how to save money for a trip
Updated April 30, 2023

How To Save Money for a Trip: The Globetrotter’s Ultimate Guide

Saving Money

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Traveling around the world is one of the greatest ways to build lifelong memories, follow this guide and see how to save money for a trip!

Planning to travel around the world to experience cultures and history can be an exciting experience. The downside can be the price tag that comes along with the adventure.

It can be tempting to put the tab on a credit card and worry about it when you come back, but that strategy usually brings more headaches than the trip was worth.

According to Nerdwallet, the average credit card debt per household has estimated $69,291 in revolving balances.

There are many ways to cut cost and save on travel fees without having to break the bank.

Determine the Minimum Cost of the Trip

While you may be excited to start packing, the first step should be to estimate how much the trip will cost.

In order to save on travel, you will need to research your destination.

This may even help to finalize where you actually want to go.

Let’s say you want to take a trip to the Caribbean. The first thing to decide, which island.

After a little research you’ll notice that you can get a much better deal going to the Dominican Republic as opposed to Saint Barthélemy.

If you already know where you want to go and what you want to see, start researching the area, but make sure to look into:

The level of luxury you’re looking for in accommodations, because the price difference between a hostel and a three-star hotel is not trivial.

  • The various fees associated with travel, especially if you’re traveling internationally. You may need to get a visa to visit certain countries, and the research will also help determine how long it takes to receive the visa.
  • The transportation between destinations. While it’s nice to rent and enjoy the freedom of a car, there is something to be said about seeing a country from the seat of train.
  • The currency exchange rate if you’re heading out of country.
  • The average price for food and entertainment.
  • The weather condition. It’s not fun to arrive at an island in September and need to run off to buy a coat.

With these general tips in mind, you may have to dig deeper if you have a specific activity planned.

If you plan on skiing in the alps, you might find it cheaper to take a more expensive flight to a closer airport than to get a cheaper ticket and have to pay for a taxi to arrive at the lodge.

Now It’s Time to Figure Out How to Save for a Trip

Now that you’ve gotten the picture of what the trip will approximately cost you, it’s time to figure out how to save for a trip.

Organizing your personal finances has become increasingly easier with modern technology. You can find a variety of apps and banks that can help keep track of your expenditures.

One option when starting to save for travel is by opening a new account.

If you want an option that offers more than a regular savings account, look into a Long Game account. This bank account comes with a unique spin.

Every dollar you put into savings can go toward winning a lottery. There’s even a potential cash prize of $1 million.

While many may see this as skeptical, every Long Game user has their FDIC-insured accounts backed by Blue Ridge Bank in Virginia.

How to Save Money For a Trip Using a Round-Up Account

If you’re looking at how to save for a trip with every cent you have, you should look for a Round-Up account.

Essentially, this is an account linked to your regular bank card, however, whenever you make a purchase, the total spent is rounded up to the next dollar, with the change being placed into a savings account.

If you spend $7.80 on lunch every day, the account will round-up the bill to $8, but place the $0.20 into your Round-Up account.

There is even an app called Worthy Bonds that can provide a roundup account as well as letting you make an investment starting at a minimum of $10 into a portfolio of bonds supporting American small businesses

This will allow you to either flat out save your change, or invest it for a chance at a higher return.

Set Up an Automatic Deposit into Your Trip’s Bank Account

You will also want to set up an automatic transfer into the account.

Instead of getting a gourmet coffee every day, plan to save that $5 spent during the work week and have the $25 saved transferred to the trip account at the end of the week.

If you’re able to sustain that level of savings per week, that will net you an astounding $1300 at the end of the year!

With this kind of savings, you can find yourself sipping Colombian coffee in Cartagena, enjoying the coastal scene.

How to Save Money for a Trip While You Shop

No matter how hard you try, you’ll need to spend some money to get through life and this can be real test when you’re saving for your trip.

There are a few online coupon shops, and here are two that are legit.

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) offers cash back if you shop at the stores listed on their site. To get on the savings, you can make purchases via the thousands of stores on the website.

Shopkick is a free app that pays you just for walking into stores.

After you install the Shopkick app, you will be shown offers in your area.

How to Save Money for a Trip by Skipping the Restaurant and Eating In

It’s tempting to get off of work and as soon as you get home, get to sit in front of the TV.

The last thing on your mind is to prepare dinner, and it’s so easy to use the app on your phone to order a pizza, and actually count down the delivery time until your doorbell rings.

Ordering delivery and eating at restaurants can do serious damage to your wallet.

According to a report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household would spend over $3000 every year on eating out.

Instead of ordering that $20 pizza, you can go on one of the recipe sites such as Chowhound, where you can plan your meals for the week.

Fashion a Savings Jar

While there is a multitude of digital ways on how to save money for a trip by using your change, there is always the tried and true method of placing your daily change into a jar on your kitchen counter with “Vacation” written on the side.

Save on Travel Fees with Clever Flight Plans

Here are a few options in order to help save you on travel fees.

Choose a Card that Offers a Rewards Program

If you feel comfortable with managing your credit card spending, then you may want to explore a credit card provided by an airline or a bank that issues out mileage rewards for spending.

This can definitely help towards saving for your trip.

Most loyalty programs revolve around people already flying frequently, hence the term frequent-flyer.

Other loyalty schemes have popped up to entice those who are infrequent flyers.

Many banking institutions have implemented a points system which awards users with mileage points just for using their cards.

Just be careful, as many of these cards do come with an annual fee.

Choose the Best Flight for the Best Price to Save on Travel Fees

While that may seem like common sense, there is more to it now than just going to your browser and putting in cheap flights.

One helpful tool to help you save on a flight is an app called Hooper.

Hooper is a flight booking app that will perform the standard price analysis like most flight aggregator.

It comes with the added bonus of predicting the future prices for flights.

Hopper was even named one of Apple’s Best Apps of 2015.

See If You Can Switch Airline Carriers Between Locations

If your trip plans are flexible, don’t forget that flights to location during the off-season can save you huge amounts.

Also, if your trip plans are flexible and you have the time, consider taking a flight to a major airport hub and jumping onto another flight with a different carrier.

If you’re traveling from New York to Budapest, you can potentially find yourself saving tons on travel expenses by switching airlines in Switzerland.

Keep in mind though that you will need to be extremely flexible with when you want to arrive and depart.

Nothing is worse than arriving at an airport late and your potential connecting flight had already left 30 minutes prior.

Try and Pack Light as Well as Efficiently

In terms of luggage, you will want to carefully plan what to bring and how to pack.

As many airlines continue to increase the fees for checked-in luggage, you may want to consider bringing only a carry-on if possible.

One of the ways to save space is to minimize the need for luggage. Try to avoid bringing things that you can purchase cheaply at your destination.

To avoid overpacking, one way is to make an assessment of what you hope to do on your trip.

If you’re heading to Malta, and want to see the sights and eat like the locals, then it’s unlikely you’ll need more than a light jacket and your normal walking shoes, and you can probably leave your business wear at home.

Check the Weight of your Check-In Before Leaving for the Airport

If you must bring a check-in, how to save money for a trip one way is to make sure to weigh your luggage at home before leaving for the airport.

It can be a huge hassle to avoid the overweight fee by playing Tetris with your underwear between your bags while the check-in line piles up behind you.

Arrange for a Place to Sleep

Booking a hotel during the off season or during a soft opening are ways to save on the accommodations for your trip.

However, if you are up to the task, the following are some cost effective options to save you some cash.

Decide on the Type of Stay you Want

While you’re already heading to Paris, you may want to consider your options when choosing a location to stay.

It may be tempting to pick a location that oversees the Eiffel Tower, however, you may be wasting a huge amount of money on a tiny and cramped bed for only the sight.

You can most likely get more bang for your buck by finding a hotel or Airbnb outside of the city center, and just make the Eiffel Tower part of your day trip.

If you want to walk around the city, then you can most likely skimp on the amenities provided by an expensive hotel.

If you want to be pampered then a remote location will help to keep the hotel and its spa fees down.

There are other ways to reduce your cost for sleeping during your trip.

See If You’re Comfortable Sleeping on a Strangers Couch

If you’re feeling adventurous, one way to save on housing during your trip is to consider couchsurfing.

Couchsurfing can be very inexpensive if not a completely free way to have a home base in a foreign city.

The premise of couchsurfing is that a traveler arranges through a platform (the most famous being where they connect with a local who will share their couch.

This can be nerve-racking at first, because you’re effectively staying in a strangers home, but many of these couch sharing networks require homeowners to provide proof of residence as well as references and ratings.

If this seems like a viable option to you, keep in mind that most popular cities that have a couchsurfing host will probably be bombarded with request.

While the stay is free, it’s considered common courtesy to bring a small gift or some wine. Once you’ve stayed the agreed upon time, you pack up and maybe leave with a friend for life.

The social situation can vary, with the host acting as a tour guide, or they may just leave you with a set of keys and a WiFi password.

After your stay is over, it’s time to part ways and write a reference for each other to provide helpful information to other couchsurfers.

If you’re uncomfortable with sleeping on a strangers couch, and that is a valid concern, then you look into doing a house swap.

Look into Potentially Swapping Homes with a Stranger

Unlike couchsurfing, participants in a house swap or home exchange, will generally meet with another traveler and then agree to stay in each others homes.

This can still be an unnerving ordeal, knowing that a stranger is sleeping in your bed, but they will most likely be on their best behavior knowing that you are sleeping in their bed!

One of the perks of the home swap, is that you get to stay in a cost-free accommodation. However, if you want an extra layer of security, you may want to subscribe to a house swapping platform for a small fee.

Staying in a locals house will give you a more authentic experience of the new locale. While the accommodation is generally free, depending on who you’re swapping with, you may even find a car included in the deal.

For those who really want to experience everyday life as a local, you can even end up swapping pets!

In terms of security and the valuables that are left at home, many members will have a hidden, secured and fireproof safe. This is a common practice and most members will respect the owners goods.

An added sense of security is in place because most members tend to take some time to get to know one another before committing to a swap.

See If Any of Your Friends Want to Share an Airbnb

If your plans can include friends, then you can look into splitting the difference for a rental such as an Airbnb.

Looking into Airbnb can be a great option for those traveling in a group. If you find a rental that doesn’t mind hosting multiple friends, you can find a great deal that would normally be out of your price range as a solo traveler.

Using Airbnb for the first time can be confusing for those new to the site. There is certain expectation when dealing with a hotel that doesn’t quite match that of an Airbnb rental.

However, over the years, Airbnb have increased the ease of use and security when dealing through the platform. These situations can be handled fairly easy if you perform a little research about the area and the host.

Airbnb can be a great choice even if you’re a solo traveler!

When you choose to stay at an Airbnb over a hotel, it’s more likely than not, that you spend less for more space.

Another perk is that you can save on going out to eat, while staying at an Airbnb. Most locations will offer a full kitchen, where you will end up spend a fraction of the price to put together a salad versus buying one at a restaurant.

Airbnb usually come with the added perk of having a washer and dryer. If you chose the method of bringing only a carry-on, this can greatly expand the duration of your trip.

Saving for Your Trip Through a Side Gig

If you already have a dream destination in mind and have every detail planned to the minute, one way to speed up the process for departure can be to take on a side job.

While it’s always beneficial to develop streams of passive income, you may want to use your untapped skills as a freelancer or to take on a part-time job over the weekends to help with cash flow.

To help you start making some extra income to save for your trip, we’ve compiled a list of potential side gigs.

Get Paid to Take Surveys

If you find yourself with an hour or so to spare in front of the computer, you can use that time to make some extra cash by taking surveys. Check out our guide making money by taking surveys.

There are numerous survey sites, however the industry does have its fair share of scams.

One that we recommend is Survey Junkie, it’s a 100% legit site that pays out to your Paypal account.

The next step will be to fill out your Survey Junkie profile completely in order to get surveys that are right for you.

When filling out your profile, try to be as inclusive as you can regarding the various topics presented. The more categories your profile can fall under, the more likely you’ll be applicable for a survey.

Once you’ve been selected to undertake a survey, take the time to thoroughly read the questions.

If you speed through the questions, Survey Junkie will incorporate the fail safes in place to prevent false answers and you may not get paid out. If you answer too fast, you may be vetted out as not being serious in your responses.

Taking surveys will not bring in enough money to replace your full-time job, but it should help to fill your vacation piggy bank.

Get Paid to Be a Driver

If you have a car and don’t mind a little traffic, you may want to download the Lyft app.

Getting started as a Lyft driver can feel a little daunting, but keep in mind, that every passenger you pick up is another step to your dream trip.

To start out, you’ll want to go through Lyft’s test drive mode, which will put you through a mock trial run to familiarize yourself with the process.

You’ll also want to start in an area you are comfortable in, that way you can easily navigate the area without bouncing back and forth between the road and the GPS.

Get Paid to Lose Weight

If you’re interested in getting slimmed down before your trip, you can actually get paid to achieve your weight loss goal!

With an app called Healthywage, you begin with the HealthyWage Prize Calculator, where you’ll enter how much weight you want to lose and the time you think it will take you to meet you goal weight. Then you make a bet.

After you sign up and place your bet, you begin by uploading a video-recorded weigh-in to verify your weight.

Once the bet’s duration has finished, you video-record your weight once again uploading to Healthywage and if you hit your goal, you receive a nice payout.

If you didn’t, then your bet goes to another contestant who had reached their goal.

Using this guide will show you how to save for a trip so you can trek around the world without worrying about the debt most people incur from traveling.

As long as you take stock of your finances, set goals that you hope to achieve during your journey, and budget wisely, saving for a trip to create the memories that will last forever has never been easier!

Are you planning trip soon? Which strategies will you use? Let us know in our comments.


Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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