A lot of people think that you have to be rich to travel. Good news – you don’t. You just need to know how to manage your money. The average backpacker typically isn’t a trust fund baby from a wealthy family; they’ve just figured out the key to saving money for the sole purpose of traveling. It may not be easy at first, but it just takes rearranging your priorities and keeping your end goal in mind.
Follow our tips for saving money and you’re one step closer to your next big trip!
Open a Travel Savings Account
You’ve got a savings account to cover all of life’s little surprises, so why not a savings account for your next trip? Opening an account that specifically saves money for your travels makes it easier to focus on your goal and less tempting to skim money from it. You can do this without ever stepping foot inside a bank. There are fun little apps that can help you with your travel savings goals. Acorns is one of my favorites because it makes saving – and even investing – so simple. The Acorns app works by investing your spare change from your credit and debit card purchases, helping your money grow over time. For example, if you buy something that’s $5.25, Acorns will round this amount up to the nearest dollar and take $0.75 and put it in an investment account. You can also make contributions to your account as small as $5. Keep building your savings whenever you have extra cash to reach your travel savings goal! Bonus: withdraw at any time with zero penalty fees.
Prioritize that Savings Account
Saving for travel has to be your number one priority. So, decide on an amount to take from every paycheck and immediately put that money into your Acorns account (or any other separate travel savings account). Separate the decided amount as soon as you get paid so there’s no temptation to spend it. Pretend that your paycheck minus the savings contribution is your new salary and you must now learn to live on this adjusted income. You can do it!
Make a Budget
Now that you have a “new” income, make a new budget. Didn’t have a budget before? Here’s your second chance! First, start by tracking your spendings. For an entire month (maybe two), record every dollar spent into an Excel spreadsheet. At the end of the month, you’ll see where all your money’s going and where you can possibly save more by cutting out the excess. When I did this exercise, I realized I was spending a crazy amount of money eating and drinking out on the weekends. Cutting the number of times I went out instantly helped me save a lot more. P.S. this doesn’t mean stop having fun, it means getting creative with how you spend your free time! Keep reading…
Live like a Backpacker – Before you go Backpacking
We don’t mean start sleeping on your friend’s couch and eating Ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We mean living frugally. This means cutting out unnecessary expenses and rearranging your priorities. While you don’t have to live on instant noodles, consider not eating out as frequently. Buy fresh produce and make meals at home with your partner or friends. Ditch your morning coffee ritual at your favorite cafe and take your brew to-go from home. Host a BYOB happy hour at your place and invite your crew instead of heading out to your local watering hole. There are plenty of ways to save money without depriving yourself.
Cut Monthly Subscriptions
Take a look at your monthly subscriptions and make cuts. Whether it’s Spotify, Blue Apron, BirchBox, or eHarmony, there’s probably at least one or two you can do without. Prioritize your trip and ditch these little extras. Could you survive without those monthly magazines? The answer is, probably. Think you can’t live without your gym membership? You can! YouTube yoga and Pilates videos are amazing, or get outside for a run, cycle, surf, walk, or organize a pick-up game of basketball. Whatever exercise you’re into, there are ways to do it cheaply or freely!
Sell Your Stuff
When I moved to Thailand, I sold three pairs of designer jeans and two pairs of brand name sunglasses to a thrift shop and made $100. I’m not suggesting you gut your entire closet, but chances are you have built up excess stock of certain items (I had 6 pairs of sunglasses). If you’re going on a long trip to a country where skinny jeans and high heels aren’t necessary (it’s way too hot in Thailand for tight clothing and you don’t need fancy shoes to be a beach bum!), consider selling it. Do you have clothes hanging in your closet that you haven’t worn in a year? Get rid of them. Books, DVDs, random electronics, furniture, and knickknacks are perfect for yard sales. Pick a weekend and cut down on your stock!