7 Tips To Save $15,000 For Travel in Just One Year

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Saving money isn’t always easy, but even if you think that you can’t save a penny, you probably can. All you have to do is limit your spending, record your earnings and employ some simple tactics to keep your money working for you and growing as much as possible.

In this article, I’m sharing 7 of my favourite money-saving tips for travel. Not all of them are hacks and secrets, but if you use as many of them as you can, you’re sure to save more money than you thought possible. Here it goes!

Note: This article is based on wages equal to or less than the averages in many western countries. I am aware that salaries differ greatly in different countries and in no way assume that everyone is able to save this amount of money in one year.

1. Write Down Your Budget

The first thing everyone should do when they’re trying to save money is write down your inflow and outflow of cash in a given month. Write how much you earn at the top, and then subtract your bills, insurance, rent, mortgage, gas etc.

Note: This may sound like a basic idea, and it is, but it’s extremely useful when trying to save money and if you combine it with the next 6 tips in this article, it will help you to save over $15,000 in just one year.

After calculating your expenses, give yourself about $100 / month for entertainment and $100 / month for miscellaneous spending. The latter is an important one because there are always things popping up that you didn’t plan for. A safety stash will ensure that you can pay for these mishaps without dipping into your savings.

This budget example is on a wage comparable to or below the average in many western countries.
This budget example is on a wage comparable to or below the average in many western countries.
Entertainment = $100 / month ... Impossible?
$100 / month for entertainment is possible, but not easy for everyone. If you follow the next 6 tips (especially #7) in this article, you can do it! If this is too tight of a budget, up it to $125 or $150 but keep in mind that if you don’t use your miscellaneous stash during one month, it can be added to your entertainment the next. When Dariece and I were saving for travel, we had this amount down to $50 / month each and were able to do lots of things each month.

If you write down your wage and subtract all of your expenses and you start to go into the negative, or there’s nothing left to save, you really need to start to adjust your spending habits to better suit your salary, or better yet, try to find a second job.

If you have the best cable package, get rid of a few channels to reduce the monthly cost. Stop leaving the air conditioning running all day to relieve some of your electricity bill, and make sure to turn off your lights when not in use. Carpool when you can, and party less, etc.

If you’re living way beyond your means, it will be very difficult for you to save money.

2. Automatic Transfer

After you’ve written down your budget, call your bank, or go to the bank, or (if you’re banking online), go online and set-up an automatic withdrawal.

This will magically transfer your money from your regular account into a special, travel savings account.

If after subtracting all of your expenses, entertainment, and miscellaneous spending, you still have $790 / month left over, have $395 (bi-weekly) automatically withdrawn from your checking account and transferred into a savings account. Have the withdrawal set to come out one day after your paycheque is typically deposited in your account.

Automatic Withdrawal Savings
$395 bi-weekly = $790 / month = $9,480 / year

Note: By automatically saving money the day after payday, you’ll never really feel as though the money is there and you’ll have an easier time saving it. I don’t recommend transferring it on the day of your payday because if your paycheque is delayed and you go into overdraft by accident, you’ll have to pay overdraft fees.

3. Use A Money App

We use the Trail Wallet App to budget our life while travelling, but it could easily be used while saving money at home as well. With this app, you can manually enter in every cent you spend throughout the month and add them into different categories.

At the end of a couple of months, have a look at your pie chart in the app and decide if there’s anywhere that you could spend less money. For us, it was wine! For you, it could be grocery bills or dinners out.

The app is perfect for anyone who is trying to watch their pennies and keep track of their spending.

4. Put Your Spending On Credit Cards

In previous articles, I’ve always said that you should take out cash and then spend it out of your wallet so that you can better keep track of your purchases.

This is a very good method for people who don’t have any discipline, but if you do this, you’ll be missing out on a ton of credit card rewards points.

If you spend an average of $2,000 / month on your credit card, then by the end of the year, you’ll have spent $24,000.

For Canadians, if you put all of these purchases on your TD First Class Infinite Card and then redeem your points through Expedia for TD, you’ll earn $1,080 in free travel (4.5%) after just one year!

Credit Card Points Savings
4.5% of $24,000 = $1,080 / year

Add that to the automatic savings of $300 / year (from tip 2 in this article) and you’re at $4,680 after a year. That’s enough to buy a nice used car or better yet, head out on a 2 week trip with your spouse.

5. Save Your Pennies

Literally put your change into a big jar every time you come home. Don’t worry, even if you put as much as you can on your credit cards, you’ll still have to use cash from time to time, and in these circumstances, you’ll have change.

According to Discover Magazine, about $600 worth of coins pass through the average American’s hands each year. Save every penny and you’ve got a pretty healthy amount to cash in at the end of the year.

Save that change every single time!

Put it in a big jar and take it out at the end of the year.

Trust me, it works. My good friend from England saved his change while working in the UK and after 12 months he had enough coin to pay for a 3 month trip through Central Asia. Save your pennies!

Change Savings
+/- $600 / year

6. Lock In Your Savings

Not everyone is looking to save their money for a big trip at the end of the year. Some people want to save a lot of money for a rainy day, or they only travel once every few years.

If you’re building a nest egg and you know that you won’t need the money for a long time, consider locking it into a high-interest GIC or investment savings fund.

GIC Diagram

Currently, you can get around 2.65% on a 5 year GIC in Canada. If you invest $5,000 into this type of GIC and lock it in for 5 years, you’ll earn around $650 extra when you redeem it after the 5-year term has expired.

GIC Savings
$5,000 investment = $177 / year in interest = $657+ after 5 years

Note: The above numbers were calculated using an online investment calculator. If you deposit all of your savings into a 2.5% GIC each year ($4,680 / year according to this article), the interest will compound and be exponentially greater.

7. Don’t Go Out!

Probably the best money-saving tactic and the one that people hate the most. 

Not going out doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with your friends. It just means that you have parties at your house, or out camping, or anywhere other than the bars & restaurants around town.

Think about it.

A beer at a restaurant or bar is around $6.50. On top of this, most North Americans tip around 20%. According to Quara.com, beers at bars, clubs and restaurants in North America often cost the customer around $8 each!

How much do you drink on a night out? 6, 7, 8 beers? Let’s say you have a calm night and only drink 4 beers at $8 each. That’s $32 in beer.

Do this on Saturday and Sunday and you’ve spent $64 over the weekend.

Drink those same beers at home and they’ll only cost you around $15. That’s a savings of $49.

save money for travel
Beers at the bar. Fun, but expensive. Drink at home instead!

Do this all year and by the end of the year, you’ve saved $2,548! That’s just on beer!

Do the same with cocktails and wine, where the mark-up is even higher in bars and restaurants, and you can save a ton of money. We’re talking thousands.

Beer Savings
$8 / beer, 6 beers / weekend = $2,548 / year

On top of that, you’ll save around $30 / weekend on taxis.

We haven’t even got into food yet. A typical half rack of ribs in a restaurant costs around $40 in Canada ($48 including tip). This dinner for two would cost $96 in a restaurant.

You can buy a full rack at the grocery store for $10 on sale, some potatoes for $1 and some veggies for $3. Add this all together and you could easily feed two people for $14. That’s a savings of $82!

Do you eat out twice / week?

If you cook at home instead of eating out, you’d potentially save around $8,528 / year. Only eat out once / week? $4,264 in savings. Just once a month? $964.

Restaurant Food Savings
Eating out once / week = around $4,264 / year

Bottom line… if you want to save money, don’t go out so much. Just look at all of the money that you’ve saved in a year!

Total Savings / Year
Automatic Withdrawal Savings $9,480
Credit Card Points $1,080
Change Savings $600
GIC Savings $131 / yr on 5 years
Beer Savings $2,548
Eat At Home Savings $4,264



Inspirational Note: During our time living/saving money in Canada, Dariece and I saved $75,000 for travel using many of these tips. With that money, we’ve been able to travel extensively, start this blog and stay on the road indefinitely. All of this started with a bit of savings and a dream.

Perhaps you don’t make as much, save as much, spend as much on credit cards, drink as much or eat out as much as the examples in this article. But if you do, the total savings that we covered here are well over $15,000 / year.

That’s a lot of money!

Even if you can’t scrape that much from your current earnings and budget, you can be certain that by using these 7 tactics, you can save a lot of money in just one year.

Give it a try.

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How We Saved $15,000 For Our Travel Fund In Just One Year

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Written by

Nick Wharton

Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his expert knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. He has been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and has more than 10 years of experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship.

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36 thoughts on “7 Tips To Save $15,000 For Travel in Just One Year”

  1. Great tips here! I’ve been traveling for a little over a year now, bit I’m thinking about settling for a bit and working before setting off again. Good to remind myself of the ways I saved all that money in the first place (so I can do it all over again)!

  2. Alcohol probably is the most important one for most people. Like you said, spending 64$ on a ‘quiet evening’ doesn’t take much effort. That’s a couple days extra travelling through South East Asia.

    Nice post team.

  3. I recently looked at what I was spending and was shocked to realize how much went on impulsive purchases, it pays to keep a budget and to track what you spend, there will be plenty of holes that are easy to fill without any significant changes in your lifestyle. Then, the rest makes a lot of sense

  4. These are some awesome tips. As suggested by you, I have been taking advantage of a money saving app i.e. mint to keep a tab on my finances. It’s been some 3-4 months for me since I started using it and I have benefitted a big time from it.

  5. Great tips! I did this once and it worked so well. I did the budget as you suggested and transferred $500 a month over to my savings. I also worked a part time job where I was paid in cash each week so that was my extra spending money for the month. Once it was out, I didn’t get to eat out or go out.. I need to get back to that just because I spend too much these days!!

  6. Exactly. Once you’ve been travelling, you really realize just how far your money can go. That $6 beer at a bar is 6 street-food meals in Asia, a dorm bed in some countries, and 6 beers! haha.

    Thanks for the comment.

  7. I saw a lot of familiar expenses. When you’re single it’s a bit harder to stay at home all the time though! Any tips for how to work around that? I mean cooking for one isn’t so fun!

  8. Fantastic tips – I’d much rather travel than get coffee every day (especially when I make delicious coffee at home!). It’s all about prioritizing.

  9. Hi Penny!

    I suggest having friends over to your house for a dinner party. We did that a lot as well. Everyone brings a bottle of wine, and you make dinner…or, everyone brings something to pitch in to the meal. Then maybe the next week, it’s at someone else’s house 🙂

  10. I’m just wondering how you figure most people make that much or more per month. Figuring a normal 40 hour workweek, you would have to be paid $18.75/hour. In the US, the minimum wage is only $7.25 or so. I am the only person I know who makes more than the $3000 you mention. Everyone else I know makes WAY less, under $15/hour for sure and most of them less than that! I can save money to travel (it’s not easy even for me), but none of my friends can and I can’t afford to pay for them.
    I’m amazed at the $600 in change per year too, especially when you’re using credit cards. I’ve been getting less than $100/yr in my change jar.
    I would suggest stop paying for cable! Get one of those new antennas where once you get it set up it’s free. That’s over $1000/year saved!

  11. Hi Captain 🙂

    Thanks for the comment. As I mentioned at the start of the article, I would never assume that everyone can save this amount, but $3,000 / month is less than the average wage in many western countries (based on this data for Single with no child PPP wage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_net_take-home_pay). Canada is high on the list, but the US is above us. The problem with average wages is that they are right-skewed because of income disparity. Having said that, this article comes somewhere in the middle as it is also for an individual. 2 people sharing these expenses (living together, spouses etc.) will have far more money to save.

    It’s different all over the world, so an article like this isn’t meant to say that “everyone can save this much money”, it’s merely written to point out where our money is going and how we can better direct our income towards more important things in life (like travel).

    I think that readers should be able to adjust their wages, and their spending habits to better suit themselves, but this article should give them some guidance.

    In Alberta, our household income was over $130,000 / year, and yet I was not making as much as most of my friends and family in the province. In other parts of the western world, the wages may be so low that only domestic travel is possible, but it’s still travel! I just hope that people try to utilize these tips to try to save more money to better their life, rather than spending it on alcohol at bars and big screen tvs!

    As for the change, the US is a country with one dollar bills, so actually $600 / year is a conservative figure for places like Canada, The UK and Europe who have up to $2, £2, and €2 coins.

    Great tip about the cable by the way! Thanks 🙂

  12. Splendid advice. The one I find hardest is “don’t go out.” It’s totally true… but I see it as a small price to pay for extra sanity and happiness! 🙂

  13. When I was saving to come to Spain, I had recently graduated college and didn’t have much money (but was living with mom and dad). My biggest money saver was choosing to go out and stay sober. Rather than 100 bucks a night on drinks, I’d offer to be the DD, have my late night snacks paid for and still got to spend time with friends.

    Wish I had followed that advice last weekend in Denmark…oops!

  14. haha, ya, good point 😉 I think that going out is necessary, but to keep it at a minimum – at least if you’re trying to save cash for travel. If not, go out as often as you want!

  15. Great idea Cat 🙂 The only problem I see with that is that I can’t handle being around drunk people when I’m not! haha. But that’s great that you were able to be the DD and had fun with your friends.

  16. It’s always surprising how going out just a couple times per month really adds up. When we started cooking at home more often, our going out bill went down drastically. That and setting up automatic transfer so you don’t even see the money are the two best things I’ve done for my travel budget.

  17. It is really important to create a good plan on travel or vacation finance and follow it though out the journey without exception. Because vacations make brain so relaxed it does not care much about anything except fun at that moment. Making all companions part of the plan can help reduce deviations from the spending plan.

    Thanks for sharing the tips!

  18. Great tips ! (Y) When a couple goes on a trip, a minimum cost of $1000 – $15000 easily get cut in our daily expenses. These tips can surely help us save some amount of money. Great article.

  19. Good tips! I just found out my dance studio is going to Disneyland in April 2018, and I’ve decided I’m going to go, but I’m going to need at least $15,000 to do it. I have two years to save, but as a full time uni student and casual wage earner, it’s going to be a really tight scrape. My plan is to only spend on what is absolutely necessary (I don’t go out much and don’t enjoy going out so eliminating that is fine), follow these tips, and get on top of my usually wasteful spending. My other plan is, I have two birthdays and Christmases between now and the trip – money instead of gifts it is haha.

  20. People should include saving for retirement and an 8 month safety net in their monthly expenses before they put any left over money into saving for a vacation

  21. We truly believe that life is too short to work ridiculously hard while waiting for a retirement at the age of 65+. When you’re that age, all sorts of health problems can arise, therefore meaning that you can’t even enjoy the travels that you have worked for, and waited for your whole life.

    Sure, put money away, but make travel and holidays a priority.

  22. My girlfriend and I have decided to to leave and travel..our goal is to be on the road for at least a year and we wanted to save up $40,000. We started using Mint which helped us figure out what our biggest expenses are and since November we have saved a little over $20000 and we have paid off the majority of our debt. The two of us make little over $100k and we do have a mortgage, we do go out and we like out lifestyle but we stop buying Starbuck everyday, we started cooking at home more often…My point, I guess, is that small changes can make big difference. If we can do it, anyone can!
    I love you blog and would love to chat sometimes if you have the time! Maybe one day we can cross paths!
    Keep it up!

  23. Thanks so much for the comment Viki! That’s very inspiring 🙂 It’s amazing how all of the stupid, pointless purchases really add up. Even the simplest thing of eating at home can save a lot of money – not to mention, it’s healthier. What is Mint? I’ve never heard of it. When do you head off?!

    Happy travels.

  24. Mint it’s a budget financial app – it connects with all of my bank accounts so it tracks my purchases. It has the option for personalized budgets, creating goals (which becomes part of the budget) and etc. it’s pretty cool website and they also offer a mobile app. You should check it out. We are shooting to head out in March – starting in Bulgaria, where I’m from and making our way to SE Asia. Couldn’t be more excited! Your blog has helped us so much so far! I love your honesty and your stories! Thank you!

  25. I’m sorry, but you’re an idiot. The best tool you have in saving for retirement is starting early. Would you rather go on that vacation now or have food on the table when you’re 65? And an 8 month safety net is for the possibility of losing your job tomorrow. If you don’t have money to put towards retirement you don’t have the money to go on vacation.

  26. “I’m sorry, but you’re an idiot”

    Thanks for your insightful and thoughtful comment.

    If you don’t want to travel until you’re 65, then that’s your decision. Some of us want to travel now, AND travel in retirement. We have personally been travelling for 8 years and have more money for retirement now, then we ever would have had if we stayed at our jobs at home.

    Some people don’t want to gamble with their entire lives for a future at 65 that may not come. Some prefer to live their life as it comes at them, while still saving for retirement.

    That doesn’t make them idiots, but by the time you’re 65, they will have already lived a life full of travel and experiences. If you’re still healthy enough to travel, you’ll be decades behind.



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