How to save money to travel

Five ways to save toward your next trip

We all long to travel—to see and experience what we can’t in our own backyard. But we’re not always great about figuring out how to save money for a trip, especially those unexpected but memorable trips like destination weddings and last-minute excursions. So here are a few tips that will help you save money with travel in mind. Where will it take you? That’s up to you.

Be a saver

If you want to know how to save money to travel the world, you first need to make sure you’re saving in your everyday life. So the first step is opening a savings account. The second step is committing to putting and keeping money in it. Once you have enough money there to cover yourself in case of a financial emergency, you can start designating travel savings.

Build it into your budget

It’s impossible to know what kind of trips you can afford if you don’t know how you spend your money. Use a paper ledger, spreadsheet or a budgeting app to build your monthly and annual budget. Be aggressive and diligent—account for everything including travel. There should be enough left over to cover you in financial emergencies. If not, look for places you can save, whether by cutting the cable cord or ditching an expensive gym membership you don’t use as much as you hoped. Once travel is securely in your budget, you’ll be able to better enjoy planning your next trip.

Padding the travel fund

Even if you think you’ve budgeted enough, you never know when you’ll see a flash airfare sale or get invited to a bachelor or bachelorette party you didn’t see coming. So, it may make sense to develop some incentives to pad your travel fund. Say you eat out for lunch most days. What if you cut back to twice a week and put the extra cash in your savings, earmarked for travel? Or maybe you’re considering buying a new car. Why not buy something slightly more affordable and put the monthly savings into a travel fund, allowing yourself wiggle room when a friend proposes a last-minute trip to Las Vegas or New York?

Teamwork makes the travel dream work

Saving for travel can be fun, because it comes with a more imminent payoff: a well-earned vacation you can afford. Even better, it’s something you can do with friends.

If you’re having trouble putting enough away in your savings account for your dream trip, try teaming up with a friend. Pick a destination and work together on the budget. Then, help each other identify ways you can save in your everyday life. Maybe you swap that weekly spin class for a jog around the lake, or that weekly movie-and-popcorn date for a night of streaming. However you do it, have a travel goal in mind, pursue it together and hold each other accountable for it. You could even open a joint savings account with a friend to stash the cash.

Side hustle with a purpose

Cutting expenses is hard. But in the age of the side hustle, you also might consider finding new income to fund your travel. Are you a pro at wrapping gifts? Set up a holiday business to make some extra cash. Or maybe you're a tax professional with the capacity to handle more during busy season. Set up a side business doing neighbors’ and friends’ taxes and watch your dream vacation come to life.

When the extra income rolls in, put it in savings or open a separate savings account. Once you’ve set aside enough for taxes, save the rest for your next big trip. It may mean logging a few more hours, but it will be worth it when the wheels go up.

Traveling can be expensive, but those expenses shouldn’t stop you from seeing the world. So build a budget. Start to save. Phone a friend. And dedicate yourself to traveling smartly, so that even as you travel you can be saving for your next adventure. And once you hit the road, take plenty of pictures. They’ll remind you not only of your trip but the work you put in saving for it.

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