No matter what anyone says, travelling costs money. Even if you have a family member that you can crash with in every country in the world, you still need to buy that plane ticket to get there and eat along the way. We’ve become pretty good at saving our pennies and have figured out some of the best ways to save money to travel the world.
Start by writing down your standard expenses every month – rent, food, health care, phone bills, car insurance, public transport pass etc, then write down all those little extras – bought lunches, nights out, coffee, clothes shopping. You’ll probably be surprised at how much money you’re spending when you add it all up. Next, try each and every one of these out:
1 – CHANGE YOUR HAIR HABITS
After going to a few barbers when we first arrived back in Australia and finding they were going to charge $20-$30 per haircut for Gavin, we bought a shaver for $50 and he’s been neat and tidy ever since (well, kind of). Of course this only works if your haircut allows it, but maybe you want to get a new look ready for your travels?
Ladies, like the luxury of getting your hair dyed and not game to do it yourself? If you have a favourite salon, have a little chat to your hairdresser on the side and ask her if she does at-home appointments. Chances are she does, and charges a fraction of the price of what you pay in the salon.
2 – PLAN YOUR MEALS
If you’re going grocery shopping every evening after work you’re spending more than you realise. Plan your meals a week in advance and do your shop all at once so you know exactly what you’re spending per week on food. Write a list and stick to it. My favourite app for writing a shopping list is ‘Wunderlist’ – you can sync it to your partner’s or your housemates phone too, so if they’re close to the shops they can go and grab whatever’s on there and ‘tick’ it off so you know they’ve already picked it up!
3 – STOCK UP ON TOILETRIES/COSMETICS
Toiletries can be one of the biggest everyday expenses and one of the hardest to reduce. Whenever your favourite shampoo, face cleanser or mascara goes on special, buy in bulk. It may be a big expense at the time, but when you don’t have to buy any for the next eight months and when you can walk smugly past the toiletries aisle every week, you’ll thank yourself.
4 – BE SMART WHEN EATING OUT
I’m not going to tell you to stop eating out, because we all like to go out for a meal sometimes, but think about your options when you’re ordering. Can you order a few entrees and share with a friend for less than the price of a main? Most of the time, yes, and you get to sample a few different meals rather than having to stick to one – it’s a win-win. Plus, get used to drinking water – it’s healthy and free!
5 – GO FOR COFFEE
Even better than ‘being smart when eating out’ is going for coffee instead. If a friend wants to catch up, suggest coffee, it will cost you $5 instead of $15-$20 and just means you aren’t occupied with eating and can do a lot more talking! If you’re like me and don’t drink coffee, opt for tea which is even cheaper!
6 – SHARING IS CARING
If you’re living alone, find a roommate (or two or three). If you’re able to move back home with your parents, do it. It’s a short term sacrifice for long term gain. Sharing with others will reduce pretty much every bill you have. Plus, you can probably sell off most of your furniture to make a bit of extra cash. Also, when you leave your rental you’ll get your bond back (provided you’ve looked after it!) which is generally a good chunk of money that can go straight into the savings.
7 – SACRIFICE YOUR SIGNAL
When we came back to Australia after living in Vancouver, we knew we wanted to save absolutely everywhere possible. We refused to even get new phone numbers for a few weeks, so when we decided we probably should, we wanted to get the best deal we could find. Before leaving Australia we were spending $75 each a month on our phone bills. By moving to a different phone company which, let’s be honest, didn’t have great reception, we decreased our bill to $35 each per month. Yeah, it bothered us sometimes, but generally it wasn’t an issue especially when most communication can be done with 3G or WiFi now anyway.
8 – USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Public transport is your friend. If you’re used to driving everywhere it’s hard to make the transition, but it really is worth it. Before we left for Canada we never used public transport, but after living for 13 months without a car and relying on walking, buses and trains, we realised how much cheaper it is and that it’s really not that bad! If you’re a couple living together see if you can manage with only one car – you’ll halve the cost of insurance, servicing and registration which is a decent chunk of money!
9 – USE YOUR TALENTS
Have some sort of hidden talent or hobby that you’re not making money on? Why not?! As photographers, we could obviously make extra money by shooting portraits and weddings on weekends, but there’s plenty of ways to add a little bit (or a lot!) to your savings account. Good with kids? Do some babysitting. A bit arty? Sell your craft on Etsy. Got some experience in retail? Pick up a casual job on weekends and take advantage of Sunday and public holiday pay rates (if you’re in Australia!). Another great way to pick up extra little jobs is to be on the ‘Q&A’ Facebook page of the area you live in – people are always asking for recommendations on photographers, hairdressers, babysitters, invitation designers or cake makers – give yourself a plug and bring in some extra cash!
10 – GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR WARDROBE
I like to shop as much as the next girl, but it is a luxury you need to sacrifice or limit when you’re saving hard for travel. Focus on building a wardrobe of simple pieces in neutral colours that you can mix and match easily and dress up with a scarf or necklace. If you style it the right way, you can have a really nice looking outfit that doesn’t cost a heap but looks like it could! If you love your shopping and aren’t ready to give it up, get your extra retail job on Sundays and take advantage of your discount – you may only work five hours a week there but get 30-50% off!
11 – STAY IN
Embrace staying at home. Have friends over for dinner. Enjoy a movie night. Have a board game marathon (Gavin’s real life nightmare!). Research your trip. Watch Netflix. Create those crafts for sale on Etsy. Work on your new blog!
12 – DETOX
We very rarely drink so this doesn’t apply to us, but stop drinking alcohol! If you like a drink, have friends around so you’re not paying the price of a bar or pub, or go to a restaurant that does BYO. However if you can avoid it completely you’ll save so much, and you can always reward yourself when you finally get to your destination where alcohol is possibly a fifth of the price!
13 – GET SOME FRESH AIR
Cut the gym membership and get creative with your workouts outdoors. I love to run so that was an easy one, but go to the local park and shape your workouts around whatever’s there. You’ll save a heap on a membership and it also prepares you for when you don’t have access to a gym while travelling.
14 – SELL YOUR STUFF
If you’re not going to take it with you, sell it. Clothes, electronics, furniture, books, your car. This year we made $1000 by selling old cameras that we’d been collecting. We kept a special few, but we decided if we weren’t using them to shoot with, we didn’t need them. Facebook MarketPlace is great as well as Gumtree in Australia and Craigslist in Canada, as well as the ever trusty eBay!
15 – PUT YOUR SAVINGS INTO A HIGH INTEREST BANK ACCOUNT
So you’re saving every penny where you can, but you’re just keeping it in a regular, no or low interest account. Do some research and find an account that has a good interest rate – in Australia we use ING – you have to deposit a minimum $1000 a month into a linked transaction account but that’s not too hard when you’re working full time – and their savings account has a great rate and no limitations on withdrawals. We’ve earned up to $100 a month in interest while we’ve been saving plus it provides a small monthly income while you’re travelling. Who doesn’t like free money?!