When it’s time to save on travel, austerity measures have to be put in place sometimes. I already know there are 1,001 blog posts on ways for saving money on travel. Let’s go ahead and make it 1,002. However, I’m going to be a little more thorough, perhaps. So you want to travel, but the way your bank account is set up, it’s not possible or not possible as often as you would like. I’m going to share with you 15 tips and tricks that will help you get to where you’re going cheaper.
Cook Your Meals
This is a Captain Obvious tip, but it can save a lot of money because going out to eat can add tremendous costs to your weekly/monthly expenses, depending on the sophistication of your palate. Even prepared foods (such as the delicious ones at Trader Joe’s) can be costly, so it will still be cheaper to cook your meals. Try to make enough to have leftovers so that you will be maximizing your savings and your efforts. Making casseroles and roasting meats is a great (and easy) way to get several meals out of one dish. Buy all of your meats and vegetables on sale (as in, look in the paper and see what meats/veggies are on sale that week). Sometimes what’s on sale will dictate the selection of your menu for the week. Also, if there is a farmer’s market in the area, buy your veggies there; they are usually cheaper and from local farms. Not only will you be saving money, but also supporting your local food economy.
Make Your Own Beauty Products
This one sounds complicated, but I tell you that it is quite easy. With the abundance of recipes for natural hair/skin care products that can be produced at home, this one is a no-brainer. For example, coconut oil has a multitude of uses. It can be used on your hair and skin as a moisturizer, can be mixed with sugar or salt for a salt/sugar scrub exfoliant, and can be used for oil pulling for stronger and whiter teeth. An added bonus is that you can also cook with coconut oil. It’s very affordable and even moreso if you buy it in bulk. Other suggestions for homemade beauty products include using baking soda and fresh lemon as a teeth whitener or egg whites as a facial mask. Personally, I use shea butter as my skin moisturizer and buy it in 5-lb. blocks, so that I don’t have to use overpriced, mediocre lotions that contain additives that I can’t even pronounce. I’ve made my own lip balm as well, that is just as good, if not better, than the store-bought ones. Also, you can make your own nail polish remover with three ingredients- acetone, glycerin and distilled water; it’s much cheaper than store-bought, especially if you get the acetone on sale. Making your own beauty products is a wonderful way to use your creativity and save your money for travel.
Decrease Your Phone Bill
As we know, there are about four major cellphone companies who
monopolize own the cell towers and cause high cellphone bills. However, there are alternatives to those called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). They are wireless communications service providers who contract with the major cellphone companies for the use of their towers. You may have heard of these companies, such as Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, Metro PCS, just to name a few. Even Google has a service called Project Fi, that is open by invitation only. These companies generally charge a fraction of the price as the major companies and provide just as good of cellphone coverage because they use the same towers. For example, I had been a loyal and devoted customer to Verizon for years, until they decided to raise the price of the unlimited data, of which I was probably one of the last few who still had it. At that point, I re-evaluated my need for unlimited data and decided that paying a cellphone bill of more than $100 for one line was less than desirable to me. I switched to a MVNO and am now literally paying half of what my cellphone bill was with Verizon. I went from paying $90/month to $45/month. That’s a savings of $540/year. Guess where that can take me? On a round-trip flight to Sweden, Norway, El Salvador or Mexico. Check to see if you can go with a MVNO versus a major carrier and potentially save lots of money.
To some it may seem obvious and to others, not so much. For the record, I’m not a major tweeter and I use Twitter for very specific things and one of them is savings, specifically on flights. I find the majority of my flight deals from Twitter and use the notifications option so that I don’t miss any. Follow @TheFlightDeal, @TheFareDeal, and @SecretFlying and receive notifications throughout the day. The Flight Deal and The Fare Deal send out notifications on flight deals for larger U.S. cities, such as LA, NYC, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Charlotte, etc. Secret Flying sends out notifications for any country and even includes open-jaw flight deals. Twitter can get you information lightning fast, so that if there is a “glitch fare”, you will know about it and can hopefully enjoy the savings.
Take the 52-week Money Challenge
It works like this: starting the first week in January, save $1, for the second week in January, save $2, the third week, $3 and so on and so forth. By the end of the the 52nd week, you will have saved $1378. Also, you can do it in reverse, where you save $52 for week 1 in January, $51 for week 2, and decrease it as the year progresses. Guess what that will get you? A very nice vacation to an exotic location and the most you have saved in any one week was $52 to get there. That’s quite the savings program!
Use What You have
If you are like most people, you already have too much stuff. If I didn’t buy another beauty/makeup product for several months, I’d be fine. That favorite lipstick that you have that is almost gone, get a lip brush and get the rest out. Struggling to push out that last drop of toothpaste? Oh, it’s not empty until you cut it open and put your toothbrush in and get out enough for a few more brushes. Hair conditioner can also be used as shaving cream. Your favorite pair of shoes are starting to be air-conditioned. What do you do? Take them to a cobbler to get them resoled instead of buying a new pair (this works for non-athletic shoes). Or if your shoes aren’t that bad, then get new heels or taps put on them. They’ll be good as new! Instead of buying new clothes, accessorize more. Add a scarf, pin, colorful necktie or bowtie, cravat, hat or something to change up your look.
Sell Your Stuff
If you’ve used up everything you can use up, as aforementioned, then sell the rest that you don’t or can’t use. Sell your unused or gently used items and make some extra cash. You can do that the old-fashioned way with a yard or garage sale. Or you can do it the more technology-driven way and use apps such as Poshmark, Vinted and Tradesy or Ebay and Craigslist. There is no reason you should have to keep anything that you don’t need anymore and not make a little money in the process.
Buy Clothes from the Thrift Store
Don’t snub your nose up at this one. If you must buy new clothes, buy them from a thrift or consignment store. You can typically save 50-95% off retail for good quality clothing. Also, find a good tailor and you can have custom fit clothing. If you live near or in large cities, be on the lookout for sample and warehouse sales. You can find some amazing deals from top designers, so although you didn’t spend a lot of money on clothes, you can look like you did. New clothes don’t always have to be “new” clothes.
Choose a Cheap Destination
Go to countries where your money stretches the farthest. In the U.S., that’d be countries in Southeast Asia, South America, as well as some Eastern European countries. Pay as little as possible for food and shelter. Many avid travelers and those who spend months and years as travelers stay in hostels, do home exchange programs, volunteer for room and board, and eat local foods at local establishments. This further saves money on expenses and can allow you to extend the length of your stay or increase the frequency with which you can travel.
“Pre-game” Before Going Out
If you haven’t heard of this expression before, let me enlighten you. Pre-gaming means drinking a little alcohol before arriving to the venue/party/restaurant. This means that you will already have some alcohol on board ahead of time, so you won’t have to buy as many over-priced drinks as you would without pre-gaming. Depending on how much you drink, you can save as much as $50-100 in one night. That quickly adds up if you like to go out to bars/clubs/restaurants frequently for drinks. However, safety first, so take a cab, Uber, or get a designated driver to and from your destination. Don’t drink and drive!
Don’t Buy Any Beverages
This is another obvious one, but is more inclusive. Don’t buy any beverages while dining out; this includes coffee, bottled water, alcoholic drinks, and soft drinks at convenience stores as well. Beverages are marked up by an astronomical amount at restaurants and bars when typically beverages can cost the restaurant pennies on the dollar. So instead of ordering soft drinks or alcoholic drinks, opt for water. Free water. Don’t get the bottled, seltzer, spring, purified water that the restaurants offer if it isn’t free. For the everyday situation, let’s start with soft drinks or bottled water. If you spend $1.50 per day on bottled water or a soft drink for five days, that equals $7.50/week x 52 weeks= $390=round-trip plane ticket to Iceland from the Northeastern part of the U.S. Get a filter for the faucet, a filtered pitcher or a filtered water bottle. Coffee is obviously on the list because those $3-5 cups of coffee per day from coffee shops can quickly add up. I won’t do the math on that, but the savings can get you to a nice destination.
Skip the Movies or Go to a Matinee
Movies, including popcorn and drink, can be very expensive these days. For example, a $10 movie ticket (conservative evening price) + $10 popcorn/drink =$20 for ONE person. If one person were to go to a movie an average of once per month, that would be $240 per year. You know what that equals? A domestic plane ticket somewhere in the U.S. Go to a matinee or on days where the movie theater has discounted prices. Plan to go to the movies when it is cheapest. If you can’t fathom seeing a movie without getting popcorn or a drink (I can’t), then get the child-sized popcorn. It usually includes popcorn, a small drink AND candy for a fraction of the price of the adult size. You don’t need the calories or sugar from full-sized concessions anyway. Or, just do Netflix and chill at home. There are also a few sites where you can watch movies for free, but I won’t promote that. I’m just saying that I’ve heard there are such sites.
Cut the Cord
Cut the cable cord. Cable has become more and more expensive. Fortunately, with new technology, you can watch the shows you want to watch without paying an arm and leg to the cable companies. There is Roku, Neftlix, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick and a plethora of other services that allow you watch TV without cable. I won’t even go into the math on this one, but just know that there are significant savings to be had.
Cancel the Gym Membership
You already knew this one was going to be on here. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely promote health and exercise. However, if you’re trying to save money for travel, going to the actual gym can be eliminated. Walking, running, hiking, and biking are free. Strength training can be achieved with dumbbells/barbells, fitness balls, kettlebells and resistance bands. Also, you can buy a DVD for the price of a monthly gym membership for yoga, Pilates and Zumba, and use it as often as you like. If there is a pool in your complex or subdivision, use it. There are so many ways to get and stay healthy without paying for it.
Start a GoFundMe Account
If all else fails and you’ve tried all of these ways for saving on travel, then open up a GoFundMe account. Someone out there may feel sorry for your pitiful story (that you need to sell them, but not lie about) and donate to your fund. Hey, it’s worth a shot.
I know that I have only touched on a few ways to save on travel, so what are some ways that you use to save?