Worried how you are going to start saving money to travel? We’ll show you how to start saving money for travel today and where to find extra savings to top up your travel fund.
It’s all about the money…
People love to tell you that ‘money makes the world go round’. Well we prefer to tell you that ‘money makes it possible for you to go around the world’.
Unless you are prepared to beg, steal and borrow your way, at some point you’re going to need start saving money to travel.
Sure, there are some pretty extreme examples out there of people who hitchhiked, couch-surfed or just charmed their way through entire continents, but the majority of travellers need at least a little money to get by.
What does money give you when travelling?
It’s important to understand what money means in terms of travelling. Having enough money to back you up when travelling means you have:
Options – you won’t have to always go for the cheapest places if they are false economy and give you a bad experience. You can stay longer in places you enjoy to get a more local experience.
Flexibility – if you need to change your plans you can. You’ll be able to take transport shortcuts if they make sense. A good example was our decision to jump Laos and fly to Hanoi.
Safety – you can stay in the better part of town or take the better taxi. The world is pretty safe but you can avoid taking stupid risks just to save a few dollars.
Start saving money to travel right NOWThe best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now - Chinese Proverb Click To Tweet
Very wise and without a TARDIS or similar time machine the best we can do is take action right here, right now.
Even if at this point you don’t know where you want to go, what you want to see or what you’ll pack, it really doesn’t matter. The first thing to focus on when committing to travel is to start saving money for it.
The key point is to make travel and saving for it a financial priority. There’s always be a new iPhone you’ll be convinced you need but if you really want to travel you’ll ignore all the stuff that’s nagging you to be purchased.
We are saying this because as a result of saving from the start we were able to pull together a £9,000 ($13,000 USD) travel fund in around 6 months. If we had put off saving until we were looking into flights etc this would have been significantly less and limited our future choices.
So how do you get started saving? Let’s give you some actions to take today…
How to start saving money NOW
1. Save all your spare change
This is our top tip as it worked wonders for us and we managed to save over £800 ($1160 USD) that we would have otherwise spent on day to day stuff.
We grabbed an old Bisto gravy tin, cut a coin slit in the lid and stuck a big label on it that said ‘Travel Fund’. Then we placed it where we usually emptied our pockets when we came home each day. Everyone usually has a spot like this, somewhere you dump keys, wallets or anything you’ve accumulated in your pockets, bag or purse.
All we needed to do was train ourselves to drop any spare change into the tim instead of taking it out again the next day.
From the start we committed (that word again) to putting £5 or less into the tin. So any £5 notes in my wallet plus £1 coins and smaller went into the tin each day. You can set the bar as high or low as you like depending on your current income, whatever works for you.
The real magic of this tip is it makes travel saving a part of daily life, a mindset if you like, and it becomes a real physical thing in an age of detached digital currency.
It became great fun to open the tin and count the pennies each week. We would literally watch our savings grow and soon we started adding in cash from anything we had sold to really boost the pot. Plus the money had a faint gravy smell which is always nice.
Our next tip is equally simple, just the way we like it, monitor what you are spending daily.
There are fancy apps you can use for this but we just used a trusty spreadsheet to record our spending, breaking it down into basic categories like food, transport, bills etc. We kept this on Google Sheets so we could update it on the go and didn’t forget to include stuff.
You don’t need to sub categorise everything, keep it easy to fill in, but maybe things like bills need a breakdown i.e. TV, phone, rent etc.
Again this is going to take commitment but it will be worth it in the longterm and get you closer to your travel goals quicker.
If you’ve never done this before it can be a major eye opener. Who knew those occasional sneaky coffees were costing you so much.
3. Look where you can save
After you’ve recorded all your expenses for at least a week it’s time for some analysis. So make a cup of your favourite hot beverage and sit down with your shiny new spreadsheet.
Now start to think about where you could save. This will be different for everyone and really depends on your lifestyle so here’s some examples from our analysis to help get you started:
Work day lunches
Working in Central London most of the options for a lunchtime snack can easily run to £5 ($7.25 USD). If we went out for lunch each day at work the cost quickly mounts up so we started to take our own food to work to save money.
2 Work lunches x 5 = £50 a week
Saving: £200 ($290 USD) minimum per month
London, like a lot of places, has a big drinking culture and it’s easy to end up in the Pub at. We’re not suggesting you become a hermit but by having friends round to ours rather than going out we saved money.
Round of drinks (4 x £3.50) = £14 per time
Saving: £56 ($80 USD) minimum per month
Do you have cable or satellite TV? Do you even watch it? We ditched our TV package and even got rid of our TV. We could happily watch catch up TV on our laptops and saved lots of time too by not mindlessly flicking through the channels.
TV Package £15 per month
Saving: £15 ($21 USD) per month
It’s easy to grab a Starbucks (or similar) beverage on the go, do this 5 days a week and the costs mount up quickly.
Coffee @ £3 per cup = £15 per week
Saving: £65 ($95 USD) minimum per month
Mobile (cell) phone
Kristina was on a old contract with Three Mobile in the UK paying out £42 per month for calls and data she didn’t use. We found another provider offering the same usage for £7.50 per month.
Saving: £34.50 ($50 USD) per month
Total Possible Savings
Lunches £200 ($290 USD)
Drinks: £56 ($80 USD)
Subscription TV: £15 ($21 USD)
Fancy coffee: £65 ($95 USD)
Mobile phone: £34.50 ($50 USD)
TOTAL = £370.50 ($534 USD) per month
That’s just our quick example but there was some other things we cut down on or cut out altogether. That money can then go a long way in some countries and we guarantee that you won’t miss those things if you cut back on them, we didn’t.
It’s amazing how the savings can add up so now look carefully at your spreadsheet and see where you might be splurging at the moment.
Finding everyday savings hopefully means more of you wage can go into the travel savings without massive changes in your lifestyle. The more extreme the changes you make, the harder it can be so don’t go too crazy and become a hermit!
4. Start thinking in terms of experiences, beds or meals
To compliment the other tips, start thinking about money in terms of what you can spend it on when you are travelling.
We will come to budgeting later on but it’s nice to know that, as an example, the £2 you just saved equals some delicious street food for you to enjoy in Bangkok.
By bending your everyday thoughts on money and spending towards the experiences and things you could have on the road you’ll start to see a lot of daily things as non essential.
This worked wonders for us and we were soon spurred on to save where we could when we could see the future potential of those savings.
Open a separate ‘travel fund’ bank account
This is important as it keeps your daily outgoings and expenses well away from the money you are saving to travel.
It worked really well for us and it meant that there was no temptation to dip into funds set aside from travel. Once it had left our personal accounts, that was it, no transferring it back.
As a bonus the separate bank account we opened offered a generous 6% interest on amounts up to £2000 so we were getting a few extra pounds each month for nothing!
Set a travel-by date. Now.
Now you have seen potential savings you can make and have got in the mindset of saving for travel take a step back.
Now is the time to set a date you want to start travelling by. You might end up travelling earlier than this but it’s important to have a cut off date in mind or you could keep saving forever.
We started to push our date back initially and the temptation to do so is HUGE. You can always wait 1 more month to travel to get the extra paycheque but it’s a dangerous game to play as you may never leave.
Set that date now and save hard.
Saving money – how much?
Once you have the date set (X months ahead) and you know how much you can realistically put aside each month (Y per month) you can calculate the rough amount you’ll be able to save (X multiplied by Y!).
Just a small word of caution, this is life and there’s always unexpected expenses so allow a little for that but a rough savings figure is fine.
- Make travel a financial priority
- Money gives you options, flexibility and safety when travelling.
- You need to start saving money for your travels RIGHT NOW, don’t worry if you have no plans yet.
- Start your own ‘travel fund’ and drop all your loose change and more in there.
- Monitor your daily expenses closely and analyse them to see where you could be saving money.
- Start thinking about how you will spend this money on your travels to give it real value today.
- Set a travel-by date. NOW.
- Calculate how much money you can save.
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