Since I’ve decided to travel around the world, I’ve created a pretty intense savings plan. I had originally planned on giving myself a year and a half to save up the $20K that I wanted to use for this trip, but have since decided to go balls to the wall and leave in six months. Hence, the intense savings plan.
To save money, I have done the following (no shame):
1. Move back home. I know most people will not be excited to hear this one, but if you have the opportunity to eliminate your rent, utilities, and other costs associated with renting, you will be saving a massive amount of money per month. It makes it easier when you know that this is only for a set period of time. If you can do it, this will accelerate your savings plan faster than anything else.
2. If you have decided to move back home, SELL YOUR STUFF. You can make so much money just by selling your furniture, designer bags, and other random stuff that you don’t need. It’s just stuff, and if you won’t be using it when you travel, you don’t need it. I’ve sold books, movies, furniture, purses, clothes, etc online. I use craigslist, eBay, Facebook, and Half.com to do this.
3. No more eating out, no more Starbucks, no more Whole Foods salad bar, no more “treats”. This is a hard step for some, but so worth it. If you can eliminate eating out from your budget, that can save you tons of money. Try buying groceries and cooking meals in bulk. Find something you love. I love Mexican food, and I can live off rice and beans pretty easily. My parents usually cook veggies every night, so I just throw some of those on top and eat like a woman destined to travel. If you don’t like Mexican, try steamed veggies with potatoes, or maybe a vegetarian Indian curry. I am a vegan and I’ve found that cutting meat and dairy out of my diet has saved me so much money(among other benefits). Cutting coffee out of your life has actually helped me heaps. I don’t get caffeine headaches any more and I save money. I hope you recognize that “no more eating out” also means no more nights out at the bar. If you want to have a drink with some friends, invite them over and buy a cheap bottle of wine from the grocery store. I am lucky to work in the wine industry where I am able to get a couple bottles of wine for free monthly, so I drink that and that ONLY. I do not purchase alcohol. I rarely drink at all, actually. Cutting back on drinking (or going sober) is healthier and will save you money in the long run – the more to travel with, my dear.
4. Write down everything you plan to spend money on. Do not buy ANYTHING else. I made a list of my bills including gas, food, cell phone, etc. If I want to do something that is not on that list… I don’t. My sister loves to go shopping. I will go with her sometimes to spend time with her, but I don’t buy anything. Ideally I would not even bring my wallet. Sometimes I do splurge and use my change for an iced tea (only if I have enough change and I really want it).
5. Buy cheaper stuff. Use coupons. Do free activities. Quit your gym membership and hike outside. Sell your car and get a bike. Quit wearing expensive makeup. Stop coloring your hair (learn to cut it yourself too). Basically anything that you can cut out of your life, cut.
6. Travel hacking. Though this is technically a way to save money while travelling, you can save major money on flights by trying travel hacking. You need to start as early as possible to rack up points and rewards on your cards to do this. Start by trying out travel hacking while you are planning your trip. To see how I use travel hacking, see this post.
7. Quit your cell phone plan. Some may think this is going a little too far. I don’t care. I have a plan and I’m determined to execute it. Quitting my cell phone plan 6 months before leaving will save me $80 a month, or $480 in 6 months. That pretty much pays off one of my flights. In your face, haters!
These steps are hard to implement. It’s hard to cut things out of your life that you’re used to. But this is why some of us are able to travel and some are not. Those who are willing to put their dreams before a life of luxury are those who will be able to travel and have their best life possible.
Some people tell me that I’m “sooo lucky” that I have the opportunity to travel. I have to explain that I am not any different than you or anyone else. I am just a regular person with a 9-5 that I felt trapped in, and I wanted out. I have gone to pretty drastic measures (giving up personal space, all my stuff, and going out to eat) in an effort to live my dreams. But I know once I get on that first plane, I will feel so amazing/alive/free/like a mystical unicorn.