22 Ways to Cut Your Expenses, Grow Your Bank Balance, and Have Money for Travel

money for your rtw tripI want to start this blog post with a short exercise. Get out a sheet of paper and write down all your set expenses: rent/mortgage, car payments, cable bill, cell phone, insurance, school payments, and the like. Tally them up.

Then write down all your discretionary spending. This is what you spend on food, movie nights, drinks, shopping, that daily coffee from Starbucks, cigarettes, sports tickets, your daily mid-day snack, and other similar things. If you don’t know what you spend money on, go track your expenses for a two-week period, see what you spend, and come back.

Add that all up – what did you get? Probably a large sum of money. And I bet there will be many expenses you didn’t realize were there. Financial experts call these “phantom expenses” – we never know they are there because the expenses are so small. People bleed money without realizing it. A dollar here and a dollar there adds up. Even a daily bottle of water or candy bar can make a substantial difference over the course of a year.

What does this have to do with travel? One of the main reasons why you think you can’t travel the world is money. “I can’t afford it,” people say to me, “I have too many expenses.” Most of us certainly have expenses we can’t cut (though remember when you travel the world, all those expenses disappear), but if we cut our phantom expenses, reduce our set costs, and find other ways to save we can build our travel fund much more quickly.

No matter how cheap we want to be, travel requires some money. There’s no way to avoid that, so in order to save for our trips, we need to cut our expenses. Here are some simple and creative ways to cut your expenses, make money, and get on the road sooner:

Cut the coffee – Love your Starbucks? Well, Starbucks loves your money. Coffee is a daily expense that quietly drains your bank account without you ever noticing. That daily $5 coffee costs you $150 per month. At $1,800 per year, that’s two months in Southeast Asia. What’s more important – your daily cup of Joe or spending more time on the beaches of Thailand or exploring the jungles of Borneo in Malaysia? Give up the coffee, switch from cappuccino to a standard brew, start drinking tea, or brew your own cup.

This is an easy, low-hanging-fruit expense that can yield big savings right away.

Learn to cook – We all need to eat, but restaurants are getting quite expensive these days. I have increasing sticker shock every time I go out to eat. You want how much for pasta?! To keep your food bill low, cook more often. I learned to cook while in college (a skill that has helped me ever since) and before I left for my first trip, I cut down my eating out to two times per week. Every other meal I cooked myself. I would save the leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, thus saving more money. You don’t need to be a whiz in the kitchen, either. There are a million and one cooking sites that will teach you how to cook fast and healthy meals – perfect for people without much time.


Lose the car – Cars are crazy expensive to own between insurance, repairs, loan payments, and filling your tank with gas (current average price of gas: $2 USD per gallon). Get rid of your car if you can. Learn to love the bus, take the subway, bike, or walk. It took longer to get to work using public transportation, but I found that I didn’t really need a car as much as I thought. I understand that this tip may not be feasible for everyone, especially those in smaller towns that don’t have an extensive public transportation system, but an alternative is to sell your car and buy a cheaper used one, which you will only need until you leave for your trip. Buying a throw-away car will allow you to pocket the money from your more expensive car and put it towards your travels.

Find a roommate – You’ll see a huge gain in your savings by lowering your housing costs. Downsize your apartment or bring in some roommates. If you can, try to move in with Mom and Dad. Six months before I went abroad, I moved in with my parents. I didn’t love being 25 and living with my parents, but I saved over $3,000 in rent as a result. If this is not an option for you, bring in a roommate. Turn that living room into a spare room if necessary. In NYC, people turn living rooms into bedrooms and studio apartments into two bedrooms by putting a folding screen in the middle of the room. It’s not the most ideal living situation, but it does save money.

Get rid of cable – In the age of Hulu and free (and legal) streaming TV, there’s no reason for you to be spending $50 per month on cable television. Get rid of it and just watch everything online for free.

Ditch your landline – I honestly only know about 10 people these days who have anything other than a mobile phone. You don’t need both a mobile phone and a landline. Ditch your phone line and avoid doubling your phone expenses.

Downgrade your phone – Having an iPhone costs about $83 per month (unless you have T-Mobile, which I switched to from Verizon because it’s the best carrier for U.S. frequent travelers). While smartphones are handy devices, getting a cheap phone without any fancy apps will cut your monthly phone bill in half. You might get bored on the train not being able to read the news, but saving an extra $500 a year will allow you to spend a few more weeks in Europe, buy fancier meals, or learn to scuba dive in Fiji.

Get a new credit card – A travel credit card can give you free money, free rooms, or free flights. After accruing miles and rewards points with your card on everyday purchases, you can redeem them for free travel on your trip. Travel credit cards are a big weapon in a budget traveler’s arsenal. You’ll even earn huge sign-bonuses when you get a new card. When used properly, these cards generate free money. Start early. As soon as you decide to travel the world, get a travel-related credit card and begin earning points on your daily purchases. Here is my guide on how to pick a good travel credit card.

saving money for your travel dreamOpen an online savings account – While saving, you can have your money grow a little bit more by putting it in a high-yield online savings account. I’ve done this since the time when I was preparing to go away on my first trip and I netted a few extra hundred USD. Interest rates are pretty low these days but you can still get 1-2%. Good online U.S. banks include:

Canadian? Check out this website.
British? Check out this website.
Australia? Visit this one.
Kiwi? This one is for you!

Get a Charles Schwab accountCharles Schwab bank refunds all your ATM fees and has no account fees. With this card, you’ll never pay an ATM fee again. For more on saving money when you bank, read this article.

Sign up for travel newsletters – No one likes to clutter up their inbox, but by signing up for mailing lists from airlines and travel companies, you’ll be able to get updates about all the last-minute sales or special deals happening. I would have missed out on a round-trip ticket to Japan for $700 USD (normally $1,500) if it wasn’t for the American Airlines mailing list.

In addition to signing up for airline and travel site mailing lists (check out the resource page for my favorites), I have a weekly mailing list where I find the best travel deals of the week and send them to you. I do the work of looking for deals for you. You can sign up right here.

Build a network on Couchsurfing – Building a network on Couchsurfing can help you make friends with locals and get free accommodation when you do travel. But if you have never used it before, you might not get many responses. After all, someone who hasn’t been vouched for and has no reviews isn’t an appealing candidate. Before you go away, sign up for Couchsurfing, find a local meetup (there should always be at least one in your area), and attend. You’ll make friends, be added to people’s profiles and vouched for, and have a network you can utilize when it is time to actually go away.


Replace your light bulbs – Seriously! Electricity costs money and since every penny counts, using energy-efficient light bulbs will cut down on your utility bills. Fluorescent light bulbs now cost as little as $2.50 USD for a pack of two and replacing just five bulbs can cut $75 per year off your electric bill. Plus, due to energy efficiency initiatives in certain states, many electric companies will give you a rebate if you buy fluorescent bulbs! (Be sure to check out which rebates your local energy company offers…no matter where you live in the world!).

Going green can save you green!

Buy second-hand – Why pay full price when you can pay half? Use websites like Amazon (discounted books and electronics), wholesale websites, and clearance sales to buy at discount.

Cut coupons – The Entertainment Book, grocery coupons, Groupon, and loyalty cards all reduce the price you pay at the register. Clipping coupons might make you feel like an 80-year-old grandmother, but the goal here is to be frugal and save money, and coupons definitely help with that.

Sell your stuff – Before I went overseas, I looked around my apartment and saw just a lot of stuff I had no need for anymore – TVs, couches, tables, stereo equipment. Instead of keeping it in storage (which costs money), I decided to just get rid of everything. I sold it all and used the money to travel. After all, I’m not going to need my couch while eating pasta in Rome! Sites like Craigslist, Amazon, and Gumtree are excellent places to sell your unneeded consumer goods.

Skip the movies – I don’t know about you, but I find movies ridiculously expensive. It can cost up to $15 for a ticket, and that much again for the popcorn and soda. Cut out the movies or rent them online via Netflix ($7.99 per month) or iTunes ($1.99). Whatever you do, cutting out trips to the movies will save you a bundle.

Stop drinking – Alcohol is expensive. Cutting down the amount you drink is going to have a big impact on your budget. While this might not apply to everyone, those of you who are carefree might go out with your friends on the weekend. Drink before you go out to the bar or simply don’t drink at all. Cutting down the amount of alcohol you consume is considered low-hanging fruit – an easy way to save money.

Quit smoking – Smoking kills not only you, but also your wallet. A $10 pack per day amounts to $3,650 per year. Even half that amount would still yield enough money for close to two months in Central America. If you don’t want to stop smoking for your health, do it for your trip.

Stop snacking – A snack here and there not only adds calories to your waistline, but also empties your wallet – another example of phantom expenses. We don’t think much of them because they cost so little, but they add up over time and eat into our savings. Eat fuller meals during lunch and dinner and avoid the snacks.

Earn extra money on the side – The sharing economy has made it really easy to earn extra money on the side. You can rent your spare room out on Airbnb, drive with Lyft, cook dinner on EatWith, or lead personalized tours through Vayable. No matter what skill or unused asset you have, there is a moneymaking service for you. Use these websites to boost your trip savings and travel cheaper. Here is a full list of sharing economy websites you can use to earn some extra cash on the site.

Buy a metal water bottle – Plastic water bottles are not only harmful to the environment, they are also harmful to your wallet. One or two water bottles a day at $1 per bottle will add up to at least $30 a month. That’s $360 a year! You can spend a week in France with that much money! Instead of plastic, buy a metal water bottle and fill it with tap water.

Cutting your daily expenses, being more frugal, and downgrading to a simpler way of living will allow you to save money for your trip around the world without having to find extra sources of income. I know these tips work because I used them before my first round-the-world trip (and still use them to keep my living expenses low). These tips alone will help save you thousands of dollars that will suddenly make your dream trip seem less like a dream and more like a reality.

For more ways to savw money so you can travel more often and longer, read these articles next:

  1. Thanks for the great tips. I too moved home before I went overseas and while it’s not fun, I saved sooo much more money. Starbucks gets me everytime but thinking about two months in SE asia will definitely help me think twice!

  2. Tim

    Wow, those interest rates are low. I’m getting around 5-6% with my online savings account here in Australia.

    • NomadicMatt

      Interest rates are so much better down under. I wish I could open a bank account there for that reason alone.

    • Wow! Wish we could get 5-6%! Its almost pointless trying to save in the US.

      I guess with low interest rates, the best thing to get into is real estate, so my wife and I have been cutting expenses to save more, just so we can invest into a house. 4% 30yr mortgage is pretty sweet!

      Great list of ways to cut expenses! We are selling our second car and down sizing our life just so we can invest more for our future!

  3. Julia

    About 8 months ago I decided to change the way I was with my money. I am a college student who has a scholarship, but I still spent aprox 800 a month, and most was unnecessary. I was able to cut down my expenses to 1/4 of that per month. Now I nearly have 4k saved, and what has kept me going in spending so little money is because when I graduate I want to go live in Thailand for a few years. Any time I am tempted to spend money I just think, “what can you do with that in Thailand?”I am so glad I got this figured out now!
    Thanks for sharing, I love the advice and your blog!

    • NomadicMatt

      After awhile, every time you go to the store, you automatically think “With that amount of money, I can spend X days in X country!”

  4. Glad to see I practise most of those! For me the biggest headache was my car. I was in a minor accident 1 year ago but it was a blessing because I realized I didn’t need it. I don’t plan on getting another car, I’m saving so much money especially by not paying for gas, but MOST of all I feel so much more free! Less is more, and without the materialism or excess “stuff” you “think ” in our lives you realize you’re much more happier/fullfilled/peaceful. I walk more, bike more, and living a life of minimalism now.

  5. Fantastic! Some of these methods I’ve already utilized but there are still a handful that you have listed on here that I need to start putting into practice. As far as getting from place to place I also do a lot of hitchhiking…I know it’s a little sketchy at times in our society but usually a hippy will pick up another hippy… 😉

  6. Amber

    Well said Matt! Couldn’t agree more. That’s exactly how I saved, plus I picked up odd jobs during the holidays, like dealing Black Jack at private parties.

    Living the dream now! In Amsterdam, on my way to Germany next week!

    Thanks so much for all your incredible advice, it is really paying off.


  7. Fabulous list!

    Another thing to add: if you live in a big city and only need a car occasionally, there is the option of joining a carshare program, which allows you to rent cars for a few hours, pick them up in strategic locations around your city, etc.

    Another option, if you do have a nice car that you love and want to come home to it, is to get a friend (or stranger if you dare) to lease it from you. You can have them cover insurance and probably your car payment and still come in lower than most lease prices (plus, they get the bonus of not having to sign a multi-year contract!).

    And, finally, Skype now offers online numbers for something super low like $5 a month. You can have a real local phone number that your friends and family can reach you on even while you are traveling. And incoming calls only cost you your subscription fee and only cost your callers the same as a local call in the states. Most cell companies will let you put your cell service on hold (no reason to pay for the cell while you’re gone) and then you’re only paying for your skype number!

  8. I’ve implemented a lot of these already, but there is one I disagree with. I had my Blackberry stolen a few months back, and downgraded my phone plan whilst using an old cellphone because I can’t afford a new Blackberry. However, I’m now paying MORE than with the Blackberry plan because I’ve lost those handy free messages with Blackberry Messenger and WhatsApp! I also tried out a mobile internet connection (a USB connection) so I could lose the landline, and that proved too unreliable, although it was great to have connections in different places I went during a normal day! I guess these things vary in different countries, but this is true for Spain, and, I believe, UK.

  9. Lots of good tips here. I moved back in with my parents before buying my condo and never would have been able to save up a down payment without doing so, or save up money for traveling.

    I think what’s even better than just tracking all your set and discretionary spending is comparing it to how much you make per month. Look at that as a positive number, then subtract all your expenses. Everyone I know who’s done this ends up amazed at how much money they “should” have left over, but don’t. “Phantom money” indeed – it just disappears into the ether!

  10. All good tips. I would be careful with the daily deal coupons though. Those things can be addicting and you may not end up using all the special offers you buy that were supposed to ‘save’ you money.

  11. For all those who love REI (Matt included), you can attend their monthly used gear sale. You need to be a member (pay a $20 one time fee) to attend these sales. Don’t let the “used” part discourage you from going. They sell stuff that people return because it doesn’t fit, don’t want anymore or have never used. What I am trying to say is that most of the stuff is in pretty good condition or like new. This can save you tons of money if you are buying gear for an upcoming trip. I bought a pair of Tevas for $20 and a carry on suitcase/backpack for $25.

  12. Youri

    Currently living in Mexico for under 1400 dollars per month including a private apartment in an upscale neighbourhood. The only thing I can’t get rid of are ATM fees, there’s no Schwab here or back home.

  13. I can happily say that you just described my lifestyle. As for the selling old stuff. I love getting rid of unwanted stuff in my house. This year alone I have made about 5,000 on items stored in my basement. This weekend I went to work and painted an old dollhouse I have, I will be putting it up on ebay for 1,000. To me its just stuff, it takes up space when I am traveling, and memories are priceless. You did a great job covering every way to save money, take it from a penny pincher!

  14. Hugues

    A great way to lower your interests: Transfer your credit card balance to a lower credit card. Sometimes you receive offers like 0% interest for X months (rare) or 1.9% for X months for a transfer balance, think about it, they just want to make money if you miss a payment there, read on…

    I did it last year I was getting a 0% interest for almost a year, transfer my 3000$ balance there, at the end of the year, my balance was 0$.

    The transfer cost me 30$, I paid only 30$ over a 3000$ dept for a year :-)

    Again, Be WISE:

    1) NEVER USE this credit card, it’s kind of a loan at low %, if you buy stuff with it, you will pay a hefty 19.9% interest rate on you purchace, not 0% or 1.9% :-(

    2) The three never, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, be late in your payments, one miss and your back a 19,9% for your loan :-(

    3) Forget this credit card, never use it, put it in a drawer and pay online with a number you saved on your bank account.

    4) Try not to load your other credit card again, that’s not a wise thing to do, phone them and ask for a better interest rate, from an 18.9% I got a 9.9% interest, you can do it now since it’s empty, if they refuse, tell them you will stop using it, they will think about it. Phone then again the next week… another credit card operator could be be more friendly 😉

  15. Claire

    Very helpful and motivating! 6 months to Thailand and Oz

    I’m already doing most of these tips which is definately working.

    The starbucks one is definately true!! 😀

  16. Jenn

    Enjoyed your article. However i do want to say that my household bought into the Fluorescent bulb trend. But with a little bit of research you will find out just how “Dirty” these bulbs are. The overall energy cost is not worth the savings. So many people are unaware of the dangerous mercury in these bulbs and have no idea that they should be properly disposed of.

  17. For UK readers, the Halifax clarity credit card is the best option for free withdrawals abroad.

    also another cost cutting method is to avoid buying news papers and read online or pick up free ones instead. just like the coffee it adds up over time.

    great read, i never though about using craiglist for furnature, was going to use ebay but the items are too big for postage, cheers mate!

    • Steve I.

      If you don’t mind reading the news a few hours, or at worst 1/2 day late, they can be had for free on bus, train & subway seats in most major cities. I used to commute by LIRR & subway, but a little later than the hordes. There were always papers lying around…

  18. All solid tips. It’s just amazing how many Americans tend to squander money, figuring that it’ll be constantly coming in. So true about giving up the car, huge money is saved there.
    On top of Charles Schwab there’s also TD Bank which has branches from Maine to Florida along the entire east coast. As long as you maintain a balance of $2,500, they reimburse any ATM fees. Avoiding these painful fees can save ridiculous amounts of dollars over time.

  19. Great post Matt! We already do a lot of these things but you mentioned a lot of new ones we hadn’t thought of yet!

    Totally agree about the cinema tickets and alcohol! That alone could save most people hundreds!

  20. Irvin Middleton

    Very useful tips. I substantially cut my spending in a very surprising way earlier this year when I left my corporate job to work at home. The job came with a company car and I didn’t want to spend the money to buy a car until my earnings stabilized. I still can’t believe how much less I spend a month on groceries because I plan my meals and actually “cook” (as opposed to rush, rush/fast food/toss a lot of leftovers) and as a bonus I feel better!

  21. Objection, my good sir!

    “Sign up for travel newsletters” – no, this is the last thing you should do. You will only get tempted to spend the money you just saved on things you didnt know they’d exists before you signed up for the newsletter. Newsletters are just another advertising channel, and the last thing you need to save money.

    Fear not, because there will always be another “AMAZING DEAL!!!” with “60% off!!” when you are ready to start your trip. Plus, with all the different sites comparing prices from different airlines and hotels will always find a better offer somewhere else.

  22. Thank you for these tips. People don’t realize just how much they hide behind their money excuse! It’s only a valid excuse for a handful of people – most of them are just afraid to take the plunge.

  23. Lyndyloo

    I did most of these things before I left on my world trip in 2010. I sold hand made things that i’d made on Etsy.com too. I sold my books at second hand book stores and only had a few bits left by the last yard sale. I saved enough to take off, and I’ve been working my way around our beautiful planet for 500 days now. The only thing I would add is about is the smart phone. It may save you money while preparing for your trip, but get one to take with you. I have a second-hand “unlocked” iPhone 3G and it has been priceless in my travels. I am currently in Fiji and it costs only $11 fijian a month Fiji Vodaphone ($5 US) for me to have Internet whenever I need it (even on a yacht at sea). It was only $30 a month for 450mb and free text in Australia (vodafone $30cap) I use it to stay in touch with family and friends at home and people I meet along the way, I can Skype whenever I want to see someone. I use the maps and Trip Advisor all the time for address, phone numbers, reviews, etc. I had set up all my online banking before I left as well as PayPal online. While I’ve been away there’s been many times I’ve had to send money to friends (without huge wire fees) and all my bank transfers can be done without worry of using shared computers in cafe’s. It’s also been great to have a couple hundred key photos of me and my life to show new people in other countries, it’s like having a huge photo album to share. The music on the iPod has come in handy, especially in noisy hostels at night, or on long train/bus trips. The currency converter “Oanda” is kept very busy along with the world clock, I don’t call people in UK at 3am by mistake anymore. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not online all the time or being distracted by the technology, but rather it is helping me a great deal. I am single female traveller on a quest to travel and see as much as possible.
    Thanks for all your great posts.

  24. Having a landline phone can and does save lives and property. Pick up your phone, dial 911, and without saying a word help will be sent. Is it worth it to save a few bucks?

  25. One more suggestion – an excellent book called Your Money or Your Life outlines steps for reaching financial independence. It really helped me make decisions that allow me to live life of overseas travel.

  26. Wow, awesome tips/info. So glad I found your blog. I’ll be looking into higher interest savings accounts before leaving for Australia. Thank you!

  27. Caroline

    For Australians, check out the 28 Degrees Mastercard by GE. I just got one for my upcoming travels.

    You get free cash withdrawals at overseas ATMs (the ATM itself can charge you but that would happen with any card), and there are no currency conversion fees for purchases or cash.

    The interest rate is high (around 20%) but if you load up the card with some cash, you can avoid fees. Even if you don’t, paying a couple of days after the transaction is still far cheaper than a normal bank’s credit cards – CBA for example charges me $5 plus 3% of the transaction for overseas withdrawals.

  28. Surminga

    Whilst learning to cook saves you money, I think you also need to learn how to shop – no point buying branded label foods as well as buying multi buys

    • Steve I.

      While growing one’s own food is not time/cost-effective for most people, growing your favorite seasonings is cheap an easy. Have you priced basil or other herbs & spices lately? We’re not talking 1$/lb potato prices. All it takes is a window, a few pots and good (but inexpensive) soil like Pro Mix, fertilized with Fish Emulsion and a couple minutes a day. (avoid Hyponex ‘potting soil’ and Miracle-Gro like the plague)
      Garlic needs almost no maintenance in most backyard soil, and if you cook with it a lot, can save quite a bit over a year.
      If you eat meat, hunting can be cheaper, and is much healthier than the factory-farmed processed meat-food-product in the supermarket. No steroids or antibiotics in it either.

  29. Rehan

    i think these travel money cards are a nice way to stay within your budget and great way to avoid all the branded label stuff.

    You can go for local things and save $$ and be on your target and also enjoy all lots of new food, drink, item which is a main point in travelling also :)

  30. travelforever

    All really useful tips, many thanks for posting Matt.

    I’m glad to realise I do almost all of these already (or have done in the case of selling my car and moving closer to work so I can walk and don’t pay from transport).
    I just need to get stricter about making instead of buying lunches and going to the cinema less. I love seeing movies but at 10GBP a go they add up quickly, especially in Jan/Feb Oscar season and the Summer. That said I have an Odeon (UK Cinema chain) loyalty card which means that for every 8 films I see I get a free ticket. Not amazing but it does make a difference if you’re a film addict like me :)

    I can’t wait to get going next year, hurry up Sept 2013!!

  31. Skip the movies, alcohol, and smoking. This is so true. Some people don’t realize it, but those little spendings accumulated in, say, 6 months could already buy you a plane ticket.

  32. Sally Stretton

    Hey Matt,

    I think these are great ideas! Another way you can save up money is by deciding to save all your $5 bills. Everytime you get change back from the store, restaurant, etc..save all your $5 bills and you will be very surprised how quickly they can add up. I saved up $65 in one week without knowing it!


  33. Andrew

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for that, and really cool insights. I have always wanted to travel but was not able to save a penny till for that. Now I guess I have the right guide and the right motivation to do it. I have a small doubt though, for a first time traveler where do you suggest first overseas trips should be? and what would be the budget like? (sorry I’m new to the blog so excuse me if this question has been answered and also published before)

  34. Steve I.

    If you buy by the bottle rather than at the bar it saves a lot. Also, if you get friendly with your local liquor store manager or owner, they can often hook you up with similar wines that cost a little less. I’ve gotten great deals on amazing wines (well, better than my staples at least) that I never would have thought of, just because the store owner needed the shelf space more than he needed his standard margin. Inventory turnover is what keeps retail businesses profitable, not stuff that sits on a shelf for years.
    Ask the proprietor about that dusty old chardonnay on the back shelf. You never know….

  35. Steve I.

    Also consider bicycle touring. Besides saving on local transport expense, you will find that people are very open to those traveling under their own power. It’s very common to barter some morning chores in exchange for being permitted to sleep on someone’s land and a good hearty breakfast…

  36. Music Girl

    I like a commenter’s suggestion of bicycle touring. That cuts down on a traveler’s carbon footprint a little, and I have another idea, too that is related to reducing a carbon footprint: stop eating meat. Meat is expensive and giving it up not only cuts down on your spending significantly, it also gets you in better health – so you’ll feel like a million bucks yourself when you finally get out and hit the traveling road.

  37. I agree that cutting a car will save a lot of costs.

    Here are a few other things that will save you BIG MONEY that you didnt mention.

    1. Dump your girlfriend.

    2. Forget dating altogether (or just be very selective) . The negative: your right fist might soon have the strength to crash walnuts.

    3. Cancel ALL insurance plans. I mean everything, why not? I live without insurance and look at me, Im in a shack down by the river!

    saludos, Dom in Ecuador

  38. Valerie

    Great article Matt! I already do the majority of these things, since I am trying to get out there on my own again. Thanks for the tips about sites to sell items (other than e-bay and I’ve never been a fan of Craigslit, but I see it there) since I’ve been thinking of selling a bunch of things I don’t need (I actually just donated books and albums to the library instead of selling them). Are there any credit/travel cards you would recommend for traveling, etc for people with low income/little credit. My Credit Score is good but a lot of places won’t allow me to get a card because of my lack of open accounts (what can I say, I like using cash). Thanks! I’ve bookmarked the article itself and you site.

  39. A few things I’ve learned…. While I travel, I hang on to a pay as you go T-mobile plan for my iPhone, which costs nothing when I’m not using it, and very little when I’m in the US. I mean comparatively. And the cell phone plan I have in France for my iPhone (where I am long-term right now) is less than 40€ a month. With an iPhone, you can swap out your SIM card wherever you go, if you can find a pay as you go service. It’s good. :-)

    If you still want to go to movies, see if there’s a monthly movie pass you can sign up for. I do that in France, and although there are some months I don’t make it worth the 20€, other months I do, and it’s good to know I can watch as many movies as I want, in the theatre with my friends (or without them). Soon I’m going to try going to the French ones and see if I can follow along…. I mean, it’s practically free. :-)

  40. Nice list Matt!

    And @Gigi has a phenomenal suggestion as well.

    USE skype to get a local number if you’re going to stay in any one place for an extended period of time. $5 a month is ridiculously cheap for a local number anywhere. Especially if you’re traveling in a country with more expensive cell phone plans. Most prepaid options I’ve tried when abroad have come out to around $50/month when making somewhat regular local calls.

    Remember its not just about saving to travel, but saving as you travel as well!

  41. My girlfriend and I just went through two years of brutal saving, but we’re finally on the road now, and we’re loving it!

    Some additional things we did:
    – We live in the Netherlands, where squatting is still a thing. There are anti-squatting rental businesses that rent out houses just so they won’t be squatted. It’s usually old buildings, but for a third of the price of a normal rental, well worth it!

    – Whenever someone wanted to go out to dinner with us, we invited them over out our place instead. I’m a decent cook, so I would just tell them to bring a bottle of wine, and I’d cook a nice meal for them. Way cheaper and cozy too! Also, convenience :)

    – Stop shopping for clothes. Rediscover your wardrobe.

    – Change your mindset: every time you want to buy something, think ‘what could I buy in Thailand/Brazil/Nigeria for this amount instead’. This really helps stop you spending and work towards your goal.

    Great piece!


  42. Katie

    Hi Matt! Thanks for the tips. I’m already a frugal spender, and am practicing some of these things already. I have a regular job, but a teacher’s salary isn’t much (as you well know). :-) But I don’t let that deter me from traveling. Having a Filipino passport is a bit of a challenge, as there are visa issues, but there are many SEA countries where I can travel without a visa, and those are in my bucket list. Some of my colleagues are amazed that I can travel almost every break (Christmas break or summer break), and I tell them that traveling is not that expensive, as there are promo flights and cheap hostels. I also tell them that if they want to travel, then they must cut back on their expenses to be able to have a travel fund. But as I see it, some of them aren’t able to cut back on their Starbucks, movies, eating out or bubble milk tea. (Bubble milk tea is the rage here, have you tried it?) Oh well… :-) I’m now reading your blog almost everyday. I chanced by it when I was researching for my trip to Macau & HK last Christmas break. Now I’m planning for a Borneo trip during my summer break. Continue writing, continue inspiring people. Cheers, or as we say here, Mabuhay! 😉

  43. Lucy

    Thanks for your great tips. I wanna travel right now, but I must graduate from college first. A college kid is bound by a fixed timetable.

  44. Aurora

    Useful tips! All your blog posts are really interesting and helping me to plan my 1st trip abroad on my own! Thank you :)

  45. Yes interest rates in Australia is so much better for online savings account but we also pay way more interests on loans. If you compare car, home, personal, credit cards interest, we are paying a lot more. Luckily I have no loans.

  46. Roxanne

    Matt I weigh everything in ‘travel’ dollars. For example it cost $135 a month to park where I work – I always tell people that is a round trip ticket to Europe :~). I leave at the end of May for 14 months of travel and I am budgeting $14,000. I will be at the travel show in Calgary on April 30th – looking forward to hearing you speak.

  47. Zalina

    Great post Matt! I’ve been practising some of the things you mentioned for years cos I simply love to travel!! Just got back from London and Paris 3 weeks ago and am now planning my next trips in Sept and Nov. :)

  48. Debbie

    Thanks Matt. Great reminders for some great points. I have travelled for many, many years (even lived in France for a year on sabattical) and have followed many of your tips for many years and they really do work. It’s all about prioritizing. Now with a new business and 2 teenagers, travelling is only a dream but I need to find a way. It is driving me crazy!

    Just wanted to add 2 tips: 1) Sign-up at your local library to minimize entertainment costs. Most libraries have books (duh!), recent magazines and movies to rent for FREE. Has saved my family zillions I tell you. 2) Travel point credit cards are not what they used to be. Between increasing fees and restricted access to flights, my experience in the last 2-3 years was that we could not get the flights we wanted. We moved to a good cash-back card with low fees and saved the cash-back for travel. Then I can use the cash-back for any travel deal, not just flights.

    I am looking forward to following your blog. Great work!!

  49. Chris


    Live by most of your tips, but the credit card one is new to me. I’m an Aussie and can’t seem to find a card that gives me air miles. :-( Any tips?

    I’m about to travel europe for 4months (14 countries) then Morocco, thailand and back to Oz.

    Would appreciate more info on travel credit card / travel card tips if possible.

  50. Kaye

    Fifty dollars for cable? Mine was ONE-fifty (internet, phone, TV) and then after a year it went up to $185!! And they would not deal down with me on that price.

    So I bought an AppleTV and now pay 40 for the hi-speed internet only plus Netflix and Hulu. Not free, but a lot more fun and a lot less painful every month. And I watch lots more movies and other more “quality” stuff than mindless surfing of dumb shows.

  51. Danamarie

    Thanks for the tips. I am planning a trip to Italy in October. A culinary adventure. I must save now!

  52. Excellent tips! I already do many of these things, but this was a good reminder to finally open a Charles Schwab account. Lately, I’ve been reading your blog and find your writing refreshing and thorough- you may just be giving me the push I need to get out of Alaska and go see some more cool places. :)

  53. Awesome tips….I’ll follow the tips while traveling next. One more tip I would like to share with all from my side. Traveling without roaming charges is a great option isn’t it? last when I traveled to UK, prior to my trip to UK I ordered local sim cards and enjoyed local calls, calls to my home country. My friend suggested me a site PrePayMania who are offering UK SIM Card for Tourists for FREE just they charge 1 pound for delivering it to your home(which could be anywhere in world). Its truly a cheap option for us as a traveler.

  54. Yves

    Matt has great tips on saving money. I have been without a car for almost a year and I do not miss it at all even though I live in a suburb where bus service is not great on weekends. I just jump on my bike or walk to the grocery store or whatever. Every time I say to myself I just saved $6 in bus fare and I am contributing to a good lifestyle of exercise. I should note that I am 60 and retired with no dependents so it makes things easy. I also gave up cable two years ago. I also have no subscription to a cell phone and instead of Starbucks I splurge with a senior’s coffee at McDonalds. I have always been somewhat frugal but now I actually enjoy it as a challenge that allows me funds to travel several times a year.

  55. Great advice…I need to work on cutting more of my “phantom expenses”. Although, I have cut a huge cost by not having a car , ummm there’s not one place in Orlando that is worth having a car and sacrificing to see the world, not even Disney. But I still tend to spend the five and ten dollars here and there. So this is going to be my focus for this day on curb the miscellaneous purchases, stop impulse shopping, and cook more often at home. Oh yeah I try everyday to curb this Att phone bill and wireless surface, your right it’s a hard one…I find AT&T to be overpriced and having an iphone surely doesn’t help.

  56. Savannah T

    Im so glad I found this website!!!!
    Firstly traveling RTW has been a growing itch for about a year now.
    I currently live in rural Melbourne Vic and have been going throughy expenses to see wwhat I can cut and minamilize everything I do have debt in relation to my car im planning to sell my large car and buy a cheap run around therefore squaring my debt and allowing me to save for my trip!! Woohoo!
    Next thing I do have a credit card should I hold onto it and use it for overseas or pay it down and get rid of it???

    Im so excited I have never left Australia and will be turning 21 in a few weeks planni Nguyen to be able to go beginning of 2015 :)

  57. Some good pieces of advice, although you can’t become total cheap person. The number one useless cost is cigarettes, ditch it! I would suggest to start saving some money as early as possible (remember time is your worst enemy), and investing it long term in good company stocks, which give out a high dividend % yield.

  58. Great tips buddy,

    Charles Schwab has saved me so much money over the last year!

    When I was saving for my RTW I cut all the expenses I could. Little thing like movies added up.

  59. Great tips! Also, I think it helps a lot to get some books and become financially literate. I’ve read a lot of Robert Kiyosaki and authors like that, and it made a huge difference in how I handle my finances.

  60. I have already taken many of these steps to get to travelling more, but the ones that I haven’t done yet are ditching the car (which I am considering) and selling more of the stuff I don’t need. I don’t have a ton of stuff, but every penny counts. I could also eat out less.