I have often been asked how do I manage to travel to so many places and still have a budget for daily expenses. Sure, I, myself, was wondering not so long ago how everybody does that and why I can’t afford it. I never had enough money, there was always too much month at the end of my salary and I constantly spent all my money on stuff I would soon forget I bought. But I’ve found answers to all of my questions when I decided I needed to save money for traveling.
Sure, it’s going to be hard, you’re going to give up some things, but it’s all going to be worth it, I promise! I am going to write here some honest tips to save money for traveling, from my own experience as a wanderlust-er 🙂
1. Set up your priorities straight
If there is one thing I learned by now is that you actually need to have the desire to travel in order to actually go on a trip. I am not a hypocrite, I am not saying that’s all it takes to travel more. But it is the first step towards your next travel adventure. I have met a lot of people who told me they’d like to travel. No, you shouldn’t “like to travel”. You should first love to travel, find it the most exhilarating experience in your whole life and make a goal out of it. Then you’ll find it easier to save money for traveling.
2. Buy plane tickets, not clothes
It might sound a cliché, I know. But it’s strongly related to the first tip. Once you make traveling your main purpose, you’re going to try to find ways to save money for traveling. Actually, it’s not that hard.
My personal advice? Stop buying everything you see and want. First of all, I avoid spending hours in the mall. Sure, I also hate malls so that might be an advantage. If I need to go, I buy only the necessary stuff. And just one extra. I am a girl so I am always tempted to buy more, so I feel you. But once I find myself in this situation, I go with just one extra item which would make me so very happy. And I feel even better because I can fulfill two of my main wishes: save money for traveling and buy clothes.
So no, I don’t think you need to change your living habits or starve to death in order to go on a trip. Buy all you NEED, not all you WANT and just think twice before spending money on something that makes you happy only for the moment.
3. Make a plan in order to save money for traveling
I am an organized person, I might say. I make plans and lists for almost everything and I know there are others like me. If you’re not an organized person, sorry to break it to you, but you need to become one. At least for reaching this goal. Don’t worry, it’s not an endless plan. Let me tell you how I do it.
First, let’s say I want to go to Cuba. If this is what I really want to visit next, I will start making a plan to save money for traveling to Cuba a few months before going, just to be sure I’ll have enough money to actually enjoy my trip there. So 3-4-5 months before the trip, I will plan my salary as it follows:
- rent & utilities – I put money aside for paying my rent and all of my utilities, even if they’re due at the end of the month. This way I can really know how much money I have left;
- personal stuff – this is the money that I put aside for what I need to buy that specific month. Do I need a new pair of jeans, new boots, and a new coat? I don’t buy them altogether. If my plan is traveling on a budget, I’ll buy the jeans this month, the boots next month and so on. If they’re really not a priority. As a girl (and I’m sure many of you understand) I also need a lot of cosmetics, but again, I buy only the necessary. If you’re unlucky and your foundation, powder and mascara finish at the same time… give up the boots this month! You’ll buy them next month! 🙂
- daily expenses – I make a forecast of how much money I spend weekly and stick to it. I assure you, it works. Well, if you’re really trying to go on that trip, leave aside that feast you were planning for the weekend. Think of the feast you will be going to have on that island 🙂
- travel money – this is the money that I put aside for buying something related to my next trip. From my personal experience, it’s better to buy as fast as you can. If it’s the first month you’re saving, buy the plane ticket. Next month, buy the accommodation and so on.
4. Plan your trip ahead of time
This is the main purpose of the article. Whether you’ve decided to follow my plan to save money for traveling or you’re doing it your way, now that you have the money, you need to spend it wisely. First of all, don’t buy the first plane ticket you find. Investigate the market, watch the plane tickets’ evolution over 2-3 weeks and then decide when it’s the best time to take action.
I, personally, do the following:
- check all the low-cost airlines and what they could offer
- if I find a flight, I wait a couple of weeks in order to see if the price will decrease
- I learn when the airlines have a promotion, like the one that is these days at WizzAir (20% off)
- the best times to reserve the plane tickets is 60 days before, and the best time to travel is on Tuesday (the tickets are cheaper)
- I use Skyscanner (which is seriously the best), Google Flights and Momondo to look for plane tickets (if you have questions, feel free to ask)
- these websites allow you to create alerts for each period of time you’re interested in and for each destination
- Airbnb is what I mostly use because I love interacting with locals and learn more about every culture I meet – use my code www.airbnb.com/c/paulam1113 for $20 off when you sign up
- for the best deals of exotic vacations, I always look on Secret Flying Website or Facebook Page – you should really follow them, they find error fares and post them daily
- if the destination that caught my attention is too expensive, I try to find a plane ticket to the nearest city and then take the train or bus. In Europe this is highly recommendable, it’s cheaper and it’s great for admiring the outdoors. Flixbus is an option.
5. Enjoy your trip!
Now that you’ve managed to save money for traveling, don’t forget to actually enjoy your trip. I believe in traveling on a budget, I often do it. But there is one thing I think everybody should do while exploring and that is immersing in that specific culture. Eat local food, visit museum, churches and explore as much as you can. Sometimes that can be more expensive, but this is what you’ve been saving for. Don’t be cheap, be sure to save money for traveling up until the trip and then let loose. Enjoy every minute of that trip, don’t think about the money that you’re spending; you don’t know if you’re going to have a second chance to visit that place 🙂
I hope that all my pieces of advice have been helpful. If I forgot something, please let me know in the comments below. Maybe you have something to add, something to suggest or just have a question. I’m here to help 🙂