One of the questions I get the most is "how to save money for travelling?" Before I went travelling, I too thought of travel as a once a year treat – something that was too expensive to enjoy more often. I understand how it can seem crazy that someone could afford to travel so much. But as someone who has been travelling for nearly five years – I'm here to tell you that travel is both affordable and attainable. Travel is without doubt the best experience of my life and I'm so glad that I have invested so much time, energy and money into it. For every penny I have spent, I have had a lifetime of adventures that have grown and shaped me as a person.
Whether you've finally decided to take the plunge and book a big trip, or if you're still undecided, I'm here to have an honest chat about what's holding you back. The two things that put people off travelling the most? Money and fear of the unknown. Facing your fears is down to you, but I want to do what I can to help you understand the money. We live in a society that views money talk as a taboo, well I'm here to poo-poo the taboo. The more we talk openly and frankly about money, the easier it is to understand and the less intimidating it is. So if you want to know how to save money? Let this post help your dreams seem that little bit closer and more attainable.
How to save money for travelling
It can seem like a mammoth task at first – but every traveller starts somewhere. Whether you want to save for a weekend away, a summer holiday or a year-long backpacking trip, the attitude has to be the same. This trip is something you've always wanted to do and will remember for a lifetime, if you really want it, making some small sacrifices to save for it shouldn't be a big deal. I've been accused of having boyfriends, or even a sugar daddy, paying for all my travels before. But the truth is, if you want to know how to save money for travel – it's by working bloody hard!
Before I first went travelling, I had been saving money for years 'for a rainy day' and I worked five jobs for almost a year before leaving. Likewise, I am constantly picking up jobs, working freelance and through this blog while I travel – trust me, it never stops! As big as that mountain may seem, breaking it down into simple, manageable steps is the best way to tackle it. It can seem like you'll never reach your goal without winning the lottery, but perhaps you just need to set smaller goals to make it seem more attainable.
10 easy ways to start saving money for travel today:
Track your income and spending
When I was trying to save for travelling – I found it really helped to work out my monthly incoming and outgoings, once I knew exactly what I was earning and spending, it became easier to cut back. Each month on payday, while everyone else was out spending – I would figure out what I realistically needed to spend over the month ahead and moving the rest into my savings account. This didn't mean giving up all fun in life – I would budget for fun with friends and family as well. By working out exactly what I should be spending, it helped keep it under control. Ask yourself how to save money by cutting back on what you're currently spending – you'll be surprised how much you can save.
TIP: Create a spreadsheet and monitor every penny for a week/month – be honest about your spending and it's easy to see where you can cut back.
Read my other posts with top money-saving tips here.
Set a goal and make a plan
Work out the costs of your trip for travel, accommodation, food and fun – now break that down by what you can realistically save each month from your earnings. Not fitting in with your timescale? If you're not earning enough, consider getting a second job or taking on extra hours at work, or extend your timescale. Once you have an idea of how much you can actually save each month without being miserable – you'll know whether you want to push yourself harder or whether that actually works for you. Set yourself a monthly goal for saving and put this amount immediately into a high interest savings account or ISA on payday. Hopefully you may even still have some extra money left over at the end of the month as a bonus saving!
TIP: You can get some apps which can automatically save a % of your paycheck each month, or can help you budget realistically and keep on top of your finances quickly and easily. Check out this article.
Get a second job, or a third, or fourth
A great way to help you save extra cash and cutting down on the spare time when you would be spending, is to take on extra work. When I was saving to go travelling, I was working full time as a journalist, then in the evenings I would babysit for friends, work at the pub up the road, take on extra freelance work or paid work for this blog. I was creative and took on work where I could find it, choosing different things to keep it interesting and to broaden my CV at the same time. These same jobs helped me land a job an an au pair in Australia, and lots of hospitality and freelance work later on as well. Identify your skills and see if you can take on extra hours at work. Or go for something different and pick up shifts at your local supermarket or bar.
TIP: Sell your skills (IT, writing, design, social media) and work online in the evenings, or ask around with friends if you can babysit, clean, walk pets etc.
Start saving everywhere
Make sure you are set up with the best accounts for saving your money – you want to look for high interest savings accounts and ISAs to ensure you make the most of your money. Also, look into investing your money, and into credit cards and air miles points cards as great ways of getting good bonuses when you book travel. Make sure you use discount codes available online whenever you buy anything and sign up to newsletters to get initial discounts as a new customer. If you have to spend, do it wisely and start thinking in terms of what everything would be worth in the currency of the country you want to visit. For example, when I planned to travel Asia, I would ask myself whether I wanted to have a night out, or a week's accommodation/food in Asia – it made the decision easy!
TIP: Also – start a savings jar at home and put all your loose change into it at the end of every day. Anytime you sell anything, put a chunk of it in the jar and don't open until you leave for your trip.
Empty your cupboards and start selling
One great way I found to save money for travel while clearing out my cupboards, was to sell items. This ranged from old clothes, books and DVDs to jewellery, kid's toys and even picture frames! I used a combination of eBay and local car boot sales and made a small fortune off stuff that was only cluttering up my home. We all accumulate so much stuff, and I can tell you, if you're planning on travelling long-term, you'll want to minimise your life as much as possible. It's easy to sort out a couple of bin bags of stuff that you would normally take to the charity shop, and to make a few £££ from it. Selling gold and old jewellery is a great way to make some extra cash, check out this website for more information.
TIP: There are some great apps and websites like Depop which you can easily sell your old items on, these are quick and easy to use and can be done all on your phone.
Quit your memberships
So many of us are signed up to so many different memberships – from gym memberships at £20-40 a month (this could save you up to £500 a year!) to sites for streaming music and TV. With Spotify and Netflix at £9.99 a month, cutting both of these could save you £240 a year! Don't forget that some streaming providers are available on multiple devices – team up with your mates and split the cost! Also, start looking at your bank statement to check outgoings – you could easily be signed up to something without realising. I recently found that NOW TV had never actually cancelled a subscription when I requested it and had charged me for months extra! Don't get caught out by an old insurance or subscription.
TIP: Cancel that gym membership and start running or exercising outside, or check Youtube for lots of free workout videos including Yoga with Adriene.
Cut back on luxuries
Ask yourself, do you really need that mocha-choca-cappuccino-latte with extra foam and a toffee Danish every morning? Skip Starbucks and you could save up to £10 a day – that's £200 a month! If you're guilty of buying lunch every day instead of making it at home, that could be another £200 a month right there. It's so easy not to realise quite how much your cheeky little treats to yourself add up each month, but once you actually add it up – that's a lot of empty spending! Start making your own lunches at the start of the week – you can spend an hour prepping a week's worth of lunches and save yourself hundreds. Carry around a refillable water bottle and save even more on bottled water. Read more about the impact these choices could have on the environment in this great post on reducing plastic waste.
TIP: Get up a bit earlier each morning to make yourself a nice coffee to-go for your journey to work – save a fortune and you don't feel like you're missing out.
Cut your vices and watch the cash roll in
We've all got a weakness – whether it's eating out, smoking, spending a fortune on alcohol on nights out or even shopping. If we're giving in to these every weekend, or even during the week, it soon adds up. Instead of spending £100-200 each weekend on food, drinks, cigarettes and new outfits – why not look for alternative options? It doesn't mean you have to stop having fun, just get a bit creative with costs! Instead of eating out, make a fancy brunch at home for a third of the price. Invite your friends round for pre-drinks before you go out to save money, skip the ciggies because ew, and why not restyle an old outfit?
TIP: For those addicted to shopping – start restyling older clothes and only shop at vintage/second-hand stores. It makes you more creative with your style, and gives you a unique look while saving £££.
Plan ahead and save money
It's amazing the amount you can save with a bit of forethought. Instead of leaving everything to the last minute and ending up paying higher prices for convenience, plan ahead to cut costs. Plan your meals for the week and list the exact ingredients/quantities on your shopping list, combined with not shopping when you're hungry and you could save a fortune. The same goes for alcohol – if you want to spend less on alcohol, look for deals in the supermarket and make sure you have it at home to save you drinking more when you go out. If you want to catch up with friends but not spend a fortune? Why not plan a dinner party evening or tapas night where everyone brings a dish, you get to host all your mates while saving on inflated restaurant prices.
TIP: Think about which supermarket you shop at and consider a cheaper option – after all, they all sell the same products but sometimes at vastly different prices.
Don't be afraid to ask
Friends and family may want to spoil you at Christmas or on your birthday – but instead of the usual socks and bath products – why not ask them to make a small donation to your travel fund? Or, if they insist on giving you a present – why not ask for travel-related items? A backpack or suitcase would be a great gift for a traveler, or why not ask for travel insurance? It's not the most exciting present, but it saves you a chunk of money and organising, and gives them peace of mind. Explain to them that you're trying to cut back on stuff, and would really appreciate any support they can give. It helps them to feel part of your adventure and you can even send them photos from your trip to show how much you appreciated their support.
TIP: Why not start a travel blog? It's a great way for friends and family to keep up with your travels, especially if they helped you save! Plus you might even be able to make some money from it!
What are your top ways to save money? How have you cut back to save for travel?