As much as we all want to avoid it, you have to budget for your travel and be smart with your money. This is just as – if not more – important before you even set foot out the door. In order to avoid running out of money halfway through your trip, you’re going to need to plan and save money before travelling.
Try the following exercise…
Write down all of your expenses on a piece of paper. This will include things like rent, car payments, etc. Also, don’t forget other expenses like food, drinks, shopping, coffee, snacks and partying.
When you add all of these things together, you end up with a s*** ton of money (probably)! Even tiny expenses like a bottle of water can make a big difference over time.
Now, there may be expenses that really are impossible to cut, but remember, if you’re travelling the world, many of these expenses disappear (learn more here)!
Lots of people seem to think that travel is expensive and you need a lot of money to be able to do it and have this lavish, dream lifestyle. This is total BS! If you adopt the right principles, travel can be cheap. And no, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be scraping by, sleeping in barns and eating instant noodles for every meal! The aim is to travel well as well as travel cheap! That being said, there is no avoiding the fact that in order to travel, you do need some money.
There are simple, creative ways to save a little bit here, a little there and this will build up over time. The more you save, the more prepared you are for travel and the closer you get to that dream life!
Here are some simple and easy ways to save money before travelling!
Cut the Caffeine
Coffee is a daily expense that quietly drains your bank account. Say you spend £3 per day on coffee. That turns into £21 per week, £90 per month and over £1000 per year! That’s more than enough for a pretty substantial trip somewhere! Just ask yourself what’s more important: your daily caffeine fix or exploring the streets of Tokyo or Bangkok? If you can’t give it up altogether, why not start having your coffee at home – instead of giving your hard-earned travel fund to Starbucks or Costa!
You could easily apply this principle to other drinks as well (more on this later).
Learn to Cook
Restaurants are pretty expensive these days. Learning to cook will not only save you a ton of cash in the long run, it’s also just a useful skill to learn, in general. Plus, it will be a lot healthier than eating out all the time. You don’t need to be a culinary genius to be able to cook for yourself!. There are websites, YouTube channels and books that all teach people how to make quick, easy and healthy meals. If you’re very busy and you don’t think you have enough time to cook three times per day, why don’t you read my article on “How To Master Meal Prepping”?
Get Rid of Your Car
Cars are crazy expensive to own and run. You have to pay for the car itself, plus insurance and repairs, not to mention filling it up – which is becoming increasingly expensive also. If you live in a city, it should be easy enough to live without a car. Just take public transport, walk or cycle as much as possible. It may be slightly harder for those who live in smaller towns or out in the middle of nowhere. You could sell the car and exchange it for a cheaper one and then only use it when it’s absolutely necessary. You could still try and walk or cycle as much as you can.
One other option – if you’re feeling a little adventurous and cool – learn to ride a motorcycle. These are much cheaper to run compared to cars.
Reduce Living Costs
Finding a roommate will cut your rent in half. If you can’t find one, move into a smaller apartment. The best case scenario could be to move in with your parents (temporarily). This will easily save you several hundred pounds a month in rent costs!
Even if you live in a small apartment, you can still make the best possible use out of the space that you do have. Having fold away tables and beds or sofa beds are just a few ideas to make use of the limited space in a small apartment.
This video is a great example of a minimalist apartment.
Stop Going to the Cinema
Going to the cinema is ridiculously expensive these days! It usually costs more than £10 for a ticket, and the same again for popcorn and a drink (I would always need a slushy). Instead of actually going to the movies, get a Netflix or Amazon Prime account. These are far cheaper options!
This will save money before travelling and it also requires little to no effort to implement!
Downgrade Your Phone
Having an iPhone – or another smartphone – will cost somewhere between £25-50 per month. I’ll admit, smartphones are convenient devices but, getting a cheap phone without any fancy apps will cut your monthly phone bill in half (probably more). Let’s face it, the only app we truly need on our phone is “phone” – especially those of us who own a tablet too (which can do everything a smartphone does).
I recently downgraded from an iPhone 5C to an Alcatel One Touch. No, I didn’t think you’d heard of it. This new phone does everything I need a phone to do (and it has a better battery life than my iPhone!) and it cost me a whopping £0.79 ($1 ish)! My iPhone set me back £20 per month. The Alcatel costs me £4 per month. I’m saving about £200 per year!
I’m not a fan of banks, plus if you’re thinking of opening a savings account, the interest rates are so low these days, it’s almost not worth it.
What I like to do instead is save my money in glass savings jars. You can organise these however you want but here’s the way I do it:
- One jar is for copper coins. If you’re not from the UK, these are the lowest value coins you can get and are pretty much useless in day-to-day life. So, these may as well be saved, right?
- Another jar is for all of the foreign money I accumulate and have left over from previous trips.
- A third jar is to collect £2 coins (about $3). These coins are not that common in the UK, but they build up over time. I used this method for a trip to the US and managed to save a few hundred pounds in this jar alone!
You could always have a bonus jar of sorts. This could be like a swear jar, or something along those lines.
All in all, this method can save you up a few hundred pounds for each trip! You may not be able to control how much money you make, but you can control how much you spend!
Sign up for Newsletters
If you sign up for mailing lists of airlines and other travel companies, you’ll get updates on last-minute deals and special offers. Jack’s Flight Club is a good one to start with.
As well as signing up for these guys, I have a weekly mailing list where I offer exclusive bonus travel content that’s not available on the website. I’ll also scour the internet and send you the best deals I’ve found in a monthly update email. If this sounds helpful, sign up here.
Build a network on your travels. One of the best aspects of travel is meeting new people. By building a network, you will not only have friends to travel with in the future, but also potential free accommodation on future trips! Try using Couchsurfing to build up your travel network. You’ll meet some awesome people as a result and all of the accommodation is free!
Get Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
This can save you a fair amount in the long run. Energy efficient bulbs are far cheaper and – not to mention – far better for the environment.
Just remember, every little bit counts!
Go Minimalist (Sell Your Stuff)
Look around your place and I’m sure you’ll see a lot of stuff that you just don’t need (especially if you’re about to hit the road). Get rid of everything that isn’t essential and isn’t of great value to you (I’m not talking about monetary value). Be as tough on yourself as possible and then sell what you can. You can easily make a couple thousand pounds from doing this! Amazon, Gumtree and Ebay are all good sites to sell your possessions on. You could also hold a garage/car boot sale to sell the rest.
A while ago I was looking through my stuff and realised I had a bottle of whisky that had been sitting around for years and since I don’t like whisky (as a Scottish person, this is embarrassing) I decided to see how much I could get for it. It had initially been bought for around £50, and when I looked to sell it, it was valued at around £650! So look around your drinks cupboards/cabinets. You don’t know what you might find!
Cut down on Drinking
Cutting down the amount you drink will save you a lot of money in the long run. When you do go out, drink before you head out, instead of buying the more expensive drinks at the bar/club. Or you could be even more extreme and just not drink at all (this may be hard for some). This is one of the easiest methods on this list to save money before travelling!
Smoking kills you, the people around you, not to mention your bank account too! Daily smokers will spend a few thousand pounds per year on cigarettes. That would be enough for a few months in Southeast Asia! If it’s not enough to quit for your own health (which it should be) quit in order to travel the world!
This is another one you should stop – if not for your health – for your travels. Snacks don’t cost that much (on their own) so we don’t really think about it when we buy them, but those little costs become bigger and bigger over time. To avoid snacking:
- Eat proper, full meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Keep yourself occupied – a lot of the time, when we feel snacky, we’re actually just bored!
Get a Reusable Water Bottle
Getting a reusable water bottle (preferably metal) will save you a few hundred pounds per year! Stop buying that daily plastic bottle of water. This will bleed your wallet dry and is very harmful to the environment.
Watch this video.
When I’m not travelling, I work and I save. I’m smart about how I spend my money. I don’t go out every chance I get and I don’t buy anything that I don’t need or won’t be of value to me. Travel is my priority.
You need to do the same! If you’re spending your money on other – non-essential – things, travel will always seem unrealistic and unattainable. Once travel is your priority, you’ll start finding ways to save.
Cutting your daily expenses, adopting a more minimalist mindset and having a simpler lifestyle will allow you to save money for your trip without needing to win the lottery or get a huge raise at work. I use these tips myself so I know – first hand – that they work. They will save you thousands every year and will bring you that much closer to making your travel dreams a reality!
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