How to Pay for Travel, Part 1: Prioritize your Spending

Wednesday, January 22

Today I start my series on Travel! 
This series has been a long time coming 
(I think I first mentioned it well over a year ago here, whoops!), 
but I suppose better late than never, right?

The idea for this series came about, because almost weekly I receive emails from my readers asking me how we travel so much. Kevin and I had the incredible opportunity to live, backpack and stay with friends in over 40 countries. I do not claim to be an expert, but I do hope that through reading for the next month or two you will feel more equipped, more excited, and more knowledgeable about all things travel related. 

I’m structuring my series based on questions that you, my dear readers, have asked me. I also have stuffed these posts chock-full of real life examples. I don’t want to give you a bunch of theories that don’t work…I want you to see how Kevin and I utilized these tricks to our advantage when traversing the globe!

So… without further ado…the first installment of

How to Pay for Travel
The MAIN question that rolls in time and time again is,
“How do you pay for travel?????”

I’ve run into my fair share of people who are frustrated about the costs of taking a trip, and find themselves getting overwhelmed by the mounting expenses. “I can’t afford to go ANYWHERE” they cry, and then they just give up. This, my friend, is a sad, sad picture indeed. Yes, travel will obviously cost you something, but it doesn’t have to cost you your arm, leg or baby -or even break your bank!

The next two weeks I will be squeezing in every last secret I could come up with about how Kev and I have paid for all our trips! Today though, you will be given the most basic lesson we have learned….

Prioritize your Everyday Spending

While this may seem like a no-brainer, I’m not sure it really is. 
Travel takes intentionality.
Unless you are plain rich and rollin in the bejamins,
then thinking about your “travel budget” should be on your radar.
This means prioritizing what is important to you {travel}
and making financial decisions that help you save more for your trips!!  

Below is a list of ways Kevin and I have prioritized travel in different seasons of our life.

Create a Travel Registry for your Wedding Guests 
From the get-go, Kevin and I knew travel was a priority for us. Planning our wedding, we decided that we didn’t need a whole lot of “stuff” for our future home, so in addition to a regular wedding registry, we created a travel registry to help fund our then upcoming UK trip. We used the popular site, but instead of using this for our honeymoon, we told our guests about our upcoming trip to the UK to visit friends! We gave our wedding guests the option of purchasing “$50 towards a rental car in Ireland” or “$100 for lodging in Scotland”. Our guest loved it, and it was really popular! As much as pots, pans and dishes are nice to fill a home, the memories Kevin and I have from exploring England, Scotland and Ireland are irreplaceable!

Open a Travel Account at the Bank 
Once married, the travel planning continued. Kevin and I opened up a “travel account” at the bank. We wanted to keep this money separate so that it wouldn’t just get lost in our other bank accounts! Every time we received money as a birthday or Christmas gift, we deposited it into the travel account! . Instead of viewing Kevin’s “tip money” as extra “spending money” we instead saw it as extra “travel money”, and that went into the account as well. You may feel silly at first depositing such small amounts into this account, but as the old adage goes “every little bit helps!”.

Use Second Hand Items 
As women, we have a tendency to love pretty things for our home! And with good reason!! Our home is a place where magic happens, and as such should be decorated in a cozy and beautiful way. However, a lovely home doesn’t have to steal your hard earned travel money! When we were first married we furnished our entire apartment with second hand items my parents gave to us! {We also bought a few new items using gift cards from our wedding!} Another great resource for finding free items is the FREE section! I was able to score free bookcases from IKEA, and found a few free {and gorgeous!} chairs on the side of the road! Seeing as “vintage” is all the rage, second hand items might just be what you are looking for!

Penny Pinch when it Counts!! 
As consumers, we are faced with a wide spectrum of prices when it comes to purchasing certain items! Often, choosing a more “affordable” priced item will go a long way when saving up for travel! For instance, when I purchased a new car a few years ago, I opted to buy the most basic model of the Toyota Carolla. For a few thousand dollars more I could have had automatic windows and doors (and that little clicker thing I REALLY wanted!) but instead, I chose to save $3,000 and put that into our travel fund. And I’ve never regretted that! I mean, come on…a candle light dinner along the canals of Amsterdam, or a window that automatically rolls up? 
Yup…I thought so:)

Spend Less, Thrift More! 
Here is where I think most of us female folk blow our money when we have “extra”…SHOPPING!! I am guilty party numero uno! I love new clothes. However, I learned a long time ago from my thrifty mother that travel will be remembered a lot longer than expensive clothes! If you’ve been following my blog long enough you’ve seen that I shop quite extensively at yard sales. {As evidence, you can see my outfit post here}. Spending $10 on 6 items of clothing instead of $200 will just save you money! Another great resource is a new online company called Swapdom. At Swapdom you make a profile, upload pictures of the clothes you want to swap, and then find other users that want to swap clothes with you! 

The Main Point: 
The bottom line is that Travel money is not going to just pop out of nowhere (if only, *sigh*). The best day to start is TODAY! Talk to your bank about opening a travel account, or write down ways you can start saving money in areas you find weaknesses with spending! We all prioritize our money somewhere, so if you long to travel, start allocating some amount towards your goal:)

To see Part 2, talking about Miles Credit Cards {they are AMAZING!!!} click here. 

Happy Wednesday friends!!
Love Katie

Ps- tomorrow I start school! Pray for me!!!


  1. I remember way back when you first mentioned this series!! :P And yes--prioritizing your spending is the way to go. To this day I'm so happy that we only own about 3 pieces of furniture in our house (the rest are borrowed from my parents) because we haven't invested so much into "staying" that sure makes it easier to go!

  2. These are great ideas! I love the idea of a travel fund. I have a seperate savings account and the next time that I get a money gift I think I'm going to put some of that in there! :-)

    xoxo A

  3. this are some great tips and i am definitely bookmarking this post for future reference! and i am also looking into opening a miles credit card .. i just realized that from my frequent flyer miles i have enough for a free flight and would love to keep those coming ;)

  4. Thank you for sharing these tips! I am getting married in 3 months and my fiance and I have been trying to figure out how to travel on a budget as we're both finishing up university right before the wedding. We will be sure to include a travel registry now :)

  5. I completely agree with all of these tips! We follow all of them too.

  6. Thanks so much for these tips! I just got a new job and my goal is to make travel high on my priorities list.

  7. Such good tips! Thanks for sharing and good luck at school tomorrow.

  8. yes, if only it came out of nowhere instantly. traveling does have to be planned ahead and this is such a great reminder that traveling and making those memories is a great investment. great tips katie! can't wait to hear about the miles card!

  9. Love the idea of having a separate bank account. Thanks for all these tips! I have a feeling I'm going to love this series :)
    Good luck at school tomorrow! Praying for you!

  10. Love this list! Wish I could get married again and do a travel registry. :)

  11. seriously great tips. LOVE IT! :) xoxoox

  12. This was seriously awesome. Made me rethink where my money is going!

    Also YAYYYY for school! I'll be praying for you for sure!

  13. Thanks for sharing these great ideas.

  14. Goodness, girl, this isn't helpful at all!!! We already do all these things so we can pay for Nate's schooling out of pocket. I guess when he graduates we'll already know how to save the money so we will be able to travel. ;-)

  15. So I love this post because I could've written it... except that for us it was all about paying off our student debt. ;) Seriously, we've done every single one of these things (except for the honeyfund idea - I've never heard of that, but it's so cool!). We just used all of these things to pay off all of our student loans. We also have never spent my income (only living on Christopher's) so all of my income has always gone directly to pay off our student loans. We did take a brief break from loan payoff last year to put some money aside for our Italy trip which was SO worth it! Especially since now we have finally paid off every penny! :D Which means more traveling in our future! :)

  16. These are some great tips! Josh and I plan to open a separate travel account after our wedding is paid for, I think it will really help with saving :)

  17. Okay, i LOVE this! I randomly found your blog, but my husband and i LOVE traveling...can't wait for more tips! :)

  18. This is going to be such a great series Katie. Thanks for sharing your "worldly" wisdom! I love that you deposit your gift money in a travel fund, I always earmark mine in my mind but not in an actual, physical way, so it's easy to forget.

  19. Thanks for sharing all of your travel ins and outs! Can't wait to hear what else you have in store :)

  20. Love all of these tips! I truly think that these tips apply to any type of dream that you are saving money for! :) Thanks for sharing with us! All of these tips are going to be so helpful! Hope your first day of school is going lovely!
    :) Rebecca

  21. This is great info! I made a swapdom account now that you mentioned it. Cool idea! For me, it's really helped to choose places to visit where I have extended family. For example, this summer, I stayed with cousins in London, and then rented apartments through airbnb for Paris and Nice. This meant that 1/3 of the accommodations were free, saving several hundred dollars PLUS I got to see my dear cousins again.

  22. Wow Katie, awesome post! I definitely want to travel a lot in the future so these are awesome things to think about when I'm saving:) Thank you!

  23. i've never thought of point no.1 and 2 before. that's brilliant! since i'm not married yet, it's still very doable. haha. one of my strategy on traveling is spend the money on something worth. i mean, rather than buy a souvenir, i will spend my money on like bungee jumping from a cliff top or something like that.

  24. I love these tips! A portion of my paycheck goes to a travel bank account and it is the best decision I've made! ;) Thanks for sharing so many great ideas, I can always use tips to get out there traveling more!

  25. so excited for this series! such good advice! i have been saving for Peru for about a year now. I think it helps to set money aside and be intentional about it :)

  26. such simple but brilliant tips - so excited to see this series play out :)

  27. you're right - so incredibly right. i often take my "extra money" and put it towards (mostly) pointless things! i want to travel more so i've got to make it happen!

  28. The idea of asking for travel money instead of usual home gifts for your wedding is awesome. Thanks for sharing the site.

    I think if you're really dedicated to saving money for a trip, you can do it. Just don't spend so much on unnecessary stuff.

  29. I find that so much money can be saved by not eating out. I am a single mom with 2 adopted boys md we save money to travel by having picnics, brining snacks when going out for the day. So much money can just disappear when one child is thirsty another hungry or wants an ice cream from the ice cream man I always have drinks and snacks on hand. All that money goes in our travel fund.


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