How to Save Money to Travel: Prioritizing and Saving (Part 1)

January 22, 2020

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Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

One of the things we hear the most is, “I want to travel, but I can’t afford it.” And while having money is necessary to be able to travel (and live), if you really want to travel, you can afford it. You don’t have to have to be rich to travel and you don’t have to wait until you’ve retired to get to experience the world. You can start traveling right now! Before we turned our passion for travel into our career, we were traveling to places like India, Tokyo, and Amsterdam all from being prioritizing how we spend our money and saving money specifically for travel. Saving money isn’t the easiest thing in the world (which is why a lot of people don’t do it), but it is possible, and if you do it, the reward of getting to go and experience the world is 100% worth it! Here’s a few principles and seven simple ways you can start saving right now so you can travel the world too!

Mindset

 The first thing you need to do is change your mindset. Somehow we’ve grown up believing that certain things are only for certain people, but luckily that’s not how the world works. Despite what your mom tells you, or what your friend tells you, or even what your mind tells you, it is possible for you to travel and you can do whatever you put your mind to.

You need to get rid of any preconceived notions that it’s not “in the cards” for you or “traveling is only for rich people” or that you’re going to have to wait until something in your life changes. Start by changing your mindset and getting rid of those ideas, because they’re not true. The first thing you need to do is to believe that you can travel right now at this time in your life and that you can afford it. And you can afford it, but you have to set your mind to it.

Prioritize:

 Now that you’ve changed your mindset and you’re ready to start saving for travel, you need to prioritize how you’re going to spend your money. Start by creating a budget for yourself.* Make a list of all of your current expenses. Then start by categorizing them into fixed expenses (like rent, utilities, car insurance, etc) and variable expenses (like food, shopping, gas, etc). Start focusing on the the variable expenses, because these are the ones you’re going to need to cut back on, so you can save for a bucket list trip. Let’s be real a bucket list trip is much more exciting than a daily coffee or new dress every month.

*We use the Mint app to create our budget and track our spending.

If you “want to travel more than anything,” then you need to reconsider how you’re spending your money. Do you really need to eat out three times a week? If you want to go to Paris one day, then why are you going to the movies every weekend or concerts every month or fancy coffee shops every morning? It’s not a matter of if you have enough money. It’s a matter of if you want to travel more than you want those other things. It’s a matter of making travel your priority.

When we got married, we promised to travel the world together, so we started cutting out activities that seemed fairly inexpensive, but added up overtime, like eating out a few times a week, going on date nights that cost money, buying new clothes, etc. Then we used that money that we saved from not spending on those things and that made it so we could afford to travel. You’ll be surprised by how much money you’ll start saving by cutting out unnecessary expenses you’ve prioritized over travel.

The first step is to look at your list of expenses and start mentally cutting things out. For example, tell yourself, “Instead of the $200 I spend on eating out a month, I’m going to spend $100 on eating out this month. And instead of spending $120 on a gym membership, I’m going to find a new gym for $40.” Then add up the total amount you’ve decided to cut out and write that number down (which would be $180 for this example), because you’re going to need that number for the next section.

Save:

 Now that you’ve prioritized your expenses, you should be spending a lot less and end up with more money at the end of the month. It’s probably not enough to travel after just one month, so you’re going to need to put that money somewhere where it’s safe and will earn you interest.

You’re going to save that money before you spend it on anything. At the beginning of the month, you’re going to pay yourself that number you came up with in the last section. That’s right.  You’re going to pay yourself before you pay a single bill. It’s scary at first, but it’s the only way you can guarantee you contribute toward your travel savings. If you wait until to end of the month to see how much is “left,” there’s a 99.99% chance that there won’t be any left. It’s really hard not to spend money when you know you have it, but if you’ve already put that money away in your savings account, you’ll adjust throughout the month and spend less.

When we started paying ourselves, we managed to pay ourselves 5% of our income, and sometimes I’d challenge myself and pay ourselves even 10 or 15%. By some miracle, our minds and habits adapt to the amount of money we have left after we pay ourselves. We never missed any bills, and we got more creative with how we had fun!

We also always want our money to be working for us, so we like using online savings accounts that pay high interest rates. We use Marcus: By Goldman Sachs, and it earns us 2.15% every year. We like Marcus because it has a $0 minimum balance requirement, so we’re never worried about fees. To put it in perspective, any interest rate number over 1.7% is huge! Most savings accounts from your standard bank will earn you 0.01% per year, which means you essentially lose money when inflation is taken into account. That’s why we suggest finding an online savings account with a much better interest rate. The only downside of an online savings account is that transfers take slightly longer, but we see that as a benefit, because it makes it harder to just pull out all the money you’ve saved and spend it.

Think about saving money as a marathon, not a sprint. Saving money takes time and commitment, so try not to become overwhelmed or discouraged when you’re getting started. A great way to remind yourself of your savings goal is to put a photo of the place you want to go as the background on your phone or hang up a photo of your bucket list destination in a place where you’ll see it every day. Being continually reminded of what you’re saving for will make it easier for you to actually do it.

If saving is hard for you, get an app like Dobot to help you save automatically.

Here are a few ideas on how you can start saving right now:

7 Simple Ways to Save Money So You Can Save for Travel:

Sell Your Clothes and Other Things You Don’t Use: 

 Every few months, we clean out our closets and make sure we’re only keeping things we actually use. Our rule is if we haven’t used it in a year, then we don’t need it. This also helps us be more mindful about the purchases that we do make, because we know that we only want items that we really love in our closets and in our home. Great places to sell your gently-used items are on Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, Offerup, and Ebay.

Cancel Your Gym Membership:

Gym memberships are expensive and as important as it is to stay active and fit, there are other ways you can do that without spending a ton of money every month at the gym. Plan to go for runs outside or do these incredible at home workouts on YouTube. Or try an app, like Sweat, that’s a few dollars a month instead of $50+ a month to go to a gym.
 

Find Free Activities:

Just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun or do fun things. Go for a walk or hike outside. Make a picnic lunch and bring it to a local park. Go to a museum on a free day. Do a free yoga video on YouTube. Google “Free things to do in (your town).” You’ll likely find a list of ideas or things you’ve never done before that you can do now!
 

Drink Water:

Okay, this might be a hard one, because we all love drinks, but getting drinks when you go out adds up and buying drinks to drink at home adds up too. Really all you need is water, so maybe challenge yourself to only drink water for a month (or a week) and then put all the money you saved in your travel savings fund! 

Get Your Books and Magazines for Free:

 Stop buying books or paying for Audible and download books for free with the app Overdrive. All you need to do is go into your local library, sign up for a library card, and then download the app. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can virtually check out books or audiobooks straight to your phone (or any device that allows you to use apps, i.e. Kindle, iPad, etc.) and it’s completely free!

Put all of Your “Extra” Income Directly in Your Travel Savings Fund:

Did you get money from your Grandma your birthday? Were you promoted at work and got a raise? Did you end last month $20 under budget? Take that money and put it directly in your travel savings account. We know how tempting it is to go “treat yo’self” and buy a new pair of shoes or splurge on a fancy dinner, but, let’s be honest, a trip to Bali is way better than a pair of shoes.

Get a Side Gig:

The best part about it being 2020 is that there are SO many ways to make money on a flexible time schedule. Have a long commute? Sign up to be an Uber driver and drop people off on your way to work. Love grocery shopping? Become an Instacart delivery person. Obsessed with dogs? Sign up for Rover and take care of other people’s pets. Then make sure you save all of that money specifically for your trip.
 
Get creative! Set goals and make challenges with yourself to make saving money fun. Set a goal to only eat out once a month or try to see if you can only spend $50 one week. Try to go an entire month without buying anything that isn’t a necessity or plan to only do activities that are free. Saving money doesn’t have to be a drag. Get friends in on it with you and you can challenge each other to see who can spend less!
 

NOW THAT YOU’RE SAVING MONEY, START USING THESE TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS TO HELP YOU TRAVEL FOR EVEN CHEAPER!

It’s been our mission since the beginning of Our Travel Passport to help people create memories. And being able to afford to travel is a huge part of this. Even the aspiring travel bloggers in our community who are working towards getting paid to travel should implement these techniques into their financial strategy. We’ve been getting paid to travel for a couple of years now and we haven’t let up on our money saving strategies. It’s key to sustaining our company and our lifestyle and that’s exactly what we intend to do! We hope you’ll join us! 
 

If you’re interested in learning more about travel blogging or how to get paid to travel the world, check out our online course Passport to Travel!

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