15 Frugal Things to Do When You Get Bit By the Travel Bug

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Next time you get bit by the travel bug, try one of these 15 frugal ideas! You’ll learn how to fill up your travel fund as soon as possible, and find clever ways to create travel-like experiences right at home.

This post is sponsored by Discover, however, all opinions and desire to travel abroad are 100% mine.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Have you been bitten by the travel bug? These 15 frugal ideas help you dream, plan, and fill up your travel fund as soon as possible. You'll also find clever ways to create travel-like experiences right at home! #frugaltraveling #travelbug #wanderlust #traveling #creativewaystotravel #frugalliving

Every few months I get this crazy urge to travel.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m most definitely a homebody who loves her yoga pants and Netflix. But I LOVE exploring new places too. My travel bucket list is at least a mile long, and I live vicariously through my friends’ Instagram photos until it’s my turn to take a trip!

But much like everything else, travel takes money. You can certainly find all sorts of ways to do it for cheap (I share my own secrets on how to do this here!), but when the Travel Fund is depleted, you can feel kind of…..stuck.

Don’t get discouraged though. There are plenty of fun things to do while you’re waiting. I’ve split them up into three stages—Dreaming and Planning, Filling Your Travel Fund, and Creating Experiences at Home—so the next time you get bit by the travel bug, you have all sorts of clever ideas to keep you busy!

Dreaming and Planning:

I once heard that the anticipation of a trip is often more exciting than a trip itself….and I totally believe it! While traveling and seeing new sights isn’t disappointing at all, there’s something to be said about creating and dreaming about your own travel-themed bucket list.

1. Make a List of Places You Want to Go

If you’re a travel junkie, you probably have a few places you’d like to go already. Make an official list and make it fun! I simply love the way Christina turned her love for traveling into a Travel Planning Map, and I can’t wait to do this myself. First on my list? Europe AND Australia!


2. Start a Travel Fund

If you don’t have a Travel Fund, it’s time to create one. This can be a completely separate savings account so you’re not tempted to touch it, OR, just section off a portion of your current savings account like I talk about in my post on creating your own money management system. Right now I’m experimenting with RIZE savings {an automatic app} to fund my account without even thinking about it.

Related: How to Reach Your Savings Goals in Your Sleep {My Full Rize Review}

3. Research Lodging

Some of the best parts about travel are the places you stay. While I have a few favorite chain hotels, I also like B&B’s and historical inns located off the beaten path. All-inclusive resorts are fun and luxurious too. Have fun browsing and dreaming about what it would be like to stay at a specific place, then make a list of your favorite possibilities.

4. Write Down Everything You Want to Do

When you have a place or country in mind to visit, start researching everything there is to sightsee. Are you more of a museum girl? The outdoorsy type? A history buff? Again, make a list of things to do that you would enjoy, and how much it costs. Then use this information to determine a more specific goal for your Travel Fund!

5. Keep it Visible

Whether it’s a country, a grand hotel, or an activity you can’t stop thinking about, find a gorgeous-looking photo and keep it nearby. Hang it on the fridge or switch up your phone background to remind you of your future plans.

6. Update your packing list

Filling the Travel Fund:

After the dreaming and planning stage, it’s time to find practical ways to fill that Travel Fund even faster. Planning is fun, but actually doing it is our goal! Here’s how to make that happen:

6. Use a Travel Credit Card

With a travel-themed credit card, you can easily shop for everyday essentials and start saving for your next vacation. The Discover it® Miles card lets you apply your Miles to a variety of travel purchases on your statement, including airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents and more! Also, new Discover it Miles cardmembers will have their Miles matched after the first year. This makes everyday spending go even further when planning your vacation.

Travel Credit Card

If you’ve been following me for a while now, then you already know I can’t mention a credit card without advising you to pay them off, in full, every month. You still gotta be smart!

7. Sell Your Stuff

How many things do you really use on a daily basis? I know I have a few things stashed in closet or thrown into the garage that should be listed on Craigslist or at least a Facebook Yard Sale Group. Challenge yourself {and your kiddos} to sort through your things and purge what you don’t use. Then put that money towards your travel fund!

8. Save Your Loose Change

You might be surprised at how much loose change adds up. When you pay with cash, start using bills exclusively, then keep the change in a digital coin bank. I like to stash mine in the laundry room to collect the loose change I find in Joseph’s pockets!

9. Pick One Expense to Reduce

I bet there’s a few expenses you can reduce from your budget, but for now, pick just one to focus on and put the money you save towards that Travel Fund. A few easy wins are Cable, Phone, and Eating Out expenses, but there’s plenty to choose from in my recently released book, 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses. It’s a #1 bestseller in the Budgeting and Money Management category on Amazon!


Creating Experiences at Home:

You might not be able to hop on a plane or take a cross-country road trip right away, but there’s still plenty of things you can do at home. These ideas help sooth those travel itches while you’re waiting!

10. Try a Different Cuisine

I’m just as guilty as the next person when it comes to falling into food-related ruts, which is why I’m super intrigued by Try the World subscription boxes. Basically you get a box of specialty foods from a specific country every month. It’s a teensy bit on the expensive side, which is why I hesitate to list it, but could be a fun treat to do every once in a while and is much cheaper than a plane ticket!

11. Make a Special Treat

Along the same lines, it’s fun to create a country-inspired treat at home to enjoy. Foods like Dutch Babies, Churros, and Gelato are all different from the normal every day fare, and could be fun to even turn into a project with your kids. Keep a notebook of your favorite recipes and which country they originate from as a reminder.

12. Tour Your Town

I have a distinct advantage of living near a touristy area of South Florida, but even I get into the rut of ignoring all the possibilities that are literally just a few miles away. Pretend you’re an out-of-town traveler and plan a few activities that you wouldn’t normally do. You might be surprised at what’s available!


13. Schedule a Day Trip

Likewise, carve out a Saturday to explore an attraction that’s only a few hours away. You never know what gem you’ll find in a big city, small town, or a park across the state. Many places are rich with history just waiting to be discovered.

14. Read a Travel-Themed Book

When you can't go on a trip yourself, sometimes the next best thing is to live through a story of someone who already has. These titles are recommended by Creative Savings readers and help calm those travel cravings when you can't afford a trip right now!

When you can’t go on a trip yourself, sometimes the next best thing is to live through a story of someone who already has. These titles are recommended by Creative Savings readers and help calm those travel cravings when you can’t afford a trip right now!

15. Reminisce an Old Trip

How many of us are guilty of taking a ton of pictures on vacation, then letting them sit on our cameras, phones, or computers, where they stay for years? Use this time to get these photos off your devices and into a printed book! BONUS: You’ll remember all the good times you’ve already had.

One Last Thing:

When your heart aches for another adventure, remember this….

Travel is amazing, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a brand new corner of the world. But sometimes this ache happens because we’re bored with our everyday schedules and routines. It’s a good reminder to take a break, cut down on the busy, and give yourself the rest and relaxation you need….no matter where you are!

What’s One Place You Would Love to Visit?


Discover stands by their mission to help consumers spend smart and save more, by providing the best products and programs for their money. In addition to branded credit cards, Discover also offers private loans, checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts. You can learn more about Discover HERE.

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. I grew up with a family member working for the airlines, so I traveled internationally frequently and cheaply. As an adult, though, with commitments to work and not having those benefits anymore… the wanderlust is fierce but now it takes dedicated planning to make any trip happen! I started an auto savings plan that contributes to a Travel Fund. While I don’t get to travel often, I have comfort in knowing I can pay for those trips up front with that Travel Fund! And if I know there’s a place I really want to go, I just do the backwards math to adjust my ASP contributions accordingly!

  2. One thing we did as a family growing up and when my kids were growing up, we planned vacations that went with the studies we had in school. When there was a study on dinosaurs we went to Vernal, UT to the dinosaur National Monument in Vernal, UT and the Labra Tar Pits in LA, CA. Studying Abraham Lincoln, we went to Springville, IL where he was born. Studying about the railroad, we went to Promontory Point, UT where the golden Spike was done, (my great grandfather worked on that line). Studying genetics we went to a breeding farm for cattle to see how they chose which bull and cow they would want to breed to get the qualities they wanted, (my father use to work for a cattle breeding farm, The American Breeders Association). The list just goes on and on. It made it fun for everyone and we got homework done at the same time! πŸ˜‰

  3. I had the privilege of traveling quite a bit when I was in my teens and twenties, but my husband Nick didn’t. I’m dying to introduce him to all the places I’ve been, as well as create memories with him in new places. But alas, student loans prevent us from frolicking across the world at this time in our lives. I loved your idea of making a special treat to get just a taste of what it would be like to be in another country. I was drooling over the linked chocolate gelato recipe.

    1. Debt can be such a dream killer – but I hope you both are making a huge effort to pay that debt! Just imagine what you’ll be able to do with that money that is going towards loan payments! πŸ™‚ Don’t let debt crash your dreams, go make some Gelato and start planning the trip you’re going to take when you’ve made that last payment.

  4. Great suggestions when you get hit by the travel bug! I love love love traveling. I try to find ways to make traveling a reality. Your idea of using a credit card points is one way I have used. In addition, I try to save my for my travel fund well in advance so that when I find a good deal on a flight I am able to buy the flight.

  5. We have always made travels a priority. It helps us learn more about different cultures and it’s also very enjoyable. we did cut on a lot of expenses that didn’t make sense for us, this cleared some more money for our advetures πŸ™‚

    1. That’s how you do it, Ramona. Find out what you are spending on things that don’t really matter to you and save it towards things you love – like travel!

  6. “Stay-cations” can be fun and inexpensive!
    We both have an advantage here, me with Cape Breton Island and you with the warm weather….

  7. We have a lot of upcoming vacations, because of that, we weren’t allowed to take any trips jan-may. It’s so hard not to have the urge to hop on a plane and go for a getaway but we have A LOT of trips planned out that we got EXTREMELY good deals on. We are going to Busch Gardens, a wedding, a camping trip, a visit to bf’s hometown, visiting my sister for her baby, las vegas, a cruise, another wedding, and disney! All of this will cost us less than $1,000 a month too! Plus after our last trip we won’t be in debt for any of these trips.

    1. Wow, Lindsey! It sounds like you have a busy summer ahead! Glad you were able to score such good deals on it all and stay out of debt – that’s fantastic.

  8. I love your suggestions from the books to the planning. I would love to visit Machu Picchu someday. We’ve been all over Asia, but not even very many places in the U.S., so we’ll probably start with some road trips. I need to start writing down my bucket list-love this post!

    1. I’m a wee bit jealous of the adventures you’ve had! So far Canada is the only foreign country that I’ve been to, but Joseph and I plan to fix that next spring. πŸ™‚

  9. We haven’t had much money for travel in the last few years, but I’m always surprised at how many cool things there are to do around home that weve never done! We’ve gone to some awesome tourist-y things around here that we’d somehow never done before. Plus it’s always exciting to try new restaurants.

    1. So true, Christine. I actually just started a list in my bullet journal of restaurants in our area that I want to try! It’s so easy to always go to the same places and miss out on the hidden gems that are right next door.

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