10 Steps To Save Money For A Big Trip (Even If You Feel Totally Broke)


People living the travel life often say things like, “If I had a penny for everytime someone asked me how I am able to afford travel, I’d have enough pennies to buy myself a first-class ticket around the world.” True, some of those folks are just straight-up rich. But some save their dollars and cents in smart ways so they can jet around the world. Here’s our step-by-step guide to saving for travel, even if you feel like you’re totally broke.

1. Track Your Monthly Spending

In order to figure out how much money you have (or don’t have), you have to track how much you’re spending. Try writing down literally every purchase you make for an entire month. That includes little splurges like a morning coffee, as well as your Seamless orders. Just because you press buttons on an app, doesn’t mean the money isn’t real.

2. Make A Detailed Budget

Once you have a record of your spending, compare it against your monthly income. If this is a new concept for you, here are the basics. First, add up your monthly paychecks. Second, add your monthly expenses — that’s the total of the spending you tracked. Third, subtract your expenses from your paycheck. Whatever is left is your surplus: the money you can save for your next adventure.

3. Manage Your Surplus

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If you’re happy with the amount leftover after accounting for your expenses, hooray! Your travel budget is basically done. All that’s left is to decide how much of that surplus should go into your travel fund each month. If you’re less pleased with that number, it’s time to examine your spending.

4. Rate Your Priorities

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Take a good hard look at anything and everything you spent money on in the past month. Divide everything into two categories: Need and Want. “Needs” include your rent, utilities, toilet paper, medications, etc. — the things you cannot live without. “Wants” are daily fresh avocados for your breakfast toast, boutique fitness classes and that new pair of shoes — the things that make life a little extra fun. Your “Needs” are non-negotiable, but hone in on those “Wants.” With each extra little purchase, ask yourself one question: Do I want this more than I want to travel?

5. Determine What You Can Give Up

This is the hard part. If you decide a week in Bali is worth more than your weekly manicure, commit to living a life where you do your own nails. And actually do it. You won’t save any travel money if you only intend to stop splurging. So if you can’t give up your morning coffee, that’s cool. Buy the latte and save for longer or for a smaller trip.

6. Put Your Savings Out Of Reach

Each month, move a percentage of what you save (accounting for your “Wants”) to an account that isn’t connected to your debit or credit card. You don’t want to be tempted by splurges when you have extra money included in your balance.

7. Create A Target For Savings

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Don’t just send money into a void. Determine a concrete amount you want to set aside, based on how much money you’re allocating to your savings every month. Multiply that number by how many months you have until your trip. That’s your travel savings goal.

8. Reward Yourself For Small Milestones

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It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually good to reward yourself for making progress on a financial goal. Just like anything, moderation is the key to longevity. If you skip buying clothes for six months, you’ll be much more likely to go on a snap shopping spree in month seven. Instead of blowing your savings on regrettable one-wear outfits, give yourself small prizes for sticking to it for a month or two. Give up fancy coffee? Buy yourself your favorite cappuccino. Trading barre classes for a no-frills gym? Go to a boutique class. You can even factor these small rewards into your monthly budget. File $20 for a monthly “I stuck to my budget” purchase.

9. Stick To It

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It can seem disheartening to be stuck at home while everyone on Instagram seems like they’re somehow simultaneously in Peru and Norway. Don’t give up! Take little adventures around your home city or town or small day trips to nearby destinations. Hold off on making big plane ticket purchases until you’re buying the plane ticket to your dream vacation.

10. Plan Your Trip

Take the money you saved and run with it. Research travel budgets for destinations calling your name. We’re guessing going somewhere on your bucket list is totally possible with this kind of serious savings plan. You’ve got this.