Travel Help

Tips on How to Save Money for Travel

We’ve been asked by a number of people to write this Tips on How to Save Money for Travel post. People curious to know how we manage to save enough money to travel for the lengths of time that we do. We get it. If we were watching us from the outside, we’d wonder exactly the same thing. How do we manage to go on regular holidays? Get married? Buy a property in London? Live in one of the most expensive cities in the world? Have a social life and still magically put enough money aside to fund our shared passion for world travel?

Most of our inquisitive friends already know that when working, we’ve never earned high salaries. During our 10 years living in London (on and off), we’ve both earned various annual salaries between 20K and 35K. Sure they’re not bad salaries but we’re hardly living the city high life.

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Over the past 10 years we've taken a number of year long trips around the world. We've got plenty of tried and tested tips on how to save money for travel.

Neither of us has rich parents. So there’s been no ‘bank of Mum and Dad’ to help us with any of our purchases. Every holiday we’ve taken. The around the world flights. Our little London flat. The many nights out with friends. It’s all been paid for by our own hard earned and saved cash.

So How Do We Do it? What Are Our Tips on How to Save Money For Travel?

If you’re reading this because you dream of travelling but can’t seem to save enough money, we wish our tips on how to save money for travel are some kind of top secret formula. We’re afraid they’re not. It’s purely down to making some sacrifices, being strict with yourself and committing to saving over long periods of time.

Summer in beautiful Prague, Czech Republic. Tips on How to Save Money for Travel.
Summer in beautiful Prague, Czech Republic

Some of our tips on how to save money for travel might seem like they won’t make enough difference. Nonetheless, by doing all or most of the below at the same time, we hope you’ll soon find you’re on your way to your first or next world adventure! None of this is rocket science, but it’s how we’ve managed to save for our, at times, nomadic lifestyle.

Prepare Your Own Meals to Avoid Eating Out

This is probably one of our most effective tips on how to save money for travel. With having busy lives, we understand that it’s sometimes easier to eat out than spend your precious time preparing meals in the kitchen. We see it all the time. People regularly buying their breakfast coffee and pastry from Starbucks. Grabbing a cafe sandwich for lunch. Picking up a takeaway on their way home from work. Doing even one of these every day soon amounts to a lot of cash that you could be putting into your savings.

We save a tonne of money by preparing all of our three meals each day from Monday to Friday. This might seem a bit regimented but unless you’re earning big bucks, it’s the way it has to be in order to save serious amounts of cash. Be strict but treat yourself at the weekends. Go out to somewhere cheap or order a takeaway. This is important to make the rest of the week easier to commit to.

Climbing glaciers in New Zealand. Tips on How to Save Money for Travel.
Climbing glaciers in New Zealand

By preparing our own meals, we’re spending the same amount of money on food for one week as others might do in one day. For example, while a Starbucks breakfast will cost around £5 a day, we’ll spend the same amount on a box of cereal, milk and fruit that’ll last us the whole week. The same goes for lunches. Most people we know regularly go out at lunchtimes and spend an average of £5-8 a day. Takeaway sandwiches, noodles, salads etc. We’ll spend the same amount on supermarket bought food items which we prepare at home and make last all week.

Go Vegetarian Monday to Friday

You may laugh but this really should be added to our tips on how to save money for travel. Good quality meat can be expensive so cutting it out for most days of the week can be very cost effective. We make healthy vegetable based meals from Monday to Friday that cost maybe 50% cheaper if leaving out the meat. However, we do like our meat too much to go full vegetarian. So most of our meals at weekends will be meat based.

Shop in the Sales

Unless we buy an item from a cheaper high street store or website, we purchase everything we need in the seasonal sales. Our wardrobe is full of clothing and footwear sale items. This laptop we’re using now was discounted and so was the camera we use to take all our photos. The flat screen TV in our home, the sofa we sit on to watch it. All discounted in the sales.

Cycling the ruins of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka.
Cycling the ruins of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka

Buying all our essential items this way means we pay around 50% less than if we shopped throughout the rest of the year. Big savings!  We also only need to shop a couple of times a year, giving us more time to do more important things.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

This should already be on your own list of tips on how to save money for travel. It’s common sense but we’ve included it as a reminder. It’s a sad realisation that our society is obsessed with consumption. Most of us constantly seek out instant gratification. We want the latest product, even if we are perfectly satisfied with what already own.

The latest gadgets, cars, houses and on trend fashion are all items we’re pressured to buy. Advertisers know exactly how to convince us to buy these items. Telling us our lives will be much better and more fulfilled if we do so. When you’re saving for something important to you, like travel, it’s crucial that you ignore the temptation to buy those things that you do not need.

Kayaking in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Tips on How to Save Money for Travel.
Kayaking in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

For example, your mobile phone may be two years old and there’s a new updated version available. Do you really need to upgrade? I’m sure your phone is more than suitable for what you need it for. Your wardrobe is full of clothes you bought last year but all your friends are buying this season’s fashion. Do you really need to join them if your current wardrobe is in perfectly good condition?

Next time you’re about to buy something that isn’t essential, stop. Think about how that same amount of money could be spent on your experience of a lifetime. For more on this particular topic read this post.

Quit the Gym

It’s been years since we’ve been members of a gym but we still manage to stay fit and healthy. A gym membership can cost anything up to £100 a month! Instead, we choose to exercise for free at home using weights, exercise DVDs and fitness apps.

Waiting for soup in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Tips on How to Save Money for Travel.
Waiting for soup in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Why commit to an expensive monthly gym membership to run on a treadmill, when it costs nothing to run on the streets or a nearby park. We get more exercise by often walking to where we want to go instead of taking public transport. This also saves us money so it’s a win-win for our tips on how to save money for travel.

Forward Planning and Research

Organisation is key here. Due to being pretty busy people we often have to book friend and family visits a certain amount of time in advance. Sometimes several weeks or months. It’s not ideal but on the positive side doing this can work out much cheaper. Booking transport tickets in advance can save you some serious cash. In the UK we often buy long distance train tickets 3 months in advance when they are at their cheapest cost. For longer journeys, this can save us £100s if you compare to buying tickets on the date of travel.

Spend Some Time Doing Research if You Are Planning a Vacation

Don’t just go directly to the airline or hotel website to make your booking. Flight and hotel room prices can vary from website to website so make sure to compare so you get the best possible deal. There are even sites like Skyscanner compare costs for you.

Cactus hugging at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Tips on How to Save Money for Travel.
Cactus hugging at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

By forward planning and research, we’ve managed to have some really fantastic but also cheap vacations. We went to Marrakech in Morocco for 7 days and spent just £700 including flights, food, sights and accommodation in a beautiful traditional riad. We visited Dubrovnik in Croatia for 5 days and spent just over £500 for everything. Including staying in a lovely AirBnB apartment with wide sea views.

Researching Restaurants Can Also Really Pay Off

When we’re away on vacation we often look for budget friendly restaurants that have great online reviews. This way we get to eat amazing food but at a cheap price. We play by the same rules back home. Eating out in London doesn’t have to be expensive if you put a bit of effort in.

Sometimes You Have to Say No

This is the hardest from our list of tips on how to save money for travel. We love spending time with our friends but every now and then we have to say no to social invites. We’re sociable people so have a lot of friends which makes it even more difficult. It’s not possible for us to say yes to every party, gig, festival, meal or drinks we get invited to. Of course, we’d love to say yes to everything but if we did, we’d end up with an empty bank account.

Choose the events that you really want to go to or the ones that aren’t too expensive. You could also make alternative suggestions. Having drinks and food around someone’s house instead of going out is a massive money saver.

Saying no is not easy, especially in your younger years when everyone wants to be out. However, it’ll really help you hit that savings target if you do. Just make sure not to say no to everything. Good friends are important so you don’t want to loose them.

Set Yourself a Monthly Target

Lastly, make sure you know how much you need to put aside each month. Work out how long you want to go away for and how much you’ll need to cover costs in your chosen location for that period of time. Having a monthly saving target will help you commit to all the above. If you fall short then you can decide what other sacrifices you need to make in order to hit that goal. Create a spreadsheet if it helps. We haven’t needed to but seeing your expenditure clearly laid out could help with your savings organisation.

Trekking lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Tips on How to Save Money for Travel.
Trekking lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

So like we said at the start, none of these tips on how to save money for travel is rocket science

They’re just simple methods that we’ve used for years that clearly work for us. They’ve really helped enable our travel obsessed lifestyle. We’re at our happiest when on the road so if we have to eat the same meal for a few days in a week, miss out on some social events and buy our clothes from sale rails, then so be it because it’s absolutely worth it. 

Once you’re ready to start booking flights and accommodation, to save even more money, we recommend using flight comparison site Skyscanner and accommodation booking site Booking.com

If you have any of your own tips on how to save money for travel then do share them by commenting below. Enjoy your trip!

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Over the past 10 years we've taken a number of year long trips around the world. We've got plenty of tried and tested tips on how to save money for travel.

Hi! We’re Darren and Shelley, a travel obsessed couple from London, England. We’ve been travelling on and off for the past 11 years. We regularly leave our comfortable British lives behind to live the nomadic lifestyle for a year at a time. There’s nothing we love more than quitting our jobs, packing our bags and flying to the other side of the world without much of a plan. Not having a plan allows us to travel more freely, slowly and without commitments. We’re now on our new and epic one-way ticket adventure to Asia but it won’t stop there. The only plan we have that’s different to previous trips is to try and make some money along the way, so our travels can last as long as we wish them to. We’re chasing our digital nomad dream. We’d love you to join us to see if we can make it work and maybe give us some suggestions on where to go next!

2 thoughts on “Tips on How to Save Money for Travel”

  1. What an awesome post guys, so funny we get asked the exact same things about how we can afford to do what we’re doing, and you’re spot on. All those little sacrifices really pay off. And actually they never feel like sacrifices as in the end we see the bigger picture and get more out of our money than we would have done had we’d been frivolous Sending love the the Costa Rican rainforest, Candace and Spencer (www.360honeymoon.com)

    1. Thanks for the comment guys. We’re glad you liked the post. Seeing the bigger picture is exactly what it’s all about. Hope you’re enjoying Costa Rica. We hope to make it there one day!

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