A lot of people ask us how we managed to save enough money to support our travels which is why we decided to write this particular article. Saving isn’t easy, especially when you earn in pesos, like I did in the Philippines.
Both Tom and I worked our asses off in order to save enough money before we quit our jobs. I was tutoring like crazy, normally working an average of 5 extra hours after my regular 8-hour teaching job. Tom, on the other hand, juggled a job as a server while he was doing his degree in Aerospace Engineering in the UK.
Yes, we of all people know that money doesn’t grow off of trees; however, if you want it enough, you can do it!
So many people think traveling is expensive, but I’ve found that you can do this quite cheaply, especially around Asia. Here are simple tips on how to save for travel. It’s not rocket science, and you can do it too!
Top 5 Ways to Save for Travel
1. Cut out unnecessary expenses
Yes, I am talking about that cup of Starbucks coffee that you HAVE to have. Or that new movie you NEED to see. Or that pretty blouse that you MUST HAVE.
If you are really serious about saving for travel, you need to set your priorities straight. Believe it or not, the costs of that cup of coffee on a daily basis can add up. If you skip out on spending P150 a day on coffee, you can save up to P3,000 a month. Do the math and you can save almost $800 in a year, which to be honest, goes a long way when you live off a $15 daily budget.
To trim the fat on your spending, the first thing you should do is track how much you actually spend on a day-to-day basis. There are many apps that can help with it, and all you have to do is input your spending. You can either do it at the end of the day or, to make sure nothing slips by, do it immediately after you’ve spent the money.
By the end of the month, you’ll have a clearer idea of exactly where your money is going and which expenses can be reduced. Then, make a resolution to cut down spending in those areas.
For coffee lovers, that may mean making your own coffee at home or in the office instead of heading to a cafe. Maybe consider having a Netflix account instead of going to the cinema every week. Look for fun but cheap things to do during the weekend instead of spending a mini fortune on one night out.
Making small tweaks to your habits can lead to big savings over time!
2. Create a savings plan
Wanting to save money is not enough; you should have a specific action plan for it.
Sit down and look at your expenses and your income. Figure out your expenses and calculate a percentage which you can set aside every month. Open another account and have the bank automate transfers every month as soon as your salary comes in. This way, you won’t even be tempted to spend the money!
You should also put any extra money that comes your way into your savings, instead of raising your lifestyle or making big purchases. I got a promotion while I was working in Boracay, and despite this, I didn’t change my lifestyle. I still lived off whatever I was making before my promotion, and the entire portion of my salary increase went straight to my savings.
You may also want to set a specific savings goals as motivation. What about this? Figure out how much your dream trip will cost, and set that amount as your short-term savings goal. Calculate how long it’ll take you to save that amount based on how much you’re currently saving on a monthly basis.
Then see if there are other ways you can earn extra money so that you achieve that goal more quickly. There’s no greater motivation than travel motivation, right?
3. Take advantage of credit card promos
Now, some of you might be wondering how a credit card will help you save. Trust me, it can.
Apply for a credit card that can rack up miles whenever you use it. I only recommend this to people who are disciplined enough to pay their full amount every month. I know it is so easy to rack up a credit card bill, but, if you do it correctly, you can transfer all your monthly expenses like gas, eating out, and utility bills to earn mileage.
I personally have a Citibank Premier Miles card which I use quite often. I was able to book round-trip tickets to Cebu and Bohol through my miles! Save it up for a bit longer and you might just find yourself a free flight to Bangkok, Thailand. Really, it’s a no-brainer.
It’s also worth it to do some research on credit card promos when you’re in the planning stages of your trip. Oftentimes, banks and credit cards have tie-ups with companies and offer discounts when you use your card to make payment.
Whether it’s flights, accommodations or other stuff, check if your credit card offers any discounts so that you can save some money!
4. Sell your unwanted or unused items
If you have a knack for business, find things that you can re-sell and make some money on the side. If you’re a pack rat like me, your closet would have so many items that you could do without. I have downsized my closet by half before I left, and to be honest, I could do with selling some more.
Find a friend and set up a garage sale. You will be surprised at how refreshing it is to de-clutter. Plus, think of it as practice. After all, you can only have so many clothes in your backpack. 1 pair of jeans, 5/6 tops, 2 pairs of shorts, leggings, a bikini, a nice dress, and a hoodie (yes, the struggle is real!). Even if you don’t make a fortune, you will still be able to add some extra money into your travel fund.
Don’t have time to set up a garage sale? These days, there are apps and websites that facilitate the sale of second-hand items. Just snap some pretty pics of what you’re looking to get rid of, set a price, and wait for the offers to roll in.
I did this before I left and managed to make P10,000. That $200 can go a long way!
This trip alone, Tom and I have downsized out packs and decided to take one backpack instead. We both have only 10kgs each on that backpack, making it a record for me! Sounds impossible? Trust me, it’s not! Traveling lights also means that we can save on the costs of checked luggage.
5. Choose to live cheaply
My friends always laugh at how thrifty I am, but hey, I wouldn’t have been able to quit my job and just travel for a year if I wasn’t. Tom and I are actually complete opposites in this sense as he never sticks to a budget. He’s always worked hard his entire life and so he spends almost as much as he saves.
To be honest, traveling has made me even stingier because now, I equate everything to flights, boats, and train tickets. I cringe at spending a lot of money on a single meal in a restaurant only because I know that is almost a week’s worth of daily expenses somewhere in Asia.
There are many little things you can do to live cheaply.
One of my favorite tips is to learn how to cook at home. Not only is it healthier, it is also a whole lot cheaper. In Ecuador, we were cooking on almost a daily basis as going to the market and eating at home was just so much cheaper.
To save for this current trip we are on, Tom and I avoided eating out while in Manila. We also tried to find fun, cheap things to do instead of spending money on activities and entertainment.
To help you live cheaply, it’s a good idea to set a weekly budget for your living expenses. This gives you a benchmark of how much you can spend, and makes you more conscious of where you’re spending your money.
If you have money left within that budget, then go ahead and splurge. Or better yet, funnel that extra cash into your savings!
Cutting back on small things will contribute towards the bigger picture.
Remember, it’s all about finding the right balance and wanting it enough. Trust me, when you’re out and about seeing the world, you won’t even give a second thought towards what you missed out on back home.
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Bonus Tip: Have a Side Hustle
Already trimmed your budget and spending, and looking to up your savings even more? The next step is to have more money coming in, and you can do that by building a side hustle in addition to your everyday job.
I get it; it can tough to juggle work, life, and then having to think of a second job to earn more money. Again, it’s about priorities and knowing what you really want. If travel is important to you, then you should be ready to make some sacrifices in order to afford it.
The good news is that there are so many ways to make some extra money! If you have a specific skill such as writing or graphic design, consider taking on some freelance work on the side. If you have a car, you could drive for a ride-sharing company on the weekends. If you have an extra room in your home, you could list it and become an Airbnb host.
Get creative and find ways to leverage your existing skills and resources to build a side hustle and get that money rolling in… and into your travel fund.
With a few extra hours of work every week, you could earn an extra hundred (or two… or ten!) that can get you closer to leaving on your epic travel adventure!
Like this but don’t know if traveling is for you? Read Why Traveling Isn’t for Everyone.
Check out our other tips and tricks for earning money while traveling!
- 33 Best Travel Jobs to Make Money While Traveling (You Can Do It Too!)
- How We Get Paid to Travel the World
- How to Start a Travel Blog in 2019 (Including Step-by-Step Videos)
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