99+ Tricks to Saving Money and Funding Family Travels

My family and I travel while I run my company Purveyor of Geekery

99+ Tricks to Saving Money and Funding Family Travels

What are your favorite ways to save for travel? Mine is selling digital products via Purveyor of Geekery. I’ve earned over $50k in the last four years and am able to focus on having amazing adventures instead of working all the time. Check out the Seller’s Program here.

Here are 99+ others:


  1. First and foremost, determine how much you currently spend so that you know when, where and by how much you cut back. Create a overall monthly budget and aim to spend under the amount allotted to each area. For instance, if you allotted $300 a month towards groceries but only spend $280 one month, you’ll know that you saved $20 to add to your vacation savings!
  2. Budget for vacation. Work out your budget (lots of people I know use the envelope method) and arrange to put back a portion of your paycheck towards your travel goals, even if it is only $5.
  3. Print out some motivation and hang it somewhere where you will be able to see it daily. Every time you go to spend money ask yourself if whatever you are about to buy is more important than your travel destination.
  4. Start every purchasing decision by asking yourself this question: “This item or <insert vacation destination here>?” Saving money starts to get a lot easier when you compare your Target dollar aisle find to a week in the south of France. 
  5. Plan your vacation! Day dreaming is a good motivator and the more you put down on paper (or pixels), the more you’ll know 1.) how much you need to save, and 2.) be motivated to save.
  6. Suck at saving? If your savings seems to disappear as soon as it enters your savings account, it might be worth looking at your options in how to protect your funds from yourself. If you want to maintain immediate access to them in case of an emergency, place them in a separate savings account  that is not connected to your main checking account (i.e. not an overflow account) and freeze the credit card. However, you should really have your emergency fund in place prior to saving for vacation and not use that as your travel fund. Look into short term, no/low risk investments like CDs. A 6 month or 1 year CD has crap for interest rates theses days but even 0.8% interest is a bonus if it keeps it from evaporating into nickles and dimes.
  7. Prioritize. You may want to renovate the house and go on vacation the same year, but it may not be feasible. Maybe improvise by doing the renovations and a staycation one year, and a big trip the next…all depending on your budget, of course.


  1. Ask family and relatives to forgo the physical gifts this year for money to put towards your trip.
  2. Give gifts of money for holidays and celebrations to the people going on the trip with you instead of things. Find creative ways of gifting like money in balloons, Easter eggs, scavenger hunts, etc. and be sure the money gets put back for vacation use. My daughters save up half of their Disney tickets and all of their spending money.
  3. Save money on gift giving by going homemade. You can never go wrong with homemade baked goods and jams (unless diet restrictions are involved) but score some bonus points by adding a touch of sentimentality to it as well. Family cookbooks, framed photos, family trees or quilts are just a few ideas
  4. If you don’t have time to go completely handmade, sites like Shutterfly make it easy to create gifts steeped in sentimentality plus they usually always have a sale going on. Coupons are easy to come by. A mug with your child’s mugshot on it is one thing, but going the extra mile and do a bit of research. A mug with the receiver’s parents as children or a childhood pet is whole different story.

Clothing and Beauty

  1. Sell your old outfits on Swap.com. Out of all of the online consignment shops, this is my favorite. Just mail in a box and they take care of the rest.
  2. Save money buying your clothes from Swap.com.
  3. Swap your clothing with friends when your kids outgrow it.
  4. If you don’t have friends to trade with in your child’s size or you just want to make some cash off of them instead: sell or swap your kids clothing on Swap.com
  5. Buy or swap your kids clothing on Swap.com
  6. Stretch your wardrobe using Project 333. 
  7. Host a Swap Party.
  8. 86 (i.e. remove) the “dry clean only” articles from your closet, sell them on Swap.com and replace them with pieces that are less expensive to maintain.
  9. Longer hair requires less trips to the hair stylist to keep it in shape, so consider growing it out. Bonus: You’ll have lots more options for playing around with adorable updos.
  10. Adopt a hairstyle that requires less hair products and harsh heat tools. You’ll spend less on it and won’t have to go to the stylist as often to remove damaged ends.
  11. Do your own manicures and pedicures.
  12. Have massage night with your significant other. Instead of spending money at the spa that you could be using at <insert spa at exotic destination>, you’ll save and increase the bonding time with SO.


  1. Have vegetarian nights! Cut down on your grocery bills by switching out two-three meals a week requiring meat with ones that use beans or eggs instead.
  2. Have a sandwich night. We replace one meal a night with cheese and onion sandwiches without much suffering. My husband makes amazing sandwiches!
  3. Use recipes that stretch your meat a bit. My husband and I love stir fries and simmer sauces! If we cook a meal that just features chicken breast as an entry, we each get one breast, but with stir fries, Indian simmer sauces, stews and soups we can get away with just using one breast in the dish combined with cheaper ingredients and end up with enough for two nights.
  4. Use recipes calling for different cuts of meat. We’re use to chicken breasts, but tagine recipes calling for chicken thighs always end up to be less expensive. The other day I found a pound of lamb meat for $3 and made a Moroccan lamb and pea recipe that was delicious and about $20 less expensive than even half the weight in lamb chops would have been. (Sorry vegetarians!)
  5. Cut down on your portions. Americans are notorious for super sized portions. Eating off of smaller plates will help you eat less and save you time in the kitchen by providing leftovers.
  6. Plan recipes around in season produce. Apple pie in early spring will cost more than apple pies in autumn, and rhubarb in late winter is almost unheard of. You’ll be paying more for produce out of season because it costs more to ship it from the areas where they are in season.
  7. Know which veggies store well. We buy squashes in bulk at the end of autumn because they will store through until March. However the same butternut squash and such would cost three times as much around early spring.
  8. Take a machete to your grocery bills. 
  9. Don’t go grocery shopping hungry. Don’t go any kind of shopping after you’ve been on Pinterest. 🙂
  10. Include enough for an extra meal when you cook dinner then tote it to work for lunch the next day (or the day after that for a bit of a mix instead of two of the same meals back to back).
  11. Whether it’s grocery bills or prescriptions, switch to generics. My step mom works at a rice company that makes the rice for both a big named label as well as many generic labels. Guess what? They bag both brands from the same conveyors, the only difference is fancy graphics end price for most items.
  12. Skip the organic label for the clean 15 produce products. 
  13. Watch your bulk buys, they may not always be cheaper. By keeping a Price book you will be able to tell if you are really getting the deal that you think you are.
  14. Buy your Bob’s Red Mill products from Netgrocer.com. This isn’t an affiliate link, they just have amazing prices on Bob’s products (which are usually expensive!). Combined with $25 off $50 sales they have incrementally, this can bring your costs down to less than $1 a bag. Netgrocer is good for lots of things, just skip the canned goods.
  15. Look for deals at the strangest of places. I buy things like oatmeal, rice, beans and wheatgrass seeds for growing juice from the LDS Store...which you don’t have to be a member to buy from and doesn’t put you on a list for missionary visits.
  16. Convenience foods like freezer meals and baking mixes are expensive. Did you know Bisquick is essentially four items: flour, baking powder, salt and sugar? Search google for DIY alternatives.
  17. Switch out soda, beer and fruit juice for water and tea….easier said than done, right? You can do it!
  18. Nix bad habits like alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes and beauty magazines. Would you rather have a PBR every night or unlimited Mojitos for a week in Miami?
  19. Congratulations! You saved $xxx today! If you are use to seeing that at the bottom of your receipts, make a habit of adding that amount to your travel fund as soon as you get home.

Shopping Hacks

  1. Cut out temptation. If you can’t walk in to Target without spending $100, don’t. Buy online or send a relative instead.
  2. Have to go into a store? Go in 20-30 minutes to closing time (retail workers are going to hate me, I know) with a shopping list. With limited time, you MUST stay focused on what you absolutely need and don’t have time to casually browse for impulse buys.
  3. Bring just enough cash (+10% or so as a cushion) into a shop with you, leave your credit cards hidden in the car or at home so that you have physical space between yourself and impulse buys.
  4. Amazon Prime. So instead of cutting, this one is spending. Splurging for an Amazon Prime account not only gives you free shipping on orders (so you can order online and resist the temptation of the retail stores) but take advantage of their movie rentals as well.
  5. Get a new hobby. Replace shopping and online shopping (yes, Pinterest…Mr. Online Window Shopping Central, I’m looking at you) with an awesome new hobby like learning a new language online for free, learning a new skill like knitting, gardening, investing, etc.
  6. Sign up with a cash back company like ebates.com to get extra money back from your everyday purchases like Amazon, Walmart and Target or the not so everyday ones like Halloween costumes. Literally everything.

Bills and Domestic Costs

  1. Cut the cord. Do you still have a land line? Do you still need a land line? I use Google Voice and Skype instead when I’m home.
  2. Cut the cable. Subscribing to Netflix provides enough entertainment options at a fraction of the cost. Can’t live without your True Blood? Ask yourself: True Blood or Cancun?
  3. Cut back on transportation costs. Lifehacker says that cuts in this area can save as much as $125,000 in ten years so plan on running errands one day every other week and asking your boss to let you work from home a few days a month.
  4. Repair instead of replace. Parts for electronics, appliances, fixtures and more are much cheaper than new items and it is easy to mend clothing, bed clothes and other items that get holes. Search google for “How to fix ______” and be a jack of all trades.
  5. Switch to DIY cleaning products. Resolve may work, but Dawn + Hydrogen Peroxide works better and adds $12 a year to your travel savings if you usually go through 3 bottles of the other stuff a year. Vinegar and water can replace Windex. Nothing replaces Bar Keepers Helper.
  6. Credit cards: if you suck at credit cards stay away from them, it isn’t worth it. If you are disciplined enough to pay them off each month, filtering your purchases through a credit card with reward programs that can help you towards your vacation goals like airline points might be worth looking into. Plan to sign up for one when you are close to making a large amount of purchases, like around Christmas or back to school since a lot of them offer bonus incentive points for meeting a certain spending level within the first 30-90 days.
  7. Tax Returns are a great way to get a large lump sum of money in your vacation fund in one fall swoop.


  1. Find the freebies. Make a list of two-three free entertainment alternatives to do each weekend so you aren’t tempted to spend the money on paid events like cinema tickets or mini golf. Parks, street fests, art festivals and places offering free admission or community days are just some of the great alternatives.
  2. Limit date nights. Babysitters and dining out can add up quickly. Have family date nights at home with games, movies and DIY pizza instead.
  3. Make friends with the library. Not only do they have books and DVDs, but also fun events for the kids.
  4. Look up your local community centers. They often offer free or very affordable classes and events.
  5. Invest in an eReader or download software onto your phone or tablet that allows you to read books, then hit up Project Gutenberg or Kindle’s free reads.
  6. If you must buy new books, buy second hand via Half.com or Better World Books. (Hint: BWB sells via Half.com and their prices are often better there unless they are having a sale…which is often, so check their site first, then head over to half.)
  7. Skip the cinema and catch a Free Movie online instead.
  8. Plan to eat out around Kids Eat Free Night (Out to Eat With Kids is another good source).
  9. If you need a change of scenery, pack a picnic instead of eating out.
  10. Go out for lunch instead of dinner.
  11. Go out for a snack, ice cream or coffee instead of a full meal.
  12. Swap out your old books, DVDs, games and more through PaperBackSwap.
  13. Or make some money off of your old books, DVDs, video games and such by selling them to Amazon’s Trade In Program.

Earn it

  1. Vermillion Rules talks about selling “trash” (flipping her finds) to finance her family’s Disney vacation.
  2. Start a blog! You can share your talent and insights with the world in exchange for some extra income via ads and affiliate links.Cut down on your grocery bills by using coupons.
  3. Do you have a talent for sewing, cooking or Early Roman Political Dramas? Offer your services as a tutor or teacher.
  4. Create digital products to sell on places like Purveyor of Geekery (Marketplace for DIY Printables & Templates) and TeachersPayTeachers (education).
  5. Downsize and sell anything that you aren’t using on Craigslist or ebay.
  6. Trade your physical collections for new ones: memories! Sell your non-utilitarian collections (snow angels? Beanie Babies?) on ebay and make a hobby of collecting travel memories instead.

Plan it Frugally

  1. Don’t buy every item with the “travel” label that you see. You really don’t need special travel socks for the airplane, I promise.
  2. Sign up with a cash back company like ebates.com to get extra money back on your travel purchases like airlines and hotels. They have hundreds of participating programs direct from companies like Hyatt, Groupon, Enterprise and eBags or through discount websites like Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity. For instance, they offer 1.5% back on Virgin Atlantic so we would end up with $45 back from our tickets.
  3. Snacks in the airport can be expensive. Plan on only buying bottles of water (and other liquid necessities) in the terminal and bring your own food instead.
  4. Bring home free or cheap mementos from your travels like maps, pressed pennies and photographs instead of $30 tee shirts.
  5. Find family friendly vacation rentals through Kid & Co., like AirBnb but for kids.
  6. Use Roomer to find deals on hotel rooms that people already paid for but can’t use.
  7. Use the web to research hotels and current prices, but by actually calling the hotel to secure the reservation you may be able to save yourself lots of money plus get a few extra perks and upgrades.
  8. Wisebread suggests clearing your browser cookies when returning to booking sites online. The site will give you higher prices if it knows that you have been there searching before.
  9. Look up Kids Eat Free specials in the area you will be going to and plan your meals out around these.
  10. While it isn’t always common in the states except in many tourist and metro areas like Orlando, many international towns have grocery delivery service and will even deliver to your hotel!
  11. Be mindful of extra hotel fees. Look for hotels that include parking, wi-fi, transportation to local attractions (saves on parking and gas costs) and breakfast for free. Watch some hotels who may tack on extra resort fees in addition to their rates.
  12. If you are heading to a high tourist area, not only research rates of hotels in the areas near where you are heading, but also the tourist tax rates as well. For example, Orange County in Florida where Orlando is located has a 12.5% sales tax on accommodations and a 6.5% sales tax while Kissimmee, the nearby town where lots of people stay due to cheaper rates has a 13% accommodation tax and a 7% sales tax. Seminole County, also close has an 11% accommodation and a 7% sales tax. It might not matter much on a $50 room, but a $200 room is an extra $26 a night versus $22, meaning you can save $28 over the course of a week stay.
  13. Many destinations have value seasons, when tourism slows down a bit and rates are reduced. This can sometimes mean the difference between 50% cheaper rates.
  14. Buy souvenirs outside of major attractions. Giftshops and drug stores like CVS sell licensed products for dirt cheap right around the bend from major attractions. You’ll likely score a Disney sweatshirt for $40 from the Disney Store online instead of the $65 it costs in the park, or save even more and nab it for $26 on Amazon. Feeling green? Recycle one from ebay for $12.
  15. Instead of buying tchotchke souvenirs like another stuffed animal to sell the next time you go to raise money for your next vacation, find free reminders of where you’ve been like ticket stubs, vials of sand, shells, rocks, etc.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, not every link is but a few.

Did I miss any? How does your family save for travel? Let me know in the comments below.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

My family and I travel while I run my company Purveyor of Geekery

One Response to “99+ Tricks to Saving Money and Funding Family Travels”
  1. David

    It’s funny how people ask us how do you afford to travel around the world. Your right motivation! Saving is also a huge part. Great post!

Leave a Reply