We often get asked how we can afford to travel so often at such a young age, even by our friends and family. The truth is, we’ve had to sacrifice a few things in order to live our dreams and have made travel our number one priority when it comes to our finances. In this post we’ll explain a bit more about what we do to save money for travel to amazing places 3-4 times per year!
Start a travel fund
Having a travel fund that grows on a regular basis can be one of the most useful things when trying to save for travel. We have gotten into a habit of setting aside any extra money we make in a separate travel fund, only to be used in planning our next getaway. The amount really doesn’t need to be much – we started off with saving $20 per week! In our experience, it accomplishes two goals. First, when it does come time to buy that plane ticket or book your hotel, the travel fund can significantly cut into the expense and also help with purchases in your targeted destination. Secondly, it acts as a reminder and morale booster, subtly letting you know that your next adventure is around the corner and keeping the hype train going! Which also ties in with our next point…
We understand that sometimes it can be tough thinking about having enough money to travel the world and realize each and every one of your dreams, but don’t give up! We know it can be tempting to dip into your travel fund to buy the next IPhone or cool concert tickets, but resist the urge! Spending 3 weeks on the beach in Thailand will be worth it – promise 😉 We can proudly say that we have worked hard professionally and academically to have the travel experiences we have had and it has made us appreciate them all the more. Being committed mentally, emotionally and even physically sometimes, can really shape your outlook on your travel plans and life in general. If you want to roll through the valleys of Patagonia or relax in a Turkish bath, you have to believe in it. Once you start committing to it, other things will fall into place 🙂
Set realistic goals and have a plan
As with most goals, planning and organization are key. Having a well thought out idea of where you want to go and how you want to get there (literally and metaphorically), can be the building blocks to embarking on your own world abounding experience. Being realistic with your goals will also keep things in check. Unless you have money falling out of your pockets and so much time you can afford to wake up at noon everyday (how we wish this was our case…haha), then you won’t be able to see and do it all. Focus on what matters to you, cherish, document and relive those moments that mean the most to you.
Ask for travel related gifts for birthday/Christmas
Everyone loves getting that new gadget or new pair of shoes for Christmas but if you have a trip coming up, why not take the opportunity to suggest a travel related item? It could be something that completes your set of gear or something you otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy on your own. We have managed to accumulate a solid base of travel essentials from our friends and family’s generosity. We do understand that for some, this might not be feasible and that everyone’s situation is different.
Sometimes we aren’t all fortunate enough to have a travel buddy but if you have a friend, significant other, or anyone else that you don’t mind traveling with, we recommend planning and travelling together! Having someone else to share costs of food, accommodations and activities can really help. You’ll be cutting most of your expenses in half! As well, travelling together also has other added benefits, like having someone to share all of these new and exciting experiences with.
Cut your daily expenses
Though all the tips mentioned above are key to growing your travel fund, we’ve found that there really is no substitute for cutting down on our daily expenses when we aren’t on the road. The way we look at it is like this: would you rather spend $5 on a latte at Starbucks in Canada (that isn’t even THAT good) or $5 on a bowl of Pho in Vietnam? We know which we’d pick! Below are some of the things we do on a daily basis to save some dollars and add them to our travel fund:
- Skip the gym – We don’t mean stop doing exercise. We’re all about leading an active and healthy lifestyle. We just mean skip the gym membership! There are plenty of ways to get in some exercise at a much lower cost or even for free. For example, Lululemon has free yoga classes every Sunday in many locations. There are also some great yoga videos on Doyouyoga.com. You can also go for a walk/run outside or even get the Nike Training Club app on your phone which customizes workout plans for you. How cool is that?!
- Don’t buy that latte – Yes you can indulge and buy one every once in a while, but buying a $5 latte every morning puts a serious dent in your budget! Try brewing your own coffee/tea at home instead.
- Scale back on rent – Sure living on the top floor of a brand new condo would be nice, but wouldn’t bungee jumping in New Zealand be better? Priorities! Think about how much faster you could achieve your goals if you spent a few hundred dollars less on rent every month and put it in your travel fund.
- Stop eating out so much – Restaurants absolutely kill your budget. We try to only eat out once or twice a week and make all of our meals at home.
- Limit your alcohol intake – Going out to the bar is yet another budget buster. Try limiting it to once or twice a month, and buying most of your drinks of the liquor store instead of the actual bar.
- Cancel your cable – Do people still have cable? If you do, we strongly suggest you cancel and simply get a Netflix account for $8.99/month. House of Cards. Daredevil. Downton Abbey. What more could you need?!
- Scale back on your cellphone plan – Another huge budget buster (at least in Canada anyway) is cellphone plans. Why do they have to be so dang expensive?! We recommend scaling back on your data plan to save a huge chunk of money every month. For example, Katherine switched over to Virgin Mobile on a Bring-Your-Own-Phone plan and only pays $45 CAD/month for 500 MB of data and basically unlimited for everything else, saving her about $35/month.
- Stop shopping until your drop. We’ll be the first to admit that we love clothes and we love looking good in the season’s new styles. But dang do those new items rack up! Resist the urge to shop until there’s nothing left in your wallet and only buy when you really need something. Better yet, don’t even walk into a mall if you don’t think you can resist the urge of a really good sale.
- Shop around for the best deals – Be that person counting out their coupons and checking the flyers for the best deals on everything. You’ll save a bundle if you only buy things on sale!
- Sign up for points cards – PC plus points, Shoppers Optimum and all that. We’ve saved over $300 just for shopping at stores we would be buying things at regardless of the points. You have to do groceries right? So why not get points/free food for it?
- Sell your old stuff – Those shoes you bought on a whim and never wore? Sell them on Kijiji or Facebook groups! This is a great way to both clear out your closet and make a little extra cash to add to your travel fund.
- Chill out on the beauty habits. Manicures, pedicures, facials, highlights. All that stuff gets really expensive over the course of a year! Save a few bucks by doing-it-yourself. Throw a nail painting party and go au naturel with your hair colour to save quite a pretty penny by the end of the year.
- Take public transportation – Full disclosure, we do actually have a car. That being said, if you’re really looking to cut down on expenses, this is one of the top budget busters out there. Think about how much money you could save if you didn’t spend it on payments, insurance, gas and repairs each month! Instead, take public transportation and rent a car from a car sharing service when necessary, like Vrtucar or Zipcar. We understand this isn’t a feasible option for everyone, but we just wanted to put it out there!
What do you do to save money for your travels?
Comment with your tips below!
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