Do you want to take a trip this year but need to start saving? You can totally do it! Check out our tips for How to Save Money for Travel.
Recently a friend and I were talking about travel, in particular family travel. She expressed a strong desire to travel but strong anxiety when it comes to stress and money. Here is the thing though, traveling with your family does not have to drain your savings account nor be a total stressful nightmare.
There are ways to make family travel accessible, reasonable and fun! My honest belief is that you if you want to travel with (or without) your family, it IS possible.
By making it a priority, adjusting your spending habits and traveling smarter.
Growing up, we never had a ton of money. Both my parents worked and we lived in apartments until I was about 17. We went through hard times with layoffs or my dad having to work in other states/countries for several consecutive months. But despite all of that, my sister and I had an amazing childhood filed with lots of love, fun and countless trips across the US and even internationally.
Similarly, I now have a little of family of 3 (soon to be 4). We live on 1 salary and are by no stretch of the imagination rich. We have all the normal big expenses to constantly deal with like a mortgage and 2 cars, utilities, phone bills, insurances and internet. But by focusing on our travel fund, we do our best to make it happen.
The key is living frugally, saving for trips and traveling on a budget. I promise, it is absolutely possible to live a fun, happy and satisfying life while saving money for a priority such as travel.
This is a topic that I am really passionate about and excited to share. In this 3 part post series, I’ll share how to Save Money for Travel in your everyday life. How to Travel Smarter and Creative Vacation Ideas.
20 simple everyday tips to save money for your next trip:
1. Set a Goal and Keep Track Along the Way
Start by setting a goal for how much you want to save and when you want to have it by. You don’t need to know the exact cost of a vacation but instead give yourself an average. It can be as low as a few hundred bucks or as high as a few thousand. Just make sure to factor in any credit card miles that you may have.
Continually check in with your goal and adjust spending accordingly.
2. Get Rid of Cable
This was an easy one for us. After the birth of our daughter almost 2 years we got rid of cable. With Netflix, network channels and the occasional RedBox rental, there is plenty to watch. Without cable we save over $50/month ($600 a year), watch way less TV and spend more time doing other things as a family.
And if there ever a sporting event that we (the hubs) really wants to watch, we instead make it a social event by going out to a friend’s or family’s house or go to a local pub with TVs. Win win.
3. Shop Around for Cheaper Phone Plans
We did this a while ago and it ended up saving us $50 roughly a month. The key is to shop around with all the different carriers. What can they offer you that is both reliable but not ridiculously expensive?
If we need new phones we try our best to hold out until November for Black Friday deals. There are always fabulous phone deals around this time of the year, so take advantage of it if you really truly need a new phone.
4. Seek Best Travel Credit Card Deals
This is crucial for travel! We travel using miles about 80% of the time. That reduces our travel expenses by a significant amount when we do not need to pay for flights (especially international flights).
Most credit card deals will offer X number of points (anywhere from 20K-100K points) for opening a card along with a minimum spending amount over a certain time period with the card. What we normally do is find a great deal, change all of our bills to be paid with this card to meet the minimum spending, take advantage of the points deal, and keep it until we encounter a better deal.
Here are my biggest recommendations when seeking for travel credit card deals:
a. Most deals come out at the beginning of the year, so after the holidays, start looking!
b. A great resource for finding and understanding deals is ThePointsGuy.
c. Don’t open too many cards at once and make sure to read the fine print (annual fees, etc).
d. Be responsible and pay off your bills.
e. Just because you get a new credit card doesn’t mean you need to go on a spending binge. Instead change all of you normal bills to be paid with this credit card. Pay groceries, gas and other daily expenses with this new card too!
f. Keep track of your miles along the way. And don’t forget you can also use them for hotels or even car rentals.
5. Open a Dedicated Travel Savings Account
If you are serious about your efforts, opening a dedicated account will help you more easily achieve your savings goal, help you avoid using this money for other things, and can help you grow your money in the process.
One option to consider is to put your money in a high-yield online savings account. With low interest rates, Although not huge, you can make a few extra hundred dollars in a few years.
6. Buy or Borrow Second-Hand Whenever Possible
This is a simple way to save money that can be put in your vacation fund instead. Start with your kids. Especially with little kids, it is so easy to drop a ton of money. Instead buy second hand or ask friends for hand-me-downs. Your kid will not care if he/she is wearing a brand new Patagonia coat or if they are wearing the latest fashion.
Since Poppy was born, I think I have purchased 2 pair of shoes, some socks, 2 hats and 2 bathing suits NEW. Everything else has been second-hand or gifts.
The hubs and I are not big shoppers so that helps. He seems to buy 1-2 pieces about every 4-6 months so that is great.
As a woman, my best advice is to stick to neutral colors and timeless pieces that you truly love. And the best way to do this, is with a Capsule Wardrobe. Some of my favorite examples are here and here.
7. Only Shop for Necessities
This is a big one! It’s so easy to get bogged down in keep in with the Joneses! And with so many sales, deals and advertisements, buying things we do not really need can get a little out of control. My best advice and tactic that I use is to ask yourself “Do I really need this? Will this make me happy long term? Would I rather spend this money no matter how little on a trip?” If the answer is YES, don’t buy it.
8. Cheaper Date Nights
The hubs and I have been practicing this for a few years now. We love date nights and always try to do something fun yet reasonable. Some of our favorite cheap date night tricks include: going during happy hour, going to nicer restaurants for lunch instead of dinner, sharing an app or dessert and an entrée, seeking out awesome affordable restaurants, making fancy dinners at home, picnics, matinée movie times, finding discounted/free events, and checking out local breweries.
9. Stop going out for Coffee
Although it seems small, $3-$5 here and there adds up! Instead buy a high quality travel mug and make your own fabulous coffee to go! And in those circumstances when you really truly want coffee opt for a really good cup of brewed coffee vs a $5 sugar laden coffee beverage.
10. Replace Light Bulbs and Turn Off Lights
Changing traditional bulbs for energy-efficient ones is an easy way to save energy and money. And don’t forget to try to turning off lights in your house when you leave a room. This was my dad’s pet peeve growing up ha! Thanks dad!
11. Cook and Eat Out Less
You have probably noticed that I like cooking. But even if you are not a super into cooking, it is a great way to stay healthy and save money. Try to find a food blog (ahem…) or cookbook that looks easy to tackle and dive right in. I promise cooking can be a fun adventure to embark on with your loved ones helping and encouraging you along the way!
Along the same lines, eating out less saves a lot of money! We have stopped going out to fancy restaurants for dinner especially with a toddler. Instead we try to eat out every once in a while and make a fun affordable experience.
12. Shop Grocery Store Deals and Menu Plan
This can seem difficult and tedious, but I find that it makes life easier. My weekly plan looks like this:
a. Read weekly grocery store ads which takes about 5 minutes (I shop at 3 main stores).
b. Based on what’s on sale and in season, make weekly meal plan and grocery list.
c. Check my kitchen for any necessary staples like milk, eggs, butter, flour, etc. Add to my list.
d. Only shop for what is on my grocery list.
13. Reduce Alcohol Intake
This is what is sounds like, reduce the amount that you drink. Specifically when you are out. Drinks can be expensive so an alternative is to search for specials or sales at your local liquor store to enjoy at home. Or limit yourself to one drink when out. The hubs and I have saved a lot of money on dates when we do this. Granted neither one of us drinks a lot but still, two $10 drinks every time you go out, adds up. A good way to look at it is: I’d rather have a lovely glass of wine on my next vacation than at mediocre pizza joint.
14. Use a Reusable Water Bottle
Carry your water bottle everywhere. Literally everywhere. One for you and one for your kiddo! You will never need to buy a beverage when you are out and about with the added benefit of staying hydrated and healthy.
15. Seek out Free or Discounted Family Friendly Activities
Most cities have countless family friendly activities. You just have to search and ask around. Ask your friends, family and co-workers. Anything from free museum days, festivals, library events to farmers markets and orchard events, there is a lot you can do for little or no money, so why not save a little.
16. Host Dinner Parties or Potlucks
Hanging out with friends or family does not have to be at a restaurant or bar. And honestly with kids, it’s normally way more fun to be in a comfy house. Offer to host and ask people to help you with food. This is an easy way to save money and still stay social and have fun!
Before having kids, we would rarely turn down a restaurant invitation. But now as we try to cut back and save up, we instead offer alternatives. We offer up our house, recommend a less pricey restaurant, or suggest going out for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner. Be flexible and suggest alternative options ☺️ Your friends will understand.
17. Find Extra Ways to Make a Little Money
This one can be hard to do if you work full-time and have a family. But it is still possible. In my case I try to make a little extra by publishing this blog and giving tennis lessons. I have friends that work full-time and have multiple kiddos at home who host clothing, jewelry and/or Tupperware parties as a way to either make extra or receive rewards. Other people I know do free-lance work, tutor, work overtime or babysit on the side.
If you can think of something you enjoy doing that can make you a little extra, go for it!
18. Go Minimalist at Home
This is another big way to save money. First I have to admit, I am not an over-the-top home decorator. My style is more simple and practical. With that said, we have the furniture we need and just a few decorative touches. But and this is a big BUT, we try not to spend on new household decor unless we absolutely have to. This means we do not buy new holiday décor every time a new holiday rolls around, nor do we buy new home accessories every new season.
Instead we stick to our 2 small boxes of Christmas stuff (including ornament, lights and house décor) and that’s about it.
This works for us because: 1. We have less stuff and clutter, 2. We do not constantly spend on new unnecessary house furniture and décor and 3. We get good use of the things we already have.
And as always, if you do really truly need to replace something don’t forget to check out second-hand stores or Craigslist!
19. Focus on Essential Memberships
An easy way to save money on a yearly basis is by focusing on activity or class memberships that truly make sense and make you happy. Gym, adult classes, kid class, food services, wine delivery, magazines, beauty services… whatever the membership, really think about how much you truly need it.
For example, we do not have gym memberships because neither one of us likes the gym and we know we will not get our money’s worth by having a monthly membership. But I do pay for a monthly BARRE (exercise) membership because it makes me happy, keeps me healthy and I use it 4-5 times a week. The hubs on the other hand is into fishing so we have spent some of our funds on fishing equipment to allow him to pursue this hobby. Even little Poppy has an inexpensive membership to an indoor playground.
These are the only 3 memberships we pay and they are a priority for our family because they really make us happy while keeping us active and healthy.
20. Do More Outside
This one seems really easy but makes a big difference. Not only can spending time outside improve mood, but it helps you avoid spending. Taking walks, trying winter sports, going sledding, or playing in the park, most of these things are free. Even in the winter when it’s cold, borrow snow shoes from a friend or go for a cozy hot chocolate walk around the neighborhood. You do not have to always spend money.
These are just some of the things we do to save money on a daily basis. Obviously every person and family has different priorities, but if travel is important to you, enjoy the challenge of finding creative ways to save! And have fun planning your next vacation ☺️
“Spend on what you love and need, skip the rest.”