Tips on how to save for travel (or anything else!)

Whether you’ve decided to spend three months in South-East Asia, or head off on a language-learning venture in Latin America for half the year, taking time out to travel is going to cost some cash.

Saving money for travel comes down to two things – spending less, and earning more. Whether you want to focus on one or both is up to you.

how to save for travel - Mekong River

Is sailing down the Mekong River in South-East Asia one of your travel dreams?

Spending less – how to save for travel by cutting out some costs

First up, work out what you’re prepared to compromise on, and for how long, to make your travel dreams a reality. And what’s a step too far.

If you’re prepared to take those compromises to the extreme then savings can rack up pretty quickly – ditching all alcohol, cutting out the daily triple mochas, banishing eating out and takeaways completely, limiting your social life to pretty much zero. This lifestyle might be sustainable for a month, but for months on end? A year or more?

Whilst going completely cold turkey on all disposable income spending might be a too drastic, prioritising spending on only the things you’re passionate about could be a happy compromise.

What do you want, vs what do you need?

Before rushing ahead and buying, take a moment to think about if you need something (eg the laptop you use for your business has blown up), or just want it. If you need it, could you purchase second-hand, or borrow from a friend for the short-term?

If you’re planning six months of travel where you won’t be at work, do you really need three new suits? On how many nights trekking in the Andes are you going to wish you were wearing the killer heels you’ve been lusting after?

how to save for travel - The Andes

In Andean landscapes like these, the only shoes you’ll be wanting is walking shoes

The latest 58 inch HD 3DTV with in-built Mission Impossible controls may give you one-upmanship on Steve, but could your 40 inch version do the trick for now? Is that iPhone upgrade at absolute essential, or could you hang on a few months?

Could you do what you love for less?

how to save for travel

could you cut back on pricey away games?

If you’ve been a season ticket holder at the footie for ten years and never miss an Everton home game, going cold turkey could be tricky. However, resisting the temptation of away games, match programmes and that third post-match pint could be more acceptable compromises.

If you love your music and usually go to a handful of festivals every summer, could you save yourself some pennies by volunteering at one or two of them?

Could you get by without a car, or – for two-car households – with one instead of two? Could you hire a car, join a car club, or borrow one for a friend (buying short-term insurance as you need) for the times when you need wheels? You’ll save money on insurance, tax, fuel, parking; plus you could pocket a wad of cash with what you make from a sale.

Do you make good use of your gym membership? If not, this is one direct debit that could be banished from your bank account. I know I can only follow the free “go for a run outside” option when the weather is gloriously sunny – and I live in England so that’s not too often! I have saved myself £30 a month by joining a cheaper gym though J

Could you cut back on socialising spends by having friends round for dinner instead of eating out, digging out those two-for-one-main-course early bird midweek specials, drinking something cheaper than champagne, having picnics, joining a walking group? All still enable you to have a social life, but with less expenditure.

how to save for travel - picnic

Gotta love a good picnic with friends – and it’s cheaper than a meal out too!

How to save for travel by earning more – some tips

Could you sell your unwanted/unused stuff? Collectables, designer-esque clothes that no longer fit, household items, the contents of your cupboard under the stairs/loft. I’ve used ebay for smaller items and Gumtree for larger ones. Car boot sales are another avenue.

Do you have any cash stashed away that you’ve forgotten about? Were you bought UK Premium Bonds when you were born? How much is in that jar of change on the kitchen shelf that you’ve religiously contributed to for two years?

Could you earn more money through work? A promotion, freelance consultancy, casual work such as in pubs/restaurants, or hosting parties for everything from Tupperware to lovely lingerie are all ways to earn some more travel spends.

Could you use your home to earn you more money? Is there a spare room you could rent out, could you rent your home out whilst you’re away, or could you release the equity in your home by re-mortgaging? The latter is beyond my comfort zone, but if it’s in yours then it could be an option. Before committing, take some independent financial advice.

How to keep your travel savings safe

The best way for me to avoid the temptation of splurging my travel savings on a pair of fab Kurt Geiger shoes (*sigh*) is to keep the money I’ve saved for travel away from my current account.

You can add up how much your estimated savings/extra earnings are likely to come to each week/month.

Simply move this amount (by automatic direct debit if you need to force yourself into disciplinary action to do so!) into a separate savings account for travel every week/month. If you can find out that pays even a smidgen of interest, even better!

Bingo, you can easily keep track of how much you’ve saved and get one step nearer to making your travel dreams a reality.

Do you prefer to spend less, or try to earn more when you want to save money? What compromises are you prepared to make, and which are a step too far? Share your tips on how to save for travel in the comments below.

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