Save Money for Travel The Ultimate Guide

If you’re dreaming of your next trip whether it is a weekend adventure or a long vacation, then you have to save money for travel,

It’s the only way to reap all the travel benefits and explore other cultures around the world.

But travel can be a money-hungry monster! So stay in charge of your finances by making a plan.

Whether camping in the woods or splurging on a 5-star hotel is your thing, it still costs. Whichever way you travel, vacation expenses can add up.

We are a family of 3, my 2 girls and myself, and traveling is a DIY thing for us.

We organize everything ourselves from scratch to save money for our travels and experience things our way.

And it still adds up.

When I traveled solo it was always on a shoestring budget, but with children, there are many other things to take into consideration. And a bit of comfort is one of them even if we have to keep costs down.

So we’re in saving money mode all year, in case our travel obsession takes over!

You know, that feeling that makes you just want to pack up and gooooo..


Ready to go?

Saving money for travel is about planning.

But before implementing any type of savings action, you must know how much you need.

So, you must know where you want to go, how long, and approximately how much it will cost you.

There are 4 main expenses for travel:

  • Plane tickets.
  • Lodging.
  • Food.
  • And everything else.

Each expense comes with its own level of flexibility. Plane tickets are the biggest part of the budget and are usually not flexible.

Flight prices are fixed except if you find a good deal. Also, don’t forget insurance… Yes, it’s very important!

For lodging, food, and everything else, the cost is flexible. Meaning you choose where you sleep, what you do, and how you spend your time.

This is where you’ll probably save money for travel when budgeting.


I’m terrible at math but I do know that saving money for anything has to be thought out and planned according to income.

Feed Me!

The idea of saving for a specific purpose has to be followed by practical action.

Otherwise, the piggy bank doesn’t get filled up and the furthest you’ll afford is your local park.

So it’s time to implement small changes to save money for travel and finally go on that vacation you deserve so much!

Let’s start with the obvious: It makes sense that money earned is always allotted to certain priorities first, like home, kids, and bills. And if you’re like most people, there usually is very little left for travel.

Some people may think that saving money for travel is frivolous, that the money is better spent elsewhere. Which is fine.

For us, however, travel is an essential part of our lives, and the benefits of spending time together outweigh the pain of saving all year round.

If you’re here it’s because travel is also important to you… So try to implement certain savings strategies like the ones below.




What? what? But I don’t overspend on anything!

Really? I thought so too… Until I started changing my ways.

  1. SET ASIDE 10% of what you earn each month.

    This may be hard to do, but if you implement the other tips below you may not miss this amount.

Ideally, it should go automatically into a saving account and you shouldn’t touch it. Until travel time. I don’t have an official account, but I do try to set aside the 10%.


2. DAILY DOWNSIZING. If travel is a top priority, then start practicing.

Each time you want to purchase something ask yourself: is it really a basic necessity or will I forget about it in a few days?

How many times do we see something and go crazy over it only to put it away and forget about it shortly after?

Many times. Many many times. Take this opportunity to say no and save money for travel.



Almost every morning before I go to work, I stop and have a few moments to myself, with a delicious coffee. It’s only a few euros and the only quiet time of my day so I consider this a daily present to myself.

But.. it adds up to a LOT of money at the end of the month, of the year. Do your math, you’ll be surprised. I was shocked! 1000$ per year? Seriously?

So choose your coffee wisely. Or your double chocolate caramel latte. Or your smoothies and watch how quickly you can save money for travel.



Food shopping. A big place to save money for travel. Yes, it really is another biggie that takes up most of our hard-earned money.

Never shop hungry.

Try not to shop with kids. I try not to shop with my kids. Somehow at checkout, I find products they sneaked into the cart (plus usually unhealthy things) that I never intended to buy!

Plan meals ahead of time and have a list ready before you go. Change grocery stores if yours is too expensive but you just go there because it’s convenient.

Try buying generic names for things that don’t really matter but that you still need. It’s much cheaper and still does the job.


Yes, eating is fun. You get to change your routine and eat different stuff. But it breaks the piggy bank when you do it too often.

Treat yourself once in a while, not once a week! That includes ordering pizza and having it delivered. Or sushi.

Ohhhh sushi, our downfall. We used to order sushi twice a month as a reward for anything. We were very happy! But the piggy bank was left empty.

So we learned how to make it. Less expensive and so much more fun 🙂

The same applies to avocado toast or whatever else you can’t live without.

Learn how to make it.



That’s another biggie if you want to save money for travel. Buying a quick sandwich between classes or to take back to work. If you do it once it’s fine. 

But if you have a quick lunch out a few times a week, then do your math. In the end, saving is a big benefit.

Seriously take a pencil and paper and write it all down. Now calculate and be surprised at how much you can save for future travel.

Learn how to make delicious lunches at home and take it with you! Motivate yourself by using a classy bento box or a cool bag.





There is a net decrease in magazine and newspaper subscriptions, but if you’ve kept yours, then cancel them.

You can find information so easily that it’s not worth the cost. If you really can’t part with your favorite magazine, then suspend it for a couple of months and see what happens.

If it doesn’t help to save money for travel, then you can always re-subscribe.



Apps are like coffee. A few dollars here for something we are convinced we can’t live without. Owning the latest app is cool, but it won’t buy you that plane ticket. Unless it’s a new Beam Me Up Scotty app??

Stick with free apps and save money for your trip.

.9. SWAP

Trade going to the movies for a rented one at home. Make some really good popcorn, turn off the lights and enjoy.

Swap books. Swap services. You get the idea.


.10. SIGN UP for newsletters on discount sites.

Most times it won’t be a good fit, but then there’s that one time when bingo, it’s just what you needed. Travel Zoo | Groupon |






You’re on a treasure hunt for THE best-priced tickets. That’s your magic ticket for the next trip.

But..there are so many theories about this.. certain people are convinced that 3 months in advance is a perfect number, while others insist on 6. Others swear if you buy it on a Wednesday it’s a steal.

And still, others will recommend buying on Tuesdays for sure between 3 pm and 4 pm.

Now to their benefit, it may all be backed up with some stats. But in my experience (and only mine) I have tried many of these and honestly, I have not seen much of a difference.

Your best bet: To save money for travel and buy good-priced tickets, you must know exactly what country you want to go to and the dates you have available. Then start doing some research.

Check out several sites over a couple of days and if the ticket price fits your budget, then go for it.

If you wait, chances are it will go up.

Some sites to help you research: Skyscanner | Kayak | Momondo



The options depend on where you want to go and your budget.

Obvious right? Right.

But the budget part of the equation takes time. You really have to sit down and calculate what you can afford.

So back to research!



Not all hostels are created equal.

Still, it’s the best way to exchange travel stories with like-minded people and enjoy a few advantages, like the kitchen or walking tours to check out the city.

We’ve had some amazing experiences in certain hostels. We’ve also had some “I wish we hadn’t stayed here” type of moments. Unless there are raving reviews, it can be a hit-or-miss thing, but we’ve had mostly hits.

And in most cases, it’s the cheapest option after camping.

Try to find hostels that are family-friendly. This is important as some hostels don’t allow young children or have an over-18 rule, so make sure to check.   You can book an entire 4-5 or 6-room dorm just for your family.



A good option if you have a large family. Choosing the “entire apartment” will be cheaper than booking 2 rooms at a hotel.

You’ll have access to a kitchen, all the amenities, and privacy, especially with younger kids. This could be a winner.1


Under hotels, you have a lot of choices, from chic boutiques to bare bones.


On certain sites, you can narrow your search. And you should! Keep your budget in mind and check out what you can afford!

Otherwise, not only will you not save money but you’ll just torture yourself when looking at that seawater infinity pool surrounded by a dreamy view – at 1.000$ a night.

Some hotel sites to help you research: | |

Disclosure: Booking. com is an affiliate link. This means I will receive a small commission if you book with them through this link. Thanks for your support 🙂


Now, this is not for everyone. Some people love it while others cringe at the thought.

But sometimes you don’t have a choice.. and I can attest to that!

We took a 3-week road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco via Grand Canyon, Arizona, Bryce Canyon, and up Highway 1 to San Francisco.

Well.. sleeping was so expensive that we had to opt for camping. (which most of the time was fun 🙂

The only place with complicated camping was in San Francisco and so we opted for a hostel,  which alone cost me 1/3 of our budget.

But that’s another story…

Back to camping.

Campgrounds are widespread in the US, find them in national parks, private campgrounds, and special RV campgrounds, the list is endless.

Try to find what best suits your needs.

Some US camping sites to help you research: Discovertheforest | Koa | National Park Campgrounds


Some countries are perfect for road trips, and renting a van to sleep and cook in could be an option if you’re ok with basics.

We did this in Iceland. It was very cold! But it was fun and we cooked meals on a small stovetop right inside the van.

In some countries, (like Iceland) you can park the van anywhere for the night, but in other countries make sure to check the designated spots.


Iceland morning view. Photo: VNT

The biggest advantage (after saving) is the view when you wake up in the morning! Which changes daily.

We’ve also used Couchsurfing intensely in different parts of the world as a way to save money for travel.

The idea of Couchsurfing is to meet new people while staying with them free of charge.

You can also accept people at your house.  Or if you already have a place to sleep, you could just meet up for coffee or enjoy a local event with different people.

We had some great times and still keep in touch with some of the hosts we stayed with as well as guests that have stayed with us.

But a few years ago the entire structure of Couchsurfing changed and unfortunately (for us) it now has an impersonal and even commercial feel to it, so we don’t use it as much.

However, this is just my personal opinion, it may still be a good option for some as a way to save money for travel!


Disclosure: Below is an affiliate link. This means if you make a purchase I may get a commission at no extra cost to you

Check hotel prices for your dream adventure!




Foodie or not a foodie? Either way, we have to eat whether for survival or sheer pleasure and food always raises the costs.

On vacation, we like to try all sorts of local foods!

Not quite survival mode but it’s a vacation, right?

To save money while on your trip, don’t sacrifice trying out new foods, but do adapt so that you have some leeway.



Oh yesssss !


Take advantage of all the different street foods often cooked up right before your eyes.

Immerse your taste buds and take in all the delicious smells that linger down the street..

And also save a ton of money. Street food is inexpensive and if you’re in a country that thrives on street food then you and your tastebuds are in luck!



This is such an easy way to save money during travel especially when the sun is shining. If you do your shopping at the local grocery store, you can save money and stick to your travel budget.

Find a great park, the beach, or even just a bench in a quiet area and enjoy your picnic in local surroundings.

If the weather is bad: We’ve had days when violent downpours forced us to stay inside. So have a pizza or other easy foods back in your room until the sun shines again!

If you make it fun it’s worth the savings.



Don’t forget that pubs usually have a Happy Hour, earlier in the evening where you can take advantage of some tapas or cheap eats with a drink. The drink can also be an ice tea.. no need for alcohol to take advantage of Happy Hour.

For families: Some pubs allow kids under 18 during their Happy Hour. So take advantage of this. Having some pub food at low prices and feel-good vibes is always a good deal!




girl-looking-at tourist-site


When you get to a new city, you are often at a loss as to where to go, what to see, and how to do it.

Expensive Hop on Hop off buses everywhere, coupons for complicated itineraries at high prices, people on the street giving out flyers claiming great deals – which really aren’t.

So what to do?


Take a walking tour:

My absolute favorite thing to do and a great way to save when I go to an unknown city is to walk. 

Walking at an easy pace with lots of stops to explore is the best way to get the feel of a new place.



I also try to contact local guides who offer free walking tours. You can give them a tip, big or small, according to how much you liked the interaction.

It’s fair enough and always cheaper than a high-priced deal.

We’ve done this a lot and have always enjoyed it!

The last time was in Hanoi, we walked with 2 Vietnamese students with Hanoi Kids in exchange for English practice. We had great fun and to our surprise, their English was great!

Or as an alternative to free, check these reasonable local tours for your next destination.


Visiting a museum can add cost. We used to avoid them for this reason. But some cities offer a free day in the week or at a discounted price. Of course, it depends on where you are going, but make sure to check that out. It’s a good option to save money for travel and enjoy certain activities.

If you’re visiting the south of France check out this post for some fun culture:  Museums.



If you’re a high-activity person/group and need to check lots of boxes daily, then City Cards may be a good solution to save money on entrance fees during your travels.

Most big cities have them, so check out the activities you’d like to do and compare cards. Note that some city cards have a time limit.



An essential stop!

Take advantage of all their information on great deals, plus free maps, and coupon booklets. And if you strike up a nice conversation with them, they may even steer you towards more local sites vs touristy areas.

Saving money for travel is not easy.

But if you implement these few savings tips, you will see a difference in only a few months.

Start writing down everything you buy for a couple of weeks. This will establish a pattern so you can analyze your spending habits and start saving.

It’s important to understand where you spend your money before you can start saving and start traveling! So do it, and start cutting out what isn’t essential.

The coffees, the smoothies, the quick lunches, the overpriced internet fees, the extra 100 channels that you don’t watch.

And everything single thing, big or small, requires money.

You’ll be surprised how the small things you thought were insignificant, become big when added up back to back.

When you get to Travel Land, you’ll be glad you did all the work beforehand!

Go Play. Together.


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