Piggies love those pennies – make a penny jar!!
People constantly ask me about how I manage to have traveled as much as I have and how I manage to live in Thailand only being 22. There really are no special or fancy tricks to it, it’s all about common sense and desire that overcomes everything else.
As with anything in life, a lack of finances is what prevents people from beginning their travels in the first place. But if you really want it enough you can travel wherever you want for as long as you want. It may take time, but that moment when you realise that everything you have worked for is finally paying off is, for me, the most rewarding feeling in the world. Many people have often mistaken me for being very well off financially to have traveled the way I have. I wish!!! All I have done is make smart decisions with my spending and taken active steps to save up to do the things I so desperately want to in life.
Sadly, most of us don’t have magic top hats full of money
Even though there aren’t any magical tricks, apart from winning the lottery, there are many tips I can give you that will help you save up for your incredible once in a lifetime trip to Thailand.
First of all you need to ask yourself the right financial questions
How can I create more money in my life?
How can I cut back in order to save more money?
(Remember a dollar saved is a dollar earned. Or Pound. Or Euro. Or Yen) How Can I Create More Money in Order to Travel?
How do I save money for travel?
For me I look at what I want from life and what I want to be able to look back on in years to come.
Will I really care about that pair of shoes, that one night out or that iPhone 71234234 when I am 75?
No is the answer to that question, I will look back at the adventures I have had and whilst sat in my rocking chair with my knitting, that is what will bring a smile to my aged face.
So what do you want in life? That once in a life time opportunity to swim with elephants or a night out?
Is buying ______________ worth giving up your dreams?
Could this ____________ be worth more to me than watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon, teaching a child it’s first words in English or protecting an endangered species?
When I was in England I was working two full times jobs as well as putting myself through University as well. I wasn’t living at a parents house either so I had to pay for all my expenses; needless to say I wasn’t getting any sleep, but I knew it was all worth is for when I would be able to travel and do all the things I had dreamed of doing.
A couple of things you can always look at doing also include
If you have space in your house or your flat and you want some extra cash then getting yourself a lodger is a great idea that will not only get you extra cash but will also mean that you might be in a position to have someone you trust looking after your property whilst you travel.
Which brings me on to renters. If you are a home owner or you are on a long term contract, I know that your home is often one of the biggest things stopping you from travelling. You can remedy this by having someone rent your house from you whilst you travel, if you are on a long term contract and you aren’t able to rent out then maybe ask a friend if they need somewhere to stay for a bit, get them to pay for a percentage of the expenses and you’re set!
Ebay and Craigslist, if you are in the States, are on the way to being your new BBFs.
Look at all of the things in the room you are in right now.
How much of that stuff do you actually need, use or even want? I can guarantee you that if you found the value of a lot of your items and how much of a financial difference that would make to your trip you would sell everything!!
Trade your materialistic things for memories.
It doesn’t even just have to be possessions it can be clothes as well, I know how many clothes I have bought from Ebay over the years and someone out there is making money off that so what’s to say you can’t be that person!
Make it a Working Holiday
For many this is a very practical solution to traveling and staying employed. There are so many companies that already have overseas offices, ask around your own workplace and see if there are any oppertunities for moving to another office abroad. If this isn’t possible then just look for a new job abroad. As long as you get the right visa you can work pretty much anywhere and do everything from teaching to bar tending; these are actually the two easiest and most requested jobs for people traveling 🙂
Save Your Tax Returns and Bonuses
Tax Returns, bonuses even Birthday money is all money that you don’t count on in life. You can only ever really count on your salary, so these unexpected lump sums of money can often provide you with enough money to pay for flights, a few more weeks of travel or even the sometimes pricey working visas.
I know that I used the interest I had gained off a large sum of money so that I could pay for my flights to and from New York.
Birthday money has gone towards accommodation costs.
Bonuses have gone to pay for volunteering.
This extra money should only ever be used for your dreams or your debts, I would probably go with debt first as you really don’t need that coming back and biting you in the ass later haha
What You Need vs What You Want
This is something I still fall for on occasion. Do I NEED that night out in town or do I want it? I normally think I need it when I don’t – well, except my Birthday 😀
But you don’t need a lot in life to be happy, as long as you have somewhere to sleep, clothes on your back, food and probably the internet, you are fine.
Get rid of all those labels, the expensive price tags, the brand new cars and other goods, the fancy restaurants, and top shelf drinks. Start living on a needs basis not a want.
It will be hard at first but being frugal will pay off very quickly. Give it one month of living very strictly and you will see the financial and personal difference.
Do you need a car?
I am pretty sure there will be public transport to that place you are trying to justify in your head isn’t there?
Yeah, I thought so haha
Cars are expensive.
Buses are not.
Walking or cycling are even FREE!
So save your money, help the environment, and ditch the car for the other forms of transport in the world.
Eat at Home
You don’t need to be going out to fancy restaurants, or even a McDonald’s every night or even at all. Think of how much that Big Mac meal will set you back if you have 2 a week, then add it all up and that might pay for a hostel for a week, a visa or even part of your flights.
Who wouldn’t want to cook at home with Nigella!
Cook at Home
One thing I never used to think about was how much money I was spending when I went out for lunch everyday between jobs. I might spend up to 5GBP in one day, buying a sandwich, a drink and a packet of crisps.
This adds up to WAY more money than I even want to think about.
Now if you take that money and use it to buy ingredients for simple meals you can make at home, which you can then take to work for lunch is much, much cheaper.
Live Off One Wage
If you are travelling as a couple this is a GREAT way of saving money, really budget yourself so you only need to use one of your wages in order to pay for what you have to in life and then use the other as a savings wage. You will be amazed at how quickly you can save by doing this.
Work Out a Travel Plan
I am all for flexible traveling but you really should have a basic idea of where you are going, and how much it is going to cost you in order to get there/live there/leave there.
How do you plan on getting around when you travel?
What sort of places are you willing to stay, where will you eat?
In other words how low budget do you plan to go?
You can make travel as expensive as you like, if you just HAVE to stay in the Ritz then you are going to have a bad time, if you don’t mind staying in a dorm or a less desirable location, then not only will you meet more people and see more of a place but you will also save yourself an incredible amount of money.
Airline Credit Cards
Now I personally don’t own a credit card, I don’t agree with spending money that you don’t have, even if you have it in genuine money on another card. It just freaks me out as I know that I would rack up a huge debt by never paying for anything.
But there are specialist credit cards that are travel related or even from airline companies. Cards like these allow you to rack up airmiles and often other bonuses as well, for example if the company your credit card is from is in association with a hotel chain, you might be in line for cheaper accommodation.
Also make sure you utilize the initial sign up bonuses and all the monthly or weekly prize draws and competitions they do as well. Not only will this give you an opportunity to win a lump sum, it might even offer you the opportunity to get you an entire free travel experience.
Some U.S. carriers offer a branded card that gives you 30,000-50,000 bonus miles when you sign up and make one purchase. That’s a free round-trip economy ticket right there. By adding multiple users, you can multiply the bonus. Additionally, by signing up for non-branded cards such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can earn points offered by those cards and then transfer them to your favorite airline.
If you are flexible with your destination dates you will be surprised how much money you can spend. Flying mid week for example is ALWAYS cheaper than flying on a Friday or weekend, I don’t know why but that is just how it is. I use Skyscanner for all of my flight needs and they have a great section that allows you to check an entire month for departure and return flights that will work out the cheapest, they are normally only ever a few days different from your initial dates anyway.
Understandably off season is usually cheaper as the weather isn’t the greatest or it has the least amount of festivals or events BUT, traveling off season not only saves you money but also means that you can see places that would normally be full of tourists in a more natural way. There is nothing like going to a beach and being the only person there, this WON”T EVER happen if you travel in high season.
Before you embark on your travels research the off or shoulder seasons for the places you want to travel and tailor your trip around those times.
Think Outside The Box
Why are the most popular destinations so expensive? Because everyone goes there!
Want to see a Thai beach but you don’t want to pay the prices of Koh Samui or see all the drunken teenage idiots on Koh Pangyan? Try Phi Phi or Krabi, they are equally as beautiful and much cheaper, granted they are more expensive than Northern Thailand, but it is the beach after all.
Don’t Stay In A Hotel
Hotels are expensive, you are only sleeping there so do you really need to be paying $100 a night when you could stay in a hostel for a tenth of the price. I genuinely can’t even think of a time I have ever stayed in a proper hotel, I have been in them and experienced the marvel that is heated swimming pools, massage and room service but is that honestly better than swimming in the ocean, local massage and street food?
I don’t think so.
Stay With Family/Friends
Do you happen to have any friends or family that live abroad? This is always a great excuse to travel, not only will you get to see family and friends but they might be able to put you up for a while which always cuts down costs.
Chances are the easiest flights, hotels, tours or cruises are sponsored so won’t actually be as cheap as they appear. Make sure you dig around and look at as many websites, articles and comparison companies as possible. There is always a deal out there, they are just sometimes hard to find.
Don’t give up though!!
Quit The Gym
You don’t need a gym in order to work out, the last time I checked running, jogging and cycling were all free to do in any city in the world. The gym just gives you a place to run on the spot and be sweaty with lots of other people. Join a running club. Cycle instead of using your car. Use the stairs instead of the lift. You will be getting the same amount of exercise but it will be free!!
You don’t need to get drunk to hang out with your friends. Drinking is incredibly expensive when you add up how much you spend in a week, so much so that you could probably buy flights with a months drinking money. Think of interesting ways to socialize with your friends that doesn’t cost anything, BBQ in the park, game of football, video game nights even a dinner party or movie night. There are more ways than you think to socialize for very little money.
Make sure you do go out and enjoy yourself every now and again as otherwise you will become very bitter about saving, not to mention, your mates will think you are really boring.
Saving money is sort of like a financial diet, cut back on all the things you don’t need and that are bad for you but have those cheat days that keep you happy 🙂
To see the kinds of things you can be doing with the money you save up take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for our amazing and life changing volunteer opportunities.
After you have done that then take a look at my own Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram pages to see all the fun and normally very cheap adventures I get up to 😀
Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto