1. Travelling has nothing to do with Luck
I recently spend 14 months abroad in south-east Asia and Australia. When I told people about my travel plans, a very common response was “you’re so lucky”. This comment often bothered me as travelling has absolutely nothing to do with luck. I haven’t lived with my parents long term since I graduated high-school (okay, there’s been a few weeks I bummed on their couch between jobs/cities) and they definitely don’t fund my travels. I’m able to travel because it’s what I want and I find ways to make it happen. And you can too.
2. Make it a priority
Travelling is one of the things I’m most passionate about in life, and so I make it a priority. Sure, other people have other things in their life they need to make their main priority (kids, university, etc.) and that’s okay. But for most of us young people, our money is squandered away on expensive nights at the bar, trendy clothes we don’t need, and flashy cars. I once totalled up the amount of money I spent on take away coffee and realized, if I quit, within a year I could buy a plane ticket nearly anywhere in the world. Would I rather have a coffee that’s not even good for me or an adventure?
I take the bus instead of owning a car, make coffee at home and bring it with me in a travel mug, bring my own lunch to work instead of buying it, and don’t buy new clothes unless an occasion comes up where I need a particular item or something I already own needs to be replaced.
3. Make a budget
In my opinion, the biggest mistake you can make when seriously trying to save money is not making a budget. Actually look how much money you make and how much you spend on bills and then decide how much you can afford to save each month and then stick to it. It is so easy to spend $10 here and $20 there and then suddenly the money you were supposed to save is gone. Depending on your situation it may take you a year to save or it may take a couple, but at least you will have a realistic goal.
4. Skip the Expensive Destinations
Okay, so maybe you are having difficulty saving money for your dream European vacation. The good news is, a lot of popular destinations, such as south-east Asia, are very cheap. For example, some days in Vietnam I spent as low as $10 a day. Our hostel was $5 per night, meals around $1-$2, we explored the town on foot (free!), and got a few trinkets at the market for $1. The bigger touristy areas as well as travel between cities will set you back more money, but in general you don’t need more than $20 a day.
Vietnam, Cambodia and most of Thailand (except a few of the more popular islands) were all this cheap. You may be worried that you will pay for the cheapness with inconvenience, but these countries are well travelled and are very well set up for tourists. The same can probably be said for Laos, Philippines, Indonesia and India, though I haven’t personally got there yet. Don’t expect the infrastructure of your comfortable first-world home, but these places are excellent for low-cost adventures.
5. Find a travel buddy
As is often the case at home, having someone to split the bills with saves money. The cost of a hotel room split two ways is often cheaper than the cost of a bed in a hostel. Find a few more people and you could even share a nice apartment or villa for the same price. I was lucky enough to travel south-east Asia with a friend and we often “splurged” on staying at a hotel only to find out it was in fact the same price or cheaper than a hostel. Cabs, tuk tuks, etc. will also obviously be cheaper when shared. If you plan to travel alone, don’t worry, there are hundreds of other solo travelers out there you will make friends with and will also be keen to save some money.
6. Cook your own food
This is less of an issue in south-east Asia as most hostels don’t have kitchens and you can get delicious street food literally anywhere for less than $1. But in North America, Australia and Europe, eating out will eat through your bank account very fast. Most hostels in these areas have kitchens so you can buy food from the grocery store and prepare meals yourself for much cheaper.
7. Get a job
I lived in Australia, arguably the most expensive country to live in in the world, for a whole year. There is no way I would have been able to fund a trip this long if I didn’t work while I was there. Australia gives away working-holiday visas to pretty much anybody who applies given you don’t have a criminal record or serious health condition.
I worked several random jobs including door-to-door fundraising for charities, delivering flyers, cleaning cars, harvesting ginger and nannying. These paid anywhere from room and board plus $150/week (lowest paid nanny job) up to $500/week plus commission (door-to-door fundraising, some people were making up to $2000 a week in commission). It’s not always glamorous, but working in a foreign country is also a great way to immerse yourself in the culture. When I was a nanny, I lived in the middle of nowhere away from all touristy areas, but I saw more of the country with that family than I ever did living in a hostel in the city.
It’s worth it!
So, if you have always wanted to travel but didn’t think you’d be able to, I hope you give it a second thought. It’s definitely not the easy option, it takes a lot dedication and planning. It may not be possible with certain lifestyles and certain sacrifices may need to be made but I promise you: it’s worth it.