How to save money for travel: Start building your travel fund today Thinking about where you want to travel next? Learn how to align your budget with your travel goals so you can make your next vacation a reality. December 5, 2023 Whether you’re dreaming of beaches in the Caribbean or roaming the streets of Paris, one thing’s for sure: Traveling is expensive. Factor in the cost of flights, food, and lodging, and it’s no wonder some people feel like traveling is reserved only for the rich and famous. The good news? Traveling doesn’t have to break the bank. Saving enough money for your next holiday is totally doable, and it all starts with proper budgeting for travel. With a defined vacation budget and some planning, you could request time off for travel sooner than you think. Here’s how to do it. How to build a travel fund Before you start booking plane tickets and buying museum tickets, you’ll need to determine what’s realistic for your current financial state, according to Athena Valentine Lent, author and founder of Money Smart Latina. If this is your first time budgeting for travel, Lent says these three steps can help you get started: 1. Set a savings goal for your trip Budgeting for travelstarts with identifying where you want to go and calculating the total amount of money you’ll need to cover that trip. “Decide where you’d like to go, and start from there,” Lent says. “Research the best times to visit your travel destinations, so you can take advantage of any off-peak seasons. If you’re unable to visit during that time, consider another place.” In addition to researching prices of big-ticket items like airplane tickets, Lent recommends researching all potential expenses to paint an accurate picture of your total cost. “Look into how much you’ll pay for lodging, food, transportation to get there—plus transportation while there—and any other exhibits or bucket items you want to check off while you’re there,” she says. Vacations can and should include plenty of spontaneity, so Lent recommends giving yourself some extra wiggle room in your travel fund to cover other possible expenses (think: last-minute excursions and souvenirs). As you continue to plan, creating a financial vision board can help you visualize your dream vacation and keep you motivated during your savings journey. 2. Turn one big goal into multiple smaller goals Once you’ve established how much your trip will cost, determine the amount you need to save on a monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly cadence until you can fully fund your goal, Lent says. For example, if you’ve figured out that you need $1,000 for a trip coming up in five months, you’d want to save $200 a month. Or if you wanted to break it up into even smaller chunks, you could have a savings goal of $50 a week. Breaking your goal into smaller steps makes it appear more manageable, Lent says. Saving $200 a month feels much more attainable than trying to put away $1,000 all at once. Psychologically, splitting up a large goal into multiple smaller ones gives you a sense of accomplishment every time you cross one of your funding milestones. 3. Keep your travel fund in a separate savings account There are ways to make your money work harder for you. With a high-yield savings account, you’ll earn a specific percentage of interest on your money, known as an annual percentage yield (APY). That interest is compounded, too, so you’ll grow your savings even faster.Keeping your travel fund in a separate savings account is another helpful strategy. It can streamline your efforts, making it easier to track progress and know exactly when you’ve reached your goal. “I love me a high-yield savings account,” Lent says. “The ability to put cash aside into a different account labeled with a goal motivates me to call it ‘my precious’ and protect it. I’m also a firm believer in making your money work for you.” Tips for keeping your travel fund on track Making a plan and budgeting for travel is a critical first step, but if you want to make your dream vacation a reality, you’ll need to stay on track. To keep your momentum going, consider these four tips for how to save money for travel: 1. Curb your spending habits Looking for some low-hanging fruit? Lent says to try reducing nonessential spending first. While that might mean spending less money on things like dining out or new clothes, it doesn’t mean you need to live like a hermit to achieve your financial goal. “Cutting back on your discretionary spending can seem brutal when all you want to do is live your current lifestyle,” says Lent. “My advice is to cut spending in small amounts at first and then look for cheaper ways to do the things you want to do. As you begin to cut back while still doing the things you love, you won’t be depriving yourself, which makes it easier to stick to your budget.” 2. Take advantage of freebies and discounts Just because you’re budgeting for travel doesn’t mean you have to give up on fun entirely. These days you can find coupons or discount codes for almost any activity, from festivals and sporting events to restaurants and bars. “For example, if you want to go to a concert, look for it on a group coupon site,” says Lent. “Plan on drinking with friends? Ask your friends to check out a happy hour with you.” There are also plenty of ways to have fun without spending money. Look no further than your local community for meetup groups, free museum or zoo days, or music nights hosted by your city or town. Depending on where you live, getting out into nature is often free, and many national parks even offer free entry on certain days. Entertaining yourself doesn’t have to be expensive – finding no-cost alternatives will enable you to put even more money away in your travel fund. 3. Hack your way to savings with a cashback credit or debit card Another way to make your travel dreams come true is to use credit card rewards in a process known as “travel hacking,” Lent says. Some credit card providers will give you points or cash back on a percentage of the money you spend overall or in certain categories like food, travel, or gas. If you want to use these credit card rewards for travel, however, Lent recommends paying off your credit card debt each billing cycle. Some banks also offer cash back when you spend with your debit card. For example, with Discover® Cashback Debit, you can earn 1% cash back on your debit card purchases1 and put that extra cash toward building up your travel fund. Earn cash back with your debit card Learn More Discover Bank, Member FDIC 4. Consider a side hustle If you feel like you’re not making as much headway as you’d like on your travel fund, you might want to explore some side hustle ideas to earn extra income. Side hustles can range from freelance projects on the weekend to driving for a ride-sharing company. Pursuing a side hustle isn’t for everyone, but if you have the time and ability to take on additional work, Lent says, you can use the extra cash to fund your travels without dipping too much into your primary source of income. Your next vacation is one travel fund away Planning a vacation can be intimidating, especially once you start calculating how much everything will cost. But just like any financial goal, saving money for travel is doable if you have a clearly defined budget and stick to your plan. “Research the best times to visit your travel destinations, so you can take advantage of any off-peak seasons. If you’re unable to visit during that time, consider another place.” Take Lent’s advice: If you want to know how to save money for traveling, determine where you want to go, research how much it’ll cost, and break your savings goal into manageable chunks. You’ll be jet-setting off to your next adventure in no time. If you’re ready to build your travel fund and make your vacation dreams a reality, check out the features of a Discover Online Savings Account to see how it can keep your travel savings safe and growing over time. Articles may contain information from third parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third party or information. 1 ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), online sports betting and internet gambling transactions, and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as Venmo® and PayPal®, who also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple Pay® is a trademark of Apple Inc. Venmo and PayPal are registered trademarks of PayPal, Inc. Samsung Pay is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Google, Google Pay, and Android are trademarks of Google LLC. Share article on facebook. Share article on twitter. Share article on linked in. Share article on facebook. Share article on twitter. Share article on linked in.