How to Fund Your Travels: A Quirky List

Lexa Pennington's picture

Travel is important – and worth saving for! But if you’re sick of the lists telling you to make coffee at home (we do anyway), cook from scratch (we do that, too), and want a more creative approach to funding your travels, you’ve come to the right place. 

How to Fund Your Travels: A Quirky List

Scholarships and Grants

Of course I’d start with these! There is a plethora of scholarships and grants to fund your studying and research abroad. The State Department’s USA Study Abroad page has an excellent list. These include Gilman, Fulbright, Boren, FLAS, and more. IIE, as part of Generation Study Abroad, offers travel grants for students. And our favorite international education website, Transitions Abroad, has a great compilation of scholarships and ways to fund study abroad.


Maybe you want to work overseas – teaching English, becoming an au pair, or participating in work exchanges like Helpx, WWOOF, and Workaway. For the latter three, you work a few hours a day in exchange for room and board.

For other jobs, such as teaching, you may need qualifications (TESOL or ESL certificates), but you draw a salary – and can travel! For many educators, teaching abroad offers an unmatched opportunity to work and travel overseas – and get paid well for it.


Let’s say you don’t want to leave your job to travel, but are looking to fund shorter term travel. Many people apply for instant payday loans to fund weekend jaunts, travel for family emergencies, or even an elopement! 

Reward Points

Many banks offer credit cards that work with airlines and hotels for reward points. Buy your groceries and everyday items with your card, and rack up the points! You can fly for free or for a greatly reduced cost – and even get your hotel stays free. 

How to Fund Your Travels: A Quirky List


Look for the discounts when you’re booking travel! Travelzoo has an excellent discounts newsletter – and alerts. Use airbnb for less expensive accommodations, especially if you’re traveling with a group or family, or couchsurfing to stay for free while you travel.

Sign up for museum cards or city passes to reduce the costs of entry.

Find groupons for meals and activities at your destination.

Travel in the shoulder season for discounts on transportation and accommodations!

Make Extra Money

Have a garage sale – either at home, with your items, or via craigslist to sell items.

Search for items you can sell and open an etsy or ebay shop – this is especially good for vintage clothing – there’s always a market for this.

Use your skills to make money – whether it is design on fiverr or etsy, freelance work on work sites like fupwork, or creating art (jewelry, pottery, handmade items) to sell on etsy and at local markets, you can create products and earn a living this way.

Offer chore services in your neighborhood – help go grocery shopping, walk the dog, catsit, rake leaves and shovel snow, and even be on call for small help, like checking on an elderly neighbor. Everyone is so busy that it is hard to find help for these small chores – and people are definitely willing to pay.
How to Fund Your Travels: A Quirky List

Cutting Costs

There are definitely some quirky – and environmentally important – ways to save money by cutting costs at home. Sign up for the energy savings plan with your electric company: by running the dishwasher and doing your laundry at off-peak hours, you pay less. Use the microwave in the summertime, instead of the oven, so you don’t have to run your AC against it. Use fans instead of AC, and open your windows at night to cool your home down. Wash your clothes in cold water, and take shorter showers. You’re saving money and helping the planet!

Eat locally and seasonally when possible. 

Sign up for plans – perhaps for your prescriptions (you pay less when you order a 90 day supply by mail), or with a CSA (community supported agriculture) for your vegetables in summer.

Instead of buying books, use the library! It’s free and unlimited.

Instead of paying for a gym membership, use nature to your advantage. Run, walk, and play outdoors when possible. Many parks (including one by our house) have exercise stations with equipment and fitness challenges. Swim in a lake instead of a pool (obviously, not available in cold weather, even with a wetsuit!).

Cook at home, and prepare several meals at once. You’ll save money and time by planning ahead with your leftovers and packed lunches.

Drop your landline and use your cellphone - and skype, google hangouts, or facebook video for calls at home.

Instead of unlimited data for your cell phone, switch to a smaller data plan and use wifi whenever you can. Be sure to turn data off unless you need it. 

Switch from cable to Netflix, hulu, and amazon. Even with the monthly subscription costs, you’ll save money. 

What are your tried and true tips for funding your travels? 

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How to Fund Your Travels: A Quirky List