Last Updated June 24, 2020
Do you want to travel but can’t afford to? Everyone loves a great vacation, but not everyone has the budget to enjoy their getaway in the style they would like. Learn my top money-saving tips on how to save money on travel so you can enjoy the trip of your dreams, without the stress of running out of money.
How Much Should I Save For Traveling?
This number really depends on how often you like to travel, how expensive your vacations are, and what you can afford.
I would start by looking back at how much you spent on traveling last year. Next, divide that number by 12 and that will give you a good idea of how much you should save for traveling every month.
Once you have a good idea of how much you should save for traveling every month, you need to determine if you can afford to save that.
For example, let’s say you spent approximately $3,000 last year on traveling. That means you would need to set aside $250 every month. The way you determine if you can afford to save $250 every month is by making a budget.
If you need help making a budget you can get started with this FREE Monthly Budget Printable. This free printable will allow you to make a clear plan for your money, and help you save for your next trip much faster.
If you have a budget, but you’re ready to take it to the next level, I recommend you use my Budget Templates.
It is the system I currently use when budgeting, and it has helped me save over 50% of my income. It is very detailed and will help you save for your next trip in no time!
If you want to know step-by-step exactly how I use my household budget spreadsheet to manage my money you can read “How I Use My Monthly and Yearly Household Budget Spreadsheet.”
How To Save Money For Your Vacation
Once you have your monthly budget set up, saving for your next vacation is simple. Here’s how you save money for your vacation:
1. Have A Vacation Sinking Fund
A vacation sinking fund is when you set aside money specifically for your vacation.
Set up an automatic savings account specifically for your vacations. This helps you know exactly how much I can spend on your next vacation and also ensures that you pay for your vacation in full—because the money is already in your account.
As part of your monthly budget, decide how much you want to save for vacations. Then automatically transfer that money in a dedicated online account.
I recommend you keep your vacation money in an online account because it makes it harder for you to touch it. This way, you’re not tempted to spend your vacation money on something else.
You can use an online bank like Radius Bank because it offers competitive interest rates, has no monthly maintenance fees, and no minimum balance requirement after $100 to open. Also, their checking account has free ATMs worldwide.
You can also download this FREE Savings Tracker so you can keep track of your savings.
The Savings Tracker makes tracking your savings fun and easy. Just color in each box as you put money towards your next vacation. Use this visual to motivate you to keep going until you reach your goal.
- Related Article: What Is A Sinking Fund And Why You Need It?
How To Save Money On Travel
At this point, you have your vacation budget set up and you know exactly how much you can afford to spend. Now, let’s talk about ways to save money on travel.
2. Consider Booking Two One-Way Flights
Before booking a round-trip flight, consider booking two one-way flights. Sometimes it turns out to be cheaper!
That was the case for me when booking my most recent trip to Jamaica. I booked my departing flight with Caribbean Airlines and my return flight with jetBlue.
So start your search with a search engine like kayak.com to compare the cost of flights.
3. Go Directly To The Airline Website
Do NOT book flights with third-party booking sites such as Justfly.com, CheapOair.com, etc.
If you are booking airfare in the United States, the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations require that, as long as you’ve booked a non-refundable ticket 7 days ahead of your flight, you’re entitled to change or cancel your reservation within 24 hours of booking, WITHOUT paying a cancellation fee.
The third-party travel agencies are NOT required to do this.
This means, for example, if you book your Delta flight with CheapOair, and want to cancel that booking within 24 hours, CheapOair WILL charge you a cancellation fee!
If you booked this same flight directly with Delta, you would’ve been able to cancel your flight at no charge. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.
Another reason why I don’t recommend booking flights with third-party booking sites is if something goes wrong (like a flight cancellation), and you have to re-book your flight, the airline will have you go through your original purchase method for help.
These third-party companies usually don’t have the best customer service.
However, if you’ve booked through the airline directly, they will immediately work to accommodate you and get you on the next available flight to your destination.
So what should you do instead?
First, find the best deal through whichever third-party website you prefer. Once you’ve found the flight, jot down the flight number and head over to the airline’s website.
Search the same dates and airports you just used for your third-party search, and then look for the flight number.
Most of the time booking with a third-party booking site isn’t cheaper than going directly to the airline website. And sometimes, going directly to the airline website might be cheaper!
4. Fly On A Midweek Day
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest times to fly. Also, try and avoid flying during holiday periods.
5. Join A Frequent Flyer Program
Earn points towards cheaper fares, upgrades, and free companion tickets. It may take a while to accumulate points, but they CAN pay off.
I like to travel with Delta or JetBlue so I opt to travel with them whenever possible. Whatever airline you prefer, consider joining their rewards program.
6. Pack Light
Pack light so you can avoid checking bags. Most airlines today charge a check bag fee. This fee usually starts around $25 for the first bag, and more for any additional bags.
How To Save Money On Your Vacation Before You Leave
Here are some tips to make sure you’re saving the most money possible before you even leave for your trip:
7. Have Breakfast Included
When booking a hotel look for one with breakfast included. This can save you money and the hassle of figuring out where to eat in the morning.
8. Have Wi-Fi Included
When booking accommodations, make sure they include free Wi-Fi. This helps save money if you need to communicate with your loved ones while in another country.
9. Bring Your Own Medicine
Pack a small bag of medication you may need and keep it in your carry-on.
For my most recent Jamaica vacation, my friend made a “hangover kit” for us that was so cute! It included things like charcoal pills, Excedrin, electrolyte powder, Band-Aids, etc. And trust me, there were days that I needed to use this hangover kit! 🙂
You can use this concept and make a “medicine kit” that includes things like Aleve, TUMS, Pepto Bismol, allergy medicine, etc.
Most important, don’t forget your prescription medicine.
My uncle once forgot his high blood pressure medicine. His medication would have normally been covered under his medical insurance if purchased in the United States. However, while abroad, he had to pay for the doctor’s visit and the actual medication itself.
Needless to say, this mistake cost him a few hundred dollars.
10. Bring Your Own Airport Snacks
Buying food and snacks at the airport is incredibly expensive. Plan ahead and bring your own.
11. Plan Out Your Excursions In Advance
Planning is key when trying to save money. By having an idea of what you want to do in advance, you can do research to see how much it will cost. Note, I said “plan” not PAY!
I don’t recommend booking excursions in advance because you may be able to get a better deal once you get to your destination.
Also, you might not feel like going on the excursion the particular day you booked. This has happened to me many times and I ended up losing money.
How To Save Money While On Vacation
12. Don’t Exchange Money
Don’t exchange money if the country you’re visiting accepts your currency. For example, in Jamaica, everywhere we went accepted US dollars. This saved me money in exchange fees.
If the country you’re visiting does not accept your currency, consider using a credit card for most of your purchases when possible. However, only use credit cards that do not charge a foreign transaction fee–like my Capital One Quicksilver card.
13. Eat With The Locals
You can save money on vacation if you eat with the locals. Don’t eat or drink where the tourists are. The food is usually twice as expensive and never as good. Go where the locals go!
14. Ask The Locals
Ask the locals what something should cost, and try not to pay over that for anything. You can get this information directly from your tour guide or people working at your hotel. It always pays to talk to the locals.
15. Travel Like The Locals
Use public transportation where possible. You get great knowledge and insight by hanging with the locals. It costs you less and is a more authentic traveling experience.
16. Get Breakfast From The Grocery Store
If you can’t get a good deal staying at a hotel where breakfast is included, you can get your breakfast from the grocery store. Breakfast is usually the easiest meal to get for cheap.
Consider buying a yogurt, fruit, and pastry from the grocery store or corner shop. Even better if you have a mini-fridge in your hotel so you can store food.
17. Drink Before Going Out
You can save money on vacation if you purchase your alcohol from a store. Also, take advantage of any happy hours. Don’t drink expensive imported alcohol. Give the local alcohol a try!
This is exactly what I did during my Jamaica trip. Ordering local rum was so much cheaper than imported spirits.
18. Don’t Try To See Everything In One Visit
Spend more time in fewer places. Instead of going from one end of a country to another, or visiting multiple countries, get to know a region well.
Taking too many flights, bus trips, train journeys and driving long distances can really eat into your budget. Also, you usually get a better deal with lodging the longer you stay.
For my most recent Jamaica trip, my friends considered visiting Negril, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios. We quickly realized that transportation, excursion, and food costs were adding up. Therefore, we decided to only visit one city—Montego Bay—and experience as much as possible there.
19. Shop Where The Locals Shop
Save money on vacation by shopping where the locals shop. You can buy things like souvenirs, clothes, and food where the locals shop. Look for weekend markets and outlet stores.
For my most recent trip, we hired a local driver. He was able to take us to all the local shops, and that’s where we purchased all of our souvenirs.
20. Do FREE Stuff
The best way to save money on vacation is to do FREE stuff! Many things to see and do are absolutely free.
For example, visit a museum (a lot of them have at least one free day); go to the beach; visit a local market; or go to a street fair. If you get creative, the possibilities are endless.
21. Use Apps To Call And Text Back Home
The last way to save money on vacation is to use apps, such as WhatsApp, rather than your carrier’s service when making calls and sending text messages. WhatsApp is completely free and you can still stay in touch with your loved ones.
It’s possible to travel the world without breaking the bank. As you can see, there are so many ways you can save money on travel and vacation. After looking at my vacation money-saving tips, could any of these tips work for you?
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