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When it comes to travel, money (or lack there of) is often quoted as the biggest obstacle.  But it shouldn’t be.

Figuring out how to save the money for travel can be quite overwhelming, but there are many ways to cut back on everyday expenses if you’re willing to reassess your priorities.

You don’t need to be rich to travel the world; with a couple of creative strategies you might be amazed at how quickly you can accumulate a savings.

How to Save Money for Travel

Pay Off Your Credit Card in Full

Credit cards can be amazing; they offer travel rewards which allow you to save while you spend, protection against fraud and theft, and most cards also include perks like airport  lounge access and travel insurance.

But what’s not so amazing? The 10 – 20 % interest they charge you if you fall into debt (and they’re counting on it). Credit cards debts have hit a record high, and in America alone, households now owe $931 BILLION in credit card debt.

That’s billion … with a B.

One of the simplest ways to save money is to pay off your credit card in full at the end of every month. If you do owe money, check the amount of interest you’re paying. If you’re paying a high interest rate it may be worth shopping around, or seeing if a personal loan will cost you less.

Credit Card Savings Tips

➡ Find a sticky note, or colorful piece of tape and place a savings reminder on your credit card. This will remind you to think through your purchases and prompt you to assess if you really need it.

➡ Only use the ATM of your bank when withdrawing cash (though keep in mind that credit card cash withdrawals charge a higher rate of interest). Even a $3 withdrawal fee can add up quickly.

➡ Freeze your credit card, literally. Putting it in a bag of water and freezing it means you’ll have time to consider whether you really need to make a purchase while you’re waiting for it to thaw!

➡ Delete your stored credit card numbers from accounts like Facebook and PayPal. This means that you’ll have to enter your credit card details manually, which will hopefully discourage impulse purchases.

Use Coupons

Use Coupons to Save Money

There are plenty of coupon sites online which have offers for everything from everyday purchases like groceries, to luxury purchases like designer clothes. And coupons are a great way to save on travel itself when you’re making bookings.

You can download apps like Savvy that do the searching for you, and automatically apply the best coupon at checkout. This is a really great way to save both time and money, and never have to pay full price for anything.

With one click, you install the Savvy plugin to your browser, shop online as you would normally, and they find and apply the best coupons at checkout, whether you’re shopping on Amazon, Groupon, Nike, or other popular stores.

Joining Savvy and downloading the plugin are both free.


Use the 24 Hour Rule

The 24 hour rule is a simple one; you take 24 hours to think over every nonessential purchase, which helps you avoid purchasing on impulsive.

Want to surprise your kids with the best trampoline? Don’t just buy it on a whim – talk it over with your family, sleep on it, and maybe you decide after 24 hours that you’ll buy a second hand one.

If you’re an avid online shopper, make use of your wish list / cart, as you can come back to these a day later once you’ve had the time to decide.

Another great way to change your purchasing mindset is to think of purchases in hours worked instead of cost. For instance if you’re thinking about buying a new phone for $900 and you make $10 an hour, ask yourself if an upgrade is really worth working for 90 hours.


One of the best ways to avoid impulsive purchases and unnecessary spending is to remove all temptation. And the best way to do this is to unsubscribe from marketing emails.

You’ll find an unsubscribe link at the bottom of each email, and by law every email is required to have this option. Marketing strategies are very savvy these days, and they often tailor content based on your previous purchase / search history.

For the same reason, it might be a good idea to download an ad block to your browser to remove online advertisements. And if you have any memberships you’re paying for but not using (like the gym), cancel it ASAP. Otherwise you’re just throwing money away.

Food Savings

Food basket grocery store RF

It’s easier than ever not to cook, and most people these days are taking advantage of that. The average US household spends around $3,008 per year on dining out based on a recent report, and that’s a lot of money you could be saving.

Just by going to the grocery store and simply eating at home will save you money, especially if you plan ahead and write a weekly meal menu so you can do one large shop instead of many small impulse buys.

Cooking larger portions of your meals and using them as leftovers cuts down on waste and means you can take your lunch to work, and make healthier choices as well as cutting down on costs.

Shopshop is a great way to keep a running shopping list on your smartphone, or if your grocery story has a pick-up option, consider ordering online to avoid picking up unnecessary items in the aisles. Most grocery story pick-ups are free, though there’s usually a minimum spend.

Food Savings Tips

➡ You can save a lot of money on coffee by brewing it at home. The cost per cup is usually between 40 – 60 c, compared to the $3 – $6 you might pay at a cafe or store.

➡ Bottling your own water, and taking a drink bottle with you will cut down on drinks purchases. And choosing water over soft drinks or alcohol will not only save you significant amounts of money, but you’ll lose weight from lowering your sugar intake.

➡ Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomache. Make sure you have eaten a proper meal before you go so that hunger won’t dictate your choices.

➡ If you do plan on eating out, make sure this is a treat. Not a Tuesday night. And a Wednesday night. And a Thursday.

Transport Savings

London RF

When you factor in the cost of petrol, car insurance, car rego, car maintenance, and paid parking, owning a car can be expensive, forcing most people to take out a loan rather than saving up cash to pay upfront.

But if you live within walking or riding distance of work, consider taking the exercise.

Car pooling is a fantastic way of saving on transport if this is an option, whether that’s driving to work with your neighbor, or all taking the same car for a girls weekend out of town. And obviously public transport if you can bear it will save you money as well.

Most couples these days have a car each, but if you’re able to make it work sharing a vehicle, you’ll save a lot of money. And I’m not just saying that without experience; yes, you’ll have to adjust your schedule if one of you starts work early, but think about sipping cocktails in Tahiti.

Make a Public Commitment

Making a public commitment to saving can go a really long way to actually committing to doing it. Because there’s a difference between saying you want to save and actually taking action.

Making the commitment to save with another person, whether that’s a friend or your partner, can be a really great way of staying on track and having someone to hold you accountable.

Making a public statement, like putting up a post on Facebook, can be a great way of solidifying your commitment; the mindset is, “I’ve told people about it, so now I have to do it”; and feel good about what you’re achieving through your friends encouragement and support.

It also helps in not feeling pressured by friends, family, or colleagues to spend money if they know that you’re saving.

Reduce Your Vices

coffee RF

Do you smoke? Drink? Have an addiction to coffee? You would be amazed at how much you can save by cutting back on your vices (healthy and wealthy … winning!)

Some will be fairly insignificant and easy to de-prioritize, like luxury purchases, or upgrading your iPhone every 3 months. Others may be more difficult to endure, like kicking a coffee addiction, or cancelling your Netflix.

My best advice is to sit down and weigh up whether your goals of travel are worth the price. Are you willing to drink water instead of alcohol if it means you can fly to Iceland next month? Are you willing to quit smoking, if the money you save will pay for 4 weeks of vacation?

Whether it’s alcohol, smoking, or shopping, our vices are often a way to relieve stress. If you are going to give up a vice in order to save money, it’s important to find a healthy and sustainable way to relieve your stress, and make sure you can deal with the withdrawal.

Review Your Cost of Living Options

Cost of living is more expensive than it ever has been, but you might find that there are some great ways to save and source discounts on everything from car insurance to electricity.

It’s really important to shop around when it comes to essentials like car insurance, health insurance, and even your mortgage. Being on the wrong plan could be costing you a lot, and you might be surprised if you call and ask if the rate you’re getting is the best they can actually do.

Make sure you run a regular audit of your bank accounts and credit cards to see if you’re paying monthly fees. And there are hundreds of phone plans out there; review what you’re paying to make sure it’s the most cost effective, and use apps like Skype or Facebook to make international calls for free.

Paying your bills on time is a great way to avoid late fees, and some companies like energy providers might actually offer a discount to customers who pay on time.

Learn to DIY

DIY Eletrical RF

Learning to do things yourself can be a huge money saver, whether that’s washing your own car and saving $40, or making your own greeting cards instead of buying them at the shops (which can cost between $3 – $10 per card).

Some things should be done by a professional for safety reasons (like anything electrical), but things like cleaning, fixing a hole in the wall, cutting your hair, even cleaning your car’s air filter; these type of things can usually be done with a youtube tutorial.

If you genuinely can’t do something yourself, do some quick research as to whether or not there are services in your area offered by students training to become professionals. By heading to a college, you can often spend less on everything from massages, to make-up, and even legal fees.

Create a Savings Plan

Money Savings RF

It’s one thing to read a list of savings tips, but if you really want to save money, you need to take actual action.

Now that we’ve set you up with ideas and strategies, the next step is identifying which of the above tips you can use, and setting yourself a realistic savings goal. If you don’t have a plan in place you’re less likely to stay motivated.

Creating a physical list of wants vs needs as part of your savings plan, and adding a dollar amount next to each expense can really put your habits and routines into a new perspective.

Work out how much you need per week for the necessities (rent, electricity, petrol, food etc), and how much you spend per week on the non essentials (smoking, alcohol, new clothes etc).

Based on your assessment, decide whether you want to remove any expenses that aren’t necessary, have any room to cut down on those which are (ie riding a bike to work instead of driving the car), or pursue additional income in order to meet your goals.

Take Action (Easy Checklist for You)

➡ Download for coupon codes

➡ Unsubscribe from all marketing emails

➡ Make a weekly meal plan and grocery list

➡  Call around to organize a car pool

➡  Make a public commitment (tell your friends you’re saving)

➡ Review your cost of living

➡  Create a savings plan

➡ Additional resource: How to Make Money At Home (If You Live In An Expensive City)


Apple 13.3″ MacBook Air Laptop

Canon LS-82Z Handheld Calculator

Moleskine Classic Notebook


Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. Excellent Meg. I enjoy the combo of saving money AND making more money thru my blog. Cool 1-2 punch for feeling awesome and leaving behind a scarcity consciousness. When you think it through; we need spend little to live a rich, freeing life.

    • “We need spend little to live a rich, freeing life” – couldn’t have said it better myself Ryan!

      And absolutely, saving money + making money while you travel is the killer combo!

  2. Excellent tips! I’m an avid coupon user, and if a retailer offers a free frequent shopper card, I sign up for it. I’ve saved as much as $.20/gallon on gas because of a loyalty card, while also saving on groceries and other goods in the store. When it comes to the travel fund, every penny counts!

    • Coupons are great, I mean why pay more when you don’t have to!! Signing up for a frequent shopper card is a great tip, we have one with our local grocery chain, and frequently get $10 off because of our points. It all adds up!

      Definitely check out if you’re a fan of coupons, it’s a fabulous tool for online shopping :)

  3. Paying off your credit card is probably the BIGGEST tip! Those huge interest rates really hurt. Better to get a bank loan and pay off your VISA or MasterCard bill with the loan; the bank loan rates are less. We can all use a little more money for travel :-).

    • Yep absolutely, I learned that pretty quickly in my first year with a credit card after someone told me to add up all the cash I had thrown away on interest payments.

      Glad you enjoyed the post Janice / George. Happy travels!

  4. These are all great ideas. I have been using them for years.
    The other idea- use a credit card that either gives cash back or mileage (I prefer the cash back kind) for each purchase you make. Do NOT use the cash back for monthly charges- use it to fund your vacation choice.

    • Great minds must think alike :D Absolutely, earning points and mileage is a great way to build up a travel fund, and that’s a really great point to make sure you have it specifically set aside for travel and not monthly expenses. Then you feel as though you’re genuinely getting a reward!

  5. There are really great tips very helpful and informative thank you for sharing with us.

    • You’re welcome Stephen, glad you enjoyed the post :)

  6. Thanks for sharing this Meg! I was struggling to save any money for w while when I was in my old job. I’ve saved money by : moving back in with my parents (not for everyone, but it does mean no rent for a couple of months) so that has cut out pretty much all food expenses etc (I do try to participate). I’ve done flea markets etc to sell anything I won’t be taking with me in January when I close the distance and another thing is I started working from home so no transport to pay and I eat at home. The money I’ve earn from my job pretty much all stays in an account I don’t use, so it isn’t burning a hole in my pocket.

    • I lived with my parents until I was 25, and it definitely helps if you’re able to make it work :) Working from home too definitely cuts down on both time and money, flea markets for selling things you don’t need is a great idea for monetizing them instead of just throwing them out.

      January will be here before you know it, so excited for you!

  7. I try so hard to save but it’s freaking hard when you are exhausted after a long day to cook a meal… That’s my bane – fast food. When I can cook, I cook for a few days so I don’t have to worry about it. Quick meals… But exhausted brain really can’t face standing for another 30 minutes or the dishes after.

    • Cooking in bulk to last a few days can a great way to go, I often live off leftovers! :)

  8. Thanks for sharing with us this many hacks

    • You’re welcome, I’m glad it was helpful :)

  9. Reduce your vices is a big one for me. If I would only cut out that expensive morning coffee…

    • Maybe you could start making it at home and taking it with you on the go :)

    • Mapping Megan sounds like a plan?☕️

    • That’s why I bought a Nespresso machine in 2012. I was spending about $1000 year in coffee shops. So even though the machine and milk frother cost around $300, they started saving me money after a few months. And if you like drip coffee rather than cappuccinos, the equipment can be much cheaper. :)

    • @Marie-FranceRoy nice work on thinking long term… sometimes you have to spend money to save money :)

  10. Great sound advice and reminders! Thanks!

    • Glad the post was helpful! Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend :)

  11. Cash economy always keeps me on track for my travel savings! If I don’t have the cash for that take out when I’m lazy it’ll have to wait until next week.

    • Really great method! Credit cards make it so easy to overspend because we don’t have the physical representation of money. But when cash is gone it’s gone :)

    • Especially now you only have to tap! They make spending money way too easy.

    • I think it’s made easy purposely lol!

  12. Give up meat. I’m saving a fortune and losing weight. All of this week’s meals are coming from a massive pumpkin which is literally all I’ve needed to buy to add to what’s in my cupboards. It’s become a pizza topping, lasagne filling and curries

    • Interesting! That one might be a hard one for me because I do love my meat, but I might at least give it a try one week. Thanks for the tip, hadn’t thought about that :)

  13. Saving more money for travel ?
    How about simply make more money and keep for travel? I absolutely love to travel, over 300+ cities and yes, I love any strategies for more money for travel. Our world is a wonderful place- we must travel more to enjoy it ? Good suggestion, Megan ?

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Bobby! And absolutely, making more money is a great way to approach a travel fund if you’ve cut back everything you possibly can from your current savings. Can’t beat a supplemental income!

  14. I set my goal and work towards saving for it. I never put a trip on credit. I dont drink, have take out, smoke or party so I dont really find saving a huge effort. (I do like shoes though but I always tell myself that red, high heel sparkly dancing shoes have a limited shelf life in some remote village in Asia!)

    • Sounds like we have a very similar mindset, we’ve got our lifestyle down to a bare minimum and it’s actually been so freeing cutting everything out and living very simply. Makes saving so easy!

  15. These hacks are so useful!!

    • So glad to hear it Susan! I’m glad that we could help :)

  16. My boyfriend and I just started saving so he can visit me next June and I decided to start a go fund me. We’ve actually gotten a few donations so that’s great ?

    • Fab! Go fund me is a great idea :)

    • I’m 17 and he’s 19 so saving up is sort of difficult. I’m supposed to be saving for university but I just want to bring him here!

    • Definitely important to prioritize your education as well, maybe when you get to uni you could look into things like whether there are student exchange options. Depending on which country you’re in sometimes there might be grants or scholarships you can apply for that will help with the cost :)

    • I definitely would like to look into that! Being close to him for any amount of time would be incredible

  17. Another way of saving money is downloading the app digit I’m saving money and not even knowing it basically puts money aside and calculating to make sure it doesn’t make you go broke.

    • Great tip, I’ll have to check it out :)

    • I used to use digit before the started charging a monthly fee. Definitely worked but I feel Paying for it is counter productive.

    • I never read anything about monthly fee.

    • @CrystalMiller they started charging like 3.99 a month unless they took it away.

    • That’s still not bad compared to some banks that charge $8 a month.

    • Acorns is another great one! I have it saved just for that special ticket!

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