How to Save For a Trip
Unfortunately, traveling is something that requires money. While there are always ways to travel for free, saving money for a trip is an essential part of travel preparation. Everyone is equal to the task. My readers usually ask me how to save for a trip and achieve their travel goals faster. I wasn’t lucky enough to be born in a royal family, so I had to work hard to get everything I need. Being independently wealthy means you can take opportunities when you want. And it motivates me to work even harder. There are two major ways to achieve your goals – working hard or making sacrifices in other areas. It is up to you which is your best bet, but you can always combine these ways.
I still hear from some of my friends they are going to abandon their bucket list destination only because they’re short of money. At the same time, they can afford to buy latest up-date gadgets. Does it mean you should make saving money a priority? Definitely, yes. But only if traveling is your priority.
Staying consistent and remembering my goals have helped me to set off on my first solo trip several years ago. Of course, I’ve done a bit of saving too. It took me about 6 months to accumulate enough money but the time you might need is totally dependent on your income and the willingness to travel. Having a separate bank account with attractive interest rates was a cornerstone of my saving strategy. Don’t get tempted by spending all money at a time. Set up an automatic transfer to a savings account to keep your spendings under control. And yes, don’t forget to get a travel credit card that earns you miles and points, which you can use to pay for flights and accommodation.
Saving money usually implies organizing your expenses and searching for ways to spend less. The thing that’s worked for me is making a note every time I make a purchase so to track my expenses. At the end of the month, I can easily manage my bills, and it is a perfect way to save for a trip. This approach can be used even when you’re not saving. It just reveals ways you’re wasting money without even realizing it. So if you’re still wondering how to save for a trip the following items are the best to start with: housing, transportation, and food.
1. Make a Personal Budget and Keep Track of Spending
This is the first thing to do if you have decided to start accumulating money for a trip. Create a spreadsheet or use an app to make your personal budget. You can use a notebook to record your income and expenses. Analyse your current fiances at the end of each week or month. This would help you to track your biggest drains.
For example, when I started tracking my spending, I found out that I was visiting coffee shop three or four times a week. Way too often! I was leaving from €5 – 10 at a time and that is €15 – 40 per week. In order to cut expenses and save more money for my trip, I reduced visits to once a week. This approach helps track your spendings and, change your habits to achieve your travel goals.
2. Stop Impulse Buying and Unnecessary Spending
These two items are the biggest money wasters. The money you saved to travel the world is your success. I have learned long ago that money in my high-interest saving account would do more good than that brand new iPhone. Only buy things and pay for services that you actually need. Changing my shopping habits was only hard in the beginning. After two weeks of frugal living, the things have changed drastically.
I have noticed that I don’t need as much of the stuff as I owned. The same is true about visiting a cinema. In fact, it never brought me joy. On average tickets in Germany cost around €7, depending on a country you can enjoy Netflix for quite the same price for a month! Cancel your gym membership if you don’t use it regularly. In fact, changing my habit of exercising wasn’t hard at all. Jogging outdoors and cardio workout with no equipment are still my friends. By sticking to exercises that I can do at home, I’m saving €60 on average per month.
3. Sell Your Stuff
Once I have stopped impulse buying, yet another problem arose – what should I do with all the staff already in my closet? Sell it online at Amazon, Craigslist or Ebay! Things in pristine condition can cost almost as much as brand new things. I can’t imagine a better way to earn some extra cash. Take a look around. Maybe that TV or blender that hasn’t been used for many years is worth being sold? I sold a lot of cool but totally unwanted stuff before my first trip. I earned around €250, so I don’t see any reason why you can’t do the same too. Everyone has something to sell. Get fid of useless stuff and you would be surprised at financial benefits. And don’t forget to put these money in a saving account. Because every penny counts.
4. Give Up Your Car
Since I’m neither an avid driver nor living in a car-loving country, giving up using cars wasn’t a big deal. While I have never had my own car, I regularly found myself using car sharing services. Owning a car is expensive and stressful. Not only you pay for gas, maintenance, insurance, repairs and, sometimes, loan payments, you have to cope with anxiety in a traffic jam. If you live in a city, use public transportation instead. Of course, we might get stressed because the bus is late but it’s kind of different situation. Ride a bike or just walk. I love to consider it the daily workout that costs me very little. You can save lots of money on gas alone each month. On average, owning a car in Germany can cost you from €120-300 per month.
5. Save on Utilities
Let’s face it, uncontrolled consumption of tap water rarely bothers us. While washing hands or brushing teeth mind turning the faucet off. Don’t forget to turn off the light when you leave the room as well. As it all results in astronomical bills at the end of the month. Depending on the region, the average household bill for utilities in Germany is €250 per month.
6. Reduce Smoking and Kick Your Caffeine Addiction
Not only smoking harms your health but absorbs your money as well. If you smoke a single pack in 3-4 days (an average of €6 per pack), monthly savings would be around €42, and that is more than €500 per year. You will notice the saving effect in a month. As for coffee, reduce consumption as well. If you drink a cup of coffee once a day, you probably spend around €3 per cup, this is around €93 monthly, and around €1100 yearly.
7. Stick to Homemade Food
I think I’m a lucky person because I can (and love) cook. While I love fancy restaurants and delicious food, I also know how expensive eating out can be. I cook at home and eat the leftovers later. I avoid a real pain by storing the leftovers in plastic containers that I can take anywhere. Local markets and supermarkets are very affordable anywhere. With some culinary skills, you can save up to €25 per day in Eastern Europe. Expect that eating out in Southeast Asia is very affordable, so you don’t have to cook regularly (i.e. almost never).
8. Have Fun For Free
I know this advice isn’t for everyone. Someone may not spend a penny on entertainment, meanwhile, somebody else would spend half of the monthly income for that purpose. It depends on a person. To reduce expenses while hanging out with friends, skip eating in fancy restaurants and coffee shops, stick to visiting free places. It can be very complicated to calculate an average cost at this point. Expect that an ordinary restaurant would set you back around €25 per visit. If you’re an avid partier that would result in €150 monthly!
9. Repay Your Loan
It goes without saying that if you ever had to take out a loan, try to pay it off quickly. The sooner, the better.
10. Stick To a Grocery List
I may sound like a nerd, but composing my shopping list when I go grocery shopping is a good money saver. Create a product list or a list of necessary purchases, and strictly stick to it. Yes, I know how hard it can be! Having a credit card in your wallet might trigger impulse purchases and you end up spending more money than you expected. It happens because we can’t see the cash physically and it results in unexpected expenses. When I go grocery shopping I tend to set aside a certain amount of cash I know I might need. Calculate your food budget before your payday and try not to exceed this limit during the month. Sure, it may only sound that easy, but once you into it you will find it to be an easy-to-do-task.
Saving money for a trip doesn’t always implies frugal living though. It is important to indulge yourself from time to time with a something you really like. Or hang out with friends, maybe go shopping. The point of saving money for a trip is to change your spending habits to visit new places, learn about foreign cultures. There are a lot of cheap countries. India, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan are filled with remarkable landscapes, diversity and thousands of years of history. Even if you’re not into visiting these countries, there are many others, maybe more expensive but it doesn’t make them less attractive.