10 Tips for Saving to Travel

Friday, April 29, 2016

So although I absolutely love to travel, I have to be one of the worst people when it comes to saving and budgeting for a holiday. The last time I travelled overseas was to Vanuatu, and I put everything on my credit card... Big mistake. When I got home I was so panicked about getting all my finances in order that I regretted going, which is not something I ever want to experience again! So instead of letting my next adventure turn into a cash nightmare, I sat myself down and began to plan!

The first thing you need to do is work out your budget. Until you know how much your trip is going to cost you, you can't truly appreciate what you will need to save. There are quite a lot of things to consider when planning your trip budget, including flights, accommodation, tours and activities, food and souvenirs (shopping). Then there are those less "fun" but important necessities to remember, like getting a passport and/or a visa, insurance and vaccinations.

Your budget will also depend on your travel style; backpackers can get away with saving less, as can those who go on a working holiday, whereas luxury 5 star hotels are going to add a few more 0's to your required funds! You should also make sure you have emergency money on hand just in case (for me it's an international credit card). Once you have a rough estimate of your trip costs you can work out how much you'll need to start saving until you jet off! For example, if you think you'll need about $3000 and your trip is in 12 months, you'll be looking at saving around $250 a month.

This is where it becomes tricky! How exactly do you save this kind of money? Here are my 10 tips for building your travel fund!

1. Set up a designated travel funds account and create a deposit plan

This is your number 1 priority! It might seem like a bit of a given, but setting up a designated "travel fund" savings account will make it so much easier to keep a track of your current savings and prevent you from dipping into it for everyday expenses. I have an account which I've renamed the Travel Fund where my holiday money lives. I have an agreement with myself not to touch it, but if you don't trust yourself perhaps set up a term deposit so you can't access it!

Obviously the most important thing to do when you start saving for a holiday is to actually put money into this designated account on a regular basis. Understandably this can be quite difficult, with bills and general expenses taking up a lot of our income. However, even a few dollars will start to add up over time! If you can factor in an additional $25 to your weekly budget you will have over a thousand dollars within a year, and over $2,500 if you can put $50 away! I also have a direct deposit set up so that when I get paid this amount is automatically taken from my account and put into the Travel Fund, that way I can't forget and it just becomes a regular part of your budget! If you have any spare $$'s left at the end of the month, you can also transfer this into your travel account instead of spending it on something you probably don't need (think long term!).

2. Put loose change in your piggy bank

Remember the days when your parents gave you pocket money and you saved it all up in your piggy bank or money jar? It still works even as an adult! Collecting your loose change in a money jar is an effective way to save up some extra spending money. You're obviously not going to save 1,000's, but you will stop yourself spending your coins on small items (liked a chocolate bar) and end up with a decent sum to add to your holiday funds!

At the end of each week I go through my wallet and pop any leftover coins into my money jar (mine is actually a pig lol). Even if you're only putting $2 worth of coins in per week you'll end up just over $100 in a year! Since most of us draw cash out in notes, and change is usually given in coins, this is one of the easiest ways to save without having to think about it. I would suggest using a solid coloured jar or container so you can't see your savings. This will stop you from getting downhearted that there's only $2 inside it, or wanting to dip in if you've managed to save quite a bit! When it's time to crack the bank open, take your coins to the local coffee shop to exchange for your holiday cash (they always want change)!

3. Cut out one regular daily expense

OMG I am such a coffee addict!!! Before I started saving for my travel fund I was having at least 2 cafe coffees a day... cutting out 1 a day saves me $22.50 a week, which goes straight into my piggy bank! Since this is money I would usually spend anyway, I haven't noticed a difference in my daily life, well other than the withdrawal symptoms and mid afternoon grumpiness! For the non coffee drinkers, find something else that is a daily want not a need. For my housemate this is energy drinks, for others it could be a chocolate bar at the train station, the newspaper on your way home (read it online its free!) or a glass of wine or can of beer in the evening. You really won't miss these treats after doing it for a few weeks, and its such an easy way to save those $$'s!

4. Dine in and prepare your meals in advance

If you're like me, eating out is so much fun and is a nice change from cooking for yourself. But sometimes it gets to the point where you're buying lunch every day from the cafe across the road and ordering takeout every night. This is where money can and should be saved!

The cost of the average sandwich or meal (when eating out) usually comes to $10 or more. Making your own lunches for the entire week is likely to cost you the same as just one bought lunch. When you are saving to travel this should be a massive consideration as you will save a lot in a short space of time. My job keeps me busy during the week, so I prepare my lunches on a Sunday so I can grab one and go each day. Dinner is the same. Making your own Thai curry instead of purchasing the $15 special from down the road will also save you a significant amount, all of which can go towards tasting the real thing when you actually make it to Thailand! This doesn't mean you have to stick to it every day, but if you use dining out as a treat rather than a regular outing you'll save money and appreciate it more.

5. Sell your unwanted goodies on Ebay

This is definitely one of the more unconventional ways of making some money towards your trip, but hey it works! There are so many unused and unwanted items lying around my house, things that someone else could probably make much better use of. Go through your closet, clear out the garage and having a good look through your things to see if there are any items you can sell online and make a few dollars! The types of things I look for around the house includes old textbooks, musical instruments, sports gear and equipment, jewellery and CDs or DVDs. Just because you don't like or use something any more, doesn't mean someone else won't (remember, one man's trash is another man's treasure)!

Depending on the country you live in, there are lots of free advertising sites around, like Gumtree here in Australia and Ebay virtually worldwide. Compare your items against what else is around in the online market to determine its value. Just remember, if you do sell your unwanted goods online, be sure to put it into your travel account before you run out and spend it!

6. Reduce your household bills

I'm quite lazy at home when it comes to keeping comfortable. If it's cold I'll put the heater on, if it's hot I'll put the aircon on! I also love to sing in the shower and definitely take my time. These are all things that will increase your household bills, often quite significantly! So instead of resorting to the most drastic measures straight up, open the doors and windows if it's hot or throw on a jumper and snuggle up under the quilt if it's cold. You should also avoid using the tumble dryer and take shorter showers (or shower at someone else's house...).

These simple things are not only environmentally friendly but are great cost saving methods for your quarterly bills. Try it out for at least one quarter and compare to see if this is something that will work for you! Other things to consider are comparing energy providers to see if one offers better pricing or discounts than another. Shop around and don't feel obliged to stay with the same provider just because you've been with them forever!

7. Cancel subscriptions and memberships

So I looooove my Cosmo magazine, but it's the first thing to go when I start saving. Cancelling a magazine subscription might only save you $50 a year, but if you have more than one of them the savings start adding up. Most popular magazines are also online these days, so save your pennies and read them for free!

Next up there's Foxtel and Austar (or cable/pay TV). You really don't need them you just want them! It's a simple question, what do you want more - Geordie Shore or cocktails in Cancun! You could also change to another less expensive provider, like Netflix, who still offer lots of great movies and TV shows. Other subscriptions you could consider giving the boot might include your gym membership if you haven't been in the last 6 months or Spotify and iTunes (use the radio?). Consider the overall costs of these subscriptions and whether you can go without for the sake of your trip!

8. Put down the car keys and step into your sneakers

With the price of fuel continually increasing, swapping the car for your feet will save you no end! Walking to the shops is not only great for your health but means you won't need to fill up the tank so often and can save yourself on other car maintenance costs. This is more of an ongoing saving instead of one you'll notice upfront, but it works if you stick to it.

You could also consider using public transport instead of driving. As this is a set fee you know what you'll be paying upfront rather than unpredictable fuel usage and ridiculously priced parking. You can also car pool if this mode of transport is necessary. Check with your work colleagues and friends to see if it's an option and split the savings between you!

9. Minimise pricey social outings or limit yourself to cheaper activities

No don't worry, I'm not telling you to become a hermit because that definitely isn't me, but what I am saying is look for those activities that don't cost you money or are inexpensive. My friends and I enjoy hiking in the Queensland Hinterland which is free, healthy and a great way to socialise. We also head to the botanic gardens, the planetarium, various lookouts and make endless beach trips! None of these cost any money and are just as fun, if not better, than going out clubbing or going to the movies. Think, with all the money you will save you can spend it on far more exciting activities during your travels!

10. Learn to say no - differentiate between wants and needs

This is one of the hardest things to do and I'm definitely the worst at it. If someone says "let's go shopping" I'm there! But what I've started asking myself is whether this is a want or a need? The answer is rarely a need and it's then up to me to think about my priorities. My friends know that when we go shopping I'm more of a window shopper and just good company. I don't say no to the shopping trip, I just say no to buying things I don't need (shoes are my weakness though!). Let people know why you aren't throwing your cash around and hopefully they'll understand and maybe join you! Just remember what your goals are and know that these small savings will turn into bigger sums when the time for travelling is upon you!

Saving money isn't easy, and in some cases it's actually quite hard! What you need to remember is that these savings will see you making memories and having amazing experiences in another country, so the small daily sacrifices will be so worth it! Work out your travel fund budget then start putting these 10 tips into practice. You'll be on your way to some exotic destination in no time! And hopefully your piggy bank will look like this guy! :P

If you have any money saving tips feel free to post them in the comments. There's no shortage of ways to save and I'd love to hear your ideas!

Until next time travellers!

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  1. These are all so true. I discovered that if I didn't buy so many clothes I could save SO much to travel! Hek I went to Australia for 6 weeks saving everything from my part-time job!

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  2. Nice money saving tip ideas! We find making your own coffee and meals to be huge money savers.

    1. They really are some of the best ways to save money! I've now stopped buying coffee out, and only drink black tea or coffees, sooooo much cheaper!

  3. Great tips! I put money aside as soon as I get paid, and it only comes out for one of things, like a weekend away or new phone... I won't use it for everyday expenses, which means when my other account is low, I restrict what I do a bit more. It also makes me think twice about spending that money... do I really need a new dress? ermm, no. I also think about what that money could buy me, and suddenly that $20 saved seems a bit more significant, when that's easily 2 nights accommodation in Asia!

    1. That's a great attitude to have Gemma! Before you know it you can afford a whole trip :)

  4. Selling some of my clothes on eBay really did help me to save money - even though it was very hard , it really did worked. I totally agree with everything you wrote 😊


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