How to Save Money to Travel

How to Save Money to Travel

I think one of the reasons people don’t explore the world is because they don’t know how to save money to travel. Before I moved to Korea I was quite literally the worst spender (or saver?) that I knew. I had absolutely no idea how to put money aside for travel. Throughout my seven years in Chicago, my college friends and post-college friends and I loved to explore the city’s newest hot spots, had weekly brunch (sometimes Saturdays AND Sundays) and attended live concerts practically every night.

My life was eventful, exuberant and exciting…. and I was almost always broke at the end of each paycheck period. This all started to change the moment I moved to Korea. Once a notorious beer snob, I initially felt as though I’d lost a piece of my identity. Sure, there are places like The Alibi in Gangnam, which offers over 160 quality beers on its menu. Did I really want to fork over $18 USD for a renowned double IPA, though? Nope.

While I wasn’t always the wisest with my wallet when I first came here, I slowly came to a realization over time that the tiniest smart choices would financially benefit me in the long run. If you’re in a place where you feel like you need some inspiration to learn how to save money to travel, look no further. Below are my top three  tips that have helped me save some extra cash!


How to save money to travel

  • Watch where you shop

I’m sure this is a given, but it’s best to buy produce and other goods from local markets rather than at large chain stores. If you’re reading this from America, the chances are you may live near a Trader Joe’s you lucky son of a gun. The produce at Trader Joe’s is ridiculously cheap and generally great quality. If there’s a farmer’s market in your neighborhood, be sure to pay attention to the schedule so you can plan out your produce hauls.

When I first moved to Korea I shopped at major chains for my groceries until I realized I could generally cut my total costs in half by walking an extra 10 minutes to a tiny market I discovered one evening. Once I moved to Seoul’s most expensive neighborhood, I initially found it difficult to find ANYTHING for a reasonable price. To ensure I am still saving money each month on groceries I shop at a market near my boyfriend’s house. It’s a bit of a pain having to lug everything a half hour away, but luckily we live on the same train line so it’s really not an issue.

  • Treat yo’self…at home

I used to dye my hair blond and indulge in the occasional manicure when I was living in Chicago. I can honestly say that traveling has changed my life in a number of ways – particularly in this realm. I’m not sure if it’s because haircuts in Korea are usually an ultimate fail or because I’ve simply just chilled out a bit, but I just can’t be bothered to actually spend money on these services any longer. My current hair stylist charges the equivalent of $14.50 USD and does a pretty decent job all things considered. I walk in, we exchange greetings, I sit down and we chat. He doesn’t wash my hair, he barely styles it but I’m always satisfied with the outcome for what I’m paying.

These sorts of extra purchases truly add up over time. While I don’t advise doing your own hair at home (unless you’re lucky and have friends with this skill set), I do think turning your house or apartment into an at-home spa is a great idea. Do you want a facial? Put a few drops of tea tree oil in some boiling water and let the steam clear your pores. In the mood for splurging on a manicure? Just put a Lifetime Movie Network flick on YouTube and paint your nails. If you’re into watching more critically acclaimed films you can do that, too. Just know that I respect your decision either way.

  • Use a finance tracking app

I don’t know about you, but if I’m not conscious as to what I’m spending my bank account seems to dwindle away quickly. To combat this I diligently enter everything I spend into an app called Pocket Expense. Manually entering everything each night has enabled me to gain a better perspective as to what I’m spending and makes me more aware of my habits. Since I’m extremely competitive with myself and myself alone, I usually make it a game each month to see if I can spend even less in certain categories. Download this app now!

How to save money to travel

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While there are a number of other ways to be a penny pincher, these are the most effective ways that helped me figure out how to save money to travel. Do you have any suggestions?



  1. February 11, 2016 / 2:45 pm

    I can relate to this post so much! Before moving to Korea I had terrible spending habits because of my social life in Southern California. There’s really so many fantastic things going on all the time and alot of great places to spend all your money on. It also didn’t help that my job was being a buyer for apparel, accessories, and footwear…so I was tempted to always have the latest things! What’s crazy is that I couldn’t figure out why I ran out of money every paycheck! If only I had the money saving habits I have now back then! We track our expenses as well, especially when we travel! We actually have been a bit lazy this time around itemizing everything, but we still always keep track and establish a budget for weekdays and weekends. Because good beer is so expensive here, that’s one thing I have stopped indulging in as well. And mentioning Trader Joes actually is tormenting because I dream about the days I can buy my groceries there again! A BIG factor in saving money for us is cooking our meals Monday through Friday and only eating out on the weekends – also no buying coffee! We have to make it and take it if we want to have it on the road (although we have been breaking that rule a bit lately) Thanks for sharing your money saving tips, if people really try these out they can see how powerful changing small habits is!

  2. February 11, 2016 / 5:21 pm

    I love shopping at local grocery stores! I used to live near a farmer’s market back in college and I felt so hip shopping for groceries at the local market, but now that I’m back at home, I have to settle for Shoprite, which has pretty reasonable prices. I currently use Mint as my finance tracking app, but I think I need something where I manually put in my purchases. Only trouble is trying to remember to put them in!

  3. February 12, 2016 / 5:14 pm

    Great tips about ways to save money – especially treating yourself at home. Famer’s Markets are a wonderful way to save money. Hopefully, the app Pocket Expense. is helpful for many people.

  4. March 27, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    These are some very useful and practical tips! There are definitely ways to save money for travel, Laura!

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