Traveling is dreamy (besides delayed flights and packing and unpacking your luggage — but you know what I mean!) so I’ve made it a top priority to do as much as I possibly can while I’m in my twenties. I’ve spent five incredible months studying (and partying) in Montreal and a month busing around the USA (I’m from Australia btw). I’ve gone on multiple backpacking trips around Europe with nothing planned except the next city, trekked through Peru and sipped Piña Coladas in Fiji, Vietnam, and Cuba (I know that sounds so cliché but I love Piña Coladas).
While all of that travel was amazing, it was not cheap. So I thought I’d share some of my best tips on how to save money for travel — without giving up your lifestyle! These are the tips that helped me saved tens of thousands of dollars (and I wasn’t even working full-time) because your bank account shouldn’t stop you from traveling the world.
Set up automatic savings
Setting up automatic savings was a lesson I learned after years of trying (and failing) to save what was ‘left over’ at the end of the week (i.e. there was never any money left over). What I did was really quite simple but it removed me and my impulses from the equation. Doing this made it made it so much easier to save money for travel (and not blow it all at a Sephora sale).
The first step was opening a bank account that was purely for travel money. I actually did this with a different bank than my usual (so I wouldn’t be tempted by it every time I logged into my account). You could open one with your current bank and that would be perfectly okay too. Then, I set up an automatic transfer so the money I wanted to save was transferred to my travel account the day I got paid. And that’s it — the secret to my success!
But obviously, there are a few other things that need to be said here. The first is that I made a decision that that money was off limits for anything except travel. If you negotiate with yourself and see your savings account as something you can dip into, it will lose its magic. Make a strong decision that the money you save is for travel and travel only. It will make all the difference.
The second thing is that, while I ended up putting aside nearly half of my income each week using this method, I didn’t start big. Instead, I just saved a small amount from each pay — I think it was around $50. Once I got used to living without that $50, I increased the amount I saved. Then I increased it again and again and again until I was saving half of my paycheck. If you’re going to give this a try, start small and work your way up. Sustainability is everything when it comes to saving money.
The third thing is to not get caught up in researching which bank account to open, as that’s usually just a super sneaky way to procrastinate on your saving goal. Instead, spend no more than 30 minutes researching and then open an account. Better to save something than to save nothing!
Don’t give up shopping
Not what you expected to read, right? When it comes to saving, the first piece of advice we usually hear is to cut back. But depriving yourself is not going to help you achieve your saving goals since it will always lead to a blowout and then guilt and defeat. I’ve found the key is not to tell myself that I’m “not allowed” to go shopping or make myself feel bad about it if I do. Because honestly, whenever I’ve told myself I can’t buy something it just makes me want to buy everything (I’m sure you can relate). So I just start to pay a little more attention and make sure that everything I’m buying is something I love (and will continue to love months into the future).
If you’re a bit of a shopping addict, then you’re probably going to have to reign in the number of things you’re buying. But if you can’t even remember what you’ve bought in the last month or you’re thinking about your next purchase before your last one even gets delivered, then you probably won’t notice if you start buying less stuff that you don’t even care about. Right? Either way — depriving yourself is not the way to go. Just make sure you only buy things you love and avoid impulse purchases whenever you can. Just wait 24 hours to go back and get it — that alone will cut your spending in half, promise!
Use social media to your advantage
Whenever I’m saving money for a big trip, I find it helpful to unfollow some of the brands and bloggers on Instagram that make me want to buy stuff whenever I look at their account. Nothing against them and this is optional, of course. But I always just find it so much easier when I don’t have to use willpower every time I get on Instagram (which is multiple times a day — let’s be real). Plus, there are so many amazing travel bloggers that I love to follow instead to keep me motivated to save!
It might sound obvious, but committing to a savings goal is a step that most of us skip over. Then we wonder why we struggle to save! I’ve found that it’s easier to save money once my travel dreams have moved from a vague idea to a definite plan. Make sure you book something (it doesn’t have to be the plane ticket) as soon as you can so that you really feel committed to saving money for your trip. Tell your friends about it too! Basically, just do anything you possibly can to make it real.
Believe that you can save for travel
This is another one that might seem obvious but do you have any idea how many of us try to save money whilst telling anyone that will listen that we’re bad at saving money? Reality check — it doesn’t help! And not only is it completely unhelpful but we always try to live into the identities we create for ourselves. You’ll eventually blow all your hard-earned savings just to prove yourself right.
The best thing about creating a new identity is that you don’t need to look to the past for evidence of what you can and can’t do. So it totally doesn’t matter in the slightest that you’ve never been able to save money at all in the past. That’s completely irrelevant and has nothing to do with the future unless you keep carrying on that belief. Begin to look for evidence that you’re actually good at saving money and stop looking for evidence that you’re bad at it. It sounds so simple but it makes a huge difference.
There you have it — my tips to help you save money for travel, without giving up your lifestyle. One last thing! Don’t get caught in the trap of believing that it’ll be easier to save money when you’re earning more, because do you know what will happen? You’ll just spend more unless you change your habits. So don’t put this off and start saving for your next big trip today!