16 Tricks that Will Help You Save for Travel Without Losing Your Lifestyle
This sort of post is common on many travel blogs. A simple google search will give you plenty of opinions about just what you have to do to save money for travel. Although these lists may work for some people I find that they basically require you to be a hermit. I think the problem with making such huge cutbacks is that it isn’t sustainable- you are more likely to give up on saving for travel when doing so requires such a sacrifice.
My list in contrast, aims to meet you halfway. It’s what I’ve followed for about a year now and I saved a lot of money- way more than I was saving when I tried to just cut everything out. I’ve replaced a typical tip with something I think is a lot better. I’ve also kept a few that I think do actually work.
Move Back in with Your Parents Find cheaper accommodation
It’s not so easy for everyone to just move back home to save money on rental costs. My mum lives two hours from my university so moving home just wasn’t an option for me. But, by moving 15 minutes further from the CBD and living with 4 housemates instead of 2 I was able to cut my accommodation costs in half. The move also put me across the road from university so I saved enormously on parking and driving costs. To me, a saving of $400 a month was worth sitting an extra 15 minutes on the train the few times I venture into the city.
Stop Going Out Pre-drink/ Pre-game
This is a favourite pastime of students for a reason- it’s how we save money. But you can do it no matter what age you are. If you want to have a big night- down a $10 bottle of wine before you go to the pub where a glass will cost you the same. Alternatively if you are just looking for a few quiet drinks with some friends than pick a restaurant that is BYO (Bring Your Own).
Many cheap Asian eateries will allow you to BYO beer, wine or cider and it’s a great way to save money because you are saving both on food and on alcohol. The other option is to stay in with friends- host a dinner party and invite them over.
However alcohol isn’t the only cost associated with going out- you also have to worry about things like entry to clubs or taxis home. I cut these costs by just not going to places that charge a cover- I much prefer the pub atmosphere anyway. And I also make sure I’ve got some friends together to share the costs of a taxi- or I catch the last train home so I don’t have to worry about it at all. Well except when I fall asleep on said train and have to get a taxi home from the end of the line- not recommended!
3. Eat In – Limit your Eating Out to One Time a Week
If you like food as much as me the hardest part of saving for travel is having to pack your own lunch or cook your own meals. I find it extremely difficult to not eat out as its one of my favourite things to do. So what I do instead is limit my eating out to one night a week- usually Friday night. And when I do eat out I don’t usually splurge, I usually go to the local Vietnamese place and get a $10 bowl of pho or a $10 plate of dumplings from my favourite dumpling place. By giving myself one night a week to look forward to it’s easier for me to say no to an offer to get takeaway any other time of the week.
4. Don’t Go Shopping Buy Stuff for Your Trip
Sometimes you just get in the mood where all you want to do is shop. Or maybe that’s just me. So whenever I feel in desperate need of some retail therapy I buy one or two things that I know I’ll need for my trip. So far I’ve bought my backpack, a raincoat, some thermal underwear and other travel accessories. I don’t have to feel guilty about buying such items because they are part of my travel budget already.
5. Don’t Go Shopping Go Shopping at Kmart
Sometimes you can’t help but need to go shopping. There was no way I was getting through this year without a new pair of jeans or some new summer dresses. So instead of paying $100 for a dress, I went to Kmart. The dresses actually look fabulous on me- they really suit my body shape and they only cost me $15 each. I even picked up one for $5! Many of these dresses are also really light and therefore easily packable for my trip.
6. Don’t go the Movies Go on Cheap Tuesdays
I really like going to the movies, especially because of the popcorn. I try to cut my costs as much as possible by just waiting until the movie is on DVD and watching it at home. It’s great because I don’t even have to get out of bed and can watch them in PJs. However if you really must go to the cinemas then go on Tightarse Tuesdays when the tickets are cheap. Also sneak in snacks from the supermarket 😛
7. Go to the Library or Buy a Kindle
I used to spend a lot of money on books. I look at the 500+ books sitting in my room and hate to think what I paid for them. Buying a kindle was the best thing I ever did, there are just so many freebie options that are really good and even the paid titles are more than half the price of buying an actual paperback. It’s also amazing for travel! If you don’t like the idea of a kindle a good alternative is borrowing books at your local library.
8. Stop Drinking Coffee Buy a Coffee Machine
I’m lucky that I hate coffee so I don’t have to worry about this cost. But if you are buying one coffee a day for at the least $3 you are spending $21 a week and $1092 a year. That’s enough for a one way flight to Europe (from Melbourne) and return flights from most destinations in Asia. I know enough about coffee to know that instant coffee is the pits so my advise is to pick up one of those new coffee pod machines which will make a pretty decent coffee really easily and at a fraction of the cost. You can pick the machine up for about $100.
9. Throw out your Gym Membership Find a Better Deal
My sister would die without her gym membership so I know for some people throwing out your gym membership and replacing it with running or walking around the local park just isn’t an option. But most people are paying far too much for their gym memberships- there are lots of hidden costs that you can avoid by shopping around. Also if you live in a gym-saturated area you can get away with taking up lots of free gym trials or cheap introductory offers for a month or two. Bouncing from gym to gym and getting hold deals in the beginning will help negate the cost of the membership when you start paying later.
10. Start buying cheap/no-name brands
You don’t need that really popular name brand product from the hairdresser. Chances are if you are heading off to places like Asia the humidity is going to kill your hair anyway so that $3 bottle of shampoo from the supermarket isn’t going to kill you. There is also a negligible difference between name brand supermarket products and the ‘Coles’ brand products- buy the cheapest possible in soap, shampoo, toothpaste, medicine and supermarket products. The only thing I splurge on is face products and makeup as the cheaper versions can have pretty bad chemicals in them and it isn’t great for my skin.
11. Sell Your Car Downgrade or use it less
I find the advice about getting rid of your car and starting to use public transport the most unrealistic for me. Even in Melbourne, which has a pretty good public transport network. I would be lost without my car. It would make my life more difficult and this lack of efficiency would actually cost me money. I might not be able to work as much if I have to add time on public transport to the number of hours I take away from study. Instead I’m lucky to have a pretty cheap car- it costs me about $30 a week to fill up and I have friends that spend more on public transport just getting to university. If you own a guzzler it might be better selling up and getting something smaller and more fuel efficient. If you own a $30,000 dollar car that you are still repaying you might want to trade it in and buy a smaller cheaper car and save the difference for travel. I know this won’t work for everyone but it just depends on how much you want to prioritise travel. If you are planning a long trip you would probably end up selling it before you left anyway.
12. Quit Smoking
This isn’t one I’m going to edit. If you are smoking you should quit- not just because its expensive but also because its killing you. Think of all the years of travel you’ll miss out on if you die of lung cancer too early.
13. Think about your spending
I have many friends who are astounded at how much I am able to save, even the ones who I share a job with and thus are earning the same as me. Other than the tips above, the greatest piece of advice I can give is to put yourself in a saving mentality. Set a goal and have a plan of how to work towards it. I started by writing down all of the expenses I couldn’t avoid- my rent, groceries, fuel, phone bill, my football membership (no I can’t live without this) etc. Then I wrote down the income that I earn on average per month. From these numbers I was able to work out a realistic amount to aim to save every month. Having an achievable goal is perhaps the most important thing.
14. Track your spending
I use the BUDGT app to track exactly what I am spending money on each month. This helps me recognise when I’m splurging and where I can still afford to cut back.
15. Transfer into a travel account on payday
Many people have the mentality of ‘I’ll just save whatever is left at the end of the month’. You need to be more forward thinking about your travel saving. Once you have done the math mentioned above and know how much you can afford to save, transfer that money into a high interest bank account as soon as you get paid. Let’s say I earned $700 a week, $300 of which went to my everyday unavoidable expenses. Every Friday when I get paid I would be transferring $400 into my high interest travel fund. By only having $300 in my everyday account for the week I’m forced into not spending anymore money or risk losing my high interest dividends. At the end of the month any money leftover from my everyday spending would also be going straight into the travel fund.
16. Take advantage of frequent flyer programs
Read my post here to learn about how you can cut your airfare costs by taking advantage of airfare rewards. By putting all my essential expenses on my Qantas points earning credit card even when I’m spending I’m still working towards my travel dreams.