Probably the number one question every travel blogger gets asked. It's definitely what all my friends and family are wondering. I think the main thing about traveling, if you want to do it bad enough, you'll make the "sacrifices" necessary to do it. So many people tell me, "you're so lucky to be able to travel so much!" Eyeroll. Well let me tell you, luck has NOTHING to do with it. It all comes down to hard work, saving, making "sacrifices", and putting my needs and wants to explore this world before everything else. I'm going to give some tips about how I save for travel; it may not be easy, but it's what works for me.
First step to saving: Open a savings account. As I mentioned in my previous post, I started putting money away into savings when I was 17 at my first job. If you haven't started a savings account, there's no time like the present. It's good to have in case of emergencies, and of course for this post, travel expenses. It's a nice little cushion to fall back on if something happens on your trip, like a medical issue, or even a spontaneous outing or activity that you can't resist.
Motivation: I strongly believe in the written form. Lists, or even just writing down/reading mantras daily really gets me amped up to meet my goals. Plus, after watching the Secret, I definitely believe seeing your goals expressed daily will help you "manifest" that in your life, in whatever way you believe that. For example, if you want to go on a trip to Mexico for spring break, make a list of what you need to do to be able to go. I.e. buy tickets, secure accommodation, figure length of the trip, determine any costly activities, etc. That helps me figure out how I should estimate the cost and how much I would need to save. Also what I do is make another list at the start of the year and pick a few destinations I want to go to that year. I look at this list almost every day and seeing it makes me "finalize" it in my mind and motivates me to work harder. You can also make a "vision board" as well, seeing pictures of future destinations is a great way to imagine yourself there and keep you in check.
Income: Without money coming in, you can't save! No brainer, there. Assuming you already have one job, take a look at how much you are making. Last year, since I was done with school and had the extra hours to fill, I got a second job for extra income. That helped me save up not only for a 3 week trip to Japan, but also a 3.5 month SE Asia backpacking trip. I worked and saved about 4-6 months for each trip. Both trips had a budget of about $3,000-6,000.If you have the time, a second job is great because you can (hopefully) cover all your necessary expenses with your main job, and save for travel with the income from your second. This is the part where willpower comes in again. Now with 2 jobs I am working minimum 55-65 hours a week. It is exhausting, and due to saving money, I don't go out much or spend money on myself. But to me, it is worth it, if I can take a trip whenever I like. If the end result is worth it for you, then it will make it easier.
Budget and Spending: A big factor is your spending. Once you work on the income, the next is figuring out how much you can live on and your budget to save. For tips on avoiding unnecessary expenses or splurging read my shopaholic post. If you can, start by putting a portion of your paycheck into savings. Start with what you can and add more if there's still some left over by the time your next check comes through. I aim to put at least 25-50% of my checks into savings. You can reduce your spending in a myriad of ways. There's so many articles on this online already I feel it is better stated than on this post but here's some examples I follow: Cut back on eating out and eat only meals from home; I always bring meals to work in Tupperware! Super healthy for you too. Don't buy new clothes, and if you do buy only what is essential. I cover a lot of this in my other post. What's going to play a big part in this is you making a budget for your life. I can't tell you what that is cause everyone is different, but figure out the essential things you need to pay for versus non-essentials, and find ways to eliminate the non-essentials(or at least purchase them less often). What it comes down to is, no blog post or advice will come make you change your mind about cutting down things in your life if you're not motivated enough from within. Its the difference between spending 5$ a day for coffee versus making it at home and pocketing that change for your savings. Buying a bottle of wine and having a girls night in versus an expensive dinner and bar hopping night out. Thrifting or mending old outfits versus buying brand new clothes every week. This is just a small example of how I rationalize my purchases towards saving.
Reverse Budgeting: I saw this mentioned in a travel forum I am a part of and couldn't not share it(but I can't take credit). Say for instance, buying a Starbucks coffee. You are suddenly craving a hot beverage at 5$ a cup. But,if you decide to say no, you transfer that 5$ to your savings instead. If you wanted a manicure at a spa but did it at home instead, transfer that $20 over. It's a great way to convert money you already had into savings. It just involves a little ingenuity and tricking your brain! The savings will add up before you realize it.
How much do I need to save? Figure out how much you need to save for the trip, factoring in flights, accommodation, food, and misc spending. Then find out how many weeks (or paycheck periods) you have left to meet the goal. I am currently working to go on a trip/spend a year in Australia and looking to make $4,000 minimum before I leave. If i had 12 weeks to save, I would need to put away $333 approx each week to meet my goal. If you can't afford to meet your goal and still meet your base daily needs for survival, don't take the trip! It is always better to go slow and steady, don't rush into a trip that you can't afford. Why do it half-assed when you can save more and put that money into your trip. Also what style of traveler are you? This will factor into your budget: Are you wanting to travel budget backpacker style or upgrade and go luxury? Calculating expenses will help you see how soon you can meet your goal and make your trip a reality(see weekly plan above).
If you don't have the willpower and motivation to travel strongly enough, you will find yourself making more excuses than anything else. And that's okay, if that's not your goal. But if it is, it is up to you to make it a priority. My goal here is to make everyone realize travel can be within your means, no matter how long it takes for you to save up! You can get out there and travel!