• save money toward travel

9 Tips for Saving Money toward Journey

The number one reason people tell me they can’t go on holiday abroad is lack of money.

The second reason is that they don’t have the time off workAmericans are way down there with Thailand and the Philippines when it comes to our employers’ generosity of paid holidays from work. We are the bottom of the list along with China and Canada. In the UK, top of the list, they get up to 38 days or 10% of their year off.

Many times, in order to travel extensively, backpackers have to save up and quit their jobs. This is what I did. Twice!

These tips for saving money to travel may not work for everyone, but these are what saved me the money to be where I am today, India.

(Click for more reasons why Americans don’t travel)

backpacking, money saving tips, advice, saving money to travel, travel tips. luxury travel, budget travelYou can relax by a pool in Thailand with no worries except where to get some fresh juice… if you save!

9 Tips for saving money toward travel

1. Stop spending money you don’t have.

I have a credit card for emergencies that luckily I’ve never needed. If you have school loans it shouldn’t stop you from traveling, you just need to budget that payment into your plans. (Or else wait 20 years or more to travel). But if your debt is on your Nordstrom card, you have to get your priorities straight and decide if this is what you really want. Pay your cards off immediately.

2. Stop shopping.

This one is the hardest for me. I fail at this almost all of the time. But when I reality-check myself its like this: if I am leaving for fall season, then I don’t need to buy fall clothes. If I’m traveling through winter I don’t need a new coat, boots, or scarf. Now if you really don’t buy those things you just saved yourself a couple hundred bucks! Once you’ve missed multiple seasons of fashion and get over that period of depression, it gets better. When you get back summer clothes will be in the stores and what you missed will already be out of style.

3. If you have a job that allows it, pick up overtime.

When I was saving for my second trip to India I worked on average five 12-hour night shifts a week, and sometimes worked 8 days in a row. It sucked but I was determined. Set your budget based on the money you will make working extra hours (only if you know the will be available) and then you’ll feel obligated to go in when work calls for help.

4. Realize that entertainment is what sucks up all your money.

You have to revert back to university ways. Pregame. Really hard. I would actually try not to buy more than one drink while I was out. I also chose beer (cheaper) over liquor. Every dollar counts. Stay in and watch a free DVD from RedBox (code: DVDONME) instead of spending 10 bucks at the theatre. Remember, this is temporary misery, but very worth it. That 10 bucks is a mojito, calamari, and massage on a beach in India.

backpacking, money saving tips, advice, saving money to travel, travel tips. luxury travel, budget travel

5. Get another job.

Babysit, housesit, or mow lawns. Advertise at work for babysitting. Act like you are 10 and ask your parents for money to wash the cars.  Get a part time job somewhere that you usually spend money and can take advantage of the discount. I have waited tables, bagged groceries, painted houses, cleaned gutters, and made corndogs at a racetrack. I hire graphic designers and creative people on Fiverr which is something to consider, or elance where you can even just edit people’s writing.

6. This one saved me bundles: spend less at the grocery store.

Use coupons. Stop buying expensive food. Always go when your belly is full. Stop buying drinks and stick to water. Not everyone can eat like I do (because I eat like a 15-year old boy) but living off of hot pockets, frozen burritos, packaged noodles, and hotdogs meant spending about 100 dollars a month on food.

7. Drive less.

Gas is expensive. Try to spend a day off doing everything in one area then only drive to work and back during the week. This was easy for me because I lived in a city that was walk-able. But if you find yourself driving too much to see friends and go out, you need to rethink where your money is going.

8. Go home for the weekend (if it’s close).

This is an oldie but a goodie. You’ll get free food, you won’t be tempted to go out and spend money, and you can spend time with your family before your trip.

9. Work right up until you leave.

This way, two weeks into your trip another paycheck magically appears. You should do this before any big trip.

backpacking, money saving tips, advice, saving money to travel, travel tips. luxury travel, budget travelThis place cost less than 4 dollars a night on Koh Phi Phi

You don’t lose money by traveling, you actually can spend much less– you just don’t have an income.

If that’s not possible for you, there are ways to make money while you travel.

In three months in India, living quite nicely, I spent 1,500 USD. Add 1,400 for my flight round-trip, and I came out under 3,000. My rent in Charlotte was 1,000 a month, so I spent less making all those memories abroad than I would have just on rent in North Carolina.

You have to decide if you have enough money for expensive Western Europe, and you need to compare your own currency to the areas you want to visit. Last season, the pound is doing beyond great here in India, and the Brits were smart enough to take advantage of that. See where your currency does well!

Read more on money & travel with these articles:

backpacking, money saving tips, advice, saving money to travel, travel tips. luxury travel, budget travel



About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Linda Bibb November 18, 2013 at 12:51 am - Reply

    Here’s another one: Sell what you don’t need/use/want and you’ll have a good start toward your travel. We sold so many of our extra things on Craigslist that we ended up with almost enough to pay for two plane fares to Bali.

    • Hippie-inHeels November 18, 2013 at 6:55 am - Reply

      You must have sold a lot of stuff, that’s great! I completely forgot about that- I also sold my furniture/anything that wouldn’t fit in my car to store at my parents. I actually got more for my futon that I originally paid for it! :)

  2. Roni Faida November 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    #2 is easy for me because I hate to shop but driving less is a bit difficult because where I live in Charlotte is not walkable. If I lived Uptown or in Dilworth then maybe I could park my car more often. People will save their money to buy a purse so they could definitely save money for a trip. And a trip is so much better!

    • Hippie-inHeels November 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm - Reply

      I used to live in Charlotte. I was a nurse at Carolina Medical Center for a year. I lived uptown so could walk to bars, but had to drive to work :( i am not all about riding a bike after a 12 hour shift lol you’re right, trips are definitely better to save up for!

  3. Erin November 20, 2013 at 6:05 am - Reply

    great tips! what i love about saving for trips is that it shows me how creative i can be. with a little research, you can find so much FREE fun stuff in your city! free art showings, drinks, food, festivals, concerts, movie screenings…i am the queen of finding free things :) also, i am not above sneaking my own liquor into a bar in my cell phone shaped flask. true story.

    • Rachel November 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      that’s true erin, you can find so much online. getting free stuff is why i joined clubs in college… pizza at the meetings! Where’d you find a flask like that? thats hilarious

  4. Micamyx|Senyorita November 27, 2013 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Great and realistic tips! Glad I am not a shopaholic so it is really easy for me to stop splurging… except on the food part :|

    • Rachel November 27, 2013 at 5:09 am - Reply

      lucky you! i’m already stressing that i won’t be getting the holiday deals back in the states!

  5. Getting Close To November 30, 2013 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    These are great tips for saving money — not only for travelling, but for life in general!

  6. christine January 27, 2014 at 4:18 am - Reply

    Hey what bungalows are those on koh phi phi??? im going there in march and everything I have seen has been suuuuper expensive nowhere near 4$

    • Rachel Jones January 27, 2014 at 5:34 am - Reply

      Phutawan Bamboo Resort. It was clean but basic, concrete floor with matress & mosquito net. it was QUITE a walk uphill but that didn’t bother me. Nice staff that do laundry, free coffee in AM. I don’t know if I mentioned in this post or another but never book online in Thailand or India. In SE Asia you always want to show up and negotiate. I looked on tripadvisor and they want 4,000 baht!! we paid 400 baht for the night for a 3-person room & divided that by 3. I saw other reviews say they paid anywhere from 150-300 baht

  7. Laura January 28, 2014 at 3:30 am - Reply

    Great money saving tips! I think a lot of it comes down to living well below your means. If you’re saving for a goal in particular like travel, you can cut WAY back and live like a poor college student again!

    • Rachel Jones January 28, 2014 at 7:13 am - Reply

      exactly! I like to put some away in another account and trick my brain into thinking i’m more broke than I am.

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  9. Heather Koop June 14, 2014 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Hello Rachel,

    I think what you have created here is awesome. One thing I think would be interesting and no one ever thinks about it, is the fact that some people who travel have medical problems. It would be interesting hearing from a nursing perspective and a travelers perspective how to travel when you have a medical problem. I have had diabetes for 15 years now so travel makes me nervous because whatever I bring is all I have! It would be awesome when you get the time to maybe give out some pointers. For me I always pack double what I think I am going to need when I hit the road. Also, I love kayaking and Canoeing (I’ve been doing it since I was 6). Have you ever been to or heard of Ashlu Creek in the UK. If you haven’t get on google and take a peak it looks amazing (Class 4 and 5 Rapids).

    Safe travels,
    Heather Marie

    • Rachel Jones June 14, 2014 at 11:14 pm - Reply

      That’s a really good question! I will add that to my notebook and make a post about it-although I don’t have all the answers! that’s great that even with a medical condition you still travel. Packing extra is essential! My BF is from Ashlu Creek and hadn’t heard of it, but I love rafting so maybe next time I’m there we can try!

  10. Dana @ Karon Beach Resort and Spa September 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    These are great money saving tips! Taking note of them. As for #1, i think it applies for everyone in general whether or not they want to travel. :)

  11. venus john September 22, 2014 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    honest and informative..and a great snap..

  12. Sally December 30, 2014 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    It only took me 8 months in England to save up the money to come away again. Once you know you want it, it is easy. But yes, i read each of the 9 points nodding and agreeing. You don’t need ‘stuff’ and you can do so much for free. Being in all these amazing countries and experiencing what i am doing is definitely worth not having a new dress !

    • Rachel Jones December 31, 2014 at 11:01 am - Reply

      awesome! I wish I earned the pound.. my bf is english and his money goes so much further here in India.

  13. Deepak Kumar June 30, 2015 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Llke ur life so much.my wish is also to explore the world like u and that day will come.Leaving for Goa on 3rd july to enjoy the monsoon and calmness.

  14. Deborah Gibson October 23, 2015 at 12:13 am - Reply

    Loved your information. Also, if you are not prepared to do without and work hard to get to your goal then it’s time to re-think your priorities.

  15. budget – The Voyager Lust April 25, 2018 at 10:17 am - Reply

    […] you’re going last-minute, sometimes the budget doesn’t do as well as if you can plan ahead. It’s actually my main reason for planning ahead! […]

  16. EM May 9, 2019 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    I love travelling but be don’t always have to travel to spend vacation in a cool way. Staying at home can be really interisting and money saving ;) Love your blog btw

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