How To Afford To Travel When Money Is Tight

Do you like to travel? Who doesn’t? Unfortunately, travel isn’t free (unless you’re an expert at churning credit cards). So for most of us, travel comes with a large price tag. There are ways to find money to travel and minimize the cost of trips though. Here are four ways to afford to travel when money is tight:

Set Up A Dedicated Travel Fund Savings Account

According to American Express, the average summer vacation costs $1,145 per person! If you’re not being intentional about saving, it can be difficult to come up with that much money for travel. That’s why it’s so important to set up a dedicated travel fund savings account.

The money you put in this account shouldn’t be touched until you’re ready to pay for your trip. By keeping the money separate from your checking account and any other savings accounts, you’ll be able to manage your money better.

Capital One 360 is an excellent option for setting up your travel fund savings account. One of the main features is that you can create up to 25 sub-accounts to manage your different savings goals. You can set up automatic transfers from a checking account – whether the checking account is with Capital One or not. Lastly, you have the ability to create savings goals where you track your progress each month online. What’s best is that Capital One 360 is completely fee-free!

Cut Excess Out Of Your Current Budget

Once you’ve set up your dedicated travel fund savings account, you may be wondering how exactly you’re supposed to save money. One surefire way to save money is to cut excess out of your current budget.

Are there any areas where you spend more than you should? Are there items you purchase that you could find for less? Are there expenses you could get rid of altogether? Here is a short list of expenses you could cut back on to save money:

  • Cable – Get rid of premium channels or cut the cord altogether.
  • Groceries – Buy generic brands whenever possible.
  • Takeout Food – Stop ordering it. Cook your meals at home.
  • Alcohol – Only drink during happy hour specials. Drink less altogether.
  • Utilities – Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Rent – Move to an area with lower cost of living.
  • Clothes – Shop at thrift stores before going to department/clothing stores.
  • Transportation – Take public transportation or carpool whenever possible.
  • Entertainment – Get books and movies from your local library.

I guarantee that most of you have excess somewhere in your current budget. Once you identify those areas, you’ll be ready to start saving money for travel.

Going back to the first point, make sure you put the money you save into that dedicated savings account so that you don’t spend it on anything else.

Be Flexible With Your Travel Plans

Now that you have your dedicated travel fund savings account and have begun putting money into it, it’s important to make the most of those dollars. It would be unfortunate if you saved up a bunch of money only for it all to go to expensive flights and hotel rooms.

Travel isn’t cheap. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average cost for a roundtrip domestic flight is $361 in 2016. The average cost for a hotel room was $137 per night in 2014.

If you want to avoid paying these high prices, you have to be flexible with your travel plans. It’s common knowledge that flight prices are cheaper for weekday travel than for weekend travel. We all like to have extended weekends for travel, but it comes at a cost. If you want to save on flights, consider traveling during weekdays.

Downtown hotels in metropolitan cities tend to be more expensive than hotels in the surrounding area. Consider staying in a suburb outside of the city and taking public transportation or cabs into the city when needed in order to save on hotel costs.

Lastly, the time of year you travel matters as well. Everyone wants to travel to the Caribbean during the winter time. A lot of people travel to Miami, FL during the summer. By scheduling your travel during the off-season, you’ll save money on both flights and hotels.

Skip The Expensive Souvenirs

You’ve created a savings account for travel, begun putting money into it, and made your frugal travel plans. Now it’s time to actually travel. It would be a shame to save so much money and book your cheap flight and hotel only to undo all your hard work by overspending while traveling.

One thing that can eat up your travel budget pretty quickly is expensive souvenirs. Prices can be extremely high for things like local art, home decor, and handmade clothing. These items may look great, but do you really need them? Things like playing cards and photo frames can be just as novel and cost a lot less.

You may be tempted to buy souvenir gifts for all your friends and family while you travel. Go for inexpensive postcards instead and write a personal note on each one.

Wrapping Up

Travel can be very expensive. Those costs for flights, hotels, and incidental spending can really eat up your budget if you’re not careful. Fortunately, there are ways to afford to travel when money is tight.

The first step is to set up a dedicated travel fund savings account. After you do that, you’ll want to cut excess out of your current budget in order to find money to save. It would be unfortunate to save a bunch of money only to spend it on expensive flights and hotels. Being flexible with your travel plans can help you save in that area.

While you’re traveling, skip the expensive souvenirs to save on your travel spending. You can do this by getting low-cost souvenirs like playing cards and photo frames and buying postcards for your friends and family.

How do you find money to travel?

About the author

Aliyyah Camp

Aliyyah Camp is a personal finance writer who specializes in writing about ways to save money, make money, build credit, and invest. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania.

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