Let’s face it: most of us aren’t buying a house any time soon – or an apartment, or a shed. So the urge to spend our hard-earned cash on travel is hard to resist.
If “Where are you going next?” is your most frequently asked question, you know the answer depends on how much you can save. From booking all the exciting bits to panicking when you realise you skipped a month in your budget, here are some small things that will help keep your travel kitty in the red.
#1 Budget Smart
For one week, write down everything you spend money on. I mean everything. Use an app like TrackMySpend if it helps. Then, look at the holes your cash is falling into.
How much would you save if you made a cup of tea instead of buying that second cappuccino each day? What if you skipped out on those pub dinners and ate at home beforehand? Can you walk or cycle more instead of driving? (Your legs will thank you when you’re travelling, too!)
It’s also important to keep your travel savings in a separate bank account to your regular spending. Every time you make a smart spending decision, reward yourself by putting the money you were about to fork out (on shoes, lunch or a jug of cider) straight into your travel fund. You’ll see quickly how all those little things add up.
#2 Stagger Your Purchases
You can only spend money once, so make sure it’s on your trip. Rather than putting all your savings toward an aspirant lump sum, tick off a small expense every week or every pay cheque – like booking a room or hiring a car. It’s a guaranteed saving method: you’ll have less money overall in the lead-up to your trip, but you won’t be able to accidentally spend it on anything else. Plus, booking in advance can save you a lot on its own.
When you do need to make a big purchase, like a flight, you’re much better off using a “book now, pay later” offer than taking out a loan or getting a credit card.
#3 Consider Alternatives
If hotels (or hostels) are too expensive, look for an Airbnb or investigate local campsites. Even better? Do a call-out for any friends of friends you might be able to stay with.
If you’re looking to stay for a longer period, consider volunteering. Websites like Workaway have some ridiculously good destinations – ranches, vineyards, hostels in national parks – where you work four to five hours a day, five days a week, in exchange for food and board.[related_articles]34276[/related_articles]
#4 Sell Your Stuff
Okay, not all your things – but the ones you don’t need anymore. Hold a market stall (or, for an even cheaper option, a garage sale) and find a new home for the things gathering dust in your room.
Those boots you bought online but never wear because they’re a touch too small? They’ll pay for a couple of nights in a hostel. That awful wooden bowl your aunt gave you for Christmas six years ago? It just might get you a ticket to see your favourite band in LA.
#5 Take A Month Off Drinking
If you scoffed at this idea, you probably stand to gain the most from it. When it’s getting down to crunch time, a month without alcohol can make a huge difference. Every drink you don’t have at home is one that your future self can enjoy at the swim-up bar, visiting that winery or partying on an island.
You’ll also feel amazing – and as you’re likely to do more exercise when you’re off the booze, you’ll be fitter too. All the better when you go to climb that mountain or treat yourself to all the local food.
Pick a month and you’ll probably find a charity cause to coincide with it – whether it’s Febfast, Dry July or Ocsober. Of course, you don’t have to do it the “official” way, but give back a little if you can and you’ll still save a lot.
Beth Dalgleish is a freelance writer, radio presenter and hiking enthusiast. She spends all her money on travel and live music. She has written words for FBi Radio, Time Out and Cream Magazine. Find her online as @bethneedscoffee