Despite what people say, you don’t need to be rich to travel, you just need to be creative and responsible with how to do it. I’ve gotten judgments from others around me on how I can afford to spend three months traveling around in (not the cheapest country) on my own. There’s a popular belief that in order to travel at this age, you must have rich parents and be riding on their dime.
Don’t worry, I had that belief as well before I learned about hostels, ride-shares, and cheap flight apps. I was under the impression that travel was only for the rich and privileged. Yes, there are those millennials that have the luxury of banking on their parents. Good for them, honestly. But everyone has a different financial situation, and for me, that was not the case.
Even with my monthly bills and expenses, I managed to save an additional $10,000 in my last year of college by transforming my lifestyle and living below my means. It wasn’t easy, but it was absolutely worth it – and I can take these skills with me into the future.
Now, after spending a few months on both the North and South Islands of New Zealand and thinking of where I’m headed to next, I’m here to tell you that traveling the world is possible for the rest of us and here’s how.
Tip No. 1: Become financially responsible
Money management is a learned skill, but most of us don’t actually learn or master it until we have to as adults and post-graduates – if ever. If you want to save money for travel, now is a really good time to start thinking about what are the best ways for you to actually make saving happen and maybe cut out some of those financial bad habits on the way.
The biggest point to remember here is that becoming financially responsible is a long-term commitment, not a quick fix. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. These commitments are hard to stick to and saving up for travel or anything spendy is tough and demands sacrifice. You have to decide to do it, no one else can do it for you.
Tip No. 2: Track your spending
This is a big one. People, track your spending – you have to. I have so many friends, bless their hearts, that are afraid to look at their bank accounts and will just buy until they can’t anymore. I would strongly advise against that because, either way, you have the amount you have, and there’s no reason to find out when its all gone.
Put aside a day, open some wine or crack a beer, and go through your bank account to just look at what you’re spending your money on. Tracking your expenses is an important part of learning where you can cut back or even eliminate spending altogether. Write it down, make a budget excel sheet, use helpful budgeting apps, or create some system that works for you, just make sure it’s consistent.
Take notice of your wants versus your needs. Notice your vices: alcohol, coffee, that type of thing. Mine is coffee 100%.
This step is just for you to take notice of where your money is going. If you approach it with the right attitude, and some wine or beer to take the edge off, you’ll thank yourself later.
Tip No. 3: Create a budget and stick to it
Write it down, make a budget excel sheet, use helpful budgeting apps, or create some system that works for you, just make sure it’s consistent. There are two things to track here: your trip and your everyday life.
First, look at how much your trip is going to cost you so you know how much you need to put away. Look at low-cost ways to travel. I’ve got some helpful tips on my post here. If you know how to do it, you can make your trip cost as low as $50 per day! Once you’ve got a rough idea of how much the travel expenses will be, add $1000 onto that and that is your estimated savings goal.
If you’ve got 12 months before you leave, your monthly savings goal is going to be 1/12th of that total. You need to budget successfully and put that much aside every month, more or less until you hit your target.
I promise you can do it. I just did.
Tip No. 4: Reduce unnecessary spending
This is pretty straightforward and obvious, but it’s still important nonetheless. Look at where your money is going and see what types of things you don’t need to be spending on right now. I’m not saying cut it out forever, but just until you’ve reached your goal.
Remember how I said to look at your vices earlier? Well, this is the easiest way to cut out extra expenses. However, I am also a firm believer in having something that you enjoy in your budget that is a want and not an actual need. For instance, mine is coffee. I do not go out to dinner, shop for endless hours, or go out every weekend. But, I love my coffee and I allow myself the luxury to buy it. By doing this, I have found that it is easier to stick to my savings goal because I don’t feel like I’m cutting everything I enjoy out.
Tip No. 5: Develop habits that save you money
This will be different for everyone depending on your current lifestyle and spending habits. But some, quick easy ways to save money are:
– Walk, bike, or use public transportation instead of driving around in your car and increasing your gas expense. This may not be feasible, if you’re like me and work odd house and really far away, but if you can make it happen, it will be a huge money-saver.
– Cook your meals instead of buying them. This one is huge and everyone can do it. Cook for yourself, especially for lunch and dinner and you, can save somewhere between $6 and $11 per meal. If you’ve previously spent all of your time eating out, you’d save between $125 and $230 every week just by cooking.
– Shop around for the best prices and compare.
– Stop going out, at least for now. When you go for a night out on the town, movie night with your mates, dinner in the city, or other, you will end up spending money. Take that out for a little bit and you may be able to see an entirely different country.
– Quit your gym membership and save yourself anywhere from $15 to $60 per month. Choose to workout outside or in your home if possible or change it for outdoor activities that are free of charge.
Tip No 6: Make more mone
There are plenty of opportunities to make more money, you just have to look for them and again, be creative. Find side jobs by becoming a part-time barista, bartender, nanny, dog-walker, tutor, cleaning houses, whatever you have to do. These add up.
Also, consider creating a GoFundMe or FundMyTravel. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to help, and let me tell you, every dollar counts! I am grateful that I have supportive friends and extended family to receive $1,000 to go towards my trip.
In college, I worked part-time as a figure skating instructor, barista at a coffee shop, and nanny. You will work a lot, but you will also be able to split this money up into bills, necessities, and savings.
As you’ll discover when you travel, things rarely go as you planned. Have the ability to think on your feet and adjust your trajectory when necessary. Expect that you will go off course and don’t be surprised when obstacles or new opportunities come your way.
But all of that shouldn’t matter, right? If you’re committed to saving money and making your travel plans a reality, you’ll find a way to get there. The plan isn’t important its the destination that matters. I am so grateful for the few nights I chose to miss on the town and dinners I cooked at home instead for this experience of beautiful coastal ridges, mountain tops, and unmatched personal growth.
I hope this has been helpful to you.