8 actually possible ways to save money for your next trip
Unfortunately, the money part of travel can be a total bummer, but it’s a necessary bummer. And while there are many ways to travel cheaper—from error-fare flights to staying in hostels—travel budgeting can, and should, begin even before you hop on that airplane. Whether you’re planning a round-the-world-trip or just your next weekend getaway, you need to save some money. This may seem impossible if, like many people, you’re living paycheque to paycheque. Don’t worry—there are some practical, easy-to-embrace ways to build your travel fund!
1. Open a dedicated travel savings account
Step one on your agenda is to go to your bank of choice and open a new savings account. This is now your dedicated travel savings account! Many banks will even let you name the account something fun: “Travel Fund,” “Gap Yah,” “South America Here I Come,” “Gregory.” Develop a habit of depositing money into the account, like 40% of every paycheque, $5 every time you swear, all your loose change at the end of the month… it’s up to you. The point is to make it a habit. The most important rule here is to never, ever, ever take money out (until your trip, at least). When you make an excuse even once, the spell is broken, and you’ll find yourself depleting the account. Plan wisely, though, and your travel savings account will begin to grow.
2. Live below your means
The only way to truly save money for travel is to spend less of it. This means living a little more simply than you did before you started saving. You’ll have to make a few lifestyle changes—like cancelling subscriptions, quitting a gym membership, getting a roommate or even moving back in with your family. You should also evaluate how you spend money socially and for convenience. This might mean fewer nights out, walking instead of Ubering or waking up half an hour earlier to make coffee at home, rather than buying a five-dollar latte on your way to work.
3. Track your spending
To live below your means, you first need to have a good hard look at your finances. Many of us like to spend it and forget it—logging into your bank account can stir up a storm of anxiety, so why do that to yourself? Well, if you really want to save money for travel, you need to take an honest look at your income and spending habits. You may find that a $3 snack or coffee now and then, which doesn’t feel like much, could be adding up over time. Maybe you even have some subscriptions you didn’t know about! To track your spending, use a free budgeting app, like Mint. You can set a monthly budget or savings goals, observe your spending history broken down into categories and more.
4. Sell your stuff
So, you’re cutting back on the money that’s going out… but the other half of the equation is to increase what’s coming in. An easy way to earn some extra money is to sell stuff you don’t need or want anymore. Take a note from our dear friend, and master of tidying, Marie Kondo (before you cancel your Netflix subscription, that is). Go through your stuff and find items that don’t spark as much joy in you as travel does, and sell them! You can try selling clothes online through Poshmark (now in Canada!) or bring gently used clothes into a local consignment store. Bulkier home items and electronics will sell quickly on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist or Kijiji, where buyers can pick up in person. Many book stores also have used book buying programs. Get together with friends and have a yard sale or join a flea market. The options are endless. And remember, put that new cash directly into your travel savings account.
5. Start a side hustle
Another way to increase your cashflow is to do what our parents called odd jobs, but what anyone under 35 knows as the notorious “side hustle.” There are many ways to establish a side hustle, but try to think of something that aligns with your interests. After all, this is work in addition to your day job, so don’t burn yourself out with endless online surveys paid at 5 cents a pop. One popular side hustle is pet sitting—you can find gigs by word of mouth or through apps like Spot, GoFetch or Rover. Selling crafts or repurposed vintage items on Etsy is another option. Remote online work, like freelance writing, graphic design, web design and virtual assistance, can be flexible and lucrative. These gigs can be found through cold pitching, or sites like UpWork, Fiverr and WeWorkRemotely.
6. Think of money in terms of travel
Finally, to stay motivated, learn to think of your expenses in terms of travel. A night at the bar would be fun, but that’s easily equivalent to four nights in a hostel in Bangkok. And cutting out your weekly dinner out and daily lunch out? Over six months, that could be worth your entire roundtrip flight to Australia. The more you intertwine your dream of travel with your daily spending habits, the more motivated you’ll be to save.
Some of these might seem like intense changes to make. While saving for travel does take sacrifice, don’t give up all your pleasures at once; it’s okay to keep your Netflix subscription, just be sure to save an extra $10 each month to even it out. With balance and commitment, watch your travel savings account grow, and enjoy your hard-earned trip at the end!