Have you ever thought about just packing up your things and heading out for a much needed vacation? I know I do practically monthly! Traveling can be amazing for your mind and soul, but planning it can be stressful, both financially and mentally. There are always those dreaded thoughts of- how do I save money for travel, how do I know what I can afford, and where do I even start planning?
If you take a vacation or go holiday without proper planning, not enough cash or no budget, then the adventure becomes stressful and overwhelming, when it should be exciting and rewarding.
Saving money for your vacation doesn’t have to be hard and neither does planning. All it takes are a few changes and some simple organization to help you build up enough travel savings. You can take the vacation of your dreams once or even twice a year without stress.
So lets get started with some great ways to save enough money to help you travel more and stress less while making your dreams a reality.
Organize Your Travel Planning
I am not a fan of limiting yourself when it comes to destinations on travel. I truly believe you can travel anywhere with properly planning and a budget. Sometimes it takes a bit of ingenuity to make it work- but don’t limit yourself to locations.
If you can’t budget for grand adventure now- start small and grow your budget over time. Start with vacations that cost around $1000 and then next time a bit more and a bit more until you have covered the globe!
Never get yourself into debt doing something adventurous and rewarding or it will take away the joy and thrill of travel all together. Plan, organize and save and you will never regret!
Start By Choosing A Few Destinations:
With that said and you know yourself best- choose a destination that you feel you will enjoy, offers you adequate rest or adventure, and will be something to remember. Travel is never a one size fits all, so come up with a few ideas and locations you want- do some really good brainstorming here. This should be fun and exciting in itself.
I usually start out by looking at pictures online and see what appeals to me. If I have been working long, long hours then sometimes I crave comfort time away at the beach or a cabin by the lake to rest and recover.
If I have been bored lately or uninspired then I might start to look into exciting adventures like white water rafting, hiking the mountains in Europe, or exploring unique destinations by train, plane, or even sea. What inspires you or will refresh your mind?
Start by writing down 10 places you want to travel to and then the length of time you might want to go for. 12 days is going to be different than 3 days when it comes to saving money for travel and planning, so be sure to think on length of time.
Create a Bucket List for your destinations with all the must see/do things.
Quick Check Your Travel Costs:
Once I have my destinations, I use a very basic number of $180 per person per day for vacations with airfare and $125 per day for more local places to just put in some place holders.
If I am looking at International travel then I add on $1000 per week of travel. This number is just a basic estimate but will give you an idea of about how much you need to save.
Example (I live in San Francisco, CA):
Driving to Bend, Oregon and Spending 5 Nights- Skiing 3 days: $1250
Taking the Train to Chicago, IL for 7 days seeing the art museums and being a tourist- $2520
Going on a Safari in Africa for 10 days- $4,800
Take a Cruise to Mexico for 4 Days and Snorkeling- $1440
Traveling to Amsterdam and taking a canal cruise, eating spectacularly, and biking around for 12 days- $6,320
Seeing how much money it might cost puts things in perspective quickly so you can move on to more realistic planning and budgeting.
If you plan to travel to far off destinations, then you need to also make sure you give yourself enough time as well to get the cheapest airline tickets, travel tickets, and more.
Begin Your Travel Planning:
Once you have the destination choices, bucket list, and basic costs, pick one vacation to start planning for. Give yourself enough time to save money and be realistic about dates and locations.
Think about how much money you will spend on your vacation and what you want to spend money on. If you want to do multiple things that are out of your budget then keep that list for when you can afford to go.
Remember, flying during the Holidays is always going to be more money, and traveling spur of the moment can be nerve wrecking so plan accordingly.
Look at ways to save- like can you drive or afford to have multiple plane stops, etc. Organize your goals accordingly and you will be well on your way to an amazing vacation. Choose your dates (try to be flexible and pick a few- remember off season is always going to be cheaper)
Sometimes you might need to pay for plane tickets or put a deposit down on a cruise or specific adventure so decide on whether you are going to save all your money up front or use it along the way.
Be sure to set aside different goal dates if that is the case so that when it actually comes time to leave for your adventure- you have the daily cash needed and the other items are paid for.
Now its time to put your savings plan in place by being committed and staying disciplined to reach these goals. time to organize your goals and put them into actionable plans. You need to choose a time frame in which you will be able to save your money.
Develop a Travel Budget
You will need to decide how much and how to save money to travel and spend. Review all the activities and plans you want to do and put a basic price tag next to each one.
Often times if you are looking at travel to a very large tourist attraction, purchasing tickets in advance can save you the most. Or just waiting until you reach the destination and come up with creative ways to adventure out. This can work great if you are traveling solo or with a flexible partner.
Either way, put a dollar value next to each activity and adventure and mark whether you will prepay or wait. Then look at each day and decide how much you will spend on food, shopping, spur of the moment items, and activities.
Create a worksheet (excel works great) with all the costs and add them up. It might look something like below:
MEXICO TRIP – 5 Days
Drive To Ensenada Mexico: $120 in Gas (8 hour Drive from SF)
Hotel: $340 for 5 days- includes free Breakfast
Food: $35 a day with 1 Special Night ($225 total)
Snorkeling: $35 per person
Wine Tasting Tour: $25 per person
Yoga Classes at Hotel: Free
Paddle Boarding/Kayaking: Free
Travel to Shopping Areas and attractions: $35
Travel Insurance (Optional) $60
Shopping Budget: $100
Now add up all the lodging, miles, activities, airfare, etc. and you have your budget. I usually add a bit more for buffer room as well, but that’s up to you.
Remember these estimates are just that- estimates. You might be able to find a cheaper hotel and if you eat locally or make your own food, you can reduce the food budget. And sometimes if you are flying, you can find great deals online and can get your airfare and hotel together saving you a bit more- but always check it on your own.
So now that you have your financial number, you are ready to start planning and saving. Use your dates and work backwards to make sure you have enough time and money. Say you want to take this trip in February and it is September now.
This gives you a little over 5 months to save. $1000 divided by 5 is about $200 a month or just about $50 a week needed to save. $50 is not such a scary number to think about and the rewards you get will be a beautiful, stress free vacation!
Save Money To Travel
Its time to figure out how to save your weekly $50 and where to store your travel funds. You can use a fun travel money jar, open a savings account specifically for vacations, or place it into envelopes labeled with your travel needs and activities. However you wish to do this is up to you!
I favor the savings account method because for me, its out of sight- out of mind and becomes a habit after a while. Just commit to one method and promise yourself that you will be consistent. This is one of the easiest ways to reaching your travel goals ASAP.
Use a Travel Savings Printable For Motivation
I love being able to track my progression and hold myself accountable. It can be very motivating and works for a number of things you are trying to save for!
I created a fun travel savings printable so that you can watch your savings grow each week. I pin it on my travel vision board next to the pictures of my adventure to make sure I stay motivated and on track.
Save money to travel in just 20 weeks with this free printable!
Download your blank travel savings printable –> $1000 Vacation Savings Printable
Revise Your Daily Budget
Another important part of any travel savings goal is to make sure your day-to-day budget can handle this added bit. A budget is a great tool that can be personalized to fit the specific monetary needs of each person.
It is a good idea to review and revise your budget from time to time to ensure you are getting the most from your money. I love being able to see where my money goes and uncovering ways to save money or adjust things so I can move a bit more to retirement each month, or my investments, etc.
When you review your daily budget you will be able to see where you can cut and save and use that money towards your travel goal. $50 a week could come from a number of items you are currently wasting money on or you can try to budget better to save that money from other expenses. You would be surprised at all the ways you can actually save money with, even on a tight budget!
While your basic budgeting items (needs) might be static- your additional (wants) can always be adjusted. These are things like streaming services (Netflix, hulu), shopping habits, out to eat budget, entertainment, and other non-essential items.
If you don’t already have a monthly budget sheet, consider writing down everything in a spreadsheet or notebook to get a clear idea of your expenses.
You can also download one of these great money saving apps or budget apps to see if they can help you organize your budget. Take an honest look at your monthly spending and see what you can save.
Ways to Save Money For Travel
Do you stop at Starbucks every day or buy your lunch during your break at work? If so, you might consider making your own coffee and lunches and saving that money instead. You could actually save $200 a month just by cutting this one thing out of your daily habit.
Take a look at your cable bill, cell bill, gym membership, etc. and see what extra items you might have on there that you don’t really use. Can you drop your bills by $25-$50 a month reworking your subscriptions. I cut out $15.99 just cancelling HBO that I didn’t even know I had!
Take a look at your entertainment and personal care budget. Do you need to go out every week? Can you skip a night out or enjoy an evening in with friends or family? You can put that money towards your travel budget.
Figure out what you want to intentionally put your money towards, then cut out the rest. You might be surprised to find that saving an extra $50 a month to go towards travel is much easier than you expected.
Ways to Make Extra Money For Travel
So say you went through your budget and just don’t have much to cut out or jdon’t want to terminate your social life or even miss a single episode of Stranger Things… its ok. Life happens and when you are ready to change, you will do it.
So how else can you save up $50 a week for your travel adventures then? By making more! Yes- you can and nope, you don’t even need to confront your boss on this one (unless of course that’s an option too!)
There are tons of ways you can make some extra cash on the side. Get a side hustle to generate an extra $50 or $100 a week and quickly begin to add that savings to your travel stash.
Some Simple Ways to Make More Money Include:
Selling used clothes online
Find a Work From Home Jobs on Your Cell Phone
Filling out surveys
Make Money Selling Your Clutter For Cash
Write About Pets
Tutoring Online Jobs
Work From Home For Extra Cash
Start A Money Making Blog
Starting a side job to make extra money doesn’t have to be complicated at all. You can choose to do one or more of the opportunities available. It doesn’t have to take much of your free time either.
Earning a couple of hundred dollars a month selling things online can take just a few hours on the weekend, but help you greatly to reach your financial and travel goals.
Finding way to supplement your income can be easier than finding ways to save on your current budget as well. Opportunities are always available for those who are looking and taking action. Think of all the amazing travel destinations and adventures you will be able to partake in and enjoy year after year.
Remember, you are not just here to save money for travel but to ensure the experience itself is enjoyable. The planning can be just as much fun as the adventure itself if you allow yourself the time and organize it well. You won’t need to stress over anything if you follow the simple steps we have outlined for you. And you wont even need to worry about where the money comes from to save for your adventures if you can find something for you to earn from a side hustle.
Real world travel experience and adventure is something that everyone should get to enjoy. It’s what creates lasting memories and moments that stay with you your whole lifetime.
I truly hope you are able to explore and enjoy. Let us know where you choose to go and what you are most excited about!