Questions about Saving Money to fund our travels is always a big one I get often. Actually, it can be divided into several topics such as how to fund a short trip, how to fund your life on the road for long-term travels or even how to fund sustainable traveling making money while you travel. I cover this in other articles but for now, I want to concentrate on how to save money to start traveling. This is always one of the first that comes to peoples mind and I am covering in this article all the necessary steps I could think of to help you get your finances straight and ready for your dream trip.
One important thing to note is that you won’t need as much money as you think. Remember that traveling is about discovering new places and living new experiences, not about staying in every expensive 5-star resorts. Travelers like me have developed habits and strategies to travel on low budgets, some as little as 20$ per day in some cases. A good rule of thumb is to have around 50$ daily excluding transport. From here, you can squeeze even more using tips I will provide in this article, or spoil if you can afford it.
- Tracking Your Spending
- Make A Calendar with Objectives
- Get a New Savings Account
- Start Saving As Early As Possible
- Stop Unnecessary Spending
- Stop spending in Restaurants, Start Cooking
- Don’t spend what you can’t afford
- Make Habits that make you Save Money
- Save on Accommodation
- Beware of subscription services
- Minimalize your gear (and life)
- Don’t Rely on Expensive Gear
- Earn Money Online While Traveling
- Wrapping it all up
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Tracking Your Spending
Start tracking everything you spend in a month. Too many people just put everything on a credit card without even asking themselves if it is a reasonable purchase, and then they forget about it. By tracking what you spend and reviewing it at the end of the month, it will hold you accountable for your spending behavior. From there, it will be easier to tackle certain areas where you can stop spending and realize that you don’t need to be spending all this money. One technique I like is to use a Spreadsheet on your phone and every time you buy, you write it down on your phone. this must include all automatic payments such as monthly subscriptions.
Make A Calendar with Objectives
Determining objective and having a plan is crucial in making your trip possible. You need to know the worst case scenario, not the “best cases scenario”… You need to know exactly that by this date, you will have the necessary funds to start traveling. What is left in your main checking account will be about spoiling your lifestyle or squeezing your belt. Maybe you won’t be able to afford going out for a week or two, and that’s fine. At least you are in the process of building your dream trip and this will make you happy and keep you motivated.
Get a New Savings Account
This can be very useful for some as it separates the spendable cash you have in your account, to the one that shouldn’t be touched towards your travels. Many people use this trick to save for a house, college education or a car. So using it to kick start your travel dreams definitely makes sense. Opening a savings account need little to no effort, a quick visit to your bank and they will be happy to do so, usually for free. Then every month you receive money, transfer a determined amount that you believe is reasonable towards your objective in your saving account.
Start Saving As Early As Possible
Of course, many of us ask ourselves this question “I should have started earlier”! But starting now is better than starting tomorrow so the best bet is to start today in preparation for your future trip. When a travel opportunity comes, you will already have savings ready towards achieving your goal and it won’t seem as difficult to achieve.
Stop Unnecessary Spending
Stop consumer mentality. We have been brainwashed all our lives in the west by all the publicity to buy and consume and many get a fix out of it. In reality, we don’t need to spend that much! some people need to always be buying things without counting when they go out of their house. I developed habits that I don’t spend if I really don’t need it. I don’t buy gadgets and toys that I don’t really need (I don’t have space to carry it anyway). Always resist the rush of loving something and believing you absolutely need it. Truth be told, most times you will use this gadget for a few weeks and let it behind. Again, remember that traveling is all about living the experience that you give it every day, not about consuming products to create an experience.
Stop spending in Restaurants, Start Cooking
Yes. Stop overspending in restaurants when you travel. this is the second most expensive area (after accommodation) where people spend on holidays because people love eating and want to experience local products. While I do agree with this, it should be done wisely. You shouldn’t have to go 3 times a day to the restaurant to sample local food. I consider going once a day is treating myself in my case. It’s important to remember that if you are not on a 1 or 2 weeks holiday, you should live with similar patterns that you live at home. Most travelers like me are simply going to the supermarket and buy simple food that we can cook back at our accommodation. It’s much easier to find places with kitchens nowadays, not only hostels have them but Airbnb and even some hotels provide basic facilities. You can also simply buy bread and ham and make a sandwich once in a while. And if you chose to go to the restaurant, always chose the ones that are not tourist traps and go to the ones outside tourists areas. Those restaurants always overcharge and have less quality food.
Don’t spend what you can’t afford
I realized that I spend much less now then I was spending on my first trips 15 years ago, even if I have more savings now. this is definitely because I gathered experience over the years but also because I understand the logic of not overspending. I used to spend so much money on partying at 20 years old! On a night out in Europe, I could easily spend as much as 50$ on drinks in bars while I was sleeping in a simple 15$ hostel. That’s almost 4 times more then what I needed to sleep! So consider that to be spending 50$ on a night out, you should have the bankroll to fund this equally with all your daily activities. Whenever you do an expensive purchase, ask yourself if you really need it and if this product is worth the sacrifice of squeezing your belt for a few days or weeks.
Make Habits that make you Save Money
I love habits… As much as I hate them. It’s hard to disassociate from bad habits once you have one, but creating new good ones is amazing because it will be effortless behaviors that won’t require energy to accomplish. Stop overspending will be hard to do but once you figure this out, it will look much more realistic. So looking at your spending spreadsheet, figure out areas where you repeatedly spend money and ask yourself if there is another option to make this cheaper, or if you could simply cut it all out altogether. For example, coffee is one habit that people have that can cost a few hundreds of dollars a month! Imagine 2 Starbucks americano a day, that’s about 7$, multiply by 30 =over 200$!! In some countries, it’s even more. I developed a habit to stop buying daily coffee and reserve it only for meetings. Instead, I bought a mini espresso machine called “minipresso” that I absolutely love and make delicious expressos at home.
Save on Accommodation
This is a massive topic as most people don’t understand that accommodation can be cheap! People think they will all stay in hotel chains every night… In reality, we have tools like Booking.com that enable us to find cheap accommodation all over the world. Usually, I never pay more than 30$ to 40$ for accommodation per day, and it can go as low as for free with sites like Couchsurfing, where people offer free accommodation in their house to help travelers and make interesting meetings. There is also the usual hostels which offer shared rooms with bunk beds that are all over the world and where I stayed literally over a thousand times. using Sites like booking.com will provide access to cheap accommodation and selecting areas outside the center will be cheaper. Then there is also the incredible useful Airbnb, where one can choose to sleep in somebody’s apartment in private or shared rooms or even rent the whole apartment. I have written a whole guide on this so don’t forget to give in a look.
Beware of subscription services
Many companies have switched their business model from one time fees to monthly subscriptions, and for a good reason. they are able to double their revenue this way as we become addicted to their services and pay blindly each month. Our increasing use of online services has brought us to depend more and more on subscriptions that we believe we can’t live without it. Calculating how much of your budget goes on these automatic payments is crucial as you will find out that you are allowing way too much money to them. It is mandatory that you ask yourself how to depend on the least possible on these subscriptions and go for free versions instead. Some of them will be impossible to leave (my Spotify subscription is one of them) but you shouldn’t need much more than 5 monthly.
Minimalize your gear (and life)
There is a whole movement of minimalist travelers around the world nowadays, people trying to shrink their gear to the smallest as possible. I consider myself naturally minimalist and ever since I started traveling I have found ways to shrink my gear every year. I now travel with a simple carry-on bag that doesn’t need to be checked-in planes, which makes me save on this too. And I really have everything I need, not weighing more than 12 kg! Some people go as far as living on a daypack but it’s in my opinion too limiting.
Don’t Rely on Expensive Gear
This is one thing I realized too late. Most Travelers travel with an expensive 1000$ laptop. Adding to this, many people travel with expensive camera gear, an expensive phone, and some other expensive gear that if anything happens to them, it will hurt them a lot. It is not a secret that theft and broken gear will happen in many cases, these horror stories are all over the place. I realized that having expensive gear would stress me out much more then it should… I now shrunk my gear to much cheaper gear, bought a 400$ laptop instead of my MacBook, and use the great camera on my Samsung phone instead of carrying an expensive camera with the expensive lens! If it gets stolen, no problem I can afford to buy another one as its easily replaceable anywhere in the world! Not having to worry about my gear has created the extra freedom of movement that I needed, especially to travel to areas of the world such as in the middle east and Africa. Don’t forget to check out my guide about gearing up where I cover all the details of what you should bring.
Earn Money Online While Traveling
Why worry about spending when you have more income coming in every month? that is the best of scenarios and won’t be the case for most travelers at first. But by becoming a digital nomad and working while traveling, this will create extra room to spend what you haven’t had time to save, and also help extend your travels to as long as you may need! This is the ideal scenarios, and might seems impossible at first, but many jobs are offered of freelancer platforms such as upwork.com and freelancer.com. The most common ones can be:
Wrapping it all up
Hopefully, this has helped you realize that saving money is not that hard, especially when it is about helping you accomplish your dream travel. This will create an incentive and motive you towards your goal. What strategies and techniques do you use it to save for traveling? which have you found easier, harder? Have you come up with other tricks? Please let me know in the comments below I would be glad to hear about it.
So I shared with you some of my biggest tips on saving money for traveling, but some of them are just too vague to cover here so I have prepared complete guides on How to find cheap accommodation and How to find cheap flights so don’t forget to check them out.
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