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15 Unnecessary Expenses to Cut so You Can Afford to Travel

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It’s a brand new year and I’m certain that most people have written “travel more” in their list of goals for this year. Let’s be real – making travel happen is easier said than done. Making excuses is always easier than putting in the effort. The most frustrating excuse I hear from people in regards to travel is, “I can’t afford to travel. Travel is too expensive.” I agree that travel can be expensive depending on when and where you go. However, how many expenses do you currently have that are totally unnecessary? That’s money that you can use for travel. My mission here is to help you figure out what useless expenses to cut so you finally see the Eiffel Tower or explore Petra as you’ve always wanted to.

Yes, there are certain expenses that are unavoidable such as rent or medical bills. However, you probably have several expenses per month that are completely pointless and are hindering you from accomplishing your travel ambitions. The bottom line is that travel requires money. If you actually want to prioritize travel, cutting certain expenses is an absolute must. Let’s make this happen for you! Here are 15 expenses you need to cut in order to achieve those travel goals. I’ve also provided a few alternatives for those expenses too.

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1. Coffee

We live in coffee culture. It’s basically a way of life. You’re not cool anymore if you don’t drink fancy iced lattes. It’s easy to walk into Starbucks and order a venti, triple-shot, non-fat, extra whipped cream, iced vanilla latte with five shots of vanilla and two shots of hazelnut. Before you know it, Starbucks just robbed you of at least $6 for a crap cup of coffee. I’m not going to apologize for thinking Starbucks is mediocre. Anyway, let’s say that you spend $6 per day on coffee. That’s around $180 per month and $2160 per year on coffee. That’s how much I spent on my apartment in Cape Town for ten weeks. I would much rather spend two months abroad than waste my money on “Starbs” as some of you like to call it.

Instead, buy a Nespresso machine and make your coffee at home. The pods are cheaper than coffee from a coffee shop and it’s delicious. Or, you can just quit drinking coffee. Just kidding – what a sad life that would be.

2. Nails

I’ll admit that I pretty much used to live at the nail salon before I started traveling. It’s nice to pamper yourselves and try out new designs. However, there’s no need to get your nails done every single month. Your nailbeds are going to be fine if you skip a month. Let’s say you spend an average of $60 a month on your getting your nails done. That’s $720 a year that you can put towards travel. $720 can go a long way in countries such as Vietnam or Mexico.

Rather, buy some nail polish and paint your nails yourself. If you have a nice boyfriend or husband, I’m sure they’ll help too.

3. Car Payments

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but no one cares that you drive a brand new Mercedes or Audi. Car payments are a waste of money. If you’re driving a bougie car, you’re probably also paying a premium for insurance. We paid cash for older and used cars and we don’t have payments. The purpose of a car is to get you from place to place. I would much rather driver a beater and be able to travel than try to impress people with a luxury car and be stuck at home.

Alternatively, consider buying a used car. When you’re 80, you’re not going to remember the fact that you paid $600 every month on a vehicle. You will remember that that cost prevented you from traveling.

4. Restaurants

Food is a necessity – duh. But, restaurants are getting pricier and pricier. Want some guacamole with your burrito bowl? Yeah, that’ll be $30. In all seriousness, eating out adds up. I’m not saying you should never eat out. Of course, it’s okay to enjoy a nice meal out with friends or family occasionally. Just don’t turn this into a frequent habit.

Instead of eating out five times a week, try only eating out two times a week. That alone will save you so much money. You can use the money you save from eating out to learn how to make pasta in Italy. You don’t have to be a chef to cook yourself delicious, homemade meals. There are tons of awesome recipes on Pinterest and YouTube for free. If you want to kick this up a notch, buy your groceries from a cheaper store like Aldi.

5. Cable

Some people still have cable and I just don’t understand that. Why are we spending $70 per month on cable when we can use Netflix or Hulu for cheaper instead? Better yet, watch YouTube videos for free or read a book.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: How to Save Money for Travel

6. Clothes

You don’t need to buy a whole new wardrobe every winter and spring. Learn to reinvent your wardrobe. Mix and match your clothes and shoes to create brand new outfits. Head over to Pinterest to find outfit inspiration if you’re struggling with this. I used to dress like a scrub. Before I started traveling full-time, I bought new clothes once every two or three years. It pained me to walk into a store and drop $200+ on new clothes when I already had a closet full of clothes back home.

If you have a shopping addiction, consider shopping at a thrift store instead. You can find some really great deals there. I bought a skirt a few weeks ago from Savers in Melbourne for $1. You can’t beat that. If you absolutely have to have a nice outfit for a dinner party or banquet, buy one from Ross or Kohl’s.

7. Gym Membership

Unless you’re truly going to the gym several times a week as you told yourself you would, there’s no point in wasting money on a monthly membership to workout. You can find heaps of workout videos on YouTube that you can do in the comfort of your home. Further, if you live in a place where the weather is good year-round, you can go running or walking outside.

8. Social Drinking

It’s tempting to buy drinks when you’re out and about with friends. Those beers and wine add up after a while though. Why pay $8 for a glass of wine at a restaurant when you can buy an entire bottle from a liquor store for the same price? This also goes for non-alcoholic beverages too such as soda. Instead, just stick to water and enjoy your beverages at home.

9. Upgrading Your Cell Phone

It’s definitely not crucial for you to always have the newest iPhone. iPhones are expensive. Apple makes it easy for you to fall into the trap of always upgrading your phone when a new version comes out with the iPhone Upgrade Program. Basically, you exchange your current iPhone for a newer version and make monthly payments instead of paying the full price upfront. They really sucker you in by not charging interest. Don’t fall for this. As long as your phone can make and receive calls and texts, you’re fine.

10. Movies

Movie theaters are money-sucking machines. I also feel like they’re getting more and more expensive. They charge around $15 per ticket and an extra $15 for snacks and drinks. Instead, watch movies on Netflix or Hulu and make yourself some popcorn at home.

11. Smoking

Smoking is going to kill you and your chances of traveling. If you spend $70 a week on a pack of cigarettes, that equates to around $3360 per year on ruining your organs and dreams. For real though – you’re not going anywhere if your health is bad. I don’t know about you, but there’s so much traveling I can do for that amount.

12. Hair and Makeup

Ladies, we don’t need to go to Sephora and Mac every single week and drop $100 on makeup. You don’t need that $70 eyeshadow palette. You also don’t need your hair colored every other month either. You’re beautiful the way you are. How much money could you save if you only bought new makeup or got your hair done every six months? I stopped getting my hair colored and that has saved me around $1000 a year. Plus, people say they love my natural, black hair. That’s a win-win for me.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: A Complete Guide to Creating a Travel Budget That Actually Works

13. Electricity

My electricity bill used to give me a rude awakening every single month. Electricity can be pricey and that bill can add up before you know it. Be smart when it comes to using electricity. For example, turn the A/C or heater off when you leave for work. If you’re home and the weather is good, open up a few windows instead. Also, make sure you turn all your lights off before you leave. Moreover, take advantage of that natural sunlight. Pro tip: contact your electricity company and ask when the peak hours are. That’s when electricity will be the most expensive. Try to conserve your electricity during these hours to avoid getting a massive bill at the end of the month.

14. Name Brand

When shopping, buy generic instead of name brand. How many of us are guilty of spending $7 on a bottle of Japanese Cherry Blossom hand soap from Bath and Body Works? That used to be me. I look back at that old Disha and I want to gently slap her for making such dumb decisions. Seriously though – why are we spending $7 on hand wash when we can get that for $1 per bottle at Walmart with their generic brand? That’s an easy savings of $6. Our mind tricks us into thinking that name brand is better than generic. It definitely adds up every single time you choose name brand over generic. Let me tell you a secret – there’s no difference between the two. Don’t be seduced by the pretty labeling and packaging. It’s not worth it.

15. Eating out for Lunch at Work

Yes, it’s going to require a few minutes of your time every evening to pack your lunch for the next day. But, eating out for lunch at work every day adds up. I used to work at a company where they had different food vendors come in every day. The temptation was so real. I used to spend $8 every Wednesday for Chinese food and another $8 every Friday for Qdoba. That’s $64 a month and $768 a year. I cut back to eating out only once per week. That saved me $384 per year. You’re going to survive without eating out with your coworkers every day. Set aside a few hours on Sunday evening to prepare your lunches for the week.

There you have it – fifteen easy ways to cut out unnecessary expenses so you have more money for travel. If you want to live a life that’s filled with adventure and travel, you will have to make some sacrifices. You’ll have to be more frugal and cut out unneeded expenses like the ones I mentioned above. These sacrifices are 100% worth it. Remember – I’m not asking you to cut all of these expenses out completely. Just start making small steps to eliminate these expenses whenever you can. Challenge yourself and push yourself harder to turn those travel dreams into a reality. These tips work as long as you implement them. They can save you thousands of dollars that you can use on creating lifelong memories. I know you can do it!

Resources for Your Next Trip:

Flights: I use and Skyscanner. These are the go-to search engines that help me find cheap flights all around the world and they will help you find flights to wherever you want to go.

Accommodation: If you want to stay at a hotel, use I use it all the time because it provides the cheapest rates for hotels. Don’t forget to join their rewards program. Every tenth night is free!

Travel Insurance: You never know when accidents can happen. Don’t forget to protect yourself against flight cancellations, unexpected illnesses, theft and more. RoamRight has great customer service and benefits.

Tours: I’m mostly a DIY (do it yourself) traveler, but I don’t hate on people who do tours. You can use Viator and take a fun tour wherever you’ve decided to go.

Do you have anything else to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

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Thursday 20th of August 2020

You forgot one other way of saving money. I use digital and paper coupons when I grocery shop. And when there is a good sale on non-perishable items I stock up and it is a double savings if I happen to have coupons. Also I have a deep freezer so I can take advantage of sales on meat. At our grocery store you accumulate points and use them for cents off on gas. Also I have a charge card that pays cash back so I charge just about everything to take advantage of it. I use my credit card (cash back) to buy gift cards at the grocery store (points for gas) for other purchases. Also my husband is a Veteran and several stores give discounts to Veterans. If you really think about it you can find all kinds of ways to save.

Disha Smith

Saturday 22nd of August 2020

Thanks so much for that suggestion, Kathy! Coupons are great! Thank you! :)


Sunday 2nd of August 2020

Good information, it’s funny, if you factor in the pandemic with your post, there are several things people have had to cut out, so they are totally saving a lot. Just means when we are able to travel again, people will hopefully have saved a lot for a good trip.

Heather Anne

Monday 27th of July 2020

I'm a digital nomad with another tip! Visit cheap places where the cost of living is low, and stay longer term! It can be cheaper to "live" abroad than to cope with skyrocketing costs in the US, Canada, and Europe. Of course you need to be able to work remotely to pull it off, but these days with everything going on that's getting more mainstream!


Thursday 16th of July 2020

Loved your tips thank you for this article! Especially for the coffee, it adds up so quickly... Living in Greece, it’s a ritual here to take away 1, 2, maybe 3 coffees a day! At least the prices are less expensive but it still makes a hole in your wallet... without talking about the environmental impact! No to excessive coffee takeaway :)

Disha Smith

Tuesday 11th of August 2020

Thanks so much for reading, Sophie! :)


Friday 3rd of July 2020

Such useful tips! My husband and I stopped going out for coffee since it adds up so quick!