How to Save Money to Travel the World – 5 Easy Steps

One of the main things I hear is how “lucky” I am to travel and how others wish they could travel like I do. The biggest issue, besides time? Money. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy to save enough money to start traveling the world, but I am going to tell you it’s absolutely possible. Anyone can do it. Here’s how to save money to travel the world.

Step 1: Create a Budget

Okay, still with me so far? The first step is deciding how much you need to save and setting a date for when you will meet your goal. To do this, you must first decide where you want to go and for how long. Once you make that decision, start researching how much daily living costs where you want to go. Will you stay in hotels, hostels, camping, or will you go couchsurfing, housesitting, or stay with friends? Find out how much it will cost to eat. Create a daily budget based on your research and multiply it by the length of time you want to spend in each place.

Step 2: Assess Your Spending

The next step is to assess your current spending. It’s important to know where your money is going currently. Create a list with a column for needs and a column for wants. Go through all of the things you’re currently spending money on (or are thinking of buying in the next few months) and decide whether they fit into the needs or wants category. If it’s in the wants category, cut it. If you have extra money before you leave for your trip, great. If not, those wants will just have to wait. Rent, electricity, and other expenses should be included in the needs column, while cable, Netflix, Hulu, yoga class, and a morning coffee should go into the wants.

Step 3: Create a Separate, Savings Account

Great, you know how much money you need to save and you’ve made some necessary cuts in your budget to help reign in your spending. The next thing you should do is create a savings account just for your trip. Name it something that will get you excited about your upcoming trip. Perhaps “My Epic Adventure” or “Once in a Lifetime Trip”. Make it something fun. If you can, set up an account with a bank that allows you to accrue interest. While you may only get 1-2%, it will add up and you may just find you have enough to splurge on that really nifty pair of new shoes.

Step 4: Keep the End Goal in Mind

It can become all too easy to give up, fall back into old patterns, or lose sight of the end goal while you’re in the midst of trying to save for a big trip. To keep yourself on track and motivated, put pictures on the wall, mark your trip on a map, or even set little, encouraging notes on your phone. Saving money isn’t the easiest thing to do for a lot of people and it can be awfully tempting to go out to the bar with friends or get that extra coffee in the morning, so reminding yourself of your goals often is a great way to stay on track.

Step 5: Start Saving

Now that you know where you want to go, how long, and how much money you’ll need to save, and you’ve set up your savings account and encouraging reminders, it’s time to actually start saving! There are hundreds of different ways to save money for your upcoming trip. It all comes down to how motivated and committed you are. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

  • Downgrade your Phone/Plan
    The newest smartphones can get quite expensive. If you can, downgrade to a less fancy phone or look into different phone plans. If you are out of contract, look at the prepaid options. Oftentimes these prepaid plans offer the same or similar service for up to half the price! 
  • Buy a Reusable Water Bottle
    Another great way to save money is to stop buying disposable, plastic water bottles. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s far better for your wallet. Now, I am the queen of not liking tap water. The town I grew up in is infamous for it’s terrible water, so I definitely understand buying bottles of water. However, even I saw the benefit in drinking tap water to save some money for travel. Buy a reusable bottle. Metal and aluminum bottles are great, but there are also bottles that have built in filters. For those, like me, who are a bit squeamish about drinking tap water, they are worth every penny (and still help you save!).
  • Get a Part-Time Job
    Probably the most lucrative and easiest way to save is to get a part-time job. Every penny from this second job is bonus money and can go immediately into your savings account for your trip. Check out craigslist for odd jobs gardening, painting, or helping people move, places that hire for seasonal workers, elance.com, tutoring, babysitting, or even asking your current boss for more hours. There’s plenty of work out there if you look for it. Since you will be in saving mode, having a part-time job will help pass the time you would normally spend out drinking with friends.
  • Ditch the Alcohol, Cigarettes, Movies, etc
    Probably everyone’s least favorite suggestion, but one that has the potential to get you out on the trip faster than you imagined, is to cut out all of the extras. Quit smoking, stop going out nightly/weekly to drink with your friends, watch movies on Netflix, and watch yoga videos on YouTube rather than attending weekly classes. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a social life or have a good time with friends. Just find free options, such as hiking or taking a bike ride or offer to be the DD on a night out with friends. You’d be amazed at how much money you spend on these wants.
  • Sell Your Old Things
    Have old furniture sitting in the attic you’re not using? Perhaps you have a huge CD or DVD collection you simply don’t use anymore. Maybe you’re into fashion and have a ton of clothes in great shape. Sell these items through consignment shops, craigslist, or even online yard sales through Facebook. Depending on how much you have hanging around, this one suggestion could help you save hundreds, and maybe even thousands of dollars!
  • Take Out Your Money
    Each week, you will have to spend money, whether on gasoline, groceries, or other living expenses. If possible, take the budgeted money out of an ATM each week and when that is gone, your spending is done for the week.
  • Sell Your Car
    Cars are one of the most expensive things you can own. Oftentimes, they are actually costing you far more than you think between car payments, insurance, and gasoline. Many people who do a cost analysis find that owning a car is far more expensive than taking public transportation or riding a bicycle, and therefore an unnecessary expense. If you can, sell the car. If you still need a car, buy a disposable one that you can pay for upfront, rather than tying yourself down to monthly payments.
  • Brown Bag That Lunch
    Instead of ordering out for lunch every day, cook meals over the weekend that can be easily stored in the refrigerator or freezer and brought to work throughout the week. This way, you can have healthy meals every day without having to prep them in the morning and you will save that $10+/day you would normally be spending on your lunch. Same goes for not going out to dinner every night. You can easily save $30/day by eating meals at home, rather than going out. In some part of the world, you can travel on just $50/day or less!
  • Stop Buying Coffee
    Some people have a habit of spending $5+/day on a coffee every morning. Save yourself some money and the hassle of a drive-thru by brewing your own coffee at home. You can even set your coffee pot so that your coffee is brewed and ready to go every morning to save some time. Just make sure you prep it the night before!
  • Cancel the Cable
    This is a big one. Cable costs so much money these days, and with all of the alternatives, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, etc, there’s no reason to keep paying for cable. Save yourself some pennies to and start your trip sooner. Trust me, you won’t have time to keep up on those “must-see” TV shows while you’re on the road anyway, and you won’t want to.
  • Cancel Your Gym Membership
    So, this one is a tough one for me to recommend, since I am a personal trainer. However, you don’t need a gym to stay in shape! It’s easy to get in a great workout at home. Go for a run or bike ride around your neighborhood or head to a local park. Use YouTube videos and free websites to learn what kinds of exercises you can do at home.

Have other ideas or want to share you experiences with saving for your epic travels? Leave a comment below!

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