The number one reason people tell me they can’t go on holiday abroad is lack of money.
The second reason is that they don’t have the time off work. Americans are way down there with Thailand and the Philippines when it comes to our employers’ generosity of paid holidays from work. We are the bottom of the list along with China and Canada. In the UK, top of the list, they get up to 38 days or 10% of their year off.
Many times, in order to travel extensively, backpackers have to save up and quit their jobs. This is what I did. Twice!
These tips for saving money to travel may not work for everyone, but these are what saved me the money to be where I am today, India.
(Click for more reasons why Americans don’t travel)
You can relax by a pool in Thailand with no worries except where to get some fresh juice… if you save!
9 Tips for saving money toward travel
1. Stop spending money you don’t have.
I have a credit card for emergencies that luckily I’ve never needed. If you have school loans it shouldn’t stop you from traveling, you just need to budget that payment into your plans. (Or else wait 20 years or more to travel). But if your debt is on your Nordstrom card, you have to get your priorities straight and decide if this is what you really want. Pay your cards off immediately.
2. Stop shopping.
This one is the hardest for me. I fail at this almost all of the time. But when I reality-check myself its like this: if I am leaving for fall season, then I don’t need to buy fall clothes. If I’m traveling through winter I don’t need a new coat, boots, or scarf. Now if you really don’t buy those things you just saved yourself a couple hundred bucks! Once you’ve missed multiple seasons of fashion and get over that period of depression, it gets better. When you get back summer clothes will be in the stores and what you missed will already be out of style.
3. If you have a job that allows it, pick up overtime.
When I was saving for my second trip to India I worked on average five 12-hour night shifts a week, and sometimes worked 8 days in a row. It sucked but I was determined. Set your budget based on the money you will make working extra hours (only if you know the will be available) and then you’ll feel obligated to go in when work calls for help.
4. Realize that entertainment is what sucks up all your money.
You have to revert back to university ways. Pregame. Really hard. I would actually try not to buy more than one drink while I was out. I also chose beer (cheaper) over liquor. Every dollar counts. Stay in and watch a free DVD from RedBox (code: DVDONME) instead of spending 10 bucks at the theatre. Remember, this is temporary misery, but very worth it. That 10 bucks is a mojito, calamari, and massage on a beach in India.
5. Get another job.
Babysit, housesit, or mow lawns. Advertise at work for babysitting. Act like you are 10 and ask your parents for money to wash the cars. Get a part time job somewhere that you usually spend money and can take advantage of the discount. I have waited tables, bagged groceries, painted houses, cleaned gutters, and made corndogs at a racetrack. I hire graphic designers and creative people on Fiverr which is something to consider, or elance where you can even just edit people’s writing.
6. This one saved me bundles: spend less at the grocery store.
Use coupons. Stop buying expensive food. Always go when your belly is full. Stop buying drinks and stick to water. Not everyone can eat like I do (because I eat like a 15-year old boy) but living off of hot pockets, frozen burritos, packaged noodles, and hotdogs meant spending about 100 dollars a month on food.
7. Drive less.
Gas is expensive. Try to spend a day off doing everything in one area then only drive to work and back during the week. This was easy for me because I lived in a city that was walk-able. But if you find yourself driving too much to see friends and go out, you need to rethink where your money is going.
8. Go home for the weekend (if it’s close).
This is an oldie but a goodie. You’ll get free food, you won’t be tempted to go out and spend money, and you can spend time with your family before your trip.
9. Work right up until you leave.
This way, two weeks into your trip another paycheck magically appears. You should do this before any big trip.
This place cost less than 4 dollars a night on Koh Phi Phi
You don’t lose money by traveling, you actually can spend much less– you just don’t have an income.
If that’s not possible for you, there are ways to make money while you travel.
In three months in India, living quite nicely, I spent 1,500 USD. Add 1,400 for my flight round-trip, and I came out under 3,000. My rent in Charlotte was 1,000 a month, so I spent less making all those memories abroad than I would have just on rent in North Carolina.
You have to decide if you have enough money for expensive Western Europe, and you need to compare your own currency to the areas you want to visit. Last season, the pound is doing beyond great here in India, and the Brits were smart enough to take advantage of that. See where your currency does well!
Read more on money & travel with these articles:
- 11 reasons on season travel saves you more
- 13 ways to stay on your budget when you travel
- 14 ways to earn money abroad
- 12 ways to travel when you’re broke
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