“How do you afford to travel?”
This is by the far the most common question Jules and I receive in our inboxes, Facebook messages and from other travelers we meet on the road. It’s a bit frustrating to give an answer because most people are hoping to hear a magic solution, or some secret trick to getting a boat-load of cash and then jetting off to a foreign country. Unfortunately it doesn’t really work like that. It’s more like a combination of gradually saving up money and then traveling really cheaply once we’re off. We’ve written articles about our best budget travel tips and even cheap tricks from other travel bloggers, but today we’re going to give you tips on how to save money for travel TODAY!
“Cutting back to a minimalist lifestyle will not only save you the big bucks for traveling, but it’ll give you more room to breathe and lead a happier life in general”
Start to Downsize
This can mean different things depending on your lifestyle, but almost everyone has the wiggle room to downsize a bit. When you finally get to travel, you’ll be amazed at how little stuff you actually need in your life. Downsize your closet by creating a capsule wardrobe and then sell the extras on a consignment site like Twice. Downsize your monster TV and stereo set for something a little more reasonable. Cutting back to a minimalist lifestyle will not only save you the big bucks for traveling, but it’ll give you more room to breathe and lead a happier life in general.
Not everyone has this option, but if it’s possible, I highly recommend moving in with your parents/ grandparents/ extended family to save on rent (at least for a couple of months!). This is probably the number one reason we’ve been able to save so much over the years. Thanks Mom & Dad, and Nan! Again, I’m completely aware that this isn’t an option for most people, but if it is, take advantage! Rent is a huge chunk of your income, and if you can cut that down you’ll be cruising.
“Would you rather spend $500 dollars on a weekend at Coachella or 3 weeks traveling Central America?”
Evaluate Purchases Big and Small
The best way to start saving money is, obviously, to stop spending it. Make a list of any big purchases you’ve made lately or are about to make. Are these absolutely necessary, such as paying student loans? Or could they be cut out? Ask yourself if these are a higher priority than travel. Would you rather spend $500 dollars on a weekend at Coachella or 3 weeks traveling Central America? If it’s the former, that’s fine, but own your choices and make them consciously.
But don’t just evaluate big purchases; those small ones sneak up on you too. I know I for one have spent way too much money on clothing. Even if you’re buying on sale, those $10 tee shirts add up over time. It makes me feel a bit ill thinking about how much I’ve spent at Target over the years, and where that money could have gone instead!
Cancel All Your Subscriptions
Yep. I’m calling all you Netflix addicts out! These days there are so many awesome monthly subscriptions for movies, books, music, etc. And a $10 monthly subscription to Spotify may seem like a small price to pay for music, but over the course of a year or two, you’re looking at a few hundred dollars. Controlling all that passive money that’s leaking out from your bank account every month could mean an extra week or two on the beaches of Mexico. Or last you a whole month in Cuba. So cancel your StitchFix account and hop on your friend’s Netflix. Doesn’t everyone download their movies anyway?
“Sell your photography in a local café, fundraise on GoFundMe, or set up a lemonade stand. Whatever it takes to make that moola!”
Source Out Extra Income
So you make just enough to scrape by, but saving up for travel seems entirely unattainable? I totally understand. Young people, especially in major cities around the world, are often underpaid and overpaying for stuff like rent, food, etc. Now’s the time to start bringing in a little extra income- a “side hustle” if you will. Figure out your talents and passions, ideally the ones that don’t get utilized at work, so you don’t feel burnt out. Baby-sit for your neighbors (you may be pushing the 16 year olds out of a job, but jeeze those babysitters get paid a lot!), run errands on Task Rabbit, check out the “gigs” section of Craigslist (fair warning, there are a lot of creeps). Sell your photography in a local café, fundraise on GoFundMe, or set up a lemonade stand. Whatever it takes to make that moola!
Make a Rough Budget
Even if your trip is a year away, start creating a rough budget for it now. Research how much you’ll need for the type of trip that you want and see how much things cost in that country. Check out cheap accommodation, discounted trips and economy air-fare. Once you’re able to start putting a price tag on specific items, you can have a clearer idea of how much you need to save. Not only that, but the next time you’re tempted to spend $30 on a boozy brunch, you can remind yourself that that $30 is an entire day of exploring the backstreets of Bangkok or swimming in the gorgeous Caribbean ocean.