Skip to Content

How to save money to travel – My honest, realistic guide

How to save money to travel – My honest, realistic guide

This is the second post in my new series about how you can travel more in 2015. If you missed it, here’s last weeks post: How to travel more with the 12 Trips Challenge.

This week’s post is all about saving money for your travels and how simple lifestyle changes can have massive results.

The no.1 reason people say they can’t travel as much as they’d like to is because they can’t afford it.

At first this seems like a valid reason. Travelling can be expensive and we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed and countless expenses that crop up when you least expect them.

But if you’re serious about wanting to travel more then I’ve got a few tips up my sleeve to help you save money to travel more.

I’m not going to suggest unrealistic tips like ‘stop going out’ or ‘run to work instead of taking the train’. Yes, this will save you a lot of money if you can stick to it but most people will quickly get bored and give up. And I’m not going to patronise you with tips like ‘use energy saving light bulbs’.

I’m going to give you tips to change the way you think. We all know that to save money you need to spend less but in reality it’s much harder than that. Saving money to travel is a lifestyle choice. You don’t need to stop enjoying your life or turn into Scrooge. You can save money to travel without missing out on nights out with your friends. You don’t need to stop socialising, you just need to be more aware of your spending habits.

how to save money to travel

1. Have a spending detox

OK, maybe I am going to tell you to stop going out and stop drinking but only for a set amount of time…

Before you go on a diet you might go on a detox. It helps to kick-start your new healthy routine and after a week of eating nothing but vegetables you suddenly REALLY appreciate carbs. When you appreciate something it feels more like a treat so you don’t take it for granted and you don’t eat too much.

The exact same thing happens with spending detoxes.

Don’t spend anything and you’ll suddenly really appreciate having a tenner to blow.

Set yourself a challenge to go a week or a fortnight or even a month without spending any money. Nothing.

Obviously you’re going to have to pay your rent, your transport costs to get to work and the absolute bare minimum on food but you can’t spend anything else.

This will make you more conscious about your spending habits and make you realise where and why you were wasting money.

So many people spend money absent-mindedly. You might pop into the corner shop for a carrot and you come out with a bottle of wine, a magazine, a chocolate bar and a scratch card and you’ve suddenly spent £20. OK, that’s not going to bankrupt you but if you do it twice a week it’s going to add up.

I had an unintentional spending detox when I first moved to London. I was on an intern’s wage, which just about covered my bills, food and monthly railcard. After I’d paid for the essentials I literally had nothing left over.

I soon had a pay rise but by this point I was very conscious about spending money and didn’t waste a penny.

If you’re thinking about taking a spending detox and need some inspiration, take a look at Buy Nothing Year, an experiment on not buying shit. Roommates, Geoffrey and Julie, embarked on a one-year buy nothing challenge and they saved over $55,000. Their blog is actually a bit boring but this feature about them in Forbes is definitely worth a read!


2. Think about yearly expenses

Stop thinking about day-to-day expenses and think about yearly expenses. Buying a bottle of water every day is only £1.00. You probably have £1.00 in your pocket right now and that’s why it’s so easy to spend. But if you buy a bottle of water every single day for a year, that’s £365 and £365 is a lot of money!

I used to have a terrible Starbucks addiction, mainly because there was a Starbucks stand on my platform at the train station and I just couldn’t walk past it. Five days a week I was buying a latte for £2.25. That’s still only £11.25 per week but that’s well over £500 in a year. £500 is a hell of a lot of money.


3. What could this money buy me?

Now you’ve started thinking about the yearly expense of your little spending habits, start thinking about what all these little things could buy you.

If my Starbucks habit cost me £500 per year, £500 could pay for a lot of travel! That could be my flight money for more than 5 European weekends away. It could be an entire week in the sun. It’s a one-way flight to Australia.

My coffee habit suddenly becomes countless possibilities and it’s much easier to say no to a skinny latte when I think of it like this.


4. Set your saving goal and then only use cash

Work out how much disposable income you have each month and how much of this you’re going to save. Put this amount into a savings account that you can’t easily withdraw from.

You’ll then be left with x-amount to spend each month. Take this amount out in cash so you can physically see how much you have. You spend less when it feels like real money rather than a piece of plastic. You’ll also see your spending money dwindle away and once it’s gone, it’s gone!


5. Write it down

Once you’ve worked out how much you want to save each month, write the amount down. Whether you’re a spreadsheet, a notepad or a scrap of paper kind of person, write down your goal and pin it on your wall.

Review your goal and keep reminding yourself of it so you don’t forget and get tempted to splash out.

How to save money to travel more | The Travel Hack

6. Get your friends onboard

If your group of friends have expensive taste, saving money can be difficult. If you usually spend your weekends shopping and eating out and going to expensive clubs or events then you’re going to start missing out.

Get your friends onboard with your saving challenge and it’s going to be much easier if you’re all in it together.


7. Swap this for that

Think about what you spend most of your money on and make realistic swaps.

Remember to keep them realistic. I once vowed to make all of my own clothes for a year. I looked like a tramp for a few months before I finally caved. I then swapped my endless shopping sprees for one new item of clothing per month.

  • Swap eating out with your own version of Come Dine With Me. (Where you each take turns to host dinner)
  • Swap cinema nights with movie nights at home
  • Swap boozy nights with house parties
  • Swap your gym membership for your own outdoor exercise routine or home fitness DVDs
  • Swap shopping in Waitrose for shopping in Lidl or Aldi


8. Be the organiser and the motivator

If you’ve managed to get some friends on board with the savings challenge, you might need to be the person to keep them motivated. The more friends you have on board with the challenge, the easier it will be for you.

People start to get bored or tempted to splash out so keep them on track with encouragement and an endless list of free things to do. If you’re constantly organising free activities you’re less likely to start spending those well saved pennies.


9. Start booking your travels!

Don’t wait until you have the full amount saved to start booking your travels. Researching and booking your trip will keep you motivated and excited. It’s also easier to say no to things if you can genuinely say, ‘Sorry, I can’t come to the pub tonight, I’m going to Australia in a few months’.

No one is going to argue with that and try to tell you a night in the pub will be more fun than Australia!

If you know you need to save £1,000 and you can save this amount in 3 months, get your flights booked now.

When your flight/transport/accommodation is booked you HAVE to save your spending money.

When I went travelling around Asia and Australia for two years, I booked my flight to Sydney (via Hong Kong) almost one year in advance. I then slowly booked other things for my first few months travelling, like internal flights in Asia, a few fancy nights in hotels and certain tours I wanted to take.

This kept me motivated to keep saving and I was never tempted to withdraw any cash from my savings account.

Do you have any more tips to save for travelling?

Sign up for newsletter updates if you don’t want to miss next week’s post with more tips on how you can travel more in 2015.

Weekend Link Love - Amy Elizabeth

Tuesday 9th of May 2017

[…] Want to save money to go travelling? Get serious about it.  […]

Will you do the #Take12Trips Challenge? - The Travel Hack

Thursday 4th of February 2016

[…] How to save money to travel – an honest, realistic guide […]

The saving for travel Twitter chat is here with #Save4Trek

Wednesday 25th of February 2015

[…] How to save money to travel […]

#Save4Trek Twitter chat is here! | TrekAmerica Blog

Tuesday 24th of February 2015

[…] we would join forces with Monica Stott from The Travel Hack, who has some pretty great trips on how to save money for travel […]

Maddie @ Two for the Road

Tuesday 20th of January 2015

Some really great tips here and very realistic for the naysayers that say it's impossible. Only spending in cash is a great tip if you're not so great with finances (I used to be terrible!) but once I had a handle on things I started putting everything on a cashback card and paying it off every month. I now make around £150 a year from this which pays for a couple of cheap flights.