What to Stop Spending Money on so You Can Travel More

Small change adds up to big travel experiences.

Not sure how to pay for your New Year's resolution to travel more? Cutting back on little luxuries and non-essential items can help. Here are 10 ways to be more intentional about how you're spending your money on the day-to-day to help you save toward travel experiences you really want.

1: Gym memberships. Traveling more and working out more are two of the most common resolutions, but realistically, does that gym membership actually gets its full use? Although you can get some general gym memberships for under $50 a month, many people can spend more than $200 a month for memberships to specialty gyms like CrossFit or Pure Barre, especially if you live in a city with a higher cost of living.

No one is discouraging exercise - if a gym membership is valuable to you, by all means, keep it! But opting for working out at home, running on public trails or joining a recreational sports team to burn calories instead of having a gym membership you're not frequently using, can put money back in your pocket. Assuming a gym membership costs $110 a month, you can save $1,320 in a year. Depending on when you book, you can find deals from contemporary cruise lines for 7-day Alaskan trips as low at $619 a person. You could also opt for a premium package and go for a shorter trip.

2: Takeout, fast food, etc. Eating out less is another common New Year's resolution, so you can kill two birds with one stone on this one. If you skip buying two $15 takeout dinners every week, you can save about $1,560 in a year - enough to pay for a week's stay in a luxury hotel in Palm Springs such as the Saguaro Hotel.

3: Manicures and pedicures. Manis and pedis are great for treating yourself every now and then, but when you get in the habit of getting both a manicure and pedicure once a month, especially if you get gel polish or fake nails, you can easily spend $50 a month. If you cut out that $50 expense and do your own nails, you could pay for a $600 flight to Iceland, one of the hottest travel spots right now. Ticket prices will vary depending on which airport you're flying out of and how far in advance you book, but a $600 round-trip price is not uncommon.

4: After-work drinks. After a hectic work week, it's nice to unwind with friends over drinks. Some weeks it's more tempting than others to go out for drinks, but if you buy two $10 cocktails each week, you're spending $1,040 a year. That's enough to pay for tickets to a major theme park for a family of four!

5: Game-day tickets. If you go to four big sporting events a year and spend $75 on a ticket, you're spending about $300 - enough to pay for a 3-day pass to a major music festival. 

6: Cigarettes. There are plenty of reasons to cut out cigarettes from your monthly purchases, but let how much money you're spending on them be another motivator. If you buy two packs of cigarettes that cost $6 every week, you'll spend about $624 in a year. Cut out cigarettes and the money could help you buy hiking shoes, a tent and other camping supplies for hiking the Appalachian Trail.

7: Buying lunch. Packing a lunch from home requires planning ahead, so it's easy to end up buying lunch out several days a week. Sometimes the convenience is worth it, but if you cut out just one of those lunches and bring a sack lunch from home one more time a week, you can save about $400 in a year, assuming a lunch costs about $8. With the $400 savings, you could purchase two Broadway tickets for a show in New York, excluding the extremely popular Hamilton tickets (providing they are available, of course).

8: Daily coffee purchases. Personally, I consider coffee a necessity and not a luxury, but even I could at least cut back on three lattes a week. If a latte costs about $3.50 and you buy three less each week for a year, you'll have $504, enough to pay for a hot air balloon ride for two.

Photo by: Steve Larese

Steve Larese

9: Going to the movies. Movie tickets are another expense that can add up quickly. If you spend $10 a month on a movie ticket, you're spending $120 a year. Wait until the movies come out on DVD or Netflix instead and use that $120 to buy a quality backpack for that trip across Europe you've always wanted to take.

10: New books. For the thrill-seekers who dream of falling from the sky, if you cut out buying a new $20 book each month, you'll save $240, enough to buy a skydiving experience.

You won't get rich by cutting down on lattes; you should evaluate larger expenses like rent and car payments to see a significant change. But it's nice to know that you don't have to change your entire lifestyle to put aside a little money here and there to help pay for new travel experiences.

Spend Less, Travel More
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