Wondering how to save for travel so you can finally see the world?
If traveling the world is what you so desire, but find it impossible to save money then I’m here to help you.
In this post, I’m going to share my proven tips on how to save for travel and quickly earn extra income with great paying side hustles.
Blink twice if you’ve ever told yourself, “I don’t make enough money to travel?”
That was like a quadruple blink for me.
Traveling the world is something many people dream about doing yet feel they lack the funds.
I ALWAYS thought it was my wage that prohibited me when actually it was me and my bad habits.
Realizing I wanted to travel more than anything else, I knew paying off debt would be the key to my freedom. Being debt-free with a low cost of living meant more money towards travel.
Much like dieting, saving money is a skill that takes planning, discipline, and practice. My goal is to help you identify ways to get organized, earn extra money and stay motivated throughout your journey starting now!
Psst. . . Looking for more tips on how to save for travel? Check out my Cent$ of Adventure series.
- Unexpected Travel Expenses You Forget to Budget For
- How Much Should I Budget for Vacation? (Travel Budget Breakdown)
- 5 Creative Ways to Get Cheap Accommodation When Travel
How Do I Save for Travel?
I wanted to share my personal experience in building a travel fund and saved over $14,000 in 8 months. Here’s what I did. . .
First and foremost you need to organize your current finances. Think of this step as building your budget.
Organize Your Current Finances
Organizing your current finances is key to helping you identify where your money is going and if there is any room to put towards savings.
It puts your current situation into perspective and allows you to foresee the what-ifs. “What if I cancel my cable bill or what if I stop getting my nails done every two weeks”.
Have that conversation with yourself.
If you cannot learn to “balance a checkbook” it will be difficult for you to adequately track your spending behaviors.
One way is to create a spreadsheet. I love using Google Sheets to track my financial goals and monthly spending.
Every dollar app is also nice for on-the-go tracking.
I also love my yearly planner. It comes with a monthly calendar where I write down all my bills and goals to refer back to every day.
Writing your bills and expenditures down in a visible place can help you stay the course.
You can also download my free Bucket List Budget and Travel Planner! It’s a great way to help you plan and track your travel funds. I’m really happy with how it turned out so be sure to grab your free copy below.
Bucket List Budget
Snag your FREE Bucket List Budget and Travel Planner. This planner includes: travel budget breakdown, savings tracker, checklists, and itinerary templates.
Pay Yourself First
I paid myself every paycheck. Even if it was $100. Some paychecks I was able to put as much as $800 in my savings account, and other times it was much less.
The Rule of Thumb is generally 20% of your income.
Shoot for 20% but if not don’t be discouraged. Even 3% of savings per paycheck is better than nothing at all. Hell, even $5 a week is a great practice to get your mind into the saving habit.
Get A Side Gig
I got a side gig working promotions for alcohol companies. I worked weekends earning anywhere from $25-40/hour.
Automate Your Savings
I utilized money-saving apps to store away small amounts at a time without notice. Before I knew it I had a nice saving with little or no effort involved. Again, the apps I used were Qapital, Acorns, and Ibotta.
I found an effortless solution on how to save money for travel using these three apps.
Ibotta is still holding its top position in 2020 as the best cash rebates app.
Their simple to use app makes saving money on purchases seamless.
Just unlock a rebate, snap a photo of your receipt, and watch the savings add up.
If you are looking to get cash rebates on restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, and more everyday expenses, Ibotta is the app for you.
Ibotta Money-Saving Hacks:
#1) Take advantage of Ibotta’s Referral Program.
Earn up to $100 when you refer 8 friends, $25 for three more friends, and $40 for the next two.
That’s over $12 earnings per referral.
Unlike other referral programs, it’s extremely easy to convince others to sign up and start using Ibotta.
For example, my friend drinks Coke and Bud Light on the regular.
Being the good friend that I am, I told her she can get dollars in rebates by doing the same thing she was already doing.
Of course, that was a no-brainer for her. She redeemed a rebate, got $10 in her account, and I got $5. Win, Win!
#2) Exponentially increase your rewards by mixing rewards credit cards with rebate apps.
I recommend having at least one reward credit card for the daily cost of living (i.e. gas, groceries, entertainment).
Here are the best ones currently – Discover it, BankAmericard Cash Rewards, Amazon Rewards Credit Card, and Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi.
At the time of writing this, Ibotta had a 3% cashback rebate for Amazon Fashion.
Using my Amazon rewards credit card that offers 5% cash back for Amazon purchases as a Prime Member (3% if not Prime Member), I purchased a $50 summer dress and got $4 cashback.
Just double-dipped on savings, my friend!!
If that doesn’t sound like much to you, it’s because it’s not. Yet, over time those small amounts grow into a larger one.
I once earned 40% cashback on Groupon up to $20 through the Ibotta app.
Luckily, it was around the holidays and I wanted to get a gift for my mom.
Taking advantage of that offer, I got $20 cash back on a purchase I would have made either way.
Sign up for Ibotta here and start earning!!
Qapital is a saving account app and great if you need to save money FAST.
Meaning, if you are planning a summer trip with your friends and only have a few months to save, Qapital allows you to save for specific goals.
Create a savings goal(s) and set rules for each. As rules are followed, Qapital transfers the money out of a linked bank account and into its associated goal.
Once the goal amount is achieved, you cash out and hello Mexico!
With tons of goals to choose from, Qapital makes automated saving fun, easy, and tailored to your spending habits.
You create rules that reward you when followed. Think of it as a fun self-challenge.
Qapital Money-Saving Hacks
#1) Do you have a never-ending to-do list?
Use the IFFT app to create a recipe for Qapital and Reminders and pay yourself every time you complete a to-do task (I set my pay to $2 per completed task).
You can choose any amount you want. I just liked $2 in case I have a productive week, I won’t see large amounts being taken out of my checking account at once.
If you are trying to cut down on unnecessary spending, this recipe is your new best friend.
Since you pay yourself every time you complete a to-do task, set tasks to be things that don’t require spending money (i.e. work out, read a book, blog, and clean)
Rather than spending money on unnecessary things, I was saving towards a future vacation.
#2) Spend Less Game
What hooked me on Qapital some two-plus years ago was that it felt like a game – a personal challenge.
By setting rules such as “spend less than $100 at Trader Joe’s for the month”, the difference would automatically be put into my Qapital goal of choice.
That made going to Trader Joes a game to see how much I could get per month for under $100.
Lastly, I want to mention more great features Qapital has.
For people getting used to balancing a checkbook (students especially), Qapital will not withdrawal from your checking account if that means an overdraft will occur.
Instead, a 14-day freeze will be put on the withdrawal until more funds become available.
Sign up for Qapital here and receive $5!!
If anyone has made an investing app perfect for beginners it’s without a doubt Acorns!
A great choice if you are saving for a trip further down the road (i.e. a trip around the world and you have one year to save).
How Acorns works in a nutshell:
- Determine your investing goals and Acorns will suggest a portfolio for you. Remember those medium people?
- Set up your funding source (i.e. checking account). This is the account Acorns will withdrawal from to deposit into your portfolio.
- Link up your credit and debit cards. These are the accounts you want acorns to round up your purchases from.
- When you make a purchase Acorns rounds up the amount to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. For example, if you make a $1.50 purchase on your linked credit card, Acorns would round it up to $2 and invest $0.50.
- Once the round-ups totals $5, the Acorns app automatically pulls the money out of your connected funding source (i.e. checking account) and into your stock portfolio.
I suggest starting with small investments, working your way up as you get a handle on how the app works in entirety.
Additionally, Acorns has these amazing additional features that prove it’s one of the best money saving apps such as:
Acorns blog, Grow is a great resource if you’re clueless on the topic of investing. You can find it in the app.
Acorns Money-Saving Hacks
1) Round-Up Multiplier
Since Acorns rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, you can select a multiplier – increasing your round-up amounts.
For example, if you select a 2x multiplier and spend $1.50, Acorns would round up to $2 per usual but multiply the difference ($0.50) by 2 giving you a $1 investment as opposed to $0.50.
It’s a great feature, yet one that should be used with caution if you are just getting your feet wet with investing in this automated app.
2) Earn Found Money
Similar to Ibotta’s fashion, Acorns offers rebates for making purchases at companies such as Uber, Expedia, Hotels.com, Airbnb, and more.
At the time of writing this, Acorns Earn Found Money was offering to invest $0.50 for every Uber ride booked through the app.
Now that is the ultimate way to grow your stock portfolio while traveling.
Cook at Home
I cooked at home. If you think about your average check for a meal with drinks at a casual restaurant, it probably averages around $25.
Do that three times a week and you have spent $300 or more eating out in one month. Woah! That is my grocery bill for the month and I get way more than three meals out of it.
Turn cooking at home into something fun. Play music, drink some wine and learn to cook your favorite restaurant dishes. You are not only saving money but having fun while doing so.
Find Cheaper Entertainment Alternatives
I traded expensive cocktails for game nights at home. Nothing kills the budget more than $14 handcrafted cocktails.
For me, this was the most tempting because I enjoy going out with my friends on the weekend. If I did go out to expensive bars, I drank slower aka “babysat my drink”. Once I started to see the results of my savings, it was easier to cut back on social spending.
Keep it Natural
I stopped getting my hair colored. I loved my purple hair, but I love traveling more. I stopped coloring it until most of the purple had faded out, then I had my hairdresser give me a balayage color so the roots matched my natural color. This ensured I could go months without coloring, or even let it grow out back to its natural color.
Expense It If Possible
I expensed as much as I could on my taxes to get a larger return. Working promos and running a travel blog meant I had to pay taxes on that income earned. Luckily, it also meant I could expense certain things.
I’m not a tax expert by any means so I can only speak for my situation. Every case is different so I encourage you to do a little research of your own and consult with a professional.
Think Before You Buy
I switched some of my expensive beauty products for cheaper brands. By some I mean instead of buying a new $12 lipstick and $20 mascara from Sephora, I bought brands like Elf from Target. I must say, it works very well given its low cost.
Add up the cost of all the skincare and beauty products you have in your bathroom. Think about how often you replace those items, and get a total cost per month, bi-monthly, etc. Then, Look for less expensive alternatives the next time you go to replace items.
Total Savings: $14,836
How to Quickly Earn Extra Income
Here are a few side hustles that can help you save money for travel even faster.
Become a Brand Ambassador
Ever wonder where those sample people in Total Wine come from? What about the people serving you samples at a beer or wine festival?
Those are essentially brand ambassadors and what I’ve been doing for years now.
Typically shifts are short (3-4 hours) and the pay is great!
I make anywhere from $25-40/hour working promotions for brands such as Corona, Stillhouse, Cooper Tires, and more.
Search your city for Brand Ambassador or Promotional Marketing companies.
Take some nice head, mid and full-body shots and ask them if they are hiring for promo people. It’s that easy.
With a simple Google search, you can find tons of sites that pay you for surveys, site reviews, product reviews, etc.
Dedicating a couple of hours a day could turn in to big bucks for you.
Here are a couple of sites I’ve come across:
- User Testing: get paid $10/test to review a website or App – 20 minutes per test
- UserLytics: get paid $10/task. Similar to User Testing. Must have a webcam.
- Dice.com: pay varies. Most jobs involve Quality Assurance testing.
- UTest: $10/20 minute video.
- UserZoom: $5-10/test. The average is $5.
Freelancer & Upwork
Have a specialized skill in just about anything from Accounting to Web Design?
Once you build your experience on these platforms your earning potential is limitless.
Just make sure to practice due diligence in reviewing websites, companies, and individual employers before agreeing to any contracts.
Become an Uber/Lyft driver
If you don’t mind the miles on your car then this could be a lucrative side gig for you.
Make sure to factor in gas, repair, and maintenance against your income.
As long as you come out positive this is a good decision.
Become an Airbnb host
If you have space and live in a desirable location, why not become a host and offer your place as a “shared room”.
If you go out of town then list your place as “entire home”.
Join A Focus Group
You can earn hundreds of dollars per month by joining market research studies or focus groups. There is a strong chance your local city has tons of opportunities. Turn to Google and research “paid focus groups (your city)”. You can earn in some cases up to $200 per session.
Before you know it your travel fund will have blossomed into that summer backpacking trip to Europe.
Prevent & Recover from Slips:
It’s highly likely you will encounter temptations, rainy days, etc.
Here are some of my tips on how to recover, re-balance, and continue on the saving path to vacation!
If you find you are consistently going over budget, then sit down and re-balance.
Maybe you are spending more in one category and less in another so re-balance.
If you are going over all categories then increase your budgeted amount.
If that is not possible, look into getting side work which I mentioned above.
Write down the reasons you went over budget.
Is this a monthly re-occurrence, or did something happen that month like an unexpected trip to the doctors?
Whenever I build a budget, I always factor in emergencies.
Prevent overspending by putting a stop to small petty purchases.
Easier said than done I know, yet very important to practice self-control.
Small purchases add up quickly putting you over the edge in no time.
What helped me was to ask myself, “how many hours would I need to work to make enough to buy this item?”
Are those black Nikes for $120 worth 4 hours of work, or can I get the same shoe in blue for only 2 hours of work? The savings can be endless if you think like that.
You Are the Secret Sauce
It’s all about the mindset.
Just like any goal, if you focus hard on it eventually you will achieve it. My goal is always to travel the world which means saving money is a top priority.
If you want to travel you need to make it a priority!
Lastly, I want to quote a great line I read from Coddiwomp. . .
To help get you in the right mindset to reduce expenses and save every penny possible, “It helps to see it as all part of the fun; to devote and obsess over this process”.
Now, Go Travel the World
In a nutshell you save for travel by hustling, tracking expenses, and watching every penny.
A simple recipe for success but hard to do.
You just have to constantly remember your why. Why are you doing this?
For me my why is to have the freedom to travel the world.
Remind yourself that every step of the way and you will be traveling the world in no time.
Need some inspiration on where to go? Check out these posts:
Do you prefer traveling to lesser-known places? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission (at no cost to you) when you purchase through these links, which helps me keep my lights on and order pizza from Dominos! I am extremely grateful. Thank you.
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