We’ve said this before, but we often see comments on our travel photos and across our website, saying things like:
“You’re so lucky”
“I wish I could afford to travel”
“So jealous, I wish I could go somewhere like that”
“How do you afford to travel all the time?”
The simple truth is, you can do it too — there’s nothing ‘lucky’ about it!
Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to have some amazing friends and family offer a place to stay, or to show us around a new city every now and again. Through those experiences, so many doors have been opened for us and our global contacts and connections continue to grow. While these are a great help, we don’t rely on these opportunities, and our travel fund is achieved solely through hard work, discipline and determination.
If you struggle to save for travelling, here are a few ways which helped us to save up our travel fund.
Plan and Research:
First things first, you need to determine where you want to go and for how long, before trying to estimate how much this trip is going to cost you. Without an achievable target, you’re likely to get demotivated and give up, but you also don’t want to underestimate the cost and end up skint halfway through your trip.
If you calculate correctly and save your target figure each week/month then you’ll see your fund slowly and steadily begin to take shape. Unfortunately, we don’t have a magic cost calculator, as the target for each traveller will be different, depending on where and when they want to go, and for how long.
The best place to start is to make a list of potential costs, considering the following:
- How long will I be travelling for? Break this down into number of days
- Where will I be going? Find out the average cost of living there
- Flights: To my destination, returning home and cheapest places to fly while there
- Public Transport: Trains, buses, transfers, car hire, etc
- Accommodation: Hostels vs hotels vs AirBnB
Be realistic about your travel plans and targets. Although hotels are nice, you can save a ton of money by choosing a hostel dorm instead, and make your travel fund last longer. Remember, travelling long term is different from a holiday and you want to budget as much as possible.
Once you’ve nailed that first step, you need to figure out how you’re going to earn that money, and how long you’ll need to save up. Other things to consider that will play factor to your planning:
- Do I know someone who lives in the country I am travelling to?
- Will I be working abroad?
This information will help while estimating your budget and time frame abroad.
Keep Working Hard:
Set yourself a reasonable timeline to continue working and saving. This will determine how much you can put into your travel fund each week/month. Of course, the cost of living where you are comes before your savings, but if your salary isn’t quite enough to save, do a few hours overtime a week, and put that ‘extra’ money away in your travel fund.
For example, the minimum wage in Australia is $18.29. If you are on the bare minimum, and can squeeze in an extra 5 hours a week, that’s almost $100 a week, straight into your travel fund. Do that for 2 years, and that’s over $10,000.
Before we left for Canada and Australia, we had been working full time for 2 years and I managed to save 1/3 of my salary each month, after paying for all of my living expenses (mortgage, bills, food etc). It didn’t happen for us overnight, but having a plan in place helped us figure out how much to put away each week and gave us the determination to continue working hard.
Sell What You No Longer Need:
Sometimes the quickest way to get some extra cash is to sell your unused items. If you’re travelling for a long time, think about whether you’ll actually use the item upon your return.
If you have a load of low-value items, try selling them at a car-boot, yard or garage sale. Those old DVD’s may only be worth a few dollars each individually, but if someone wanted the whole lot, that could be a decent earner.
I sold my car to a scrapping company before we left. It didn’t give me much money, but it was simply going to be gathering dust (or rather, rust), and would be no good to me while I’m travelling around the other side of the world.
Budget As Much As You Can:
This is where you are really able to save some big money. The key is to discipline yourself, and keep your eyes on the prize. Consider your biggest social outgoings:
- Eating out and/or takeaways
- Nights out on the town
- Going down the pub
- Shopping for new clothes
- Transport (car/public transport)
We’re not suggesting you hide in your flat whenever you have free time, but monitor what your biggest social outgoings are and find an alternative. Instead of going to the pub for a drink or a meal out, why not down to the park to play football or visit the beach with a picnic? Forget the cinema and expensive snacks, how about Netflix and chill at home? Don’t spend your travel fund on a festival ticket, try volunteering some of your time in exchange for a free ticket and free camping!
I stopped eating out, so no takeaways or restaurants (except special occasions), and cooked at home instead. I also stopped going out as much, down from almost weekly nights out in town to maybe once a month. I’d have Friday beers at the office, and would walk home after, while they all carried on drinking at pubs, bars and eventually clubs, potentially saving me hundreds of £ a week.
There’s no point keeping your ever-growing travel fund in cash behind your bed, or sitting in a basic bank account. Check out low-risk investments online, or speak to your bank about upgrading your account to one with a better interest rate or maybe moving it to an ISA.
Also worth keeping an eye on the Forex market, so you know when the best time is to swap over currency, but avoid cryptocurrency due to its high volatility.
These tips aren’t going to work for everyone, and are mostly common sense, but it’s how we were able to afford to travel. If you have any tips, or specific things holding you back, please let us know in the comments!
– Borderline Backpackers