I can imagine you groaned when you saw the title of this post…
“Another ‘how to save for travel’ post? I’ve seen plenty of those before” – Don’t worry, I can picture it exactly!
And it’s true that it’s a very well covered area of travel blogging, but hey let’s be honest, it’s free advice!
Anyhow the reason why I’ve felt I’ve had to weigh in on this subject too is actually due to the people I know away from the computer screen. Namely those who, ever since I dropped the “I’m going travelling” bombshell on them last year, continue to come out with stupid questions such as “don’t you pay any rent?” or “did you come into a load of money?”.
For the record, it’s a big YES to the former, and heck NO to the latter! Oh and to answer the most bizarre of all the questions I heard from a friend: I also didn’t pay for my girlfriend to go travelling with me – I’m not frickin’ rich!
The simple fact of the matter is that adventures abroad are what I love more than almost anything, and I’m prepared to work hard and save harder to make them happen. Rather than moan about how I want to get away yet just blow my spare cash in the same hell-hole drinking holes, I prioritise the more exciting adventures – Simples!
Sure it’s not always easy, but the reward is always worthwhile!
Still there’s a number of ways I personally cut down on my expenditure. I’m well aware that some of these won’t be viable for people. Heck, there’s many times they haven’t been possible for me either. But rant over, best I elaborate on these…
Don’t need to drive? Then don’t!
This first one is pretty easy for me, as I don’t really like driving that much (even though I do like my car). And since returning from travelling last year I managed to find a job right in my town centre, which is an easy 15 minute cycle for me. But even when I’m not heading to work I’m happy to do the 30 minute walk instead. So I’m saving money and keeping fit!
Sure I’ll drive if I’ve got a serious load of shopping to do or what not, and it’s definitely good to have the option in the winter. But in general my current petrol expenditure tends to be no more than £20-25 per month at the moment – crazily cheap these days!
In comparison, a good friend of mine lives a massive (sarcasm) 10 minute walk from his workplace, yet drives there every day. Funnily enough, he never seems to have any money…
So a little less laziness can mean a lot more pennies.
In the interests of fairness though I know this isn’t possible for everyone, as I’ve been on the flip side of this one – My job before I went travelling required a whopping 90 mile round trip each day.
Pay as you go
I’m a fan of keeping things simple, and one of the ways I do this is with my phone. Yes, I’m one of that rare breed of people still on Pay As You Go.
At the moment £10 per month does me fine, as that gets me unlimited texts, and I’m not really a fan of talking over the phone so don’t tend to make calls that often either. And hey, people did used to do this thing called meeting face to face you know. Obviously I also don’t get any data allowance with that, but then don’t we all spend enough time online these days as it is?
The downside to this one is that I’m still using my knackered Samsung smartphone. I am desperate to join the iPhone crowd, but am just not willing to pay the price just yet. I’m sure I’ll crumble and give in at some point (I’d like to use Instagram for a start), but for now at least my communications are very cost efficient.
Sell that stuff now!
It’s probably the most common tip you’ve come across, but Ebay really is a worthwhile tool.
When I first started saving seriously towards my travels I got rid of as much unnecessary clutter as possible. Clothes, old video games, DVDs, CDs, football shirts, bike parts… Anything I didn’t need anymore was up for sale. I also tried my luck at car boot sales – my best friend was a great salesman to have with me!
Mind you if I thought I’d done some serious selling before I left, it was nothing compared to what I did after returning from my travels. It’s safe to say that I’ve become a lot less materialistic since my major trips, and since coming back I’ve seriously downsized my belongings. That even included my beloved guitar once I’d decided I wanted a nice new camera – I knew I wouldn’t give my Jazzmaster the attention it deserved anymore, so I cashed in nicely.
So get rummaging through those drawers and see what you can sell off.
Provide a service
Now I can’t say that I’ve really made use of this one in a long while, but it’s something I have done in the past so it’s worth listing…
If there’s any skills/services you can provide – within the law! – during your free time then make use of them to bring in some extra moolah. For example, as I’m a graphic designer I’ve done little bits of freelance work before to bring in a dash of extra money. Although like I say, between work, this site, trips and social time I personally haven’t done any for a long while now.
Granted, extra work isn’t the most exciting thing to look forward to on your days off, but if you can earn some extra pennies it’s better than wasting those days being bored.
Shop for the best savings account
One of the most overlooked ways to enhance your funds is to ensure that you’re putting them into a savings account with a decent interest rate.
Of course, since the financial crisis hit a few years ago interest rates have plummeted, so it’s a case of trying to pick the best of a bad bunch. But there’s generally a few decent deals still kicking about. In my case before I went travelling last year I transferred my ISA to one with a 3.1% interest rate – my friends were surprised I’d found one with a rate that high – but next month I’ll be moving it on again when this rate drops to 1.0%.
I’ve actually just received my yearly interest from this account though and I imagine that’ll easily cover my upcoming Dublin trip. So that’s a trip paid for and I haven’t even had to work for it!
It’s definitely not the most exciting way to build up your funds, and I certainly wouldn’t pretend to be an expert on financial stuff, but there’s enough comparison tools around now to help anyone make an informed choice. So have a browse and make your savings work for you.
Need a drink? No, you really don’t…
Now I know this one won’t go down well with a lot of people. But you can’t ignore just how much cutting down on the alcohol will save.
I cut it out almost completely in the lead up to my adventures last year as I was determined to squeeze every penny I could out of the months of earning I had left, and it ensured that I just about reached my pre-departure target. Since then though I’ve never really got back to drinking all that much, and I’m not really far off teetotal now. Although I’ll definitely never give it up completely, as my work bash in London will testify… Ahem!
And obviously you don’t need to give it up for good, but if you’re the type that goes out every weekend why not try just cutting it down to once a month? Or if you really can’t stay in, why not be the driver and get a bit of money for taxiing your friends about. You’ll feel better for it, you’ll be able to put the cash towards new and different adventures, and – trust me on this one – you won’t miss out on anything. Except for the same old nights with the same old people in the same old places.
Oh and this one doesn’t just apply to alcohol by the way, but also all those drinks like coffees and whatever else you may pick up to get you through the day. I actually don’t drink hot drinks at all, and pretty much just stick to water at work, so that’s another area I don’t waste money on.
So whilst I may spend a fair few more Saturday nights in these days compared to what I used to, I know it’s all been worthwhile when I’m loving life in Barcelona. Or cycling around Amsterdam. Or wandering the amazing neon streets of Tokyo. Or lapping up the waves in Bali. Or munching amazing nosh in Thailand.
Need I go on…?
What are your best tips for saving? Any to add?