You don’t need to be rich to travel. Depending on your travel style it can be cheaper to travel than to stay in a city where living costs are high. In fact that was my prime reason to save in 2022. I wanted to move to Bali where I could quit my full time job, work remotely, focus on building Atypical Adventure and have a life all while saving more than I was living in an apartment in Wellington CBD.
Here are my ten top tips on how to save money to travel. I used all of these tips in order to save 10 thousand dollars in 5 months and move to Bali.
Set a realistic goal
It is all very well to decide you want to save 2 grand a month but if that is not a realistic goal for you due to your income or expenses then no matter how hard you work you aren’t going to be able to do it.
To get a good idea of how much you could save, start with your weekly income and then take away all your expenses from it. Your expenses are things like rent, food, subscriptions, and shopping. The amount left over at the end is how much you could save a week.
Once you know how much you can save a week you can use that to work out how much time it will take you to reach your overall savings goal.
For me, I was earning around $800 dollars a week from my full time job and my expenses were just under $500 dollars. I was already saving my extra income which was just over $300 dollars. My overall goal was to have 15,000 dollars in my account before I moved to Bali. I had recently sold my car which gave me the first 5,000 dollars.
I had 10,000 dollars left to save. In order to figure out how long that would take me at my current savings rate I divided 10,000 by 300 and realised it would take me 33 weeks. I has already decided I wanted to quit my job and leave New Zealand before I turned 22 and this was not going to get me there. I decided to make some changes so I could reach my goal ontime.
Track your spending
If you are someone who hasn’t done a lot of budgeting before this step may be a difficult pill to swallow. For two weeks track everything you spend. From rent to a coffee out with friends. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one off never to be repeated treat yourself item, it all needs to be recorded.
Tracking your spending and expenses is the easiest way to learn where you can cut back, or even cut out your spending. I’m sure you’ve seen this step in the other five blog posts you’ve read this week about how to save for your trip but have you actually done it yet?
The reason it is brought up so often is because it is a powerful way to see how much money you are wasting on random stuff you don’t need and probably don’t remember you bought.
At the end of your two weeks sit down, with a bottle of wine because you’re going to need it, and categorise all your spending. Then after the first stage of denial has eased, take another look. It is important to remember this step is about building self awareness, maybe you aren’t as frugal as you had thought. You can’t expect your behaviour to change overnight but acceptance is the first step.
This was the hardest step for me, I realised that I was spending more on things I didn’t need like lunches out with friends or hot chocolates that I thought. While it was a hard pill to swallow, being aware of it meant I was able to make a conscious effort to cut back on it which helped me reach my savings goal.
Create a budget
Having a budget will help to hold you accountable and to reach your goal. If you are like me and already know how much you need to save then you only need one budget. If you don’t have a set amount you want to save then you will also need to budget for your trip.
Once you know how much you need to save then you can start a running budget. I keep my budget on excel but it is up to you. Track how much you are spending on your fixed expenses like rent.
Assign how much you are willing to spend on flexible expenses like food and socialising with friends. Make sure you leave yourself some money to do things that make you happy. The goal here is to create a budget you will stick to, not scrap once the initial motivation is gone or you see something you like when window shopping.
Put savings into a high interest bank account
If your money is just sitting in the bank with a low interest rate it is actually losing money due to inflation. If you are saving for a trip that is months or even years down the track you should have your savings in a high interest bank account.
I have my savings in an account that earns .7% interest a year. This was the highest option my bank offered. I was also only about to withdraw money from this account once a month otherwise it would penalise me 5 dollars each time and I would lose the interest gained that month. This was a great incentive for me to not touch my savings at all.
I also kept part of my savings in a growth fund in the stock market. I had been investing for over two years at that point and had also done a lot of research. I felt confident that I had chosen a good stock and also knew that there was a chance I could lose part of what I had put in if there was a stock market crash. This worked out well for me as the stock price went up and I got dividends too.
Use The Envelope Method
The envelope budgeting method is a simple way to save money. When you get paid the first thing you should do is withdraw some cold hard cash. This money should then be split up into separate envelopes labelled as your different expenses.
The envelope method was something I had heard about but never tried. One of my best friends actually recommended it to me a few beforehand. When I started my savings journey I used three envelopes: rent, treats and food. My rent envelope was virtual because I had an automatic payment that went out of my bank account to my landlord every week.
By using cash instead of a card every time I bought something I was able to physically see the amount I had budgeted getting smaller.
Get a side hustle
Getting another job on top of your 9 to 5 sounds like madness at first but it is an excellent way to grow your savings quickly. If you live in a big city there are always places looking for part-time bartenders or wait staff. You could also look into dog walking or cleaning cars if you want something more flexible.
Selling arts and crafts on sites like etsy is another very popular option. It doesn’t have to be the best job or something you see yourself doing 5 years down the track. Remember it is only for a short period of time to help you reach your goal.
I had been writing on and off as a freelancer using platforms like Upwork for a few years. I decided to look for something closer to home and found a New Zealand company that wanted a content writer to do a few articles every other week. The pay was decent and I knew it would be something I could do from anywhere. I got the gig and over the course of the 5 months I was able to add [enter amount] to my savings. While it didn’t seem like a massive amount each payday it added up and allowed me to save [enter amount] weeks faster which in the end, meant I could leave before my 22nd birthday.
Pay yourself first
One thing that I have always done is pay myself first. This has changed over the years as my expenses changed because the core idea is still the same. When my paycheck comes the very first thing I do is transfer a percentage into my savings and then another portion into my investments. This is before any of my essential expenses come out like rent.
This means that my savings are growing with every paycheck. I have no excuse that I had no money left over at the end to save because I spent it on stuff I didn’t need. I always have and always will pay myself first.
If you want to pay yourself first then start with the amount you worked out you could save when you were setting your goal. I use 75% of this but it is personal preference. Then simply transfer this money into your savings account. I recommend setting up an automatic payment if you are likely to forget or use automatic payments for your other expenses.
Then at the end of you pay cycle before you next paycheck comes in, transfer whatever is left into you savings account.
Sell things you no longer use
By this point you should be well on your way to achieving your savings goal. A one off boost you can do to add to your goal is to sell things around the house no longer use or need.
In my case, because I was leaving to travel permanently, I was able to sell everything that wouldn’t be coming with me. This included furniture and my motorbike. Together I was able to add 2 grand to my savings within a relatively short time.
If you are only going for a short period and still need things to come home too then you can always sell old clothes or other things like appliances you have lying around. Going through what you already own is also helpful because you may rediscover things that you had thought you needed to buy.
Pretend to be broke
Saving towards a goal can be hard if the people in your life aren’t. If you are accustomed to going out with friends for brunches or to events it can be very difficult to stop cold turkey. There is no doubt your mates want what’s best for you but at times it can seem more tempting to treat yourself and blow your budget if you are being encouraged by the people close to you.
One way to get around this is to tell your friends your travel plans and let them know you are saving to make it a reality. Also create a list of budget or free things to do in your city. Things like going out for walks, having home made picnics at an iconic spot or trying a free trial class are all great options. Having a list made ahead of time means you can offer up another option that fits your budget if you are invited out with mates.
Pretending to be broke is one way I managed to do this. I kept 50 dollars in my account to spend each week on being social. It became a game of how much of that $50 I could transfer into my savings account at the end of the week. It was a lot easier to say no to things when I knew that once it was gone it was gone. After a while my friends adapted and would suggest free things for us to do off the bat.
Prioritise your goal
When you are working hard to save towards something it can feel isolating. Counting pennies can be hard when you see the people around you out and about doing stuff that is outside of your budget.
In times like this it is important to remember why you are doing that. Would you rather spend that $100 dollars out drinking or spend it on a snorkelling tour of the great barrier reef? You have already put a lot of time and energy into saving for you travels and sometimes you need to remind yourself it will all be worth it.
On the days I was feeling particularly unmotivated, I used to sit down and watch a youtube video of someone who was living my dream. Seeing that someone else had put in the hard yards and it had paid off was always incredibly motivating and helped to keep me on track.
At the end of the day it is important to remember that saving for a goal is a marathon and not a sprint. You have to remember to enjoy life while you are working on saving. Make sure you budget in some money for you to do the things that make you happy. Eventually you will meet your savings goal and if you follow these tips you might just reach it a little faster.
and if you follow these tips you might just reach it a little faster.