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How I Save Money for TravelPeople always ask me this: How do you afford to travel so much? Like, how do you save money for travel?

Travel can seem like an unattainable goal for many. Expensive and out of reach.

I used to think that too. I would spend all my money on clothes, shoes and nights out so I didn’t have much left for travel. It was something that I yearned to do but I didn’t know how to reign in my spending to save money for travel.

When I moved to the UK in 2005 and actually started travelling I very quickly fell head over heels in love with my new travel heavy lifestyle. Now that I knew first-hand how amazing it felt to travel, it gave me the push I needed to start to seriously save money for travel.

Over the years I have become better at it and have learnt a few tricks to save even more money for travel. A lot of these budget tips are also tips to becoming more green. Saving money and the environment!

So here they are you lucky people, my tried and true tips to save money for travel.

How to Save Money for Travel

Food and Drink

Drink Water

I tend not to buy expensive drinks when I am eating out – why pay $4 for a coke when I can get water for free. If I am really craving that coke I will buy it after my meal at a convenience store at half the price.

Drinking tap water is a way to save money for travelDon’t Buy Water

I also don’t buy bottled water. I live in a country where the water is safe to drink so I fill up my water bottle and keep it in the fridge. The obsession with bottled water has created dire environmental impacts and a lot of bottled water is just tap water with the chemicals taken out anyway (or so I have read).

I would rather just get it straight from the source. Helping the environment and my wallet. An environmentally conscious way to save money for travel.

Cut Down on the Lattes

Although I love my Vanilla lattes, I restrict myself to only having 1 – 2 per week. That way it is a treat and I really enjoy it when I do have one. I drink plunger coffee the rest of the time.

Cut Down on Drinking

I don’t drink too much these days and when I do go out for drinks, usually once or twice a week, I stick to the cheaper options such as beer, cider, house wine or single shot spirits.

As much as I would love to go crazy on the cocktails, I really don’t want to be drinking my money away, I would much rather be saving money for travel.

Use Vouchers for Dinners out

I buy a lot of deals off Groupon, mainly for dinners out at drastically reduced prices, like paying $14.50 for a 3 course dinner at a Thai Restaurant in Sydney – how good is that!

Socialise at Home

Sometimes, instead of going out for dinner we have friends over for dinner instead. If the weather is nice we have a BBQ with people bringing their own meat and booze. It makes for a cheap and fun night, and a great way to save money for travel.

Take a Lunch to Work

I take my lunch to work almost every day. Leftovers, canned soup, homemade salads – it might not be the most exciting lunch options but it saves me about $75 per week and that money adds up quickly ($3900 per year – yikes!)

Catch Ups Over Coffee

Coffee or brunch dates with friends are a lot better on the wallet than drinks and dinner and you won’t be hung over the next day! Cafes are generally a lot quieter than bars so you can actually hear what your friend is saving too – win win!

Eat More Vegetarian Meals

Meat can be expensive so I eat Vegetarian meals about half the time. This definitely saves me money on my food shop. You don’t need to eat meat every day for a well-balanced and healthy diet – in fact, a lot of research has found that you shouldn’t.

Eating vegetarian is a great way to save money for travel

Choose a Cheaper Supermarket

At the moment this is hard as we aren’t living near ANY supermarkets, but when we move in a couple of weeks I am going to start shopping at Australia’s cheapest supermarket, Aldi, again.

It definitely makes a difference choosing a budget supermarket and I noticed that I used to spend about $35 per week on my food shop in comparison to the $55 I am spending currently.

Buy Food on Special

I always look out for deals when I’m supermarket shopping and buy expensive meat such chicken breasts when they are cheaper because they are nearing their expiry date. Buying in bulk and freezing is a great way to take advantage of these deals.


Buy Second-hand

I buy a lot of my stuff second-hand these days. I buy books at Charity Shops and Second hand bookshops as well as swapping with friends. I shop for clothes at Charity Shops and Markets and I even furnished my last apartment with second hand furniture off the online Marketplace: Gumtree.

Buy During Sales

When I do buy my clothes and shoes new, I definitely take advantage of Sales. You can also sign up to become members of your favourite stores as there are usually members only bargains to be had.

Free Activities

Living in Sydney, my favourite activities are all free: Walking the coastal trails, swimming and sunbathing at the beach, wandering around markets and exploring the different neighbourhoods in and around the city. The Sam Cooke song is right: The best things in life are free.

Cheap Nights at the Movies

I love going to the movies but I would never pay full price. Instead I go on the cheap nights (seems to usually be Tuesdays in Sydney). Being a member of the cinema can also reduce costs or you can earn points towards a free movie ticket.

Buy Refurbished and Seconds Items

My current laptop was half the retail price because the box had been opened when it was sent to someone. A multi-point check was performed on it and everything was running fine so it was resold at a reduced price.

When I am upgrading to a MacBook Air in the next few months I will be purchasing it from Apple’s Refurbished Store. All items purchased from there even come with a one year warranty. I will be getting a new camera from a seconds store also.

Dye my own Hair

I dye my hair dark which is easy to do myself. I buy a good quality hair dye for $15 and redo it every month. Easy and cheap.

Have an Easy to Maintain Hairstyle

I also have an easy to maintain hairstyle. I have only got simple layers so I am able to go to a cheap barber to get them trimmed rather than an expensive stylist. It isn’t rocket science so the $18 hair cut from Supercuts will do just fine and saves me the $40+ I could be spending. And I used to only pay $9 in Vancouver!


Sign up for Alerts from Airlines

To keep on top of the airline sales I have signed up to get alerts for sales. I managed to nab flights to Melbourne for Australia Day weekend in January next year for only $115 return – not bad for a holiday weekend considering I paid $330 to Melbourne over Easter this year. I also got return flights to Adelaide for $90 return. Bargain.

Book at Flights at the Optimum Time

I have read a lot about the best times to book flights. Apparently the best day to book is Tuesday or Wednesday and the optimum time period to book is 6-8 weeks before your trip unless your trip is over a holiday period. These tips have served me well so far.


We camp a lot. It is absolutely the cheapest form of accommodation in Australia (other than couchsurfing) and I actually really enjoy it. Well, as long as it isn’t raining. It doesn’t cost much to get the supplies, especially if you wait for the sales. We got our 3 person tent for $65 and our extra warm sleeping bags for $30 each on sale.

Camping is a fun way to save money to travel


Air Miles Credit Cards

I just signed up for my first Air miles Credit card recently and have already racked up quite a few points as well as the 50,000 I am entitled to after spending $1500 in the first three months.

My goal is to pay for a return flight from Sydney to Hawaii next year purely on air miles which I am well on track for. I also get free Travel insurance for any trip up to 6 months long and the annual fee has been waived for my first year. I only wish I had an Air Miles credit card sooner!

For my Kiwi readers looking for an airpoints card, then this is a good site to compare all rewards credit cards.

High Interest Savings Account

In Australia it is definitely worth opening a high interest savings account. With my account, as long as I deposit $200 per month I receive an interest rate of 4.2%. The more money you have in there, the more it is worth it.

Create a Budget

This is possibly the most important tip to saving money – keeping track of it in a budget. I have been budgeting my money since I was about 12 years old. I still write everything in my notebook that I carry everywhere – outgoing expenses, earnings and savings per week.

I have also had excel spreadsheets in the past which I am thinking about starting up with again. If it’s all written down I find it so much easier to reach my savings goals.

Use Cash Instead of Cards

Another key way to control your spending is to only get out the money you are allowing yourself to spend and leaving the cards at home.

I allow myself $120 spending money per week – this includes coffees, dinners and drinks out and entertainment. I get it out in cash on Sunday and that way I easily track how much I have spent.

Do a Tax Return

This is definitely worth doing in Australia and in other countries with a tax free threshold too like the UK, especially if you haven’t worked the full year. I should be getting about $2500 back this year.

Make Extra Money

Sell Stuff Online

I haven’t done a lot of this lately but I have sold books, DVDs, concert tickets, old backpacks and furniture online before, mainly on eBay and gumtree. It is a fantastic way to get rid of stuff that you don’t use anymore as well as making some extra cash for your travel fund.

Get a Second Job

I am currently just working in the one job (Education Officer) but for the past 8 years I have usually held 2-3 jobs at a time. I found that Event Waitressing worked well as a second job as it is flexible, with different shifts each week that you can accept or turn down depending on your availability.

I actually enjoyed the buzz of the work too. I have also worked as a waitress in the Director’s Lounge at Chelsea Football Club, a Receptionist for indoor Paintball and a Babysitter. A tried and true way to save money for travel, and gain new skills.

Participate in Market Research Focus Groups

This is something that I found out about last summer in Vancouver and I have since attended four focus groups in Sydney too. You are generally asked your opinion, either in a group setting or one on one, on various topics. It could be about your thoughts on a new ad campaign, a new product or a revamped website.

Sometimes you could even be taste testing products. Focus Groups are such a great way to make some extra cash, as long as you are chosen that is. In Sydney you usually get between $80 – $150 for 1-2 hours.

Also, there are a lot that are in the evening so you can still participate even if you have a 9-5 job.

Rent Out Your Spare Room on Airbnb

I rented out my spare room when I was living in Sydney and loved it – I even became a super Host! We hosted travelers from Australia and from around the world, as well as making some extra cash, allowing us to save money for travel. 

When I have a home again I definitely want to be an Airbnb Host once more.


Buy a Weekly or Monthly Pass

Whenever I move, I always work out what the most cost effective way is for me to get around on public transport. Whether it is single trips, weekly or monthly passes, whatever the cheapest ticket is, I will get it.

Walk to Work

You can save a lot of money on transport when you walk to or from work a few times a week. At my current place, I have been walking the 1 hour and 45 minutes to work three days a week.

In London I used to save money on my weekly transport pass by only catching the train to Zone 2, rather than the expensive Zone 1. I would then walk the 20 minutes along the river to my workplace located in Zone 1. This saved me over £50 a month which definitely added up.


Walk Everywhere

As mentioned above, I walk a lot. This is enough for me to stay fit and healthy. I would much rather be outside enjoying nature than stuck inside a stuffy gym. Wouldn’t you?

Walking everywhere is a great way to save money for travel

Cheap Exercise Classes

When I was in London I nabbed a couple of great deals on Groupon for Bikram Yoga passes and short-term Gym memberships at a fraction of the regular cost. There were also some great introductory trial offers for Yoga Studios and Gyms that I took advantage of too.

If you don’t mind moving around a bit, this is a great way to save money on exercise classes, and ultimately, save money for travel.

So those are all my tips and tricks to save money for travel!

These methods have worked well for me and have definitely helped me a lot to save money for travel over the years. Some of these methods might strike you as being too extreme or maybe not extreme enough.

Everyone is different and you have to find ways to save money for travel that are right for you, figuring out what sacrifices you can make without taking the joy out of your everyday life.

Too many people scrimp and save, sacrificing joy for future travel which is all they can think about. No wonder they can’t wait to leave.

I think that the most important thing you can do is allow yourself to have a life while you are saving money for travel. Life is to be lived and enjoyed, all of the time, not just when you are travelling.

Don’t cut out all of the things that give you joy now to save money for travel – to serve your future happiness. Just cut down on your spending while still treating yourself to the things that make you happy now.

Because you can never know what is going to happen in the future.

Do you think that any of these tips to save money for travel can help you save? Do you have any other tips that you would like to share?


How I Save Money for Travel

29 Comments on How I Save Money for Travel

  1. Great article and so useful. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to be living frugally in 2015, so this has helped lots.

    P.s Aldi is great!

  2. Can’t tell you how useful this post is, I’m going to be travelling and living a frugal life, so these tips are perfect. Thank you for sharing.

    P.s I read every word 😉

  3. There are definitely good tips! I live in China and we’ve been told not to drink tap water, so even though I hate the waste involved in bottled water we do drink it, but I try to buy it as efficiently as possible, in 5 liter bottles my husband carries home instead of individual bottles. We also don’t drink alcohol so that saves a bunch! For us ,eating at work is cheaper than making my own food (I know, it shocked me too!) because we’re teachers and can have a free breakfast and a 2 RMB (oh, about 35 cents in USD) lunch. Food is where we find ourselves able to save the most amount of money on a daily basis, and we love coming across great deals on soon-to-expire groceries at the market!

    • You definitely can’t avoid drinking bottled water in some countries for sure. I found that in some places in South and Central America it was cheaper to eat out too and we definitely took advantage of that.

  4. Awesome list. It’s really about making travel the priority and keeping it at the front of your mind when spending cash! It’s amazing how the little things add up – ie, coffees and a round of drinks. I agree re Aldi! I wished I lived within walking distance from one. The closest to me is IGA where you basically have to take out a mortgage to do a weekly shop 🙂

  5. Great tips! Saving money by not buying drinks is something I do religiously. I never order sodas at meals — i mean they cost money and they’re not exactly good for you. Also, bringing your own coffee and lunch to work is a big money saver. Love these tips!!

  6. certainly finding the happy hour spots helps 🙂 Walking or cycling to work I tend to do. Really good list you have here. Aldis I would have to say is my fav supermarket for cheap food

  7. Love it Katie,
    Great reminder tips as well as new…got my saving happening again…getting excited for another trip…big or small! xx

  8. Great list! I do or have done most of these and it’s amazing how much you save over time. As a couple we also do things like sharing a meal when we go out to eat which saves money and calories. We also try to only buy produce that is in season and when traveling we stick to local foods rather than imported.

  9. I LOVE this list! So many great ideas! It’s funny how frugally you can live when it becomes a priority. Hitting my 30’s and cutting down on drinking has definitely helped save on some of those bar bills. And I actually go one step further with saving on hair cuts – I cut my own and sometimes have a trusted friend make sure it’s even. Yes, I’m that cheap 🙂

    • I have cut my own a lot in the past too Amy! When I was travelling through the Americas I did my own, I only worry about doing it myself now because I was scared it would look obvious when I straighten it. Nothing wrong with being cheap 🙂

  10. This is such a great list. Using cash instead of cards is the tip I always suggest as well – it makes it so much easier to keep track of what you’re spending if you can actually see what you’ve got left every time you open your purse. (Though I admit I do use card for all the non-negotiables, like petrol, and council tax, and when I had to pay for my glasses.)

    And I also agree with your point about not making yourself depressed while you’re saving. I think ‘ordinary life’ should be an extension of ‘travel life’, so there’s no point making yourself miserable just because you’re not travelling. There’s a difference between saving scrupulously and scrimping yourself into the ground.

    Great post, Katie! 🙂

  11. Buying refurbished items is such a good idea, can’t believe I’ve never really considered it before.

    Tax refunds are one of my favourite parts of quitting a job. You miss out on the interest you should be getting, but the lump sum is a great last minute boost to a travel fund!

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