15 Tips to Start Saving for Travel Now

It's understandable that many people aspire to travel more, but the question remains: How can you save money for travel while maintaining a fulfilling lifestyle at home? Recently, I came across an online article stating that a significant number of millennials are willing to forgo Tim Hortons, Netflix, shopping, and even hockey to pursue their travel dreams. This raises the question: What are you willing to sacrifice in order to save up for a world-travel adventure?

Ways to Save Money for Travel

Before we embarked on our journey as full-time travel bloggers, Dave and I were entangled in the usual rhythm of full-time employment, mortgage obligations, and monthly financial responsibilities. It became evident to us that this conventional lifestyle didn't resonate with our deepest aspirations. Our jobs lacked passion, and the perpetual struggle to meet financial demands left us feeling burdened and disheartened. However, amidst it all, one thing remained crystal clear: our burning desire to explore the world and experience more travel adventures.

Dave and I had already embarked on extensive travels for nearly a decade before we took the leap into becoming travel bloggers. Prior to sharing our experiences online, we had explored 40 countries while balancing our careers and life in Canada. During the periods between jobs, we utilized our time to venture abroad, and it was during those months away that we realized our deep desire to turn travel into a full-time pursuit. We were resolute in making this dream a reality.

While we were determined to pursue our passion for travel, many of our friends and family viewed our aspirations as frivolous and perceived our spending on travel as wasteful. However, it's important to note that we never touched our savings throughout this journey. We were committed to not jeopardizing our financial stability to fulfill our dreams. Instead, we focused on finding ways to save more money and allocate those funds towards our travel adventures whenever possible.

In our pursuit of saving for travel and pursuing our dreams, we discovered several valuable tips that allowed us to maximize our savings. These tips became instrumental in fueling our passion for travel and enabling us to follow our dreams.

1. Don’t Travel on Borrowed Money

Our top principle when it comes to traveling is to never rely on borrowed money. While this may not align with the typical mindset of some Millennials, we strongly believe that it is crucial to avoid returning home to a burden of debt after experiencing life-changing travel adventures. Debt can bring significant stress and hinder the pursuit of a happier life.

Before embarking on any journey, we ensured that all our monthly bills, investment contributions, and expenses would be fully covered for the duration of our absence. If we didn't have sufficient savings, we made necessary adjustments to our travel plans, such as shortening the duration, opting for more budget-friendly destinations, or dedicating time to explore our own local surroundings until we had saved enough money.

By adhering to this principle, we were able to travel with financial peace of mind, knowing that we were not accumulating debt and that our future financial well-being was not being compromised.

2. Create a Travel Budget

Creating a budget is the most effective approach we've discovered for saving money for travel. By asking yourself the following questions, you can gain clarity on the amount of money required for your travels:

For instance, opting for budget-friendly accommodations like hostels can significantly reduce costs, especially when traveling through regions such as Southeast Asia or Central America.

In Southeast Asia, it's possible to budget around $50 - $100 per day, meaning a six-month trip would require approximately $10,000 - $20,000, excluding flight expenses. We will discuss strategies for saving on flights using rewards credit cards below.

To summarize, if you aim to travel within a year and need $15,000 for a six-month trip, you would need to set aside $1,250 per month, starting from scratch. However, rest assured that we will share methods to help you uncover additional funds.

Some individuals manage to travel on a significantly lower budget. Take, for example, the PE World Tour, who traveled on a budget of $2,400. If you're interested in budget travel, we recommend checking out our tips on how to travel on a budget. Additionally, the book "How to Travel the World on $50 a Day" offers more ideas and insights on affordable travel options.

3. Set up an Automatic Travel Fund Saving Account

Once you have determined the amount of money you need to save for your travels, we recommend setting up an automatic withdrawal to contribute to a dedicated travel savings fund. Just like you have automatic withdrawals for your bills, investments, and rent, you can arrange for a regular monthly transfer from your bank account to your travel savings fund. This will ensure that a portion of your income is consistently allocated towards your travel goals without requiring manual effort.

4. Track Spending

When it comes to saving money for travel, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your expenses. Paying close attention to where your money is going is paramount. Take the time to sit down and create a comprehensive list of every penny you spend each month. Be meticulous and ensure that no expense goes unnoticed.

For instance, consider those daily visits to the corner store near the subway for snacks or coffee that could have been prepared at home or obtained at work. If you spend $5-$10 on such small items every day, that quickly adds up to $150-$300 per month that could have been allocated towards your travel fund. It's remarkable how money accumulates.

Implementing strategies to save money is essential. One example is cutting expenses by taking on certain tasks yourself. For instance, I have been cutting Dave's hair for years, resulting in significant savings (see picture above). Additionally, I grew my hair out, only needing a monthly trim that I managed myself with Dave's assistance in the back. This alone saves us $100-$200 per month on haircuts. (Thanks to Minority Nomad for reminding us of this point!)

Assess your recurring expenses. Is your cell phone bill the highest available? Perhaps you can switch to a more affordable plan. Do you have memberships, such as a gym or Peloton, that you rarely use? Consider canceling them. It's the accumulation of these small adjustments that can lead to substantial savings.

5. Pay off Your Credit Cards

Maintaining a responsible approach to credit card usage has always been a priority for us. The idea of carrying a balance on a card causes unnecessary stress, so we make it a point to pay off our credit card bills in full before the due date each month. It's important to avoid throwing money away on interest charges. If we can't afford something, we refrain from purchasing it on a credit card, hoping that the money will magically appear later.

However, this doesn't mean we refrain from using our credit cards altogether. In fact, we use them for virtually all of our expenses. It's the most convenient way to track our expenditures. By reviewing our monthly statements, we can easily identify where our money is being spent. Additionally, utilizing the right credit card allows us to earn rewards and save money for our travels. It's a win-win situation, as we can accumulate travel benefits while covering our everyday expenses.

6. Get a Rewards Credit Card

When it comes to long-term travel, one of the major upfront expenses is typically the cost of flights. This is where having a travel rewards credit card can be incredibly beneficial. However, as mentioned earlier, it is crucial to pay off the credit card balance in full each month and maintain discipline to avoid unnecessary spending.

It's truly astonishing how quickly you can accumulate travel points and rewards by using your credit card for everyday purchases like groceries, toiletries, and even medication. These rewards can accumulate rapidly.

By the end of each year, we typically have anywhere from $1000 to $2000 accumulated towards our travel expenses. We then use these rewards to purchase our flight tickets by contacting our credit card provider, such as American Express or Visa, and asking them to apply the rewards towards the cost of the ticket. Thankfully, we usually have enough rewards available since we use our credit card for all our expenses.

Additionally, travel rewards credit cards often offer enticing sign-up bonuses. By simply signing up for a particular card, you can potentially earn a substantial amount of money towards a flight. It's worth conducting thorough research to find the card that offers the flight rewards that align with your travel goals and preferences.

We primarily use American Express for our travel expenses, as it provides us with travel rewards for our purchases. However, we also have a TD Travel Visa, which doesn't have an annual fee and offers excellent travel benefits. It's a great option to consider as well.

In the United States, the Chase Sapphire card is highly regarded and often considered to be even better than American Express in terms of travel rewards. Many travelers find it to be a preferred choice due to its attractive benefits and features. It's worth exploring and comparing the offerings of different cards to find the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

7. Change Your Living Situation

If you have a strong desire to travel but feel tied down by homeownership, one option is to sell your house, just as we did. Recognizing that we weren't happy as homeowners and yearned for more travel experiences, we made the decision to put our house on the market.

Owning the house had been the most stressful period of our lives, as it limited our freedom to travel and left us constantly worried about finances and future opportunities. We felt trapped and wondered if we would be stuck in that situation indefinitely.

Alternatively, if you're not keen on selling your house, you could explore the option of finding a subletter to rent your place for a year or longer. We know people who have successfully sublet their homes while traveling full-time, allowing them to build equity and experience new places instead of returning to their original residence. Additionally, platforms like Airbnb or VRBO can be utilized to generate income from your property.

For those who are currently renting, downsizing to a smaller and more affordable place in a different neighborhood could be a viable option. It's important to explore all avenues to cut costs and save money. This strategy can be particularly effective if you have larger assets, such as a house. Additionally, if you have a supportive and generous family, like we did, staying with them for a few months can help you accumulate thousands of dollars for your travel fund.

8. Sell Your Things

To lighten our load and generate some extra cash, we decided to organize a garage sale where we sold various items we had accumulated over the years. Surprisingly, we made a substantial amount of money, totaling a couple of thousand bucks. Our range of items included everything from lawnmowers to a Doctor Ho massager, and even a knife that turned out to be worth much more than we realized. In fact, someone offered us $50 for that knife!

In addition to a garage sale, we also took advantage of online platforms like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. It was astounding to discover what people were willing to pay for various items. We received $20 for glassware sets and knick-knacks that were just cluttering our space. It was truly liberating to see everything go, and the extra cash was a welcomed bonus. Even if you don't intend to sell your house, organizing a garage sale or utilizing online platforms can help you earn some additional money while simultaneously decluttering your living space.

9. Lifestyle Change and Mindset

When it comes to funding your travels, examining your lifestyle can be an effective way to free up additional funds. One area to consider is transportation. In our case, we had two cars, each with its own monthly payment. To reduce expenses, we made the decision to downsize to just one car. We sold the newer vehicle and used the proceeds to pay off the remaining car loan.

By eliminating one car payment, we were able to save a significant amount of money each month. Additionally, since the car we continued to drive was older, we decided to cancel the collision insurance on it, further reducing our insurance costs. As a result, we experienced substantial savings in both car payments and insurance fees. Living in a city also provided benefits as we could rely more on alternative modes of transportation such as biking or walking, which not only saved on gas expenses but also contributed to a healthier lifestyle. Overall, these adjustments allowed us to allocate more funds towards our travel goals.

10. Stop Eating Out

Changing our dining habits was a challenging but necessary adjustment for us. While we enjoyed the experience of eating out and the opportunity it provided for conversation and connection, we realized that dining at home could lead to significant savings. Looking back, I wish I had learned to cook at home earlier in life, as it would have spared us many financial concerns.

To make cooking at home more enjoyable, we turned it into a special event and purchased fresh ingredients in bulk. We also made cost-conscious choices when it came to beverages, opting for inexpensive boxed wine and affordable beer. Surprisingly, we didn't miss indulging in alcohol as we were focused on our travel savings goal. When faced with the decision to spend $40 on alcohol or allocate it to our travel fund, the latter usually took priority.

In addition, we invested in a high-quality coffee maker, which allowed us to satisfy our caffeine cravings without having to rely on expensive trips to Starbucks. I used to jokingly refer to Starbucks as "Four-bucks" since a single cup of coffee there could quickly add up in cost. By making our coffee at home, we were able to avoid unnecessary expenses and contribute more to our travel savings.

11. Cut Entertainment Costs

As our lifestyle evolved, we made a conscious decision to shift our socializing habits. Instead of meeting friends at expensive bars or nightclubs where we would spend a significant amount on drinks and food, we began opting for more affordable and intimate gatherings. We started inviting friends over to our house or going to their homes, allowing us to maintain an active social life without draining our finances on downtown outings. This change not only helped us save money towards our travel goal but also provided a more personal and relaxed atmosphere for socializing with our loved ones.

12. Cut Expensive Hobbies

During the time we owned our house, our hobbies happened to be quite costly. We had a ski pass at Blue Mountain Resort and frequently indulged in dining out and staying overnight at the hotel. Similarly, we went on numerous scuba diving trips during the summer, exploring the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River while staying in lodges every weekend.

Realizing that these hobbies were taking a significant toll on our finances, we made the decision to cut them out of our lifestyle. Not only did we save money by eliminating the expenses associated with these activities, but we also sold our dive gear and snowboarding equipment, generating additional funds. From then on, whenever we wanted to go diving or snowboarding, we opted to rent the necessary gear instead. This shift allowed us to pursue more budget-friendly hobbies while still enjoying our favorite outdoor activities.

13. Find Free Things to Do Instead

After relocating downtown, we discovered a new passion for rock climbing. We decided to indulge ourselves by investing in a rock climbing gym membership, and it quickly became our favorite place to be. We found ourselves at the gym almost every evening during the week, fully immersing ourselves in this thrilling activity.

By prioritizing our rock climbing membership, we consciously made a shift in our spending habits. Instead of eating out frequently and going to clubs on weekends, we redirected our time and money towards the gym. The climbing gym became our social hub and a source of entertainment, allowing us to enjoy ourselves without breaking the bank. Additionally, we discovered the joy of outdoor climbing by going camping near the crags, where we could rock climb for free.

This change in lifestyle opened up a world of cost-effective and enjoyable activities for us. We started mountain biking, joining the cycling club for evening rides, and embraced hiking, spending weekends exploring natural gems like Niagara Glen and the Bruce Trail. Our schedules were filled with adventure, and apart from small expenses like snacks and occasional park entry fees, we were able to save money while leading an active and fulfilling life.

14. Think Positive

While it may appear daunting, achieving your dream of traveling the world is indeed possible. By approaching it one step at a time and following the money-saving tips we've provided, you can make significant progress towards your goal.

Start by creating a list and carefully assessing your expenses, debt, and income. This will allow you to gain a clear understanding of what adjustments and actions are necessary to pursue your dream. We understand that it can feel overwhelming to make all these changes before embarking on your travels, but once you hit the road, you'll experience the freedom and joy of leaving behind worries and obligations at home.

Surprisingly, we haven't missed all the possessions and comforts we gave up. Since embracing a life of travel, we have come to appreciate the liberation of living with fewer material possessions and the freedom from financial burdens. Our journeys have been enriched by the simplicity and focus on experiences rather than material accumulation.

Remember, it's important to take it step by step, stay focused on your goals, and celebrate each milestone along the way. With determination and careful planning, you can create a life that allows you to explore the world while enjoying the freedom and fulfillment that come with it.

Final Thought

Dave and I have consistently discovered that when we take risks and make space for our dreams, remarkable things unfold. If you're dissatisfied with your current life situation, it's time to shift your mindset and embrace change. The most remarkable journeys commence with that initial step.