Hacking Travel: The #1 Secret on How to Raise Money for a Trip Fast

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  This means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  

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Travel can be costly, but in reality, it’s all about what you choose to prioritize.  I know it’s cliche, but if you skipped a daily Starbucks (or for me, a Kombucha), how much could you save in 6 months? Almost $600!  That’s more than enough for a ticket to Europe if you’re savvy!


I want everyone to be able to explore more of the world, and truly believe travel is within your reach if you’re strategic about your spending.  Here is my list of 10 ways we save money and fit regular travel into our budget.

Clothing and Home Furnishings

We buy used whenever possible, so thrift stores, yard sales, and consignment stores are where we look first when we need something.  Last week I got a new blouse and a pair of jeans at Style Encore for a total of $6 for both.    We also got a kitchen table FREE on Craigslist.  If you’re willing to do some searching, you can get so many things cheap or free.

photo of woman near clothes


We have an Amazon Prime membership and use a Roku player instead of paying for cable.  We do miss having ESPN during football and basketball season, but we usually get to watch the big games with our family and friends.

Shop Amazon – Used Textbooks – Save up to 90%

man holding remote control


We rarely pay to rent movies.   Thankfully there are multiple free Redbox codes (you can sign up for text alerts to receive them) and you can easily earn Google Opinion Rewards credit to rent movies for free on Google Play.

Free Trials

I utilize them for a variety of things,  but always set a reminder to cancel before the trial ends.   I’ve enjoyed trying several different meal delivery services this way (Home Chef, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Sun Basket) and though I haven’t found one that’s cost-effective, it was nice getting some free meals and new recipes this way.

Sun Basket : Up to $70 off
grilled meat with green ladies finger vegetable on white ceramic plate

Credit Cards

We try to buy everything possible with a credit card to rack up points/rewards and make sure to pay off the full balance each month.  Right now there are two that we are focusing on: Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa and the Marriott Chase Visa.  Read more about all the cards and free travel strategies I recommend here.

Mystery Shopping

I’ve completed shops for pizza delivery, car washes, car test drives, restaurant audits, and grocery store audits, to name a few.  Granted, you will not make a ton of cash this way, but if you can get something free that you would have needed to buy anyway AND get paid a shop fee on top of it, I see that as a win.  My two favorite companies are Maritz and Intellishop.

Online Shopping

I make sure to start at Rakuten or Swagbucks to get cash back.  This is one main reason I love Walmart’s Free Grocery Pickup (use my code for $10 off your first pickup) because I can get cash back through Ebates, avoid impulse buys in-store AND avoid the chaos and lines inside the store.  You can read more about the reasons I love Walmart free pickup in my previous post here.  Also, read about my top 20 websites to get cash back online and 8 apps that pay you to scan your receipts!

Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals – Deep Discounts on Open-box and Used Sports Equipment

Budget Travel

We stay at hostels and often use Airbnb instead of hotels.  If you are new to the Airbnb world, you can use my code to get $40 off your first stay.   I have loved almost every hostel I’ve experienced, but NotSoHostel in Charleston, SC is probably my favorite American hostel.  Depending on the city you’re in, it’s usually a toss-up as to whether a hostel (private room) or Airbnb is cheaper.  Check out my thoughts on 4 Amazing Hostels For Your Next Trip.

orange and gray hiking backpack on the floor

Personal Care and Beauty

I don’t pay full price for haircuts or coloring services.  I usually color my hair at home or visit a student-based salon like Kenneth Shuler to get my hair cut.  You can read more about my experience with saving money at student salons in this post.


With survey apps like Quickthoughts  I can usually earn a $10 Amazon gift card per week.  They’re between 5-20 minute surveys on a variety of topics.   It’s easy to complete them while standing in line at the store or watching TV.  The gift cards add up quickly and I like to use them to buy Airbnb gift cards for our trips or save up for Christmas gifts!  Read my full list of survey sites to earn extra money here!

What do you think?  Did anything on my list make you think about ways you could adjust your lifestyle to save more money? Let me know your favorite ways to save money in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!


Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals – Deep Discounts on Open-box and Used PCs


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  1. These are all such great ways to save money, for travel or in general. I like to shop on consignment and have ditched cable, but you named quite a few savings ideas that were new to me! I’m taking notes now and will for sure be using the Redbox codes soon. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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