In 2014, I wrote a post about how I Saved $5,000 to backpack Europe. The $5,000 actually lasted about six weeks, and also covered about a thousand dollars worth of first-time traveler supplies. It’s been about two and a half years since that trip, and I’ve still managed to take several amazing trips during my summer vacation from teaching high school English. People always ask me how do I save money to travel as much as I do. And I give them a very basic answer: traveling is a priority. Because it is a priority, I am willing to make sacrifices. Here is what that looks like:
I Don’t Waste Money on Food
Going out to eat frequently breaks the bank. I get it. People go out to eat because it is convenient, it’s easier than cooking, it saves time, and it’s a social thing. But when I realized that traveling is a priority for me, I knew I was going to have to start saving money. During the week I cook all of my own food, preferring to meal prep on Sunday so I don’t spend a lot of time during the week trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Once you get in the habit of cooking and not going out to eat, you realize just how much money you save, plus it’s a lot healthier for you!
If eating out is a big deal to your friends, opt for water and order a less expensive appetizer when you go out. Or convince your friends to go grab coffee instead.
I also Don’t Waste Money on Alcohol
My friend told me that women shouldn’t drink more than four drink in one night for health reasons. I also believe that cutting drinks is good for your travel budget. One night out with alcohol can easily be $50. And if you get hungry and eat out, uber home, ect, a night out can really cost you big bucks. If partying is your thing, buy your own alcohol, pre-game hard before you go out, and only buy one-two beers while you’re at the bar/club.
Clothes? Make-up? You guessed it…
I have three pairs of work pants and about ten different shirts. And that is the extent of my work wardrobe. I rotate what I wear to work. Thankfully, I have never really been into fashion, and even though sometimes I wish I had cuter clothes, I am unwilling to pay for them. When I buy clothes, I go to Marshalls or Old Navy, and I usually only buy one or two new things a month. And, I don’t wear make-up. That saves me a whole lot of money.
Consider Where you Live
It hits you hard when you realize that you may not get to live by yourself, in a great apartment, in a perfect location. I consider my home my sanctuary, and refuse to get roommates. But, I had to sacrifice other things, like location. When you consider your home situation, think of ways you can save money. If you own a home, can you get a roommate? Do airbnb? If you rent, maybe it’s time to move to a cheaper complex. Saving money on your rent or mortgage can really help your travel budget.
Think about your Bills
Luckily, I have no student loan debt. So monthly bills/spending, for me, consist of:
- Rent: $740
- Electricity: $60
- Car insurance: $80
- Gym Membership: $36
- Internet: $55
- Netflix: $8
- Gas: $100
- Groceries: $300
- Sun pass: $25
- Car payment: $340
Play money=$376 (aka, barely anything)
And, to make matters worse, I drastically overspent in New Zealand-but hey, that’s what credit cards are for, so all of my money since August has been going to pay off credit cards (which still aren’t paid off by the way). And I have managed to save $0 for my 2017 trip. But I’m not worried, and here’s why:
How I’m making 2017 Travel Possible
I recently started tutoring, which brings in an extra $200 a month, which is going to go towards traveling. (Which will add $1200 to the travel budget)
Starting in December (when my credit card will finally be paid off) $200 of my paycheck a month will go towards traveling. (That’s a total of $1200 dollars) And even if I slack a little bit on this money-I still have plenty of other ways to bring in the cash.
Because of teacher performance pay in Florida, I will be getting about $1200 as a bonus because I had good observations and my kids did well on their standardized tests. (I don’t get a Christmas bonus so all of you who do, put it in the travel account!)
During the summer I put all my stuff in storage and save about $1400 in rent. Guess where that goes?
And, I usually get about $800 back on my taxes, all of it goes in the bank.
Just right there I have about $5,800 to play with! That is more than enough to take a nice long summer vacation, or take two smaller vacations during my breaks.
But Kelly, I have loans, a car payment, ect…
I do not have a lot of bills, it is true. But, I also do not make a lot of money. I make less than $40,000 a year. If you make less than $40,000 a year and have school loans, and other bills, you can still save up for a trip. Here are some tricks:
- Open up a new bank account. Put all of your money in that account and do not touch it! You can touch it to book your flight, hotels, activities for your trip, ect, but nothing else!
- Get a part time job-Tutor kids, work one day a week at a local gym, deliver pizzas one night a week, pick up a bartending shift, uber. If you’re surviving on what you have now, give up five hours of your time every week, and even if you’re making $12, an hour, that’s $50 a week. That is $200 a month. And that is $2400 a year. You can go on a pretty awesome vacation with $2400.
- Sign up for an airline credit card or a travel credit card-I sign up for a different airline credit card every year. (I cancel the card after a year, before I sign up for a new one) They offer sign-up bonuses, you spend some money, and you get tons of free airline miles. Your airplane ticket is partially (or completely) paid for.
- Get a credit card that gives you money back-and put that money in your traveling savings account.
- Take advantage of Birthdays/Holidays-If your friends/parents do gifts, ask people to give you money and put it towards traveling. Tell your friends and family what you are saving up for, create a website. get people involved, make sure to write thank you notes!
- Tax Season-Put the money towards traveling. Put it in a bank account and don’t touch it until you start planning your trip! This goes for a holiday bonus, or any kind of unexpected money that comes your way. Pretend you can’t spend it, and save it for later.
- Plan to travel with a friend so you can split costs like lodging.
- Be smart, and research the best flight/tour/vacation deals. A post on my favorite travel websites soon to come!
How do I save money to travel? I make travel a priority. And I make sacrifices to fuel my passion for seeing the world. Even though I feel like I might miss out on a few things, being able to see the world is well worth it. What do you do to save money? Let me know in the comments below!