If you’re like me, travel isn’t just a hobby; It’s a passion, it’s a deep-burning desire, it’s a way of life. You may want to up your yearly trip count, take that year-long RTW trip, or begin to travel permanently. No matter what you’re plan, you’ll know that the biggest question is how to fund your travel. No matter where you’re living, you have to be able to pay your expenses. Even when visiting inexpensive countries, travel isn’t cheap (especially if you’re family travellers like us!). Plane tickets, long-term rentals or hotels, food.. it all adds up. You’re going to have to save for travel.
If you’ve read our About Us page, you will know that we are trying to continue being able to travel, while also saving for our big round-the-world trip. We have a permanent home (with all of the expenses) and three children to support. We aren’t perfect when it comes to saving, but we follow these tricks and have come a long way! Here are 22 ways to save for travel!
22 Ways to Save for Travel
1. Points Cards
One very easy way to help yourself do more travelling is to sign up for points cards. I mean Airmiles, Petropoints, Aeroplan and so on. These types of points can be redeemed for gas cards, plane tickets, hotel stays, cruises, car rentals and more. Most of the time they cost you nothing to use, so you’re earning free travel on items you would be buying anyway. Another great points club is PCPoints. Scan your card every time you buy groceries and earn points, then redeem your points for money off of your grocery purchase. Using points cards is a great way to save for travel without actually putting money away!
This may seem like a given but you would be surprised at how many people don’t set a budget for themselves. Here are some basic steps to figuring out your budget:
- Figure out what you need monthly for necessities. These are things like rent, heat, hydro, water, insurance, transportation and groceries; The things you must have to live. This is the bases of your budget. Everything else can be changed.
- Set aside a certain amount from each pay for emergency savings. This is to be used for car repairs, medical needs and so on.
- Leave yourself a bit of “fun money”. This can be the money you use to buy gifts for family and friends, and to fund a night out every once in a while.
- Once you have figured out what money (and how much) is being designated to each category, you will know approximately how much you can save for travel each month.
It is really important to know what you are trying to spend on each bill because it gives you a clear focus point and guidelines. It is too easy to allow yourself to spend cash on things you want because you have money in your bank account. By setting limits, you give yourself a reference point to help you decide whether or not the purchase is smart (and affordable). If the money isn’t within budget, it gives you the chance to walk away for a while and decide if it is something you really want to buy when your budget renews.
3. Track your spending
This goes hand-in-hand with setting yourself a budget. Tracking your spending lets you know if you are on target, or if you need to tighten your bootstraps. Keeping and recording every receipt also gives you an idea as to where you are spending needlessly (and where changes to your spending habits can be made). I know from personal experience how easy it is to ignore a small $5 purchase here and there, and how quickly those small items add up to large overspending. The best way to track your budget is to make yourself a graph. Be it in Excel or on paper, it needs to be one place you record every dollar spent. Excel works well, because as you add your receipt totals to the chart, it can be set up to show you exactly how much money you have left in that category for the month. It leaves no guess work. At the end of the month you’ll be able to see how far under (or over) budget you are for each category, as well as for the entire month. If you have come under your monthly budget, this is excess money that you can save for travel!
4. Change Transportation Habits
This can mean different things for everyone, depending on where you live and your daily needs. If you live in the city and drive a car, would it make sense to switch to using public transit? The cost savings can really add up. If you think about what you pay per month in insurance and gas, and compare that to a $40 monthly bus or subway pass, it becomes clear how much extra you could put away for travel by making the change. Another option is to walk or bike more often to closer locations. Using your vehicle less cuts down on gas costs as well as wear and tear, which can lead to expensive repair bills.
5. Defer Pay
If you’re lucky, you may work for a company who offers pay deferral. You would make arrangements for your company to take an agreed upon percentage (or lump sum) off of your pay cheque and automatically put it into that account you use to save for travel. Doing this makes it feel like that money just doesn’t exist. You don’t see it come home, or in your bank account, so it is much easier to leave it in savings. If your company doesn’t offer this, it is easy enough to set up with your bank.
If you’re really lucky, your company may even offer a program called Self-Funded Leave. It works the same as above, where an agreed upon percentage is set aside for you, but then at the end of your set deferral term, you’re given (generally) up to a year off. Your job is waiting for you when you return and while you’re away, you receive monthly pay cheques, paid to you using the money that was saved away. This is most common to find when you’re a government employee.
6. Consume Less (Energy)
This is an easy way to cut back what you spend on monthly bills. In the winter, consider lowering the heat of your home by a few degrees and wear a sweater and slippers to keep you cozy. In the summertime, open windows at night (and promptly shut them in the morning) to keep the air in your home cool. Avoiding air conditioner use can also be done by spending the hottest part of the day in a cooler part of the house (like the basement), or keeping cold food and drink available. Walking to local destinations can save gas money. Run your dishwasher and do laundry during lower cost energy times. Turn off lights every time you leave a room.Take quick showers instead of baths (heating the water costs money, even if you don’t pay for water by consumption). Plan weekly meals so you know exactly what you need from the grocery store. This helps avoid food waste, which is the equivalent of throwing cash into your trash bin.
7. Eat at Home and Cook in Bulk
It is no secret that restaurants are much more expensive than eating at home. While you still need to let yourself enjoy a meal out every once in a while, making a point to eat at home can save a huge amount of money. I said earlier in this post that planning weekly meals helps save money by avoiding food waste. Another benefit of planning meals ahead is that it gives you a chance to look through the grocery store fliers to see what is on sale. Plan your meals based on what you can get at sale prices. Along with this, get items on sale and cook in bulk. Freezing portions for later weeks when sales are lacking means you still get delicious healthy food without your budget suffering.
8. Want vs. Need
This can be a tough one to get used to. There are lots of things you may want, but are they actually needed? Books, music, that new outfit, new household items… most of the time these are all just wants. Often many items you want to buy are duplicates or replacements for things you own which still work well. When considering a purchase, ask yourself these two questions:
- Can I get by without it?
- Do I have something at home that already serves the same function?
If you answer yes to either of these questions you know it is a ‘want’ item and you can take some time to reevaluate the purchase.
9. Get Creative with Ways to Get your ‘Want’ Items for Free or Cheap
‘Want’ items are the things that bring you joy, but they are not required to live. These are the things you tend to see less of when you’re living on a tighter budget. Don’t let this discourage you, as there are other ways of getting your ‘want’ items; You just have to get creative! If you’re an avid reader (like myself) get a library card instead of purchasing every book that interests you. Or consider investing in a Kindle. The upfront cost is that of a few books, but you can save a small fortune on books vs the paper copies. If you enjoy restaurants, ask for gift cards for your birthday or other holidays. Browse thrift stores and garage sales. Look online for lightly used items on places like kijiji or Craigslist. The less you spend the more you can save for travel.
10. Shop at Second Hand Stores
Second hand stores are an amazing treasure trove of items. I’m always surprised by what I find when I go. From clothing to toys, books, games, housewares and furniture, you can often find pretty much whatever you need. Most thrift shops have screening processes that insure the items you’re buying are still in excellent condition. The best part? It costs a small fraction of what you would pay buying new. On a recent thrift store trip, I purchased: 7 shirts (they looked brand new) for myself, 5 movies for my kids, a board game for a friend, 2 belts, 4 shorts/skirts for my daughters, a book, and a pair of running shoes for my son. All of this came to a grand total of $40, and none of us felt like we were sacrificing anything by buying second hand.
11. Fix Instead of Replace
We live in a society where “If its broken, replace it” is the rule of thumb. This is generally easier, to be sure, but that doesn’t make it the most cost effective. There are so many instances where repairing instead of replacing is just as valid of an option. Get yourself a tool kit and try your hand at some basic home repairs! If there are areas where you have difficulty repairing an item on your own, enlist the help of friends. Can’t sew but have a friend who could mend some clothing for you? Can’t fix an appliance but know someone who is great with those type of repairs? If you’re not comfortable asking for free favours, try bargaining with some of those freezer meals you’ve made or offer them a night of free babysitting in exchange. Use what resources you have to exchange for help and you’ll save a bundle.
We have many more ways to help you save for travel!
22 Ways to Save for Travel – Part 2
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