Travel isn’t cheap.
I hate admitting it, but travel has pulverized my savings over the years. I don’t regret spending a single penny. I don’t. However, I won’t lie and act like a plane ticket to Rome is as cheap as a roll of toilet paper. In our dreams, right?
So, unsurprisingly, lot of people ask me how I afford all my trips. No, my parents don’t help me. No, I don’t have a trust fund. And no, I’m not evading my taxes. Instead I cut corners when necessary and make smart decisions with my money.
I’m lucky in some ways. I don’t have a family to support or any debt hanging over my head. Even though my parents don’t fund my travel, they’re incredibly supportive of me in other ways (mostly saying how proud they are of me). Their verbal encouragement goes beyond a price tag.
Although I’m aware of my privilege, I wanted to share 5 easy ways I save money to travel the world, so you can board a plane, have your passport stamped, and enjoy incredible global experiences.
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
If you travel a lot, it’s worth investing in a travel rewards card. Face it: we all have to spend money. So we might as well earn something back for paying our electric bill, right? Travel rewards cards are saviors especially if you’re a teacher (like me) and pay stupid high airfare thanks to peak season. Another rant for another day.
My personal favorite travels rewards card is Chase’s Sapphire Preferred Card. You earn double points on food and travel purchases, and one point for each dollar spent on other purchases. Which all pays off in a big, big, big way. For example, I recently saved $100 on airfare to Montreal, thanks to my card’s points.
Be aware most travel cards require a history of good credit. Check requirements before you apply.
2. Create a Separate Travel Savings Account
Take a set amount of money out of each pay check and then place it in a separate account. Works like a charm. Why? Using a separate account ensures you won’t touch the money for coffee, clothes, the movies, whatever. Plus you have a much clearer idea of just how much cash is available.
When I first started solo traveling in 2013, I physically set aside my money to another account and refused to touch it at all. Trust me, taking a small slice out of each check will eventually turn into a habit for you. Even $10 a week adds up over the course of a year.
Not sure where to cut? Pull up your budget and brainstorm. We all spend money on stupid stuff we don’t need. Perhaps buy your own small expresso maker and skip Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks. $3 per day on a coffee times 5 days a week equals $780 dollars per year. Think about it.
3. Ditch the Car
Use public transportation, bike, and walk as much as possible in your daily life. You’ll save money on gas, and prevent wear and tear on your car.
Luckily, I live in New Brunswick, which has excellent transportation to New York City, as well as plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance of my apartment. I only need a car for work and visits home.
I realize completely dropping a car isn’t an option for everyone. The United States doesn’t make carless living easy outside of major cities. New Jersey is the definition of suburban sprawl if you’re outside New Brunswick, Hoboken/Jersey City, and Morristown. It stinks.
However, you can always control the type of car of you drive. I use an older Honda that’s already been paid off. Car payments? Nah. Plus repairs aren’t as expensive as, say, a BMW’s.
4. Learn to Cook and Buy a Water Filter
Eat more of your meals at home. Restaurants are notoriously expensive. Use pinterest for cheap recipe ideas and cut your food budget in half if you can swing it. I’m not saying NEVER go out to enjoy a fine meal. You want to enjoy life. However, make going out to eat a treat rather than a bi-weekly affair.
Furthermore, invest in a water bottle and filter. Bottled water eats a chunk out of any budget. Drop it and stick to regular ol’ tap water. Not only will you save a boatload of cash, you’ll also help the environment by throwing away less plastic. Win win.
5. Go Crazy for Coupons
Before you shop for anything, light bulbs, cleaning supplies, books, anything, you ought to check the internet for coupons and discounts. Groupon, too. You can save a bundle of money. I recently had a beautiful poster (from NYC’s MoMA) custom framed and saved $110, because I took an extra five minutes to check Groupon for discounts on frames.
In addition to Groupon, sign up for your favorite stores’ mailing lists. I know no one likes 100 unread emails but the aggravation is more than worth saving a couple dollars here and there for the vacation of a lifetime.
Those are some easy ways I save money to travel the world. Alright, readers, now it’s your turn! What are some ways you save money to travel the world? Let’s explore more together and save our wallets!