If travel was free, there'd be no stopping us. Unfortunately, it's not. Planning a trip usually means saving, saving, and more saving. But saving doesn't have to mean abstaining from the things we enjoy and stacking up every penny along the way. Here are some of the more creative ways you can scrape together some money for your next trip.
Use cash back websites
If you're somebody who enjoys spending online, cash back websites are the way forward. These give you a percentage of your spending back each time you make a purchase online; you can even use them on certain travel websites when booking your accommodation. Keep an eye on your spending and cash-back rewards, and you'll soon notice your savings mounting up, without having to kick that shopping habit completely.
Have a yard sale
Hoarder or not, there are probably things in your house which you no longer need. Sort through your cupboard, attic, basement, or wherever else you stash little-used belongings, and see what you can find. You can sell everything from clothes to electrical goods and sports gear either online or at a car boot sale; there are even apps for it these days. You'll be surprised how much money you can make off the things that are just lying around your home.
If you're in any way creative, there's money to be made. Knit baby clothes or paint portraits of peoples' pets; customize clothing or make cupcakes and jewelry. Handmade is fashionable, and people are more willing than ever to pay for something which isn't mass-produced. Set up an Etsy account or get a stall at a craft fair and put your talents to good use.
If you can't quite picture yourself cross-stitching greeting cards or crocheting baby hats, maybe you have a different type of talent. There are plenty of freelance websites where clients commission professionals for anything from editorial work to graphic design and animation. Setting aside a couple of hours before or after work or even on the weekend for freelance work is a sure-fire way to make a little extra money at home.
Change your exercise regime
Unless you're a full-blown gym addict who would not cope without daily visits to the gym, cutting your gym membership is an easy way to save a huge chunk of money each month. This doesn't have to mean forgoing your exercise regime completely, however. Use this as an opportunity to get out and about by looking for free walking/ jogging clubs, or dust off your old bicycle. And if you really do prefer exercising with a roof over your head, there are some surprisingly good workout and yoga tutorials available on Youtube for free.
Negotiate with your phone/ internet provider
Phone and internet tariffs are amongst the easiest things to knock down in price when you're looking to cut back your costs. The main goal of these companies is to keep your business, so if you call up and suggest you're taking it elsewhere due to high prices or poor value for money, they tend to come out with some pretty impressive deals. Some people make a habit of doing this every few months; it might only knock off a few dollars, but every little counts.
Get creative in the kitchen
Saving can be a great opportunity to cultivate your culinary skills. After all, if you compare the cost of a meal in a restaurant or even a takeaway to the price of cooking at home, the difference is significant. There are plenty of free recipes online and loads are delicious homemade alternatives to takeaway favorites. Bonus tip: plan your meals for the week ahead of time. This way, you only do one shop (avoiding picking up those tempting yet unnecessary extras on each visit) and you can stretch your ingredients further, using them in multiple dishes to avoid waste.
Take a look at your living situation
Rent or mortgage payments eat up a huge chunk of our money each month, and can leave little left for our savings pot. If you're renting, look at whether downgrading to a smaller or shared property could be an option. If you're a homeowner, how about taking on a tenant or renting out a room for travelers on sites like Airbnb? This is an easy way to meet cool people and rake in the pennies in preparation for your trip.
Freebies and vouchers
Many businesses use loyalty schemes, freebies and vouchers as a way of keeping the money rolling in, and it's easy enough to take advantage of this. Create an email address (to avoid flooding your personal one) and sign up to the mailing lists of retailers you like to shop with to keep up-to-date with special offers. Look out for free samples online and in stores, cut vouchers out of the newspaper. Just be careful this doesn't become counterproductive; if you're spending more just to get something for free, that's not conducive to your goal.
Try some fun saving challenges
There are plenty of these online and it's something you can do with your friends or colleagues to keep it interesting as well. These challenges can be anything from seeing who can boycott coffee shops the longest or cycling to work to save money on petrol and public transport. You can also work together by, for example, car sharing and splitting the cost of the commute.
One of the greatest things about being conscious about your impact on the environment is that it saving money is generally a natural bi-product of this. Turn out the lights when you're not using them, take shorter showers, and avoid appliances like the tumble dryer and dishwasher help to help save water and electricity. Handily, changes like this will also slash your utility bills, too.
Whatever it takes to rake in those savings for your next trip, it'll be worth it. After all, the experiences you'll have when traveling are priceless. And if you can have a little fun and develop some of your skills whilst saving, you've won on all fronts.