then, cut out those wants because planning for your trip is your primary want!
87. SHUT DOORS
Close all of the doors in your house when you’re not in those rooms. This can help keep certain parts of your home at the right temperature.
88. BUY NEW LIGHTBULBS
Get more energy-efficient lightbulbs. You can purchase these at any home store.
89. SHOP SALES
Purchase family gifts during mega holiday sales (i.e., Black Friday or end-of-year sales). This requires planning ahead!
90. USE CREDIT CARD POINTS AND MILES
If you do not already have a travel card, consider getting one that has great rewards on it for travel. Put all your expenses on this card and watch the miles grow. Most cards also have a great sign-on bonus, so watch out for those – but make sure to check on the requirements to get it. Usually, you have to spend a certain amount within a few months to collect.
91. PUT FLIGHT TRACKERS UP FOR YOUR TRIP
If you already know when you are traveling, place a flight tracker up on Google or any site to see when the prices drop to snag tickets.
One time I got flights to Tahiti from Washington, D.C. for $582ish per person. Normally over $2K+.