Alright guys, time to fess up. How many times have you been scrolling through social media, seen someone seemingly always off to somewhere new and exotic, and thought “man, they’re so lucky to be able to afford that, how did they save to travel?”
When we first started telling people of our travel plans, we were met with a mix of responses that we mostly expected. Happiness, excitement, perhaps a little jealousy, and some concerns over the whole ‘quitting our jobs and taking off’ thing. However, it was what invariably followed the initial response that caught us a little by surprise:
“You’re so lucky, I could never afford to do what you’re doing”
“What’d you do to pull that off; rob a bank?!”
Here’s the straight-up, no nonsense low-down: saving to travel the world is tough.
It really isn’t about luck, the lottery, or shady underworld dealings; it requires a ridiculous amount of prioritisation and sacrifice that, quite frankly at times doesn’t seem worth it. It’s not until you board that plane, land in your destination and start your adventure that you realise every sacrifice WAS worth it.
We had long talked about travelling the world and in February 2015 it became reality when we purchased a one-way ticket to Singapore. From there, everything became real. Suddenly, we had to act like grown ups and actually save our money; no new clothes, no new gadgets, no going out.
So what did we do? Apart from fighting when Miranda wanted to buy new clothes every week (jokes!), we sat down a set up a list of ways in which we could save our cashola.
So if you’re planning on jetsetting around the world for a year, a month or even trying to set aside a house deposit, see our advice on how how you can save to travel.
HOW YOU CAN SAVE TO TRAVEL
#1 Create a savings plan
We hate plans. Like really hate plans. But to live our dreams we needed one. So we sat down and nutted out how much we would need to travel the world. We aimed for $100AUD a day for the two of us. So we needed to save at least $40k to travel for 10 months then move to London. This equated to saving around $4k a month from start to finish; in other words, a LOT of money. But this was what we needed to do to live our dream.
Our Tip: If your dream is to travel, work out how much you’ll need to make it happen and map it out effectively. And set yourself a deadline.
#2 Open a high interest bank account
We both have high interest accounts with ING Direct which are hard to access. We set up monthly deductions from our salaries to go straight into these accounts.
As our savings grew our interest rose with it – which is like free money, right? We might be naive, but who doesn’t love free money?
Our Tip: Get your backside into gear and research and set up a high interest savings account that suits you. Every month, put the required amount you need to save into it; no excuses.
#3 Reduce your living expenses/make sacrifices
We took a whole-hearted look at where our expenses lay and realised there was a lot we could save. We shopped around for the cheapest water, gas, electricity and internet providers and made use of their best deals. We didn’t upgrade to a flashy new iPhone, we dropped our mobile plans to a minimum instead.
We also chose to walk/ride to work on most days to cut down on car or transport costs. And Miranda sacrificed her coffee addiction (which in Melbourne is hard) and supplemented it with tea, provided by her work! These little things all added up.
Our Tip: Take a leave day and sort your finances out. Work out if you’re getting the best deal for your life essentials and make changes if you need to. If you can, walk or ride to work as many days possible. Two coffees a day? That’s up to $10AUD a day you’re throwing away. And that beautiful new iPhone you want? Just make do with what you have; it does the same job… almost.
#4 Shop at your local markets
We were very fortunate to live close to markets. Each Saturday morning we would plan our week’s food and go to the markets and buy up. Apart from being cheaper (it saved us at least $50p/w), the produce was better and we were aiding local businesses. This became our ritual.
Our Tip: Make the effort to get to a market every weekend. It WILL save you money, the produce is better and you’ll actually start to enjoy the bustling nature of these places. It will also provide a training ground for the foreign markets you’ll visit, minus the exotic smells.
#5 Eat in
It sucked, as nothing beats a beautiful meal from a Melbourne restaurant, but we made a point of eating in 6 out of seven nights a week, with one night being allowed to see friends or family. Each Friday, instead of going out for a favourite meal, we would make it; chicken Parma with potato wedges or healthy homemade pizzas were two of our faves.
Our Tip: Eating out costs a lot, so eat in as many nights possible. A few things will happen; you’ll save money, obviously, but you’ll also improve your cooking skills. Win win if you ask us.
#6 Limit your alcohol
Ah, alcohol. Sometimes so good, generally so bad. After-work drinks on a Friday were always a cash killer until we said NO MORE! We’d still go out, we just wouldn’t drink. And that made us feel great the next day. This would also be the case when hanging out with friends, unless it was for a special occasion. We became the lame ones but sacrifices needed to be made. Sorry guys.
Our Tip: Limit your big nights out to once a month and reduce the amount you drink when going out for dinner. When you’re in Southeast Asia you can have as many big nights on cheap beer/rice wine as you want.
#7 Nights on the couch
Over 10 months of saving, we had many nights on the couch. We started watching TV series, movies, reading, blogging and learning about photography. Sure, sometimes it was boring, but most of the time fun.
Our Tip: Nights on the couch can make you feel like you are missing out, but use them to learn, or to catch up on tv series or movies you’ve wanted to see for ages.
#8 No new clothes/unnecessary things
This was a rule that almost saw the death of our relationship (again, we’re kidding). Every change in season brought a new wave of envy as Miranda saw beautiful clothes she “needed” to have. But the equation was simple; buy clothes, stay in Melbourne. In the end, we both made do with what we had and didn’t look too out of fashion (at least we think we didn’t).
Our Tip: Unless you really need new clothes (underwear, socks etc.), just make do with what you have. You’ll soon realise that actually, you really don’t need a 4th pair of jeans.
#9 Save your annual leave
We decided we wouldn’t use a single day of annual leave from the moment we decided to travel. We ended up saving around 25 days each, which equates to 5 weeks paid leave. In other words, our first five weeks of travel we were effectively being paid; #winning.
Our Tip: Businesses hate it, but if you can, save as much of your annual leave as possible, then reap the rewards when you are exploring ancient ruins without dipping into your savings!
#10 Ditch the gym and use parks instead
We decided to rescind any gym memberships we had and utilise the park for our workouts. Three times a week we would walk/run, while we would also use our apartment stairwell for extra leg work. Park benches worked well for push ups and dips as did the hallway at home. You’ll save upwards of $20p/w and breathe that beautiful fresh air.
Our Tip: Gyms are a waste of money most of the time, so give up your membership, browse the almighty Youtube for workout routines and go to your local park to get your sweat on.
#11 Sell your old unused stuff
While we were moving out we realised we had so much stuff we didn’t ever use, including everything from clothes to electrical equipment. We applied the motto of “if you don’t use it, ditch it”, popped the items on eBay and Gumtree and made ourselves some quick cash.
Our Tip: Got stuff you don’t use? Don’t be sentimental; ditch it. You’ll be surprised by what people pay for some things you deem useless. Then use that money and save to travel the world!
#12 Be a tourist in your own backyard
We really wanted to explore and travel but we were saving. So we decided to look at Melbourne and her surrounds as if we were tourists. Most weekends, we’d get out and explore somewhere new, like Daylesford or Mt. Donna Buang. It helped with writing for the blog but it also made us appreciate our home city.
Our Tip: Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get out and enjoy yourself like a traveller. Explore your own city and you’ll end up loving it more.
How did you save to travel? Share your tips and hacks in the comments below!
Like it? Pin It!