Money (or rather, lack of it) has to be one of the biggest (and most irritating) set-backs for us nomadic souls.
It’s almost agony seeing all your friends off traveling the world and having fun while you’re stuck at home with little money to spare… Because no money means no travel, right?
Well, it depends.
It is very possible to travel with little to no money at all, especially when you can stay in accommodation for free and get your meals included (which is easier than you probably think).
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However, it all comes down your personal comfort level.
Personally, when I’m traveling I like to spend a lot of time in cafés, eating out and indulging in experiences I wouldn’t have back home – and all of these things cost money…
So for me, before I began travelling full time, it was very important to plan, budget and save enough to support this short term lifestyle.
This is why I believe that knowing what kind of traveller you are really helps. If you love to head off the beaten path, sleep in hostels and eat street food, you obviously don’t need to stress about saving as much as you’d need to stay in hotels, eat out in restaurants and visit tourist attractions.
I like to do a bit of both but I’m always on the lookout for value for money.
This is why I generally opt for cheaper destinations such as Southeast Asia and South America where my budget lasts twice as long and I can live twice as comfortably (more on this shortly).
So let’s talk about how I saved over $4,500 in 3 months
In November 2013, I left Australia to travel solo in Indonesia and Thailand. I didn’t know how long I’d be gone for, I just figured I’d return when my money ran out (I was predicting around 2 months).
My flight home was also flexible so I could change the date depending on whether I wanted to stay for a shorter or longer period of time.
3 months and about 10 days before I left home, I had returned from a 5 week volunteering trip in Thailand (which inspired me to go back and spend more time there). So I pretty much had 3 months and 10 days to save enough money again for a return flight, another volunteer experience and general expenses while traveling.
I went from having about $500 in my bank account after returning from the first trip, to having about $4,500 in my account the day I left again (and that’s after purchasing flights and a week of pre-booked accommodation).
So technically, I probably managed to save over $5,000.
Looking back on the numbers now, I’m thinking wow, that was actually pretty good going… Considering only a few months before that I was a self-confessed shopaholic.
But truthfully, I did have to give up some things and change my lifestyle in order to make this happen…
1. First of all, I lived with family
Now I know some of you might be thinking that this is being spoiled or free-loading but it was for 3 months before I was going on an indefinite solo adventure in another part of the world.
Honestly, I love spending time with my family and I know they had no problem with me living there while I was trying to save some money. If they did have an issue with it, obviously I would have respected their opinions and looked for a room to rent in a shared house.
If you are in a position where you are living out of home and you want to travel, I would highly recommend biting the bullet and renting any spare rooms you have to any friends, family members or other people you know who are looking for somewhere to live.
Accommodation, bills and food are probably the biggest expenses you are faced with right now, so splitting the cost between more people will definitely help you to pocket some cash at the end of the month.
2. I changed my attitude towards working and took up two jobs (with the occasional third)
Having a goal to travel again in such a short amount of time definitely helped me to change my attitude towards work.
I had something to look forward to and act towards, instead of having no real end result in mind and spending my money here and there on things that weren’t benefiting me.
I knew that if I wanted to travel, I had to work hard and save every penny I possibly could, which is why I took up a full time office job during the day on top of my job in a bar at night.
I also occasionally worked some odd mornings and weekends in a friend’s cafe, so you could say my schedule was so booked up I barely had the time to spend the money I was making anyway.
It is so important to have this end goal in sight… Something to work for.
Without it, you’re just going to be running around like a headless chicken not actually knowing why you are commuting to your job each day – which is eventually going to make you feel negative towards work and will hold you back from creating new opportunities in your life.
Change your mind-set. Have your goal and look at work as a means to achieve it.
And when you’re having a crappy day, just remember where you’ll be when you’ve made it.
3. I bought my flight as soon as enough money hit my bank account
This is crucial. Absolutely one of the best ways to save money before traveling.
I didn’t wait until I had my goal amount saved for my entire trip because I know it would have taken me twice as long to save it.
You see, once I had spent all the money I had on a flight, I had made a commitment. Not only a commitment to myself but also a commitment to everyone around me.
I was going and there was no backing out so I HAD to save every dollar I possibly could in order to have enough money to travel.
Buying the ticket is enough to motivate you to go to work and make money every day. You’re not going to spend $1,000 on a flight and then give it up because you couldn’t save enough money for the end result.
You will find a way, trust me.
Buy the ticket as soon as you have enough money for it.
Don’t worry about whether you’ll have enough money by time you leave because somehow you will.
Again, it’s all about having that goal and deadline. These are the things that will push you further than you think is possible.
4. I made a budgeting plan
This was another move that really helped me to reach my end result. As soon as I was making a steady income and knew roughly how much I would earn per week, I made a plan of action.
I sat down, got out my lap-top and opened up the calendar. I then counted how many weeks I had to save my goal amount (which was $5,000).
Dividing $5,000 by the amount of weeks I had until I left, I worked out that I needed to save at least $450 a week.
I knew that $450 a week was going to be very achievable based on my income, which generally sat around $650.
So then what I did was transfer that $450 into a separate savings account on each pay day, no matter how much I earned that week.
Sometimes I earned less than $650, so on those particular weeks I would have to cut back on eating out, driving, etc. Usually, I would have enough money left over to pay for petrol, insurance, phone credit, food and some entertainment (bear in mind Australia is quite an expensive country).
It’s also a good idea to have a calendar that you can write on so you can record your weekly goal in each box until the day you leave. Then, when you have successfully transferred the amount into a savings account, you can put a red tick next to it.
Seeing the numbers laid out in front of you and knowing exactly what you need to do to get there will help you to feel much more confident about leaving with enough money.
5. I stopped making unnecessary impulse purchases
Before I went and volunteered in Thailand, I was an absolute shopaholic. Every weekend I would go out to the mall and come home with bags of clothes, shoes or products.
I did this because I didn’t have any goal I was working towards and enjoyed spending my money on tons of little things that made me happy for a very short period of time.
Then when I went traveling, my mindset completely changed.
I don’t know if it was because I saw how simple most of the people in this world live or if it was because I realised I would rather spend my money on experiences I’ll remember for a lifetime than on material things I’ll forget about within a few weeks.
So when I returned home and decided that I wanted to do it all over again, I knew I had to stop spending so much money on things I didn’t really need.
By this point, I’d already stopped wanting to buy things anyway. I’d go to the mall with friends and come home with nothing (which was very unusual) and my 3 breakfast meet-ups every week turned into 1 breakfast meet-up.
All of these little things really added up and I began to see how much money I could have saved in the past even if I just cut back on 2 take-away coffee’s each week.
My advice is to start cutting back on things that really wouldn’t make a difference to you, whether you had it or not…
For example, take-away food and coffee, new clothes (when you’ve already got a wardrobe full of them), Candy Crush lives… You know the kinds of things I mean.
And when you do go to make an impulse purchase, always ask yourself, “Do I really need this? Am I really going to be happier if I buy this?”
It worked for me pretty much every time.
So, how long did my $4,500 last?
Well, my prediction was way off. This money lasted me almost 5 months in Asia before I began working online with Dan and traveled to the other side of the world.
In fact, I didn’t actually return home to Australia for 11 months… But that’s for another blog post. ; -)
I hope my 5 ways to save for travel have helped you to figure out how you can start traveling sooner or return to it if you’ve already caught the bug!
Got questions or more tips to add? Please, scroll down to the bottom of this page and leave me a Facebook comment!
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