Before departing on my earlier travels, I used to scour the internet looking for tips and tricks to save money, and honestly went in search of some kind of miracle.
In the end I realised it just takes time, willpower and a little ‘know how’, whilst always remembering what you are working towards. Whether you’re working full time, or part-time with studying on the side, living alone, or with friends or family. Paying extortionate rent or none at all. Saving for a round the world trip, or just a one way flight ticket. Each money saving tip might not be appropriate for everyone, as we all have different circumstances, responsibilities, commitments and priorities, but hopefully you’ll find some useful points to consider.
I’ve gathered together a concise list of the tips that I concluded, actually helped me to save. In all honesty though, it truly depends on what kind of traveller you are (luxury or budget) and whether you’re travelling long or short term.
Budget travellers should have no issue in saving enough to get them between cheap hostels and cheap eats within a few months. However if you truly value some privacy and a guaranteed/undisturbed sleep; Hotels, and private accommodation will be more your cup of tea. And with the added layer of privacy, comes another layer of coins.
These tips depend heavily on the fact that you have a job and an income… so if you’re young and don’t have one yet… the first tip is to find a job!
Open a savings account that’s separate to your current account
The starting point. The idea of separating the money you’re saving specifically for travel, and your usual pot of money, is to help you see it as a whole amount that will slowly grow and that you can keep track of.
It really depends on how good you are at not being tempted to delve into your savings. If you frequently find that you can’t help dipping into your savings, get an account thats harder to access without physically going into the bank.
On payday, move money from your current account into your savings
Only do this after you have analysed your typical monthly outgoings (making sure to leave room for any unexpected payments). From petrol costs, if you have a car, insurance, rent, average food bill, utilities/services, phone bill, mortgage repayments, anything and everything. Work out how much you can move each month straight into your travel savings.
Being able to move the money as soon as you’re paid, allocates it immediately into your ‘travel fund’ and you hopefully shouldn’t be tempted to remove it and buy anything unnecessary.
Limit spending on takeaway snacks/food/drinks
From work coffee runs, to ordering a pricey takeaway. It can all majorly add up. Try to be strict, and avoid buying snacks/lunch/coffees out. Not only will it save you money, it could greatly reduce your plastic waste too. If I had £3.50 for the amount of times a work friend would ring in the morning with “Hey I’m just in *insert coffee shop*, do you want me to get you something?”, I would have… a lot of money!
Having the willpower is hard, I definitely caved a few times. Especially if I decided I deserved a treat, as I’d had an, interesting client, to put it politely (an interesting client before 9am = please being me expensive coffee). If possible, use the work coffee, make a flask, make lunch and snacks at home to bring with you. You can make exciting work lunches without splashing out. Check out youtube and all the incredible food bloggers out there. This moves us on to the next point…
Be a savvy shopper
Other than opting for cheaper brands or cheaper stores, there are a few other things to consider when out shopping for food!
– Try and limit any unnecessary impulse spending, on clothes, candles etc. With supermarkets now packed full of clothing and homeware too. Do you really need that jumper just because it’s on offer, or that huge dessert that will likely go out of date before you finish it.
– Loose fruit and veg will be often be astonishingly cheaper compared to their plastic wrapped counter parts. So reduce your plastic and food bill in one by taking the time to pick out and weigh things yourself.
– Pay attention to the brands/products you’re choosing. Supermarket own brands are so much cheaper and the quality difference isn’t really as noticeable as you want to believe. But things like pasta, rice, flour, biscuits, are usually indistinguishable in quality from their branded alternatives.
– Try and only buy things on offer. Sometimes you might choose the same old brands every week without checking the price. But look out for alternative brands that could be on offer that week and maybe a little cheaper. Supermarkets can be sneaky so cross compare larger and smaller versions of things (e.g. weight and volume) to see if you’re actually getting a good deal. But generally I tend not to buy something unless it has that offer tag.
– Browse that reduced section! Honestly you will find some pretty sweet deals in there.
This idea of being a ‘savvy shopper’ applies to general spending on anything too, not just food! Look out for deals and shop around to find things at better prices.
Get creative with gift giving
Christmas can be a hard time for saving… not to mention months where you suddenly realise half of your entire family/friends/siblings partners were born. January and March, I’m looking at you. The idea of saving money on gifts is tough, you generally want to show how much someone means to you. But… your time has a great value too, not just money. If you don’t feel like you’re the creative type you might not have found the right ‘thing’ yet. From crocheting and knitting to baking and candle making. If it all sounds a bit ‘arts n crafts’, even simple things like printing a canvas with a favourite photo, or arranging a day out (like a special picnic), will be just as appreciated as an expensive cologne or beauty gift set.
Limit spending on evenings/nights out
When you’re out with friends saving can often take a back seat… You’re feeling bold and alive and decide to treat your friends to a round of fancy drinks (or more like jägerbombs for my unlucky friends). Keep that idea of travel in your mind, and maybe even ask a friend to keep an eye on your spending and to try and stop you if things get out of hand… Try and opt for cheaper alcoholic drinks (or skip drinking altogether if you can!). Suggest socialising somewhere else or doing something that won’t involve so much spending or drinking. Like a hike with a packed picnic or a cocktail night at home.
Even if you’re not drinking (btw offering to be the designated driver is a safe way to keep the spending down!), try and choose cheaper meals or restaurants when you’re deciding where to go. It’s hard to just say no and not socialise at all, so finding ways to cut down on the cost is the best way to keep saving.
Don’t feel like you need to buy new ‘travel’ things
I read so many packing lists before some of my first travels and thought, “oh no I don’t have a thermal top like that, or lightweight cotton trousers like that”. But honestly, as long as you have comfortable clothes suitable for hot and/or cold weather (depending on where you’re going ie. it’s not an extreme environment like the arctic!), you’ll likely be fine. The same goes for buying travel gadgets etc. even sustainable things. If you already have a plastic toothbrush, just bring that, instead of buying a brand new bamboo one. When travelling, particularly long term, your clothes will be exposed to terrible washing machines, sweat, dust, seawater, amniotic fluids (yes you read that correctly, if your curious read more here) and everything in-between. You won’t want to be wearing an expensive new travel outfit!
Purge your direct debits
Do you really need that gym, magazine or adobe membership that drains your account of money each month? If you’re serious about saving for travel, try and move to at home workouts if you can, and cancel any subscriptions or memberships that you won’t need on the road, now is a good time to get used to living without them, as you won’t have them (or have time for them) whilst travelling!
Sell old clothes/items you no longer need
I had a clothing purge on Ebay before I set off on my first long term travel adventure. I didn’t make much… but it was something! You will likely be surprised how you feel after coming back from long term travel and seeing the sheer amount of clothes/possessions you have. So by sorting through and selling old/excess things now you’ll have some extra money to add to your travelling budget. For clothing you could use apps like Depop and Vinted, and for odds and ends you can try a car boot sale or Gumtree!
Do you have any saving tips you absolutely swear by? It can be a hard balance. Trying to keep a life full of things you enjoy, but saving hard for a future adventure. A final tip which you might find useful, was that every time I went to buy something, I thought, this £10 could be a stay in a hostel, a couple of meals, or bus tickets to beautiful beaches…