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10 Ways to Save Money for Travel

Most people want to travel but feel that, for some reason, they don’t have enough money, enough time, or enough knowledge of how to do so. The later is acceptable, however, the two former are just excuses that people use to justify not ever taking that trip of a lifetime.

In reality, you spend frivolously on things that you enjoy. Rather than opting to not enjoy these things/activities, you choose to cut corners elsewhere. This is simply what economists call opportunity cost. The cost of traveling might be too high for you….not because a plane ticket from LAX to Europe will cost you $1000, but because you would rather use that $1000 for things that you value higher than a holiday.

If you REALLY want to travel and you’re really willing to make simple sacrifices in life, trust us, you can and do have enough money to travel.  Take these 10 tips as a starting point and you should have enough extra money every year to plan a great vacation!

1. Stop drinking Starbucks

$5 (high estimate) x 365 = $1825. You can literally fly anywhere in the world for $1825. Stop drinking Starbucks and stop making excuses. This was one vice that we did not give up until literally a couple months ago. We cut expenses in other areas and always let this one go. Why? Maybe habit, maybe laziness, maybe a combination of both. But guess what? We ordered an espresso machine and some of our favorite Italian espresso (Lavazza) this week and are going to save ourselves thousands of dollars this year that we can allocate toward traveling farther, longer, and more comfortably. Now we get to enjoy coffee that is far better than Starbucks at a fraction of the cost.

2. Get a travel credit card or an airline credit card

We both hold 3 travel credit cards which we absolutely love: Chase Sapphire, Gold Delta AMEX, and the British Airways Visa Signature (put in referral codes as links). These cards are all great in their own right and all serve certain purposes. Between these 3 cards we have flown all the way around the world, had cash back rewards, and enjoyed multiple nights of accommodation at little to no cost.

3. Stop drinking alcohol

As much fun as it is, drinking frequently and heavily is not only a detriment to your health, but also a massive blow to you bank account. If you are going to drink, try to drink at home before you go out. For those of us who live in cities like LA, NYC, Vegas, etc. you know full well that you can buy a 12 pack of craft beers for the same price you spend on 2 crappy Budweisers at a bar.

4. Start cooking your meals

Typically we make grocery store runs a few times a week.  We will stock up on things like Greek yogurt, honey, walnuts, fruit, eggs, and bread for breakfasts/lunches for the week and then will generally go to the store each evening when we plan to cook. We are bit Italian in that way – we want our food to be fresh each day. Last night we bought a pack of chicken for $7, vegetables for $4, and potatoes for $3. A delicious, healthy meal for 2 was literally $14. Generally when we a cheap meal eat out (poke or Chipotle) we spend around $25. Saving $10 a day on food can go a long way.

5. Get rid of cable

We don’t own a TV, and so obviously we also don’t have cable. We save at least $50-100 a month (depending on how premium your cable package is) to not have TV. Face it, you can stream virtually ANYTHING these days. Maybe not always in real time, but you can definitely find your shows online 1 day later. If there’s a sporting event you want to see, your local bar will 100% be showing it. If not, try the one next door.

6. Sell your car

If you live in a city where its actually more of a pain in the ass to own a car than it is a benefit, just sell it! If you have a relatively low car payment, (let’s say $200/month), and you pay $100/month for insurance, and you fill up your tank once a week ($50 x 4 weeks) then you’re spending $500/month to own a car. This doesn’t even include registration, maintenance and repairs, parking tickets, potential accidents, etc.

7. Think small

Start thinking in terms of flights, accommodation, and entertainment abroad – the minute we stopped thinking in the traditional “Oh, it’s only $20,” sense, we started saving a lot more money. Rather, when you want to spend $20 on something frivolous, quantify it as a Ryan Air flight from Bologna to Palermo, 3 of the most amazing pizzas you’ve ever had, or a night in a hostel. $20 doesn’t seem like much, but in terms of budget travel, it’s a lot.

8. Leverage your resources

Follow sites like Airfarewatchdog and Travel pirates on Facebook – We literally just saw an “error-fare” the other day for $211 to go round trip from LAX to Auckland, New Zealand. Yeah, seriously. We tried to purchase it and have a last minute impromptu trip to NZ, but Quantas caught the fare and marked them as “sold out.” Aside from error-fares, sites like Travel Pirates and Airfarewatchdog will post largely discounted packages that they create and/or find like $400 for a round trip flight from NYC to Iceland and then on to Sweden and back to NYC or a 10 day all inclusive trip from LAX to Thailand for $1000 (flight, hotel, tours, food, etc.).

9. Buy a Nalgene

Drinking tons of water is imperative for your health. We drink about 3 gallons between the two of us (Michael about 2 and Alex just under 1) every day. If we bought plastic water bottles, we go through an entire case of them every couple days. Not only is this more expensive than filling up from the tap, from your refrigerator, or from a Brita, but it is also a massive waste of plastic. Nalgene bottles are great for traveling, for the gym, for hiking, etc. Plus, they’re virtually indestructible and BPA free.

10. Get a job with a good vacation package

For some reasons Americans typically don’t receive (or willingly take) as much vacation as people from other parts of the world, especially Europe.  0 weeks of vacation are required by law, 1 week of vacation a year is deemed a standard package, and 2 weeks is something people covet.  We have been fortunate to work for companies in the past with more European style vacation policies.

The next time you’re negotiating an offer with a company, try to get 15 – 20 days paid time off (PTO).  You might be surprised that your hiring manager obliges.  Or use this as a bargaining chip.  If they want to pay you $50k and you want $60k.  Say you’ll take $50k but only with 20 days PTO.  That way you can take a month to travel every year and get paid while you’re gone!

These are really only 10 ways to save money for travel.  In reality, there are hundreds, if not thousands!  If you decide that traveling is a priority, you can 100% make it a reality.

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