How to Save for the Trip of a Lifetime
When you've finally decided to make that dream of travelling a reality, it's time to get serious about saving up for it - because "it's just too expensive" is no longer an excuse. Here are six ways you can save for the trip of a lifetime:
1. Work out a Budget
This is the beginning of it all. Sit down, mark out all of the places you want to visit and start doing your research.
Consider the cost of flights, daily spending budget, accommodation, activities, souvenirs, visas, tours, travel jabs, travel insurance and anything else you'll need for your trip. Estimates for these should be rather easy to gather - the internet is full of articles which give an outline of how much money you'll need per day in probably every country you can think of, for every budget, so dig your calculator out and do some maths to come up with your golden number.
Your trip total can then be divided up by the amount you plan on saving each month (be realistic!) giving you the number of months you need to save in order to make your travel dream a reality!
2. Sell Your Old Stuff
If you're anything like me, your closet(s), attic, basement, garage, under the bed and every other nook and cranny is full of things you don't really need but you keep anyway. Let's face it, there's a little hoarder in all of us. Dedicate a day or two to combing through your belongings ruthlessly and deciding what you can make money out of by advertising on EBay, Amazon or Craigslist. There are also apps like Depop and Etsy that do a similar thing.
If this sounds like your idea of hell - turn it into an acitivity: invite your friends round, allocate each of them a 'TOSS' or 'KEEP' sign and let the votes roll in. You never know, one of your friends may even bid on that shirt you've had in the back of your wardrobe for years (beer and pizza recommended for ultimate engagement).
3. Limit Your New Stuff
"Do I really need it?" should be the mantra you keep coming back to when you're temped as hell whilst browsing H&M's new collection (this is where my resolve usually weakens).
Work out the equivalent of that new pair of shoes you're lusting after in the currency of your cheapest destination. 3 days of eating, sleeping and activities in Vietnam lost on a pair of shoes you'll only wear once every 2 months justify it enough for you? Put the shoes down and walk away...
Now I'm not saying don't buy anything ever, I'm just saying limit it. Check out a vintage or charity shop for bargains. There are also nifty ways to save money in the long term, for example invest in a cute travel tumbler/thermos and then you will reduce your need to keep buying new water bottles.
4. Count Your Pennies
When you're out and about with friends it gets harder to say the word 'No'- at least that's when I struggle the most. What's another £50 when you're out having a good time?
The best way to avoid situations like this is to plan your entertainment activities out every month and estimate (again, realistically!) how much these will cost you. This way you'll be a lot closer to sticking to your budget/saving plans. If you see an activity has the potential to end up costing you a bomb, just suggest an alternative, and though it may be hard - yes you know it: just say "No" (or make up for it by saying no to something else!).
And then there's the simple stuff - stop buying lunch at work, make your own! Stop spending £4 on a coffee every morning, make it a once-a-week treat or make it at home and invest in a cute travel tumbler/thermos to plug the novelty back into it. Stop taking Ubers everywhere - if you can take public transport, do so.
5. Save Smart
Eventhough you're putting money away in a nest to incubate patiently until the time comes for it to break free (or for you to dig into it violently!), it doesn't mean you can't be smart about where it sits.
Talk to your bank/friends/parents about savings accounts or an ISA or (if you're really adventurous) investing to make your money grow, instead of plateau.
6. Shop Around
There are some travel essentials all of us need before going away on the trip of a lifetime. Travel insurance, a backpack, travel guides, a tour...? Instinct dictates going with that one company or brand your friend told you about that one time in 2009, but if you're smart about how you spend your money you'll want to shop around.
Book an appointment with a travel company like STA Travel - get their opinion on tour operators. Hell, even research your own travel operators! Internet, woo! Ask their sales departments if they're doing any seasonal discounts.
Use a comparison site for booking travel insurance. Scour the internet (EBay and Amazon are good places to start) for that ultimate backpack. Borrow travel guides off a friend or download the e-versions which are much cheaper (though this is one I budge hardest on - an up to date edition of any travel guide is invaluable if you're backpacking alone!).
7. Rework the Dream
If all of this sounds way too daunting, and your lifestyle isn't ready to take such a hit in levels of luxury (or your rent is eating away any chance of you saving) then consider altering the cost of your trip by reassessing your travel expenses. You can do this by:
- Travelling out of school holidays. The two weeks around Christmas/New Years or Easter, July - August and any bank holidays are usually the most expensive time to travel, with the highest airfare.
- Be flexible with your travel dates and destinations - flying on certain days of the week is usually cheaper and flying to certain destinations (then connecting overland to your final spot) may also result in lower flight costs.
- Swap those luxury hotels for hostels (Hostelworld is a great booking app!), Airbnb or HomeAway.
- If you want to make your time away last, consider volunteering in a hostel in exchange for free accomodation/meals or use sites like WWOOF or Workaway.
By Dessie Nedyalkova