If you think money is the only thing standing in the way of you travelling the world (spoiler alert: it’s not), this post is for you. For some, travel is synonymous with luxury, but the truth is that you don’t need to be rich to travel. By taking action now to save money to travel, you’ll be setting off for your trip around the world sooner than you think!
1. Track your spending
This is the first rule of personal finance. Tracking your spending will allow you to analyse how much money you’re going through every month and where you can afford to cut back. You’ll need to keep track of your monthly rent or mortgage, utilities, transport (public transport vs. car payments and gas), groceries, shopping, entertainment (going out to bars and restaurants, trips to the movies), any monthly memberships (gym, Netflix, etc.), plus any extras like those Starbucks lattes or morning muffins. Awareness is key, so once you’re familiar with your spending habits, you can get to work on making your travel-friendly budget!
2. Open a savings account
The next step is creating a safe place to save up for your big trip. Think of it like the adult version of a piggy bank. The idea is to set up a savings account or a similar type of fund where you can put all the money you’re saving up and then not touch it. This last part is super important! A separate account is key because, when you have access to all your funds, it’s a slippery slope to unnecessary spending. You can set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking account to your savings account once you’ve made a strict budget, so you know you won’t be living outside your means.
3. Start making lifestyle changes
There’s no way to save money to travel if you skip this step. Yes, it might be a little painful if you’re used to going out to eat or ordering takeout multiple nights a week or if your social life revolves around going out to bars and clubs, but it’s a necessary step. The key is to keep thinking about your dream trip and telling yourself that it will all be worth it in the end!
So, how do you do it? Start by cancelling your gym membership (take up running or check out YouTube fitness videos) and say goodbye to Netflix. Take up meal planning and cook in advance so you can bring lunch to work, take a thermos of coffee from home and invite friends over for potluck dinners, rather than meeting up at restaurants. Stop driving and walk or ride your bike when you can, or if you live in a big city, forget about taxis and always take public transport. If you must shop, do it at secondhand stores. If you’re worried about boredom, start looking for free things to do, like free days at museums or free activities through local groups or online communities like Meetup.
4. Make extra money where you can
After you’ve started adapting your lifestyle to live more frugally, then you can begin to look for ways to make a little extra money. Go through your clothes and belongings and sell anything unwanted or unused online on secondhand websites or at local flea markets. Then, think about picking up a side job like babysitting, tutoring or being a bike courier. You can pick the number of days a week that are reasonable for you to dedicate to a second job, and then dump all the money you make right into your travel fund.
5. Get into “zero-spend” days
Made popular by a finance blogger under age 30, the idea behind zero-spend days is a simple one. Start by choosing one day a week where you won’t spend any money – nothing at all. This will force you to have your meals planned out ahead of time, find something social to do for free and, most importantly, have more money to ultimately unload into your travel fund. You can gradually up your number of zero-spend days per week, or even get crazy and do a zero-spend month! Of course, bills and groceries don’t count. Are you up to the challenge?
To sum up, if you want to save money to travel, it’s more a matter of will power than of being rich. The only thing that’s standing between you and your dreams of travelling the world is you!