Advice from Travelers: How to Save Money for Travel

Advice from Travelers is a monthly feature in which fellow travel bloggers weigh in on the questions I get asked most in order to  give you all the most well-rounded travel advice possible. 

In this inaugural version of Advice from Travelers I asked what is probably the most common question anyone who travels often gets- how the hell do you afford it?

I saved most of my money to travel while teaching in Korea (the big bonus at the end helped a lot) so I wanted to know exactly how other people are saving their money to travel. This month 9 bloggers are here to offer their help with money saving tips that will have you off on your dream trip in no time.

how to save for travel

Photo thanks to Julika at Sateless Suitcase

Different accounts and patience

SKJ_Blyde Canyon

I think it can be helpful to have a separate bank account or Paypal account specifically to accumulate and store money designated for travel in. If I lump it with my regular savings, it’s too easy to siphon money from those funds to pay bills or buy something frivolous. I also don’t have a credit or debit card associated with my travel account, again so I’m not tempted to withdraw money to fund other things. Then when I’m ready to actually travel, I transfer the funds to a more accessible account. It’s important to keep your eye on the ball and prioritize. I live on a shoestring budget, so I sacrifice things like new clothes, eating at restaurants, having a modern car or fancy television. When you’re looking longingly at something you want right now, just remember what a stellar experience you’re going to have as the payoff for sacrificing that something now, and put the money in your travel fund instead. For long-term travel, if you’re going to sell some of your possessions to get money, don’t just desperately sell everything at a garage sale. Take time to be patient and sell things at top dollar … try Craigslist, eBay or local free listings. Every penny adds up!

Shara Johnson writes a narrative travel blog at She earns her travel money by renting out space in her home on Airbnb. You can keep in touch with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Try not to notice

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My best tip (and the easiest one too, I think) to save for long term travel is to do it without noticing! Let me explain. Every time you come home, raid your wallet and put all your change in a designated closed container. If you’re feeling generous, even put the 5 $ bills in there. If you do it regularly and live in a country where loonies and toonies exist, you’ll see how fast you save up without even realizing you’re doing it.

Another great way to not get discouraged from the money leaving your bank account is to program an automatic transfer to a savings account for a set amount every week or two, according to your pay schedule. This way, you don’t really see that money and it’s already in the bank for when you’ll need it. It also helps you plan to achieve a set amount faster and easier!

Jennifer Doré Dallas is a blogger, foodie and photography addict who has traveled to 35+ countries. While on the road, she has a Ziploc bag addiction and hates umbrellas. Stuff she can’t leave behind? Her notebook and camera (ok, ok, her iPhone as well…). Her budget tip? Markets and grocery stores and staying away from guidebook restaurants whenever possible. Follow her adventures at Moi, mes souliers,on Twitter at @moimessouliers or on her Facebook page at Moi, mes souliers.

Teach English abroad


Teaching English in China allowed me to save a considerable amount of money while still travelling significantly with in the Middle Kingdom. In one year I made it 8 different provinces. However to really save money I would suggest avoiding the expat meccas of Shanghai or Beijing and head for a 2nd or even 3rd tier cities. I was able to comfortably live off about $300 a month and bank the rest of my pay. Plus most contracts pay for your ticket to and from China, so I didn’t have to pay for a plane ticket to china and was able to just save the money meant for my ticket home.

Living in china allowed me to get my necessary dose of wanderlust, learn some Sichuanese dishes and experience an amazing culture. Living in a small city Chinese city has its challenges but I was a 90 minute train ride from a large city for weekend escapes. Many people don’t want to teach because they don’t see themselves as “kid” people but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself completely melting over my fat-faced kindergarteners. There are also college and adult classes for anyone who feels hesitant to teach little ones

Rebekah is a girl with a love for adventure. After teaching in rainy Sichuan, she is currently out exploring Asia, climbing mountains and generally trying not to get very lost. All the stories on the blog Mountains and Passports. You can also find her on Instagram and Twitter.

Prioritize and downsize


When you first decide to travel long term, there is an obvious next step. Stop buying all the random stuff that is completely unnecessary. But then, what should you do with everything currently cluttering your apartment or house? Furniture and large ticket items are easy to sell on craigslist. But no one is going to go out of the way to see if your various decorative boxes, accent pillows, or yarns are worth one to ten dollars.

If you have a house, it’s easy to have a garage sale for these odds and ends. For apartment dwellers, look into renting a space at a nearby flea market. We found one held monthly at a nearby community college, and went in with friends to rent the space. It’s the perfect place for every random thing that you were planning to donate or pawn off on friends, like home textiles, cheap instruments and workout equipment. Going in with friends allowed us to each pay only 6 dollars for the space. We made a couple hundred dollars selling everything from a first generation iPad to many of the random craft supplies that I had accumulated over the years.

Michelle spends all her free time hiking and exploring the great outdoors with her boyfriend, and sharing those experiences on their blog, Anywhere at Home. They are going through the saving/selling process in advance of a long term trip later this year. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Find a balance


The biggest deterrence to travel for most is the thing that causes the most controversy, the finances in order to fund it. How much do you really need? Do you need a lot, do you only need a little, do you need to sell everything you own and live out of a suitcase? In my opinion, the answer is none of the above. I am personally not an advocate of making others feel like they have to ditch everything in order to embark upon a life of travel. I believe in a life that includes a happy medium of both home life and travel. This balance will help travel be a part of my life for a much longer time, as I am not completely uprooting my life in one way or another to place such an emphasis on the other. Rather, they are both being fueled and fulfilled enjoyed simultaneously. Of course, there are many tips and tricks here and there to put funds aside, such as simplifying your life, cutting back on specialty drinks at the coffee shop, cooking more frequently, making it a true priority, etc. However, I feel that this notion of balance is a crucial, fundamental element in order for travel to be a part of my life for years and years to come.

Alli is a traveler blogger and photographer from Toronto with an incredible zest for life and adventurous spirit. She blogs at The Vintage Postcard and you can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Automate It

Estrella_EstrellExploresThe mental component of saving instead of spending money can be stressful. Reduce the stress and make saving for travel an automatic part of your life.

First figure out how much of every pay check you can put towards traveling. This will involve making a few calculations, but there are many budgeting tools available online that can help you. Once you have that number, open up a savings account if you don’t have one already. I suggest opening an account with an online bank for a couple of reasons. One, online accounts are usually free but still offer competitive interest rates. And two, it’s harder to take money out of an online account, so you’re less tempted to make withdrawals unless you really need it.

The final step is to set up an automatic, recurring deduction from your pay check account to your savings account. Make sure you set it up in the same pattern you receive your pay. For example, if you get paid biweekly, you should set up the deduction to occur biweekly on the same days. Over time your travel fund will grow, without even having to think about it.

Estrella is a serial expat currently living in Madrid. When she isn’t busy eating tapas or enjoying a tinto de verano, she is often lost in a good book. Follow her expat experiences on her blog Estrella Explores or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.

Remember that every cent counts


I’m not a real expert on long-term travel, but I’ve been traveling a lot throughout the last years (mostly while being a full-time student), so I do know how to save up for travel while studying, paying for school, and working the night shifts at the movie theater: There were times I had to use my tea bags twice, but I’ve still been on at least one international trip a year ever since I was 18.

Despite earning below minimum wage in my student part-time jobs, I saved up more than 3,000 Euros for my semester abroad in Portugal in a little more than a year by living frugally and setting up an extra savings account. I put 50 Euros on that account in the beginning of each month, which was enough to make an impact in the end, but not too much to make my everyday life more difficult. I also lived in a closet-sized room in a shared apartment to keep my living expenses as low as possible, sold my car, and cut luxury purchases like nail polish and glossy magazines short. I learned that especially saving on the little things will add up in the end: You just have to forgo the daily coffee to go, that second pair of sunglasses, and craving strawberries in February.

I think the most important thing when saving up to travel is understanding that every cent counts, which means collecting coins in a jar, comparing prices when grocery shopping, and choosing a glass of wine at home over expensive cocktails in bars. Saving every cent might not seem as effective at home, but it could make such a difference on the road. Best example: My pre-Portugal change jar had 86 Euros in it — and that was exactly the amount of money I needed for an exchange student group getaway to the Algarve!

Julika is a 20-something German art historian and professional medievalist. She is a little neurotic, always high on caffeine, and loves time-traveling into the Middle Ages almost as much as exploring Europe’s cultural highlights with her own eyes. Follow her geeky musings on cultural travel on her blog Sateless Suitcase and on Facebook.

Don’t buy what you don’t need


My biggest tip for saving up for anything is to stop buying what you don’t need. Every month or two I collect all my bank statements and sit down to highlight everything I didn’t 110% need, it’s amazing to see how much money I spend on things like coffee, lunch and eating out- even cutting out buying a macdonalds coffee twice a week saves $500 a year (but let’s face it no one just buys coffee twice a week). I work out exactly how much money I need per month for all the essentials, such as rent, petrol, food and then add $100 for extras like that sneaky electric bill that’s more than it should be, and then set up a direct debit so the rest of my wages goes straight into a savings account that I can’t spend from. Saving without even thinking about it!

Hannah blogs at Hannah Bee. Her lifestyle and travel blog documents her adventures currently in Perth, Western Australia. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram

Do your research

Anyone can have the travel life of their dreams. The first step is turning your dreams into a goal. If you want to spend amonth diving the Great Barrier Reef, research the cost of the plane ticket, accomodations, and tour company. Map out a list things you must do or buy to reach your goal and attach prices to each item. This total price is now your savings goal.

Next, open a savings account dedicated to travel and begin adding money monthly.

>Pay yourself first. Take a recurring amount from each paycheck, bonus or other money you receive to put inyoyour account. If you have money leftover after paying bills, add a little more. But, once the money is in the account, it’s hands off. You can only use it for purchases related to travel.

Place a checkmark beside each goal item as you save the amount needed to pay for it. Before you know it, you’ll have saved up all you need to turn your dream into reality.

Sometimes goals seem out of reach because we don’t know what it takes to achieve them. By adding a price to your dream trip, you can work towards achieving it. Having a dedicated travel savings account gives us extra incentive not to dip into our hard earned savings for everyday purchases.

Once you’ve booked all the parts of your dream trip, use the travel savings account for spending money. A tip: save double the spending money you think you’ll need.

Michaela Hall wakes up early hoping to change the world and stays up late looking for fare mistakes.  On her blog, Awe Inclusive, she shows new and aspiring tripsters how to create the travel life of their dreams.  Join her adventures on FacebookTwitterand Instagram.

Do you have any travel questions you want answered? Are you a traveler who wants to share your expertise? Contact me!
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