How To Save Money For Travel On Any Income

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In 2010, I got serious about clearing debt so I could begin to save money for travel. Here I am, 12 months later in Peru. It was a dream come true.
Do you dream of traveling the world but aren’t sure how to save enough money to travel? Maybe you have a low income and saving money is hard, or you have a lot of consumer debt you need to pay back.

Firstly, let me tell you that travel is possible for everyone, on any budget and income. Saving money for traveling can be difficult but if you want it bad enough it’s achievable. I’ve managed to save up money to travel as a single woman, then as part of a double-income couple and now as a single income family with 2 children. For me, travel is worth almost every sacrifice, so I am ruthless with flippant spending and prioritising travel expenses.

Here’s how you can save money for traveling, plus some other expenses and things to watch out for.

1. How much money do you need?

The first thing you need to work out is how much money you need to travel. There are two major components to a travel budget: your trip expenses and the funds you require to maintain your responsibilities at home (including debt repayment, rent, mortgage etc).

To figure out how to work out your travel budget, have a read of how we budget for long-term family travel here.

2. Get your budget sorted

A budget is the first step to getting your money on track. Lots of people hate the idea of budgeting, but it’s a very powerful (and simple) way to plan where your money goes. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I use a simple spreadsheet now, but for years I had a post-it with my budget inside my weekly planner. Whatever works for you is the best way. To start a budget have a read of how I budget backwards here.

3. Open a separate but accessible savings account

When you have extra money available to save, it needs to go to a safe place. If you’re highly disciplined, you might be able to open a separate cheque or savings account with your main bank, but I recommend going with the bank that gives you the best interest rate. I liked to see my travel savings as completely untouchable, so we used an online saver. Sending a regular amount to savings every single time you get paid is the best way to get into a savings habit. For more tips on how to start saving money have a read of this post.

4. Kill your consumer debt

Traveling when you’re in debt is not something I’d recommend. Why? Well, you have to continue to make repayments while you’re away, which takes money away from your travel funds! If you’re not earning money while you’re travelling, getting rid of your debt before you depart is a smart move. To make a plan for getting out of debt, have a read of this post.

Part of our plan when we decided to save money for travel was to get married overseas. This is a piciture of us jumping on the beach after our budget-friendly wedding in the Cook Islands.
We got married while traveling. Our beach wedding on a tiny island in the South Pacific was paid for with savings, no debt here!

5. Get extra work

If you already work full time, it can be hard to increase your income. BUT that’s why saving for travel is so motivating – you have an end goal in mind – a departure date (just set one in your head even if you don’t have the tickets booked) so giving up weekends and evenings is doable. It’s not forever, and it’s very much worthwhile.

Some ideas include bar work, waiting tables, cinema attendant, cleaning offices, restocking shelves at the supermarket. These are some of the things I did to save money.

6. Build a portable income source

Since you’ve got some time on your side before you depart, it’d be a really smart idea to create an online income source so you can earn money while you travel. I make extra money from blogging, some virtual assistant work and also via Upwork. I recommend getting started on Upwork as blogging can take years to draw an income. Check out how to get started on Upwork here.

7. Get cash back on gear purchases and accommodation bookings

Using cash back sites like Ebates can help you to save up enough money to travel.
When you’re trying to save money for travel, it can be hard to spend money! But you will need some gear for your adventure. Depending on your travel style, you might need a lot or very little. At the very least, you’ll need a decent backpack. Make sure you shop around before committing to purchasing. Often the gear you need can be bought used, or discounted heavily in sales. Check Ebates first to see if you qualify for cashback on your purchase. It’s also possible to get cash back on travel costs with Ebates. They have arrangements with lots of online booking engines and other travel brands. Click here to join Ebates and get $10 FREE towards your first qualifying purchase.

8. Stash other currency

Do you have access to rewards points? Can you complete online surveys for money to earn gift cards? If you have some spare time, Swagbucks can be a great way to earn gift cards and extra cash.

Swagbucks lets you earn free gift cards for taking surveys, watching videos, shopping online and more! Join for free with this link and you’ll receive a $5 sign-up bonus: Join Swagbucks Today.

Every little extra helps when it comes to saving up money for traveling, so take a look at every expense in your budget and see if you can align it to net you a gain.

For example, I only fill my tank from one brand of gas station as I’m able to accumulate serious cash discounts in doing so.

I also pay every possible bill (all insurances, groceries and incrementals) with my cash back credit card, so I earn money back from those purchases. The amounts aren’t large, but they all help.

Also, make sure you sign up to airline rewards programs so you earn points and rewards on your future travel.

9. Request all gifts are cash or vouchers

Do you have a birthday or special occasion coming up? Very politely request cash or gift cards for the products you require. People love to give presents that will be used, so make your wishes heard. And a nice way to thank them is to send a postcard when you’re away, so they see their gift is being enjoyed.

10. Plan systems for expenses when away

Will you have bills to pay while you’re away? If so, make sure you set up direct debits and automatic payments to ensure your obligations are met. Let your bank know exactly where you’ll be so they allow you to use your cards. Plan to check in with online banking at least weekly, so you know what’s going on with your bank accounts and payments. Forward your mail to a trusted friend or family member so you can be kept in the loop in case of an emergency.

11. Get your first house sitting gigs close to home

House sitting can be a great way to save on accommodation costs. If you are planning to house sit, register with house sitting agencies in your local area before you depart so you can build up a profile and references.

Taking local sits will help you see if you like house sitting, and also how things work so you know what to look out for when you take longer sits while travelling.

Saving money for travel is possible for anybody. With careful planning and sacrifice, you’ll be jetting off to your dream destination in no time, and money worries will be a distant memory.

Liked this? Read more on saving money for travel here Five Ways We Save Money for Travel, here How We Saved $35,000 to Travel the World for Over a Year (Whilst Pregnant), and here How to Save Your First $1000, Even If You’re in Debt. 

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