Whilst I am not yet at the stage where I can travel full time, jetting off for months on end is still a costly pursuit and people often ask how I get the money to travel. If you’re hoping to read about a miracle shortcut, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. Any sort of serious saving takes commitment and hard work. I’m not one of those famous instagrammers and I don’t have a trust fund. I am just a normal British girl with a thirst for adventure and if I can afford to travel, so can you. This is how I do it.
Work hard and work lots
Get yourself a job and work hard. Nothing in life comes for free. In order to save money you need to make money, and the best way to do this is to find a stable job with guaranteed hours. This income acts as your basic funding. If you can juggle it, get a second job and always volunteer for overtime when possible. If you leave your job to travel it is possible you could be due a tax refund the following year so always keep up to date with how much you are paying in tax and where you annual earnings fall against the tax threshold. (It’s worth mentioning here that I am referring specifically to the UK.)
Set a goal
The first step to successful saving is to give yourself a goal. In order to set a sensible target, I start by thinking about where I would like to visit and how long for. You must consider a number of factors when working out your budget, including how soon you want to travel, whether you intend on working during your trip and the cost of living in the places you’re interested in. Arming yourself with this information means that setting a realistic target will be much simpler. With a clear figure in mind, it becomes much easier to budget your money.
Change your attitude towards money
This is without doubt the most important change you can make if you are saving for travel (or anything for that matter). In order to save vast amounts of money, you must be very strict with your spending habits. Buy only what is completely necessary to your life: when you think about it you probably don’t need that Starbucks coffee or those new heels. Consider all of your purchases in terms of what will be useful when you’re on the road in a few months time. Be frugal with your social life but don’t shut yourself off from family and friends. It is important to remember that whilst you have an end goal to reach, life is still happening right now. Limit costly events like nights on the town to special occasions and instead favour low budget meet ups. Board game evenings and BBQs are a great way to cut the cost when it comes to social gatherings.
Sell your stuff
Selling your stuff used to be a right drag, but thanks to the internet, there is no need to spend all of your Sundays at car boot sales. First and foremost, get yourself an eBay account. Most people don’t bother to sell their old stuff as they think no-one will buy it but this is not true. People will buy literally anything. Listing your stuff on eBay is a great way to get your items seen by a massive audience without ever needing to leave the house. Make sure you always check how much similar items sell for and schedule your listings so that they end in the evening as this is when most people shop online. If you’re looking at selling your old CD’s and DVD’s, hit up Music Magpie and CEX to exchange your goods for cash. If you are based outside of the UK, google the best places to get dosh for your old stuff. Always remember to price compare as many of these companies have a price match guarantee.
Get a savings account
Every month when I am paid, I calculate what I will need in my account to meet my necessary monthly expenditure. This includes bus fare to get me to and from work as well as money to pay my rent and phone contract. I leave a modest discretionary amount for treats throughout that week. This amount should cover any unforeseen financial surprises and also leaves me enough to have a bit of a social life. I aim to save at least half of my monthly wage which I transfer into my savings account on pay-day. I refuse to dip into these savings unless I have absolutely no choice so that I can earn as much interest as possible. By pretending this money does not exist, it becomes easier to adapt to living a more frugal lifestyle.
Sign up for some online surveys
A lot of people scoff at online surveys as a way to help finance travel but it is true that every little helps. I have trialled a lot of surveys over the years and my personal favourites are GFK rewards and YouGov (both UK based). GFK provides you with radio and television surveys daily. Whilst you won’t be ‘paid’ for these surveys, you collect points which you can then use to enter prize draws for vouchers. Whilst this doesn’t technically add money to the saving pot, it is nice to be able to splash out on a treat every now and then without taking a chunk out of the travelling fund. In my opinion, the best survey site for cash rewards is YouGov. In exchange for your opinions on a wealth of topics, YouGov allows you to save up points, either for entry into prize draws or for a guaranteed £50 to be paid directly into your bank account. Admittedly it takes a fair while to save up for the money, (I usually manage to cash in every six months or so) but the surveys take very little time and can be completed on the road, earning you points while you travel. Sign up for YouGov now by clicking on the logo.
Remember why you’re doing it…
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix when it comes to saving and it can be easy to forget why you are making so many sacrifices when your trip is still so far away. To stay motivated, try updating your computer wallpaper with an image of somewhere you’re going to visit, that way the destination is always in the forefront of your mind. It will take hard work and grit to reach your goal, but if you’re determined enough, travel will always find a way.
*Disclaimer* By signing up to YouGov using the above link, I will gain extra referral points at no cost to you. Thanks and good luck saving!