How to Save Money for Travel

I once believed that travel was only for the wealthy. Thankfully I had my wake up call six years ago, and the rest has been history. I’m nowhere close to accomplishing my international travel goals having only visited four countries to date, but I have managed to make a sizeable dent in my local bucket list of travel experiences. Travel requires money, but it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you may think! I also believe that travel is possible for nearly everyone, but some compromises will have to be made for travel to work on a budget. In this article, I’ll share practical tips on how to save money for travel, and while on the road. I use these tips to afford travel in my 20s.

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1. Budget Carefully & Track Expenses

Get a notebook, spreadsheet or app to track your monthly income and expenditure. I use both a notebook, and an app called Money Manager. These allow me to keep track of where my money is being spent, and allows me to make improvements for subsequent months if I didn’t spend wisely in a previous month. It allows me to also keep track of major annual bills such as my medical insurance, car insurance and registration so that I can spend more carefully those months to avoid running into debt. Pay bills early to avoid acquiring late fees. Spending wisely will allow you to save more easily, and that surplus can be put towards your travel fund.

2. Limit Eating Out

One of the biggest ways to save money is by making your own meals! Fast food and dining out should be the exception and not the rule if you’re trying to save money for travel. Create a meal plan, shop for groceries when you’re not hungry, then use those groceries to create meals for the week. However, ensure that you switch up the menu weekly so your taste buds don’t get bored.

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3. Don’t Pay For What You Can Do Yourself

There are things which many people spend money on that they can actually do themselves. These include washing the car, walking the dog, painting their nails, doing their hair or even gardening and landscaping if you’re so inclined– not that I’m not discounting the work of these professionals. However, if you have extra time on your hands, consider doing some of these chores yourself to save a few bucks then put them towards your travel fund.

4. Cancel Unused Subscriptions

Many persons are guilty of wasting money on unused subscriptions. These include magazines they don’t read, cable TV, Amazon Prime, Netflix and even gym memberships. Cancel those money-wasters A.S.A.P. You can get a full work out at home without the trainer or gym membership. Watch free workout videos from YouTube, or purchase resistance bands, a skipping rope or dumbbells which can be used again and again. Also, you can walk, jog or cycle around your community. Put those extra dollars towards your travel budget.

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5. Keep An Eye Out For Deals

Maybe you need a new phone, but can you wait a few months for a sale? Or, you want a family vacation but prices are cheaper during off-season. Delaying your gratification can save you several dollars. However, don’t use sales as an excuse to just buy stuff. If you didn’t need a new pair of slippers for $50, but bought it on sale at $25, you didn’t actually save $25. You lost $25. Adopting this minimalist mindset will allow you to have more experiences in life. Collecting moments and not things has been linked to higher rates of happiness and fulfillment.

6. Alternate Transport Means

Some parts of the world have slow trains and overnight buses which can transport you from city to city for less money than taking a plane. There’s also the option of walking instead of taking a taxi for distances of 30 minutes or less. I saved a lot of money by just walking around Cusco earlier this year instead of taking a cab between each site. In fact, my favourite way to explore a city is on foot because one takes in more sensory details that way. Use Google Maps to get accurate predictions of walking distances, and see if walking is worth the hassle or not.

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7. Choose Budget Destinations, Accommodations & Restaurants

Bed with view from hotel room

It’s no secret that some parts of the world, and some countries in particular, are just more expensive than others. From Jamaica, countries in North, Central and South America are the most affordable to visit. We have daily straight flights to USA and Canada for as little as US$300 round trip, while other destinations can be reached with a single connecting flight in the USA if one has an American visa, or Panama if without. My entire Peru itinerary in May 2022 costed less than a roundtrip plane ticket to anywhere in Africa from Jamaica! Therefore, while I would love to visit the Motherland, I’ve accepted that I’m not yet able to do so, and will continue exploring more affordable parts of the world in the mean time. Always use Incognito mode when searching for flights because cookies will eventually cause the prices to go up by time you’re ready to book. Skyscanner and Kayak are my favourite websites to browse flight prices but I usually end up booking on the airline’s website itself.

Search for the less popular destinations within a country to save money, and you’ll likely still have an exciting experience. Stay at hostels, Airbnbs and three-star hotels over fancy hotels if you’re traveling on a budget. What works for me is getting a place which includes buffet style breakfast, and filling up properly in the morning. By time I hit the road, I’m usually so busy exploring that I don’t feel hungry until mid or late afternoon. Therefore, I’ll purchase a large dinner and end up only buying one meal for the day, in addition to a street food snack or two such as the churros and empanadas I ate in Peru.

Always eat where the locals eat to get the best prices. Ask the hotel staff “Where do you eat?” instead of “Where should I eat?” The subtle difference in wording is important. Locals will tell you what they think you want to hear, which is what’s the most glamorous touristy place to eat. The second question will ensure that they tell you about the local authentic restaurants which they enjoy.

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8. Find Free Activities Everywhere You Go

Treasure Beach in Jamaica, free

There are some must-see attractions where you’ll just have to spend the money, but did you know that most countries have attractions which you can visit for free? These include free museums, walking tours, beaches, hiking trails and even waterfalls. Research these places and add them into your itinerary to save money. Also, city centres tend to have a lot of attractions really close together which you can visit on foot. Download or print a map of the city centre and use it as a guide to sightsee as many attractions as possible. In Trinidad, I’d seen the Magnificent Seven buildings, a memorial park, botanical garden, performing centre and street food fair one Sunday for free in the capital city of Port-of-Spain. Check out this list of free spots to visit in and around my city of Kingston, Jamaica.

Wrap Up

I hope you enjoyed this practical list of how to save money for travel and while traveling. These are my tried and true strategies which suit me nicely. There are additional ways to save money on travel such as getting a credit card which offers miles, and getting membership cards and discounts. However, these are not strategies I’ve employed yet so perhaps I’ll eventually update this article or write a part two. Bookmark, share and pin this post to help achieve your travel goals. Also, please subscribe for new adventures and check out my Amazon store.

‘Til next time.


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Published by

Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

Adventures from Elle is a travel blog for locals & visitors who want to experience the best of Jamaica, one adventure at a time. The blog is curated by Rochelle Knight, a junior resident (M.D.) in internal medicine and published author. She began the blog in 2016 as a medical student & wants to see the world, starting with her home country. Purchase her book 'SIGHTSEE JAMAICA' on Amazon and join her in Jamaica!

20 thoughts on “How to Save Money for Travel

  1. Great article. I especially like the tip about using Incognito mode when searching for flights! I didn’t know that. Do you know if it true that searching during early morning hours on certain week days will show cheaper flights?

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  2. Great tips! Let me add one more (unless you had it and I missed it?) Travel during the off season when possible. I traveled during the off season to the Maldives in 2019 and had the entire villa to myself. I’m in Baja 🇲🇽 during the off season right now and have the entire RV park to myself. There are perks to this. You get discounts and sometimes the owners give you access to more amenities because you’re the only customer (or one of very few) and they want you to stay! My current park chose not to take any rent upfront from me until I leave, whenever that is, lol. The last one I was at gave me a free week while I waited for Shadow to recover from surgery.

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    1. Oh that’s lovely. I did not but this is an excellent tip, and I’m glad it has been working for you. I think that’s one of the perks of being self employed– you have the freedom to travel when you please. I have to wait on Massa to approve my leave but that’s okay. I will be requesting it during off season 🙂 currently plotting my trip for 2023. Just need to decide on the country(ies)

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  3. Solid advice, Elle! I’ve definitely followed some these points (especially #2, 5, 6, 7, and 8) throughout my early to mid 20’s when I was extensively traveling around Europe and North America. I still do my best to budget for travel accordingly these days, given that I’m also trying to settle down to save for my own condo/house and retirement funds…and also to avoid eating out too much (as I love trying new food, and alas, it’s expensive– it’s my crutch!). Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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  4. Great tips as usual. I particularly like the part about budgeting. I discovered creating sinking funds for travelling and adventures work too. A quick tip is to research the possible costs then break down your savings/investment goals into monthly or weekly installments until you reach the total.

    Looking forward to your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

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