How to save money for travel
While travel often isn’t as expensive as you might think, and there are many ways to travel for free and even make money while on the road, the reality is that you will need to save money to make your escape.
I’m often asked how I afford my travels and the simple answer is that I made travel my priority and I’m good at saving money and traveling on a budget.
There are many articles written about how to save money for travel that go along the lines of; take on another job, move back in with your parents, sell your car, house and all your belongings. Whilst that approach is the quickest way to save big bucks for your trip not everyone can do, or wants to do, this.
Saving money is simple really, spend less = have more money. Saving money is just as good as earning more and it’s common sense that spending less, buying less and earning more will enable you to save money to travel. But it’s something that’s all too often easier said than done and many people find it hard to stay motivated to save and put their dreams of travel on hold because of the daunting, sometimes seemingly impossible, task of saving money. But don’t despair, even without selling all your possessions there are still easy ways you can save money for travel and perhaps most importantly, how to stay motivated so that you actually do save that money and go on that dream trip.
How to save money for travel
With anything in life you’re not going to achieve anything if you don’t have a goal or an objective of what you want to achieve to work towards. You need a goal to motivate you so start researching for your dream trip, think about the destination that you want to visit and what you want to experience once you get there and start dreaming and planning.
Set a Savings Goal
Once you know where you want go and what you want to do on your trip work out how much you need to save. I do this by figuring out roughly how much it will cost me per day to travel in that country and how long I want to go for and then add on flights.
For example, an awesome place to start backpacking is Southeast Asia. This region has it all, stunning scenery and paradise beaches, bustling cities, ancient wonders, exotic food, fascinating culture and friendly people and it’s also one of the cheapest places to travel in the world!
I’d plan for at least 3 months in Southeast Asia at £20 a day. Add on flights (from the UK approx. £500 return) and round it up for unexpected costs and my savings goal is £2,500.
How about you? – Where do you want to go? How long have you got?
Do the maths and set your own savings goal to work towards and write it down (once it’s written down it’s more of an official commitment) or you could also leave it as a comment at the bottom of this post.
Then set a timescale – when do you want to go, how much can you save per week to make it happen? – Now you have a plan!
Start Planning and Get Excited!
Now you’ve started to map out your trip and you know how much you need to save start planning and getting excited about it to give you the motivation to save money to travel. The hardest part is getting started – it seems like a huge and impossible task and you might think to yourself – how will I ever save £2,500? But don’t give up – you can do it if you stick at it and it will be so worth it!
Celebrate Your Progress
At first it might seem like such huge task so to keep motivated track how much progress you’re making towards your goal. I used to break it up into stages – the first milestone to reach was £500 and that was the flight ticked off, then the second was a week on the beach £140 (total £640) and so on. I printed it out with the pretty pictures of where I was going to tick off as I made progress. Having it stuck on the wall everyday motivated me as it reminded me what I was aiming for and everyday was another day closer to that dream.
Be Travel Obsessed
I’ve worked some pretty dull, depressing, minimum wage jobs just to save money to travel – what works for me is reminding myself that every day I work (even on minimum UK wage) I earn enough for about 5 days in somewhere like India! ( I can live on £10 a day here) That sounds like a pretty good trade of to me! In the West we are so lucky and privileged to have this spending power make the most of it and see the world – it’s often more affordable than staying at home and infinitely more rewarding!
Every Little Counts
They say that every penny counts and it’s true. Remember that the little things make a big difference and are the easiest things to cut back on to save money. When you are tempted to buy a coffee or can’t be bothered to make a packed lunch to take to work with you, just remember that £5 (or more) o you spent could also buy you a night in a budget hotel room in many parts of Asia. Over a month if you bring your own lunch to work you would have saved enough for a week on a beach! I know what I’d rather have. Now which would you rather have!? A fancy coffee or your feet in the sand on a tropical beach!
Think outside the box
Rise above the materialist, consumerist society and you don’t have to accept your life as an endless stream of work and bills. Make small changes, ask yourself if each purchase is really, really essential. (Most of the time it’s not, we really don’t need so much stuff), swap brand names for supermarket own brands, buy second hand products or order off the internet to save money, get something fixed instead of just buying a new one, cut back on nights out and have friends round instead, sell things that you no longer need, want or use on e-bay, sell your car and take the bus instead, turn off the heating and put a jumper on instead, make sure you are getting the best deals on your utilities and other bills and why not think about house sharing to save money on rent.
Commit and Buy your Flights!
There’s nothing like a deadline or commitment to motivate you to save. Some companies like STA Travel allow you to book in your flights and just pay a deposit. Booking your flights is a sure way to get excited, get committed and motivate you to really save money for travel!
And if you’re still lacking will power:
Automate your savings
Set up a separate savings account in your bank, work out how much you can afford to put aside and set up a direct debit to put that into a separate savings account on the day you get paid so you are not even tempted to spend that money. My bank (Natwest) lets me set up a savings goal and tracks my progress for me, letting me know how much I need to save to reach my goal and showing me how far I’ve come.
Claim your tax back
Don’t forget to make sure you are on the right tax code and claim your tax back. I was owed over £1000 a few years ago because I had paid too much tax, that was enough for a 2 month trip to India!
Don’t despair – remember in many regions you don’t need that much money and travel doesn’t have to be expensive. There are lots of ways you can travel for free (or very little) or even make money while traveling. You could couch surf or exchange your skills for free food and accommodation or how about making money while you travel and working abroad, from working holiday visas, bar tending, picking fruit to teaching English and freelance writing.
There are many options, make the leap and you never know what opportunities may arise along the way or who you might meet but you have to take that first step – if you never go, then you will never know and you can always come back, there will always be another dull, depressing office job but you only have one precious life – so stop day dreaming and make the most of it!