We love to travel. As an Air Force brat in a family that loved to take side adventures and road trips growing up, I’ve traveled as long as I can remember. When my husband and I got married, we had such a special time on our honeymoon in Thailand that we committed to each other to always prioritize travel. Even as two broke kids starting out in life, we were able to go on many adventures by prioritizing saving for our travel fund and sticking to our tried-and-true tips for how to save for a vacation. We believe that travel is an essential part of the human experience, and shouldn’t be reserved only for those with deep pockets. Over the years we’ve discovered many ways to travel fabulously, whether it’s a trip abroad, a US road trip, or a weekend getaway, while maintaining a budget. It’s all about balance and a little planning – and that’s where today’s article comes in. I’m sharing our family’s tips for saving for travel and the things we personally do for how to save for travel fund. Whether you’re looking for tips for saving money for a vacation that’s coming up, or you want to start these as long-term practices for consistently adding to your travel fund, we hope these inspire you!
how to save for travel fund
- Keep a monthly budget to plan where your money needs to go and commit to saving a certain amount for travel. Having a clear visual on what money is coming in and going out each month will help you to ensure money can get saved. Remember, this is all about priorities (you’re going to see that word a lot in this article). If you want travel to be a priority, you might need to reduce other expenses. Especially if you’re on a budget, you might have to accept that you can’t have it all; something else might need to give in order to get more in the travel category. Which brings me to the next tip…
- Eat at home, pack lunches, and avoid restaurants. I know, this can be difficult if you’re in the habit of eating out or buying lunches regularly, but it’s one of the low-hanging fruit ways to save for a travel fund. Even fast food can add up to a $40 expense for a family really quickly, compared to about $10 for a homemade meal. Meal planning also helps ensure that your grocery budget stays in control while also reducing your food waste. Same with going out for drinks – it’s a lot cheaper to grab drink fixings from the store and have fun with your friends at home compared with a night out with a big bar tab. Instead, think of it as you’re deferring your restaurant meals and bar tab budgets for restaurants and bars in your travel destinations!
- Make travel your gift to yourself or each other. People are sometimes surprised to hear that my husband and I don’t get each other big birthday, Christmas, anniversary, or Valentine’s Day gifts. During our honeymoon we decided that our trips would be our ongoing gifts for each other, and 15 years later, we do not regret this decision one bit when we look at the incredible adventures we’ve had thanks to this decision for how to save for a vacation. For holidays and occasions, we tend to give small, thoughtful (or even handmade) gifts, and we have a tradition of making a romantic meal together at home for Valentine’s Day each year to save money. Look, if flashy gifts are your love language, then maybe this tip isn’t for you, but if it’s not as big of a priority as your travel fund, then you might just find the budget switch to be worth it!
- Pay for your expenses with points cards when you can. You may have heard of travel hacking, but if not, it’s a unique method of saving for travel. Essentially, you use a credit card that offers you airline or hotel points for your everyday expenses throughout the month (be sure to budget to pay this off each month so you don’t go into debt). This allows your bills, groceries, and other essential budget items to actually reward you with travel vouchers! For example, I use my United Explorer card for recurring monthly charges like my kids’ braces and even our charitable donations, which then pays me back in airline miles. Be sure to do some research on the best cards with the best points incentives.
- Are you paid bi-weekly? Our biggest way of saving for travel is to save those extra two paychecks a year. What does this mean? If you are paid bi-weekly, there are two months a year when you get three paychecks in a month. Since my monthly budget is for two paychecks a month to cover our monthly living expenses, there are essentially two extra paychecks a year that can go almost 100% towards my next trip. If you have a partner that is paid bi-weekly, too, then this can be four “extra” paychecks a year. Yes, of course, things come up and we usually can’t put aside those entire paychecks each time, but if you get into the mind-set of two paychecks per month (as opposed to getting paid every two weeks) for your monthly budget, then this can add a big chunk to your travel fund savings. My husband and I like to use the first extra paycheck for flights, then the next extra paycheck for hotels, and our other ongoing savings for misc. trip expenses.
Do you have any other tried-and-true tips for how to save for travel? Share in the comments below!