Save for trave

5 Great Ways to Save for Travel

Save for trave
Photo by “thethreesisters”.

You may be surprised to know that our bank account is quite sad. A chilly wind and a couple of tumbleweeds make their way through occasionally, but overall we are nowhere near rich (and actually, I think we’re technically at poverty level). So how do we make it work? How do we save for travel?

It all comes down to how badly you want it. Because when you eat, sleep, and breathe something, you quickly figure out your priorities – and travel is ours.

Over the last year I obsessively tracked every penny we spent and I found out something that really surprised me. We were traveling for 6 ½ months last year and we only spent $10,000 for the entire year. That sure is a lot cheaper than living in Austin full time.

How do we do it? How do we pay for it all?

I’ll give you a few pointers. 🙂

save for travel
Photo by Amanda Pomilla Hagood

1. Flex your technical skill muscles.
Though few people realize it, just about everyone has a skill that they can capitalize on. For Shaun, it is his extensive knowledge as a mechanic. When we’re at home, he does general maintenance and repairs. For me, I find freelance work with my wedding photography background. This time around I got to second shoot a wedding and did an exterior building shoot in Houston. Pimp out your skills. Having jobs like this will make it easier to get up and go on your next travel whim.

Save for travel
Photo by Jeffrey Pott

2. Write for online publications.
The travel industry is growing quickly and many freelance writing gigs are opening up for travel guides and content writing. Caroline of Caroline in the City has an extensive list of “Travel Writing Round Ups” that give you a heads up on what people are looking for every month.

Save for travel
Our CSA box!

3. Cook at home.
Saving money doesn’t mean you have to eat badly – you just have to eat smartly. I’ve grown leaps and bounds in the kitchen and I’ve done it on a budget.

3.5 Cook from scratch – prepared foods are much more expensive.
Buy a CSA – Are you looking for veggies on the cheap? We invested in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box every 2 weeks. It gives us about $90 of organic veggies for $35. It is amazing how well you can eat when you cut out the middleman.

Save for travel
Photo by sea turtle

4. Sell your stuff.
I think Shaun and I now have all of our belongings down to 8 tupperware boxes. We’ve sold books, DVDs, collectables, old car parts, tools, and a slew of other assorted goods. While it may not be a substantial chunk of money, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions. Do I need these? When was the last time I used them? The general rule is if you haven’t used them in a couple of months, you won’t miss them when they’re gone. And of course there is the big-ticket items. We’re selling our car and my scooter when we head to Australia at the end of the year.


5. Find free and cheap entertainment.
Saving doesn’t mean you have to sit at home for months twiddling your thumbs, waiting for your savings account to fill up. Have movie nights at home. Make your friends bring over the booze. Go to free festivals and shows in your area. Have a Mario Kart bracket night with a $1 entrance fee and get your karting on. When we’re in Austin, we like to partake in free things like the Full Moon Swim at Barton Springs and Eeyore’s Birthday Party. Be creative!

While we may not be pros at long term travel, I can say without a doubt that we’re getting there. With 2 years under our belt of being cubicle free, I can’t imagine ever going back.

Good luck, have fun, and by all means, if you have any questions please feel free to contact us!

35 thoughts on “5 Great Ways to Save for Travel”

  1. Love it. All great tips. I’d also add the idea of doing a lot of this while traveling – cook at the hotel / apartment / hostel, write or sell your photographs while traveling, etc. That way you can make / save money while out and about!

  2. #3 is definitely the one I’m worst at. I just love food so much! (and the stuff I “cook” isn’t very good.) Once I move back to NYC after the trip I’m currently on, I’m making a point of becoming a better cook. But I’m sure the Thai takeout will still be happening too often…

    Great tips!!

    1. My cooking used to be quite “meh” so I buckled down and learned more things. I can’t imagine a life without cooking anymore. I love it. It is so much fun.

  3. Not something everyone can do, but I sold my car and rented out my parking space. I make a decent amount every month on the rent, plus I save about $65 a month in insurance.

    And being a smart grocery shopper is key. Fortunately, I enjoy cooking at home. I could save a lot more if I didn’t enjoy going out for really good beer at the bars on weekends.

    1. We’re about to sell our car at the end of the year but parking spaces aren’t rentable… yet in Austin. 😛

      We could save a lot more if we didn’t like beer so much as well.

  4. Great ideas Erica. Especially about the CSA. I’ve never heard of that before… wonder if we have that sort of thing here in NZ. I totally agree that once you set travel (or anything else) as your priority for spending you’ll look at they ways you spend money completely different. I think of everything I buy in terms of how many nights on the road it costs me.

  5. This is a great list of tips! We do about all of them, and the most important one that you mention in the beginning is tracking every penny of what you spend! I couldn’t agree more that when your priority is travel, and you see all your money flying out to booze or clothes or whatever other nonesense, it’s much easier to save. I also aim to buy everything we need at 2nd hand stores!

    Yay travel love.

    1. I’ve been obsessed with second hand stores lately – mainly because I’m able to find jeans in my size (for short people). 😛 I can’t imagine spending that much on new duds.

  6. Great piece! We are in the middle of selling everything. All of these tips are great. However, since we are both engineers, it’s going to be hard finding pick up work. Still, we are going to do this!

    1. YOU CAN DO IT! RAH RAH RAH! 😛 We’re still trying to figure out what we can pick up too. I’ll send good thoughts your way!

  7. I’ve been surprised at how well we live on so little. For our income, we are below the poverty line, but our quality of life far exceeds when we had a home and a MUCH larger income in the States.

  8. Thanks for the tips! I will probably die if I have to sell my books but this really helps.

    “Saving doesn’t mean you have to sit at home for months twiddling your thumbs, waiting for your savings account to fill up. ”

    This is what I have been precisely doing for quite some time-making plans and postponing them waiting for my bank balance to go up! 🙁

    1. Oh my goodness! Go out! Just be a little more responsible with your money. If you don’t treat yourself every now and then you will go crazy!

  9. Going out can be cheap too, if you know where to look. There are lots of author readings at our local bookstores and college campuses, as well as informational health nights like one I’m going to tonight about heart health where they’re also serving food and have a no-host bar at the Art Museum. There are lots of creative ways to find things to do on the cheap.

    What else can you think of for ways to market your talents? I am coming up with a blank myself…

    1. Those are awesome ideas Carmel. I like to look for freebies like that as well. There are also other opportunities like trying to do social media for businesses you use, making cookies and selling them, reading tarot cards, really, anything you think anyone would be interested in spending money on!

  10. Great tips Erica. We sold a lot of stuff before we left the UK, but as we had a house, there was loads of stuff. I still have things like cooking utensils and kitchen machines that are all boxed up in my mother-in-laws loft. I am envious that you can fit all of your belongings in tupperware boxes. Think I’ll make that my goal too!;-)

    1. I think I got over the “box” thing when I had a whole bunch of heirloom records completely demolished by the rain. 🙁 If I’m saving it, it may as well last!

  11. Great tips! If you want to travel, you certainly have to make it a priority. I’m very impressed at how little you guys spent last year!

  12. Cooking at home is surely a money saver. Signing up for a CSA is a great idea I haven’t thought of. The other way to save money is to ditch the smart phone. I gave up mine months ago and I enjoy not being connected all the time. My cell bill went from $102 down to $30 a month. Now I only have a month to month contract. Great tips!

    1. Once our contract is up I think we’re moving to the same thing. Month to month – AND it has become more popular at home. 😀

  13. As in finance and in life – It’s always the little things, applied over time, that make the biggest difference.

    Avoiding debt like the plague is also a very good idea. Not having monthly payments makes cheap travel a lot more possible.

    Good article Erica.

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