10 tips to save money to travel more often
Ahh, the constant struggle of saving money. Working a full 9 to 5 job, living an (almost) completely normal life, it’s hard not to follow the lifestyle my friends and family indulge in. I want to meet them for coffee and good food, buy them presents, visit the latest clothing shop that opened in town to upgrade my wardrobe, attend this exhibit a friend of mine recommended… And the list goes on. It is always so hard to save money to travel.
Do you recognise yourself here? Well, one thing that’s for sure, you’re not alone in this! I’ve been there and still struggle sometimes. It takes a strong will to adapt your lifestyle to save money fast, but it is so worth it once you find yourself roaming the streets of this cute Italian village you have had on your bucket list for the last 3 years! If there is one thing you must remember from this article, it’s that you must have a plan. I cannot stress this enough. It will help you keep your goal in mind, and increase your chances of reaching it.
Here are the 10 tips I follow that help me save money every month to travel more often!
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission on any purchase you make through my links, at no extra cost to you, to make this blog possible!
1. Track your monthly expenses & budget
First things first, you need to assess the state of your finances. Not only how much you’ve got in the bank, but more importantly how you’re spending your income. Categorise your monthly spendings: food (supermarket, restaurant, takeaway…), housing, transportation, entertainment, etc. Break down what you spend, and think about what is unnecessary and where you could cut back.
What I like to do is to split what I intend to buy/spend money on into two categories: “wants” and “needs”. Everything that ends up in the “wants” category is not necessary to my well-being, and I try to cut back there, only purchasing every now and then a few elements of the list. It’s important to find a good balance here, you want to save as much as you can but still enjoy your life outside of travelling!
A thing I do that helps me a lot with unnecessary spending is to set up a budget for each “wants” category. For example, I’ll allow myself to spend a specific amount per month on eating out, another on clothes, another on entertainment… Budgeting is definitely the basis for saving money in the right way, without driving yourself crazy by constricting yourself too much (which would most likely end up in you spending all your savings on everything you’ve been forbidding yourself!). Which brings me to my next tip.
2. Set up a goal and a realistic one
Like budgeting for your “wants” spending, you need to budget your savings! Set up a monthly realistic goal, and know what you’re saving for. Where are you planning to go? How much money do you need for that to happen? Write it all down, and plan how you are going to save the money you need. For example, let’s say you need altogether 1000$ for your next trip. How much are you (realistically) going to be able to save each month to reach your target? 300$? 400$? Make a plan, and stick to it.
My tip to make sure I reach my monthly savings goal is, as soon as I get paid, to put the target savings amount on a separate account. You can also put on the side a percentage of the money you are earning in case you’re being paid not just once at the end of the month but several times throughout the month. Don’t wait for the end of the month to see what’s left on your account to save!
3. Save on food and drinks
Adapt your diet and the way you buy products
Forget about ready-prepared dishes
Adapting the way you eat is not just good for your body, it is also for your finances! I have never been crazy about ready-prepared dishes (except for supermarket cookies and other cakes, I’m guilty!), and after watching numerous documentaries about the food industry, I’m not close to buying any industrial meal soon. And you know what? These dishes are more expensive than buying separately all ingredients needed for a great recipe. I also try to buy only basic ingredients like cereals, veggies and fruits, cheeses… Of many varieties. And the number of recipes you can make with basic ingredients are endless!
For example, I love tzatziki. No need to buy it already made! Just mix some Greek yoghurt with cucumber, some garlic, olive oil and salt, and voilà in 5 minutes you’ve got some tzatziki, fresh and tasty. Are you convinced yet? And that’s just one example amongst so many!
Buy items in big quantities
Another thing I do is to buy items in big quantities. Usually, the price per kilo/pound varies depending on the quantity you buy. The difference might not seem significant (only a few cents difference most of the time), but in the long run, it does help! Instead of buying 250g of rice, buy 1kg, 2kg, or even more at a time if available. And no need to buy a fancy brand, the supermarket one usually sells exactly the same product/quality… The other brands just add a cool label on it and sell it to you twice the price. In Europe, we also have many shops where you can buy the quantity you want (the food is not packaged), usually, these shops have the best quality at good prices.
Reduce meat & dairies consumption
Another tip I have for you regards meat & dairies: first of all, try to reduce your consumption of all these! They are expensive and you don’t need to eat some every day, that’s especially true for meat. Do your research and learn how you can try adapting your diet. If you still want to buy some, get your meat and cheese at the counter instead of already packaged! The price per kilo/ pound is inferior that way. An example from my local supermarket: packaged chicken breasts cost about 12$/kilo, while at the counter only 8$/ kilo… That’s a huge difference!
Also, in case there is a market next to where you live, go there right before they close. Prices are usually much cheaper, sometimes more than 50% off since the products won’t be able to be sold the next day… Best deals!
Oh, and please, try to avoid drinking bottled water… Not good for your wallet, nor the environment.
Prepare your lunch the day before
Every time I am going to the office, I always make sure to prepare my lunch the night before to avoid eating out. It’s very easy if you’re not too picky and don’t mind eating the same food you had the night before. Instead of cooking just for dinner, cook some more for lunch as well! And if you have a nice bento box like I do, you will enjoy this even more! This will easily help you save anywhere between 150 to 250$ a month.
Limit your consumption of takeaway coffee & other drinks
If I was having takeaway coffee from my favourite coffee shop every day I work, I would spend 50$ on coffee every month. And that’s in the low range because I live in Greece. But in France or even in the US, it can easily add up to 80-100$ a month. Do you really need to buy coffee from Starbucks every day? I don’t. I prefer to make my own freddo espresso or frappé at home and use my cute reusable coffee mug, which is also very convenient for travelling!
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: up to 400$/month
4. Favour walking or cycling over using the car
I avoid using the car as much as I can. However, in Athens, that’s not the easiest solution! Most of the city is structured around the use of cars, the residential neighbourhoods being largely spread around the centre. I favour using public transportation, and when I can, I use a bicycle or even walk! I save a lot on gas and parking fees. If you own a car, think about it: do you really need it? How often are you using it? Is there another solution you could use? Not owning a car also saves you from spending on car insurance, car service, and all other costs associated with car maintenance.
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: 150$/month
5. Save on self-care
Do gym at home
Nowadays it’s sooo easy to do some gym at home. We have access to thousands of free resources on Youtube, so why should you pay for a gym membership that you’re not even sure you will use? I’ve been there, spending a lot every month and only using my membership a couple of times. What a waste… I can now save 60$ per month, and enjoy a nice vacation!
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: 60$/month
Skip the hair salon
Do you really need to go to the hair salon every month? Or every two months? I only go twice a year to the hair salon, and the rest of the time I cut the ends myself! The only secret is to have a low maintenance haircut (nothing too short, of no full colouration: I prefer highlights in my hair which don’t require a visit to the salon every month to take care of the roots). And remember: your natural hair colour is beautiful and unique!
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: up to 75$/month
Do your nails yourself
Here in Greece, it is almost a requirement to have your nails done. But it’s a budget of at least 30$/month, which I would definitely rather save… Instead, I invest in one or two high-quality nail polishes every year that will not dry up quickly and last long enough, and do my nails myself! Takes a few tries to master the skill but your wallet will thank you for it.
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: 30$/month
Invest in hair removal solution
Whether you shave, wax, or go to the salon to have your hair removed, it’s a budget. So why not invest in an epilator? I personally use this one. It takes a little time to get accustomed to the pain, but it’s really useful without breaking the bank like laser epilation.
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: up to 60$/month
6. Save on clothes
That’s probably one of the things that are really hard for me to save on. I feel like I’m being bombed all day long with clothing ads, whether it is on my phone, on my computer, looking for clothes or not. AI has become so smart that all the recommendations I get on Instagram and other social media are spot-on my style, and it makes me want to buy, buy, and buy. So hard to resist. Nevertheless, here are the strategies I follow in order to minimise my spending:
I avoid going shopping if I don’t need new clothes.
I only visit physical stores when I need a specific item, or when there are sales. As much as I love new clothes, I don’t particularly enjoy shopping in mainstream stores. I prefer shopping online, which is quite helpful to avoid instant, not well thought through purchase.
When I see an item I like online, I NEVER buy it the same day I see it.
I just save it so I know I have a way to find it and buy it if I want to. And you know what? Most of the time, I forget about this oh-so-cute bikini I thought I desperately needed. Turns out I truly didn’t. I only purchase a few “love items” from time to time, that I really thought about.
I try to buy as much quality clothing I can.
Yes, with websites like Zaful, or Shein you can buy many clothes at really cheap prices, but how long will they last until you have to replace them? And most of the time, trust me, they don’t make you look nice. The quality looks cheap (I have myself bought several swimsuits from Zaful). Choose quality over quantity! Why do you need so many clothes anyway?
I buy as much as I can during the sales period.
If I see something I like, I will try to wait for the brand to do sales, or for them to release a special coupon! This is another of my tips: out of the sales period, I always check for coupons online. Thanks to the spread of affiliate marketing, many brands now have coupons available all year round! Amazing, I know.
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: well, it depends on your usual budget… but probably up to 200$!
7. Save on utilities
Be smart with your water and electricity consumption! If you don’t do it for the environment, at least do it for your wallet. This includes: making sure to always turn off lights/AC when leaving from home, not leaving lights on in rooms where you’re not, not leaving the water running continuously when washing dishes or taking a shower…
Also, think about the items you charge every day: do you really need an electric toothbrush? Do you need wireless headphones? Are you turning off your TV completely (you know the little red light when your TV is on standby)? A smart move is to have multi plugs which you can turn on/off whenever you go to sleep/leave your house.
Extra tip: in Greece, you get a 10% discount on your electricity/gas bill when the same company is supplying you both. Look into the policies of your local supplier and you might get a discount as well!
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: up to 50$/month (really depending on where you live)
8. Use a smart bank account like Revolut
One of my favourite tips! This is a kind of “fun” way to save money. I recently opened an account with Revolut after several of my friends recommended it to me, and discovered that it really is the best bank account for travelling. But that’s not its only perks! Revolut is also great for saving money.
They have a functionality called “Vault” which allows you to save small money every time you make a purchase (money is rounded up to the higher full number). This money goes straight into a sub-account. For example, let’s say you buy something worth 5.80$ with your Revolut card, 0.20$ will be automatically added to your “Vault”. You can also set up automatic money transfers, which I have done myself for every time I get paid. Extra tip: I try to use my card as much as possible rather than cash so I can better track my expenses!
Extreme goals sometimes require extreme measures… Not sure I would be able to do so myself but I still wanted to share this idea with you. Consider cutting your accommodation costs by sharing your house/apartment with a roommate or maybe even two, or by moving into a cheaper apartment, in a cheaper neighbourhood or with less space/facilities. Or maybe move back to your parents’ place for a while? I know that’s a little extreme, but if you really want to save money quickly, that’s the one solution that will help you save hundreds of dollars or euros every month!
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: depending on where you live, anywhere between 200 to 500$/month
9. Spend time with your friends differently
I found that I spend quite a lot of money when I’m out with friends (no hard feeling guys!!). And the best way to reduce this kind of expense is well… to change the type of activities you are doing together. It’s so nice to meet for coffee, drinks, food, art exhibitions, fun games and stuff but you know what’s also nice? To organise a small gathering at your house, to go for a walk in the park or for a hike, to a public beach… Explain to your friends that you’re trying to save money for travelling, I’m sure they will understand and help you reach your goal!
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: around 150$
So, based on my estimations, if you’re doing all of the above, you could be spending up to 1000$ every month on unnecessary things… See? By breaking down all of your expenses, you will understand how much exactly YOU can save every month, and start planning your next trip!
I hope these tips were helpful, and you will now be able to save money to travel more often. At least they have helped me a lot during the last few years! What are you saving for? Do you have any other tips for saving money? I would love to know about them, email me at email@example.com or message me on Instagram @thebeachmuse to talk about it!
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