11 Creative Ways to Save Money for Travel

When I returned home to Canada, I came crashing back to reality. North America is ridiculously expensive! Rent, food, bills, gas, and other unexpected fees chomped away entire pay cheques at a time. It's a gut wrenching feeling and I understand how people feel when they say it's too difficult to save money for travel.

But it's not impossible.


If you want to become a world traveller, you need to gain control of your finances. I know the thought of following a budget can strike fear into many people's hearts but it doesn't have to be difficult. All you need to do is sacrifice a few luxuries and get creative. To help get your money-making juices flowing, I present my 11 favourite ways to save money for travel.

Sell everything

Photo Credit: Bob n Renee
Okay, well maybe not sell EVERYTHING you own, but most certainly sell all the stuff you don't wear, like, or use anymore. If you go through your closet, I bet you'll find handfuls of clothing you haven't worn in years. Take a peek in your garage and I'm sure there's old sporting equipment you've outgrown. Look through your drawers and see if you have old cellphones, MP3 players, tablets, and other electronics. Now take all this junk and turn it into money for your travel fund. You have a few ways to do this:

Consignment stores buy your old goods and then resell them for a profit. Do your research and locate consignment stores around your area. Most specialize in clothing, while others sell sporting equipment, electronics, and more. You'll have to bring your stuff in to the store so they can assess your goods and decide which ones they want to buy. Sometimes they'll give you cash right away, other times you'll need to wait until your item sells to receive a cheque.

Consignment stores won't give you much for your stuff. If you have more time on your hands and want to maximize profit, sell your goods on Craigslist, Kijiji, Ebay, or Amazon. Once you make an account, these websites allow you to put your goods up for sale. If you're using Craigslist and Kijiji, you'll most likely need to meet the buyer in person to make the sale. For Ebay and Amazon, you'll have to visit the post office and ship the items to the buyer.

If you're too lazy to constantly ship packages and meet up with buyers, consider holding a garage sale. Find out if your neighbourhood holds an annual community garage sale. Community garage sales attract large amounts of people which means more potential sales for you. If your city doesn't organize a garage sale, do one yourself! Just make sure to promote it through the local newspaper, social media, and word of mouth to ensure you get lots of visitors.

Get a travel credit card 

Photo Credit: Mighty Travels
Travel credit cards are amazing because they give you points that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. When you make purchases with the card, you're slowly working towards a free vacation! How awesome is that?

Plenty of travel credit cards include emergency medical insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and other handy perks.  Upon registration, most banks also offer generous welcome bonuses so you can start accumulating points right away.

Ask your bank to upgrade you to their travel credit card. If they don't have one, do your research and try to find a card that suits your needs.

Here are (in my opinion) the best travel credit cards available in Canada:

1) RBC Visa Infinite Avion - I just got this card and absolutely love it! The points I accumulate can be put towards any airline. Points can also be used to pay taxes and other fees; a perk other travel credit cards lack.

2) TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite - The TD travel card works with Air Canada's Aeroplan program. Points get transferred to your Aeroplan account monthly which can be redeemed for flights, car rentals, and hotels with select companies.  Check out their website for a full list of partners.

3) BMO World Elite MasterCard - Offering a whooping 21 days of travel medical insurance coverage, this card is perfect if you're planning a long trip.

4) Scotiabank Gold American Express Card - This card features flexible point redemption and lets you purchase your trip from any travel provider. After, simply call the bank or go online to redeem your points for the purchase.

Host AirBnB guests 

Photo Credit: Jeremy Levine
Got a spare bedroom in your home? Put that space to good use and host guests via AirBnB. Not only is this an easy way to earn passive income, you'll also have the opportunity to meet other travellers and establish international connections. Who knows? Maybe you'll make some close friends who will let you crash on their couch during your next vacation in Italy.

AirBnB lets you list your place for free. The company gives you ultimate control over your room rates, availability, and reservation requirements. Don't feel comfortable hosting certain guests? You always have the final say when it comes to booking requests.

Turn a hobby into a side gig  


Everyone's got a skill they can monetize!

Got a flair for writing, web development, or graphic design? Become a freelancer! Businesses are willing to pay good money for people with these specific set of skills. PeoplePerHour is a fantastic site full of job postings that cater to freelancers. The best part of all? You can freelance from anywhere around the world. So if you find yourself running low on cash during your travels, feel free to take on a project or two for some extra income.  

Do you have restaurant experience? Pick up a part time serving or bartending job. I waitressed all throughout university and I can tell you the tips can be quite generous!

Love animals? Check out Pawshake and apply to be a pet sitter. You have the choice of hosting pets in your own home, house sitting, or paying daily visits to pets whose owners are away. Not only is this a great way to grow your travel fund, you'll also get to spend your free time surrounded with adorable fur babies. 

Want to show off your culinary skills? If cooking is your passion, apply to be a chef on EatWith or Plate Culture. Once accepted, you can post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that strangers can sign up for. Like AirBnB, EatWith allows you to set your own meal prices.

Got a green thumb? You have no idea how many people out there are too busy or lazy to mow their lawn or tend to their garden. If you don't mind working outdoors, consider picking up some yard work gigs. Look for job offers or promote your services on Craigslist or Kijiji. 

Enjoy helping others? If you excelled in school and have teaching experience, chances are you'd make a helpful tutor. High school and university students are aways looking for knowledgable tutors who can teach math, English, or the sciences. 

If you have skills outside of academia, don't hesitate in offering them! Fluent in a second language? International business professionals are always interested in learning Mandarin, French, Spanish, and other languages. Used to play in a band? Why not give guitar or drum lessons?

Know all the best kept secrets in your city? List an "experience" on Vayable and become a tour guide! Experiences can take many forms including photography walks, food tours, scouting for street art, visiting lesser known attractions, and much more.  This site is a win-win for everyone; tourists get to experience authentic local culture AND you get to make some money on the side. 

Pack a lunch 

Photo Credit: AnotherLunch.com 
Are you buying lunch every day? If you are, STOP IT RIGHT NOW! Even if you spend just $10 a day on food, that adds up to a whooping $2400 a year! Take some time in the morning or night before to prep your lunch. Don't know what to make? Here are 27 easy lunches anyone can whip up.

While you're at it, make coffee at home and bring it to the office in a travel mug. Don't forget a water bottle too! This cuts out expensive Starbucks runs and eliminates the need to buy beverages at work.

Cut out western restaurants


I've mastered the lunch packing but I have a secret to let you in on: I can't stop going out for dinners! I love catching up with friends over a meal or trying new restaurants in town. To satisfy my foodie cravings and save money for travel, I've cut back on western restaurants. Steaks, burgers, and pastas make great dining options, unfortunately they aren't so great for your wallet. These types of meals can cost anywhere between $20 to $60 and can be easily recreated at home. Instead, I've been opting for Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern restaurants. Thai curries, a bowl of pho, Japanese ramen, and sharwarma are some of my favourite dishes and generally cost around $10 or less.  I've also been taking advantage of brunch and happy hour because meal prices are discounted during these times.

Host house parties

Photo Credit: Adifansnet
Did you have a big night out at the club last weekend only to discover an empty wallet or maxed out credit card in the morning? We've all been there. It's time to put our foot down to expensive bar tabs! Instead of going out, why not host a house party at your place? You won't need to worry about cover charges, you won't spend a ridiculous amount of money on shots, and you won't need to pay for an expensive cab ride home. 

Renegotiate your internet and cellphone plans 

Photo Credit: Japanexperterna.se
Mobile and internet service is a highly competitive market. That's why you should call them up and renegotiate your plan. Providers want to keep you as a customer and are usually willing to give discounts and other incentives to make sure you stay. If they don't, cancel your service (if you're not stuck in a contract) and go with another company. 

If you still have cable, SHAME ON YOU! Cancel that pronto and get Netflix. A subscription only costs $8 a month. 

Get eco-friendly 

Photo Credit: Jacme31
Be nice to Mother Nature and she will reward you with savings! 

Transportation - Ditch the car and walk, bike, or bus. You'll never have to deal with rising gas prices again. If you can sell your vehicle, do it! I assure you, you won't miss the costly insurance, maintenance, and repair fees. 

Home - Turning off your lights, taking showers with your significant other, installing CFL or LED light bulbs, and buying ENERGY STAR appliances are just some of the easy ways you can cut your utility bills. 

Clothing - Learn some basic sewing skills so you can repair clothing instead of throwing it out. You can also reduce your textile consumption by shopping at consignment stores. 

Diet - Meat is not cheap. Try reducing your meat consumption (or go vegetarian if you can) and you'll see your grocery bills shrink. Save a cup by using your travel mug at cafes and carry a reusable water bottle with you so you don't need to buy bottled water. 

Recycle - Save your pop cans, wine bottles, and other beverage containers and bring them to a recycling depot.  Five cents per container may not seem like a lot but it adds up if you have tons of bottles from throwing house parties. 

Want more eco-friendly ideas? Here are 50 ways to help the planet

Start a travel fund 

Photo Credit: Pictures of Money
Open up a separate savings account devoted to travel. Try to find one that offers a decent interest rate with no fees. Every payday, send 10% to 30% of your pay to the account. You can also implement automatic deposits to ensure money goes to your savings account instantly. Remind yourself this account is strictly for travel and shouldn't be used for anything else!

Ask for a raise at work

Photo Credit: Stark Design
Have you taken on new responsibilities at work? Did you pull off a successful project? Are you giving it your all day in and day out? If so, it's time to ask for a raise! Don't know how to approach the subject with your boss? PayScale.com, Salary.com, and Glassdoor.com provide valuable insight on salary amounts and are good places to start your research. Be sure to check out this Forbes article on how to ask for a raise as well.



What are your favourite ways to save money for travel? Leave me a comment below and let me know.

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

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