A huge part of travelling, although we would all love to avoid it, is raising the money to afford it.
I have read a few of these types of articles and blog posts lately, and a lot of them genuinely have some good tips. But majority of them unfortunately don’t really cater to those of us who;
A. Don’t live at home and pay for all our living costs like rent, utilities, groceries etc.
B. Don’t have the option of just moving back in with our parents
C. Don’t want to be told ‘Stop paying for coffee, breakfast etc’ because, let’s be honest, those tips will only save you minimal amounts of money in comparison to the huge amount someone needs to travel the world.
What we really need from blogs like this are strategies that can actually turn your money life around and get you big results. I’m not going to tell you to quit your coffee habit or say no to going out with your friends, because that shit just isn’t realistic, and it just makes the whole process unappealing, and more like a chore. When in reality, you can save money and still enjoy your life *shock horror!*
These tips could in theory work for any savings goal you have, or if you’re just interested in gaining a bit of cash behind you. I’ll also divulge a few mistakes I’ve made in the past and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes!
1. Get rid of all debt
Before you can get started on your savings plan, get rid of your debt! Saving money while you owe money is a useless exercise. Student loan and mortgage excluded, there is zero point in beginning a savings plan if you owe money on a car, credit card, AfterPay, hire purchase etc. This type of debt is toxic and will only make your life harder in the long run, my mantra is ‘if I can’t pay cash/eftpos right now, I can’t afford it’ Simple.
Endeavour to pay down any remaining debt before you start saving for travelling, because that interest is only going to stack up while you’re away and will be a nasty little surprise to go along with your holiday hangover.
2. Understand your own behaviour
This is going to be tough, but you need to take a look at your current spending habits. A lot of banks now have features in place that give you a visual pie chart on where most of your money goes. Open up your bank account and look at everything you’ve paid for in the last 2-3 months.
You may just find some opportunities to scale back a bit, like can you find a cheaper phone plan? Could you reduce your electric bill by going with another provider? Maybe you could shop at a different supermarket? Potentially you could get a better deal on rent if you move or adjust your mortgage payments.
If you’re an adult who supports themselves 100%, most of your money will be going towards rent/mortgage, bills and insurance, take a hard look at those expenses and do some research into whether you can reduce those costs. Also, if you come across regular bi-monthly $500 ASOS orders, I’d suggest questioning the value in those too 😉
3. Figure out how much you need
Are you going to South East Asia or the USA? Where you’re going really depends on how much you need to save. There are a lot of resources online that can help you figure out how much you’re going to save for the amount of time you’re going for.
I’d suggest joining some travel Facebook groups and posing questions to other travellers as well as reading blogs (you can find these on Pinterest) You also need to work out what kind of trip it’s going to be, are you happy to stay in hostels? Do you want to be able to ‘do everything’ you want? Will you be cooking for yourself or do you want to go out every meal?
These types of decisions will really effect the cost of the trip in the long run so do some research and you’ll hopefully come to a number that you need to aim for!
4. Make a budget
Again, this is not going to be fun. But making a budget for your everyday life will really help in the long run to help you achieve your goal. Take your spending habits from step 2, work in your goal from step 3 and figure out how much you can save from each pay check towards your goal. If your trip is already booked, count the months/weeks before you fly and work out how much from each pay you need to achieve your goal.
Going through this process, I find, is actually really motivating and gives you a clear process in your head and on paper as to what you are trying to achieve, trust me you will have a huge sense of pride when you stick to it and ultimately achieve it!
I use Google Sheets to manage my cashflow in and out, and I always make sure that the first transfer I make after I get paid (after rent and living costs) is straight into my savings!
5. Ask for a raise
I realise that this may not be a viable option for everyone, it depends on the workplace. But if you do work in an industry where your pay is not set in stone (like government or health) then I’d recommend having that chat with your boss about your salary or hourly rate.
My mantra on this is ‘the worst they can say is no’ – they can’t fire you for asking for more money! It’s the main point in having a job in the first place. I would come prepared, explain all the reasons why you deserve the raise, highlight how you add value to the business and if they say no ask them what you could do to make them consider it.
There are resources available online that can provide the median rate for most jobs and careers, look yours up and it should give you an understanding of your worth. At the end of the day, if they are steadfast on keeping you on your rate, look for something else that pays better!
6. Find other ways to make money
Repeat after me, ‘I am not limited by my salary.’ Your pay cheque, in my opinion, is only one way of many that you can earn money. When I was saving for my South America trip, I culled about half closet, stuff I never wore, and listed it on eBay, I ended up making an extra $2000.
There are so many resources available these days that allow everyday people to make a bit on the side, do you have spare time to help others? List yourself on AirTasker! Have a spare room in your apartment? Airbnb it! Got a car? List it on Car Next Door or become an Uber driver.
If you have the availability, start doing some freelance on the side or start your own side hustle. You’d be amazed at how much you can make on skills or things you already have.
7. Find cheaper ways to do what you love
I told you before that I wasn’t going to tell you to skip the lattes and avo on toast with your mates, because that’s the shit we live for and what ultimately makes our lives enjoyable. But there are some small things you can apply that will save you money but won’t sacrifice the things you love.
For example, I love going to yoga, but a class pass to a good yoga studio costs upwards of $100 a month, no thank you! I use an app called ‘Mind Body’ that notifies me of intro deals in my area to yoga studios, so I only ever have to pay the intro pass (usually $20 for two weeks or similar) and then when I’m done I move on to the next studio!
Similar to this way of thinking, if you love socialising (who doesn’t?) have dinner at home before meeting your mates at the pub, or in the summer host a BBQ where you don’t have to pay for bar priced drinks. I always meet friends for happy hour where possible and sometimes just stick to a coffee catch up rather than a full lunch if its happening a lot!
I also love shopping and have a penchant for certain fashion labels, but I buy them all on eBay second hand, if you’re savvy enough you can end up with a designer dress that’s just been worn once for over half the price. It’s up to you, figure out what you love doing and find ways to make it cheaper so you don’t have to sacrifice!
Mistakes I made
I’m not sitting here writing this acting like I’m the world’s greatest saver, I’ve definitely made some mistakes when it came to fund my travels. So I’m now going to highlight a few that I’ve made so you don’t need to make the same ones!
1. Not doing enough research on travel cards and using a crap credit card. International exchange fees suck.. Take it from me! I deeply regret not spending an hour or two researching the best international travel card and consequently was stung by a lot of fees. Not just this, but once you’ve settled on a good card make sure you change your automatic payments from Uber, Airbnb, Booking.com to the international card. I found ‘Exchange fees’ on my statement for $5 ubers!
2. Not keeping spending while travelling at the forefront of my mind. Once you’re actually in the travel zone, all real life responsibilities tend to feel far less important. While it’s great to be rid of all of those worries, I found that towards the end of our trip we were dancing very close to the end of our budget, something that could easily have been avoided if we hadn’t lived it up and lived a bit beyond our travel fund means at the beginning. I don’t massively regret this one, because everything we did was amazing, but it would have been a little less stressful towards the end had we had a bit more to play with!
3. Buying too much stuff I didn’t need in preparation for the trip. I get that vaccinations, flights, backpack etc are necessities, but new clothes to wear in the Caribbean probably weren’t.. spoiler alert, all I wore in Central America was my bikini and my overalls, every single day. You honestly need far less than you think when travelling, and this is something I will remember next time I pack and buy a bunch of stuff I didn’t need!