5 Amazing Ways to Save Travel Money
I’m fairly certain my wife and I have read every blog, article, and website dedicated to pulling off long extended trips in Europe and abroad. Together, we have accumulated volumes of advice on making money while traveling, places to stay for free and even how to keep your kids entertained while on a trip, but we have noticed that there is very little practical advice on how to stay motivated to save for an expensive trip. So after a great brainstorming session we came up with these 5 amazing steps on how to save for your next adventure.
Around the World in Under Five Minutes
Research, Research, Research.
This is my favorite part of pre-travel. You may be wondering what this has to do with savings, but the most significant savings you can achieve is done by careful planning. Researching your destination or even backpacking in general can reveal a ton of savings tips. For example, researching work stays, organic farming, and volunteering opportunities could turn $15,000 from being a few weeks into a year adventure. This adventure could include 3 months learning sustainable building techniques in Israel, working at a hostel in Croatia for three months, working on a dairy farm in the Alps, and running a cave tour in Iceland. The best part of research is you can change your mind, re-imagine and even use the knowledge to test out your ideas with more seasoned travelers. And don’t underestimate the power of intrigue – it’s what keeps you going.
Buy Backpacking Gear While Saving
Backpacking requires good gear if you want to do it right, so buy it while you save. Buying stuff may seem a little counter-intuitive when it comes to saving money, but if your anything like me you will need to see your money being put to use. Also, it feels good to spend, which is why you are spending on the items you will need for the trip rather than buying that video game or those new shoes. Where do you start? The first and most essential item is the backpack. Out of all the gear decisions you will need to make, deciding between a small backpack and large one is the most important. A small backpack will make it easy to hop into taxis or rickshaws and explore ruins, but won’t have room for camping gear if you’re really trying to save your pennies. A large backpack will carry all of your gear but will slow you down and leave you constantly searching for safe places to store it. This, of course, also limits how much equipment you can bring with you as well. The best way to tell which one is better for you is to imagine your ideal trip and then imagine a backpack strapped to your back for most of it. Don’t be afraid to check Kijiji or Craiglist for used backpacks. You may be able to save further this way, but be sure you take the steps above in deciding if it’s the right one for you.
Staying motivated is essential for any long term savings to survive and making visual aids to motivate you will keep that savings growing. Take these visual aids and put them in places that you will see regularly, especially where you make financial decisions. Here are a few ideas to get you started;
When you are out at department stores or thrift shops be on the lookout for paintings and photos of the places you would like to visit.
Start a Pinterest account and search your travel destinations to find inspiration for places to go and photos to take while you’re there.
Print off some wallet sized pictures of the places you want to see and put them in your wallet so you can see them before you pay for things you don’t need.
Make a collage of your trip plans so you can see all the fun ideas you have had so far and to help you in your future planning. You can get these pictures from those travel magazines you picked up at travel agencies.
Write Out a Budget
This is a little more practical and obvious, but it is absolutely essential to success in saving for a huge trip, or any other large purchase for that matter. If you have Microsoft Excel, or any other spread sheet program, then download a template. Most of them are very well made but download a few and pick your favorite. Remember to put some money aside for emergencies so that you don’t need to dip into your savings. For the best results save bills and receipts for a month and use them to test the accuracy of your budget, as well as your ability to stick within it. When my wife and I first got serious about budgeting we used the “Jar System”. This basically means that you take out all the cash you need for a period of time, swear off your debit card, and put the cash into jars labeled with your budget’s different categories. Some examples could be; gasoline, groceries, rent, electricity, coffee money, date money, etc. This forces you to use only the money you have budgeted and allows you to see money leaving other budgeted expenses if you over spend. This is helpful for those who have a hard time not spending their money when they are out and about.
Give Up the Non-Essentials to Re-direct Budget
The non-essentials are different for everybody. Some of these cannot be completely eliminated and some of these can. For me, my biggest money wasting non-essentials have always been food related. I love buying coffee when I’m out, snack foods at the grocery store, and the most expensive culprit, eating out at restaurants. I have learned that I cannot completely rid these things from my budget but I can reduce them. For coffee, I make the effort to make a pot of coffee at home and I use my single disk brewer only when I’m in a rush (it’s still cheaper than the coffee shop). I have put snack foods into my grocery budget which pretty much keeps those expenses under control, after all, when you’re deciding between a nice meal and a bag of chips you typically make the right choice. As for eating out, my wife and I only have $100 a month set aside which we have trouble with some months but generally stick to. Some non-essentials I have eliminated to date include; alcohol, magazines, books, cable TV, movie rentals, and even video games. As you can imagine this has freed a significant amount of money for savings.
Just Do It
I hope these tips have helped inspire you to save and, more importantly, travel. When you’re backpacking the Camino De Santiago remember to find this artcle and comment below as soon as you find some free Wi-Fi.