Where do you find the time to travel? How do you manage to finance your trip?
These are two questions frequently tossed around during travel conversations. If you have the money, you often don’t have the time. If you have the time, you may be struggling on a tight budget. But how do we find the balance, so that we can go on the trip of a lifetime? The truth is, you have to make some sacrifices and, most importantly, believe it can happen.
During a quarter-life crisis a few years ago, I discovered that the time for travel would never be supplied to me, especially if I continued with the same old routine. I had studied hard and was now working full-time. Where was that magical time to travel the world? I realised it was never going to come. I would have to make time. And yes, life would change and it was a risk. A big risk. But it was a risk worth taking. I booked a ticket to London and the rest was history!
During my travels, I’ve discovered that people live with a lot more than they actually need. Obviously, we all have different priorities, which is absolutely fine. But if you truly want to travel, then its time to assess what you really need, as opposed to what you think you need. Expenses can be cut down to a minimum. Here are a couple of tips I have found handy when saving for a trip:
- Take public transport. Cars seem to be the largest money-consumer, taking out registration, fuel, insurance and parking costs – yes, public transport can be difficult sometimes, but it is often a lot cheaper and will help you save quickly.
- Try to find cheap accommodation – perhaps you can live in an old share house short-term rather than staying in flat of your own. Yes, you sacrifice some of your luxuries and privacy, but your savings will be phenomenal!
- Avoid getting stuck in phone plans – saving up and buying a phone outright may test your patience but you will save money in the long run.
- Search out the cheap meal deals available in your city, or opt for more house parties and dinners at home with friends. There are often free events happening that will still give you a good night out!
- Make gifts, rather than buying them. The thought, time and effort put into homemade gifts far outweighs anything bought from a shop. It’s also good fun making gifts – you may discover a hidden talent, or at least revisit an old skill.
- Search for clothing sales. Better still, mend your old clothes if they need it and take care of new ones by washing them correctly. Hang clothes inside out to prevent fading. A little care can save a lot in the long run.
- Cut out any unnecessary food treats – especially post-work cravings. Make lunches for work instead of buying them. Keep your pantry stocked with enough food so you don’t succumb to take-away after a hard day of work.
Every saving counts!
I find it a lot easier to cut down on expenses when I can see my potential savings. During the planning process, I always make a weekly budget that still allows enjoyment, but which removes large expenses. I write my weekly expenditure up to the intended date of departure. I take this total amount away from my expected earnings, which gives me a good idea of what I should expect to save. You’ll be surprised at how much that could be, if you cut out all the little extras!
Simplified budget template:
|Expense||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3…|
In short, find out where most of your money disappears and cut those expenses down. Stick to your budget and watch those dollars grow over the weeks, months, years if necessary. Be patient. It will pay off! In the mean time, get excited for your dream trip. Research, read, watch films about the country. Half the fun of travelling is the anticipation before hand. It is much easier to save your money when you have an achievable goal at your fingertips. Want to buy a cake after work today? Save those dollars for a croissant in Paris instead!
As for time, it can be very hard to find it when you have a 9-5 job that only gives you four weeks holiday a year. Of course, if you are working towards your dream job, or are lucky enough to be pursuing that passion, then make the most of those holidays and long weekends. A lot can be done in four weeks. In fact, a lot can be done in a weekend if you plan it well. You could also look to see if there are any travel opportunities going through your work.
If you are seeking a longer trip, or a limitless adventure, perhaps you can take an extended holiday between jobs. Or be brave and ask your boss if you can return when you get back. Chances are it won’t be a problem. If you don’t like your job, then quit. What’s there to lose? Better still, make a change towards a lifestyle more suited to your values and passions.
Over the last few years, I have been casual teaching in various Australian cities/towns, which has allowed me to have a flexible lifestyle, save quickly and contribute to different communities along the way. At the same time, I have been able to explore a huge amount of this beautiful country and save for overseas trips. Everyone has a different travel style – some people stop in one place, work two or three jobs intensively for a short period of time before moving on (and often living on the cheap, but travelling longer). Some people work as they travel (e.g. graphic design, travel photography, writing, music), which sounds dreamy but still requires a lot of motivation and commitment. Others work from their home city and splurge on shorter holidays throughout the year. Regardless of your travel style and commitments, there is always a way to make that dream trip happen if you look outside the box.
Good luck and happy travels!
PS: I would love to hear about your travel style and tips for saving. Please leave your comments below!