Many people think travel is expensive, and who can blame them? Commercials and Instagram posts portray great looking people on great looking beaches, flying first class and lounging on luxury boats – but only a small fraction of travel is like that. In fact, travelling can be cheap – really cheap. And you don’t need to be making insane amounts of money to be able to afford it.
Back in October 2016, I decided I wanted to backpack around Sri Lanka and India. I wanted to save at least $6000 for six months of travel, and on top of that, I wanted to save $4000 for flights, visas, and insurance. So I needed to save $10,000, and I needed to save it fast.
So how did I manage to save $10,000 in six months? Here's exactly how I did it:
I opened a savings account
As soon as I decided to start saving, I decided to separate my saves from my spends. Having the savings account not only helped me track what I was spending every month, it also helped to stop loosing track of what I was spending. Seeing my saves increase in a separate account I didn’t allow myself to touch (other than to put money in) really worked as a good motivator to stop me from making unnecessary purchases.
I changed my food habits
I’m a sucker for healthy food – I love it. The problem with eating healthy, though, was that it didn’t fit my budget. Avocados? Organic berries? Palm oil-free coconut and almond nut butter? Forget it. I had to switch my food habits, and while I may not have loved it, I toughed it out for the sake of six months abroad.
I got a gym membership
Many people would think this is actually a step backwards from saving, but for me, it had the opposite effect. Getting a cheap gym membership at my local run-down gym allowed me to kill time working out rather than spending money on going out for drinks and dinner or to see a movie. $20 a month literally saved me hundreds more on nights out. Sometimes there's an upside to being a recluse.
I asked for cash and travel-related gifts
Christmas happened to fall during my six months of saving, so instead of asking for gifts I'd stop using in a few months, I asked for travel money and things I needed while on the road: A backpack, locks, a passport cover, bug spray, etc.
I sold what I didn’t need
Near the end of the lease of my apartment, I decided to sell, sell, sell– the couch, my toaster, lamps, the poker set - literally everything other than my clothes. I didn't need any of it anymore - I was going on the road for 6 months! And selling everything I wouldn't be needing abroad helped towards my saves.
I moved back home
This was a move that made sense both financially and logistically. Would I have rather had my own space for the last few months before my big trip? Sure. But I saved over $1500 just by moving back in. This is probably the biggest step towards saving big in a short amount of time, so if you have the opportunity and sanity to move back in with mom and dad, do it.
So was it worth it? Absolutely. You don’t have to make a ton of money to be able to travel, take it from me (I've been travelling the world for five years): You just have to be smart with it.
The number one tip is to anyone I speak to who wants to start travelling is, quite simply, to stop making excuses. Excuses are the arch enemy of success. Once you stop telling yourself you don't make enough money to save, you don't have time to save, or you just can't save, you'll be able to put away more cash than you ever imagined. And in the end, when you’re lying on that palm tree-laden beach sipping Mai Tais or climbing Mount Everest, you’ll be thankful you did.