Save Money for Travel

How to Save Up Enough Money to Travel

couple walking in the woods

Lots of people look at travel blogs and sigh – beautiful photos of lovely families smiling in far off locations. Then, they think, “That could never be me.” Those things are for ‘other’ people. We live vicariously through others by reading their blog posts and looking at their photos.

Me, too.

But, living your life is a choice. The full-time nomads – single people or families have made a choice. They choose to give up the home base stability of friends for the kids and soccer teams. They choose to give up a ‘regular’ job with benefits like insurance and retirement accounts. They choose to be far away from home on niece’s and nephew’s birthdays. They miss things.

They CHOOSE this life.

Your life is a choice, too.

We love to travel, but I don’t love it enough to give up the things I have here or the stability we are creating. For me, my choice works.

I feel like we have the best of both worlds. My choice.

the educational tourist on Lake Travis, Austin

But we still travel a lot! We have had opportunities to travel within the United States and we try to take a vacation to a far off place once a year. How do we get to travel so much?

The number one reason that people don’t travel as much as they’d like.


Money is often cited as the reason people don’t travel. Traveling is expensive for sure. Some people feel that the money is ‘wasted’ or ‘gone’ because you don’t have a tangible thing to hold in your hand when you return.

We see it differently.

We think the money we spend on travel is worth every penny. We feel like we get enough from travel to make it a valuable choice.

Some people feel like spending money on travel would be worth it if they had enough money left over for it.

You can save enough money for travel.

YOU can save enough money to travel. You can choose to be a nomad or to see the world in small bites while having a traditional home, job, and life.

The number one question I get asked as a travel blogger –

How do you save enough money for travel?

That is an excellent question. I’ll start by answering a few other questions that go along with that one.

No, neither of us are from families that invented something like facebook or a dot-com startup.

No, neither of us has won the lottery.

No, neither of us inherited a gazillion $ from a long-lost uncle we have never heard of.

The Educational Tourist Times Square NYC, Renaissance Hotel Times Square New York,

So, how do we save enough money for travel?

I’m glad you asked. It gives me an opportunity to show you how to save enough money to have the travels of your dreams. Yes, you can travel, too.

We look at every cent we spend carefully and make choices. Would we rather spend that cent right here, right now or would we rather save that money for travel (or college fund or retirement)?

Spending money – any money is a choice. Whether you choose to spend $7 for a coffee from Starbucks or not, it is your choice. The key to saving money on travel is the make sure your spending choices are exactly what you want.

How can you be spending money on things you don’t want?


Automatic credit card drafts you have forgotten about

Are you still spending money each month for an online spelling word practice game for your 2nd grader – even though that 2nd grader is now in 5th grade?

I was!

I’m glad I found that online recurring charge and canceled it.

Monthly charges that are split into two parts

This dual charge makes it harder for you to realize just how much you are spending at a glance. My ATT bill is charged twice a month and the amounts are so similar that in my mind’s eye it was only one fee. It was a yikes moment when I realized I was spending TWICE the amount I thought I was.


Food away from home like lunches and snacks out, drinks on the go adds up. Quickly!

Follow Along with The Educational Tourist

Every few years I like to take a close look at money to make sure things are still on track.

It is easy to let little things slide when life gets crazy (and when isn’t it – right?) and before you know it those little things that are sliding turn into a huge river!

I’ve decided that 2020 is the year to make sure everything is on track! While I’m reassessing things I’m going to bring you along for the ride. Learn along with me how to shave a little $ here or there and add that $ to the travel fund. Watching the money grow in a travel fund is fun and makes you feel proud of the work you are doing.

Yes – you can do it, too! Join me!

The Educational Tourist and Grand Tetons, Travel Hat Information,

I welcome you to tag along and hope you’ll join me for a closer look at how you can save money for travel!

Before we get started

We’ll make a few assumptions. Firstly, we believe in having money for all the essentials like family obligations and retirement first. Secondly, husband and wife need to be in complete agreement on where the money goes.

Where to Begin to Save Money for Travel

Know Where the Money is Going

The first step in saving money for travel is to find out exactly where the money is going right now. Figuring out where the money is going will help you make changes so that some of that money is funneled away from where it is going now and instead goes in the travel fund.

I’ll warn you.

This process is nitty gritty and can take days. I split this process over 3 weeks myself. I have lots of other things to do – kids, puppy, house, etc. and so do you. Don’t be intimidated. Even if it takes days or weeks you can do it!

The Educational Tourist at Hopewell Rocks in Canada

This part is tedious but so worth it. Don’t be afraid of the math. I’ll walk you through it. As a former elementary school teacher and mathaphobe, I will make it sure easy! Don’t be intimidated.

First, you need to find out exactly where your money is going.

Not so you can cut back and then feel deprived, but just so you can make sure that the money you are spending is really going where you would choose it to go.

 Budgeting and saving aren’t about deprivation and sadness. Instead, budgeting is about being in control of your finances.

Categorize your past spending.

Get out the credit card bills and bank statements from the past few months and add up how much you spent. You can put this on the computer in a spreadsheet (it might even do the math for you) or go old school as I did and write it all down on a piece of paper.

I chose the categories: Gas, Personal, Health, House, Vehicles, Insurance, Pets, Eating In (grocery), Eating Out (restaurants), and Kids.

Add up how much you spend in each category.

Then, I went through every single charge on the credit card bills and bank statements. I took every single charge and put that amount under a category.   For example, $27 at Exxon went under the gas category, $42 at Walgreens went under the health category, and those $2.99 for assorted music or games went under the kids category.

Then, I added the money listed under each category.

Then, I took the amounts in each category for each month and added.  For example, the amount under pets from March, April, June, and July became one total.

For example, if I spent $27 on pets in March, and $33 on pets in April, and $57 on pets in June and $25 on pets in July that adds up to $142.

Divide to find the average amount spent in each category.

Then, I divided this amount ($142)  by the number of months I added up (for example, I added the amount under the category for pets from the months March, April, June, July and divided by 4) which gives me the average amount I spent in each category.

In this example that would be $142 divided by 4 months = $35.5.

Decide if your money is going exactly where you want it to – or not.

Using the exact example above I decided to start there. How could I shave a few $ off the amount I spent each month for the animals?

We have 2 dogs  and they eat quite a bit between them. Changing food isn’t an option for the dogs because one is very old and one has allergies so they are both on special food.

***Spoiler alert!*** In literally just a few minutes I was able to save $70 a month on animal stuff. **** I’ll let you in on those details a bit later.

This part of the process is very personal.

If you find out you are spending $50 a month in Starbucks coffee but you love Starbucks coffee and can’t see your life without it – then yeah, you! It is important to you so you should keep it in your budget.

On the other hand, if you see your Starbucks coffee run costs you $50 a month and that makes you think, “Hmmmm…..that $50 could go into the travel fund. If I save that $50 a month by drinking coffee at home I could bank that $600 in one year and BUY A TICKET to some far off adventure destination.” then you might want to google “how to make your own venti 1/2 caf with a shot of caramel” recipe and start making it at home.

Now that you know where the money is going you are ready for the fun part.

How to Afford Travel: Dream

Make Changes to Save Money for Travel

Next is the fun part!

To save money for travel, or anything else, you have two choices –

1) make more money or

2) save some of the money you are spending on other things.

In addition to blogging, I’m also a substitute teacher. It keeps me current in my teaching field even though I retired from teaching years ago. But, it also has a very low salary.

Teachers are notoriously underpaid, but substitute salaries are really a joke. How so? Well, no lie, the sign at McDonald’s suggested a starting salary of $11.50 an hour – which is MORE than I would make as a substitute teacher. I’m embarrassed to tell you how much MORE the lowest worker at McDonald’s would make than I an educated (Master’s degree) and experienced (15 years) teacher. Sometimes, it pays more to save – than work.

It actually ‘pays’ me more to stay at home and ‘save’ money than I can bring money in from that job of substitute teaching.

Choose a category to begin

Choose a place to start.

I chose the pet category first. I chose this category because I still had the receipts from my most recent trip to Petsmart which made comparing prices super easy.

The first thing I did was text a friend. I remembered a conversation with her when she told me about an online store for dog food that had great prices.

Research for better prices

I was lucky to have a friend who had gone before me in saving money and I asked her. She introduced me to where she saved money on her dog food.

I compared prices between what I normally spent at Petsmart and what the same exact food would cost online at and the total savings was a lot! Those few minutes of comparison shopping (done on my phone while waiting for my son to get a haircut) saved me a lot of money!

You don’t always have to buy different things to save money. In this case, I am using the exact same products and all I did was change the place I bought them.

Make changes

I ordered the same food for my dogs that I normally choose. There is NO charge for shipping. (I have no idea how they can sell things cheaper than places like Petsmart AND not charge for shipping AND still make money.) I set up an account to have things automatically shipped to me each month.  Now I save $70 a month and don’t even have to leave the house.

It saves me money and time. Wow. The extra money was my goal, but I have to be honest that the extra time I gained because I no longer have to actually go to the pet store is a huge win, too.

So, now that I am spending $70 less a month on pets I can add that $840 ($70 per month times 12 months) into the travel fund.

That one small change ended up saving me the equivalent of an airline ticket! An airline ticket EVERY year.

The Educational Tourist, koi and black swain in Hawaii

Take Time to Save Money for Travel

Not all your savings will be as significant and easy as the $70 I saved on the pets.

It might take a lot more time to comparison shop. The savings might be a small amount of money. But every bit of money is a choice and it is worthwhile to make sure you are happy with your choices.

I’d love to hear your ideas on saving money for the pets!

I’ll be walking you through the other categories, also to answer the number one question on everyone’s lips when reading travel blogs:

How do you save money for travel?

Happy Travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

The Educational Tourist logo, ,