Updated September 13, 2020
If you’ve ever dreamed of travelling but have never put those dreams into action, chances are high that a lack of funds is one of the major issues holding you back. I know it was for me!
The idea of living and travelling in a different country without a means of income can be completely terrifying. It can seem like an unattainable goal. Especially if you want to travel long-term, and ESPECIALLY if you’re not on a particularly high income as it is!
But, take it from me as someone who has only ever worked jobs on a mediocre income, it is possible!
When I first dreamed of quitting my job to travel, I had just started working a Customer Service role. And I was earning just a little over minimum wage.
Can you guess how long I was in that role before I quit, with air travel booked, insurance purchased and visas approved and paid for?
ONE year. That’s it. And I could have done it even quicker if I’d hustled a little harder.
All you need is determination, self-restraint and a few small lifestyle changes to get you where you’re dreaming of being. Whether that’s a Cambodian beach, cocktail in hand, or a mountain in New Zealand with the world at your feet.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be hard work and a little dull at times; but you CAN save money for travel and you will if you want it enough!
Related: 14 Easy ways to save money while you travel
Analyse your spending
The first step in the process is to look at your monthly expenditures on your bank statements.
Take note of exactly how much is coming out of your bank account and what for; from the regular monthly payments such as rent and bills, to the more irregular purchases such as a birthday gift for a friend.
Separate the necessities from the luxuries
With this step, you’ll already begin to realise where you can save yourself some money for travel.
Create two columns: one for necessities and one for luxuries.
Start writing your obvious needs in the first column, so your rent, bills, food, fuel etc. Don’t be cheeky by including your weekly lunch with your best mate! Just stick with what you need to live.
When you’ve got all of the basic necessities down, look at the other expenditures on your bank statement. Anything that is not a complete necessity goes into the luxuries column.
Cut down on luxuries
Now, I’m not telling you that you can’t EVER go for lunch with your mate or a drink after work. But this is where you’ve got to get serious about cutting down on your spending.
Go through all of your luxuries and think about how you’re going to go about cutting them out.
For example, if you buy a coffee or eat lunch out every day, start bringing your own coffee from home in a thermos or a travel mug, as well as your own lunch.
Similarly, you can prep your meals at the weekend for the coming week. That way, you’ll be less likely to make a last minute decision to eat out.
If you’re worried about your social life suffering, host your friends at your house and ask them to bring food. This way, you all get to try something different, and a glass of wine or two at home is much cheaper than at a bar! You could then rotate around your friends’ houses each time so that you’re not always hosting.
If you have a lot of subscriptions or memberships, see if you can switch down to a lower paid plan or cut them out altogether.
If your drive to work is similar to that of a colleague, see if you can carpool to save you both some money on fuel.
There are many simple but very effective ways to cut down on your luxury spends. Every little helps!
Save money on your necessities
While I was working to save money for travel, I was living at home with my mum, so I didn’t need to worry about the high cost of rent. While I was paying her some rent, it was nowhere near what I would have been paying otherwise. And she was very understanding of my goals.
I know this will not be an option for everyone, but if you happen to be coming towards the end of your lease and have a family member or a friend that you can stay with, you could save a huge amount of money each month.
See if you can lower the amount that you pay towards your phone bill each month by chatting with your provider or even switching to Pay As You Go. There are some great cheap deals out there.
When it comes to bills such as electricity and water, try to cut down your usage to save money for travel. Switch to energy saving light bulbs and make sure everything that’s not being used is switched off at the wall.
Try to avoid running the water for too long when washing up or brushing your teeth.
In the supermarket, switch from big name brands to home brands; they are much cheaper and usually just as good!
Calculate your travel budget
This is where you can start to have some fun and plan for your adventure!
Search for flights, accommodation and transport options in your chosen destinations. Then calculate the average cost of food and any major attractions you don’t want to miss!
Get some travel insurance quotes and look into any visas you may need to purchase to enter the country.
When you’ve done some thorough research, write down the MOST you could have to spend on each major item. Add them together to get a total.
Does this seem like an amount you could save with your current income? How long would it take you to reach that target?
Remember, this is the most you would have to spend, so there is always room to bring that figure down if it’s too high and will take you too long to reach.
Chances are you’ll be going with a budget airline rather than one of the high-fliers (so to speak). And insurance policies can be adjusted to fit your needs.
Look for ways to save money while you travel, from free accommodation options such as WWOOFing, Workaway or Couchsurfing to low budget options such as hostels or camping.
Look into what free or cheap attractions and hikes there are in the areas you want to travel to.
Calculate a reasonable figure that will let you enjoy yourself while you’re out there but doesn’t necessarily allow for 5-star hotel rooms and restaurants every night.
It’s a good idea to aim for a target slightly higher than what you think you’ll need, just in case.
Related: Workaway: an introduction to work exchange
Save part of your paycheck every month
Now that you have a target to aim for, look at your monthly income as well as your new budget for necessities and the occasional luxury, and calculate how much you can put away into your savings each month.
You may like to aim for a certain monthly figure, or you can decide that a certain percentage of your paycheck is a better way to go (this may be more suitable if your paycheck varies each month).
Set up a savings account with your bank specifically for your travel target, preferably one with high interest to help you save even more pennies.
If you decided on a certain figure to be put away, you may want to set up a Direct Debit to come out a day or two after payday so that it happens automatically.
Pro tip: Make sure you don’t set the Direct Debit to come out ON payday, just in case there’s an unexpected delay. You don’t want to be hit with any overdraft charges!
Earn additional income
Now that you’ve got your target set, your expenses lowered and your savings account set up, it’s time to think about any additional income you could gather.
Do you have clothes and shoes in your wardrobe that you never wear, books you’re unlikely to read again or any other unused items in your house?
Try selling them at a car boot sale, a market or online! Remember, a lot of what’s in your house will not be going with you on your travels. Why not use them to help get you there a little quicker?
Consider a side hustle such as babysitting, dog walking, mowing lawns or even a paid survey!
Do you have knowledge in something that you’d like to teach? Advertise evening or weekend classes for a fee!
Are you a crafty person who loves to create things? Sell your products or teach others how to make them.
The opportunities for a little extra income are endless if you really put your mind to it.
Final thoughts on saving money for travel
So there you have it! The earlier you put these helpful tips into practice, the closer you’ll be to reaching your goal, quitting your job and boarding that plane!
It really is as simple as analysing your spending, cutting down on luxuries, saving on your necessities, calculating your budget and putting those all important savings away every month.
Yes, you may get tired of staying home a lot more, and sometimes you might give in and buy yourself lunch or dinner when you should be eating your own food. But just keep your big goal in your mind and remember that every day you’re getting a little bit closer to reaching it.
And once you’ve been practicing these habits for a while, that’s exactly what they’ll become: habits! It will get easier and, as it does, you’ll see the money piling up in your savings account and you’ll realise it’s all worth it.
You can do it!
Did you like these money saving tips? Do you have any you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- 14 easy ways to save money while you travel
- How to stay healthy while travelling
- How a Working Holiday Visa could change your life
Pin it for later!
Great tips! I heartily agree with a lot of these. I do the paid surveys from time to time and they do add up slowly. I also cannot believe how much I was spending on coffee and sodas. I need to get out of the habit of buying a bottled drink whenever I’m in a queue somewhere.
It’s amazing how that kind of stuff adds up isn’t it? And you don’t even realise most of the time!
Jenni / Out in the Nature says
Great tips! One more: Live in a ridiculously expensive country (like Finland), so in all your travels almost everything you do is cheaper than at home and therefore you are only saving when traveling!
Well, there is that I suppose haha! Perfect excuse to travel a lot! 😉
Great tips 🙂 We did a lot of these for a year before we left for a four month trip around Europe! In the moment it can seem hard, but when you’re drinking wine in front of the Eiffel Tower it is all worth it!!
Oh totally! And what great motivation that is too! Drinking wine in front of the Eiffel Tower sounds divine 🙂
These are great actionable tips! I think many people would be surprised if they sat down and wrote out a list separating their necessities from their luxuries. You’ve found a lot of ways to cut down on extraneous spending. Great post!
Thanks Deanne! Yes I agree, I think that most of us don’t realise how much we’re spending on unnecessary things until we sit down and look at our spending properly. 🙂
I would also say to join cashback sites, so you can save on all your spends!
That’s a fantastic tip, thanks Roshni! 🙂
Really great tips, but can be challenging. Certainly easier if single and have no kids that suck the blood out of you. But I love your motivation, drive and determination. I hope to spend more prolonged periods of time abroad in the future.
You’re totally right, I completely understand that it’s a lot harder with kids! But it’s still not impossible 🙂 I hope you manage to get your travel time in.
Great post! I always set a travel budget and save the same amount per month until I have my desired amount.
Thanks Michaela 🙂 that’s great, and it feels so good to see those savings building up each month!
Really great tips here! I always try and tell people my main way to save money is prioritising what I need with what I would like. A side hustle is always a good idea too!
Exactly! It can seem hard, but if you really look at what you’re spending on things you don’t really need, it gets much easier 🙂
Sarah Camp says
Great tips! I do a lot of these and recommend them to everyone too – especially cutting back on luxuries. People will comment on how often we travel yet they’re the ones out to dinner 4x a week haha!
Haha yeah I get that too! I’d much rather travel than eat out that much at home 🙂