How to save for traveling
You have the date, flights, hotels and everything else you need booked for your travels. Now, comes the most difficult part of traveling – saving for the actual trip! I, myself, have fallen victim to this event way too many times to count.
You think, “…the trip is three months away… I will start saving NEXT weekend, and I will have LOTS of money by then to travel comfortably…” Oh traveler’s procrastination, how you haunt me… Anyways! The point being, is that DESPITE how clear it is in our minds how important it is that we save for our travels, it is extremely difficult to govern ourselves accordingly… (i.e., to ACTUALLY do it!) The longer the duration of your travels, the more important it is that you begin a savings regime early on in the planning of your trip.
Now if you are extremely well off to begin with, and taking off for 2 years won’t even put a dent in your bank account, (in which case, we cannot be friends) saving is essential. If you are planning a backpacking journey that extends more than a few weeks, I highly recommend that you take the time to sit down, take a look at your finances, and build yourself a budget. In order to do that, you must first calculate your monthly net income. From there, you need to figure out exactly what you require each month in order to pay for necessities (i.e., food, rent/mortgage, car payments, etc.). Once you subtract your NEEDS from your NET INCOME, look at the balance that remains. Now, you need to do a bit of research – depending on where you are going on your travels, the amount of money required to get by on a daily basis will vary. For instance, if you were going to Thailand, you could EASILY get by on ~$30.00 Canadian each day. However, if you were going to Australia, you would need to allot more like ~$60-70.00 CDN each day.
You should then set a goal as to how much you should put away each month into savings in order to accommodate for the time you will be away. Also, consider saving additional amounts to cover unforeseen expenses – nothing is more depressing than coming across a random activity you wish you could partake in once you are there (…skydiving anyone?!…) and not having the funds to do so! Ultimately, it is about being able to travel comfortably, and not having to constantly stress about money when you are supposed to be relaxing! Now, once you have your budget set, and your financial plan in order – it is time to IMPLEMENT it! What does this mean exactly? Well, those Starbucks lattes you pick up each morning at 5 bucks a pop? We are going to veto those until you return home from your trip – and here’s why. If your trip is 3 months away, and you buy 1 Starbucks each day, that is ~$450 that could have gone to your trip! If you budgeted yourself at $30/day while traveling, that would have then covered 15 days of your trip! It really is the little things when saving that have a small but cumulative effect! Think about that the next time you go to the bar as well – is buying a round of shots for your buddies really worth losing out on 2-3 days of travel funds?! Bars are a complete black hole for your travel funds… if there is one piece of advice I can give to those who are trying to travel; it is to attempt to be more self-sustaining until you leave. By that, I mean cooking your own meals, having more movie nights at home… the money you will save by not going out to restaurants, bars, etc. will truly astonish you. Not only will your wallet rejoice, but your belly and liver will be happy with you as well – HELLO BEACH BODY!!
If you are worried about spending your money while it lies so temptingly in your savings account, consider handing it over to someone else’s account for the time being. For example, when I was saving up for my Thailand Tour with LBW in May of 2011, I handed my father my savings allotted for the trip, and would give him ~$50 from each of my pay cheques. Every other Friday, my father expected me to hand him money to add to my funds, which kept me from spending it at the bar or a restaurant that weekend! Therefore, you will feel MORE obligated to save your money, and LESS tempted to spend the money, as you have an additional source (i.e., my father in this example) standing between you and your savings. Having other people supporting your savings lifestyle will help immensely. The main message I want you to take away from this is, is that saving money for your trip can truly affect whether or not your journey reaches that “trip of a lifetime” status. If you are constantly questioning whether or not you can afford to go to that restaurant everyone is dying to go to, or you can’t afford that gorgeous one-of-a-kind dress you found in a vintage store in Europe… then you constantly feel limited in your travels – which is not a great feeling. If you take the time to organize yourself, and dedicate yourself to a budget prior to your trip, then you will be able to travel with an easy mind. I know how tough it is to do, so I empathize with you on that one, but I also know how incredible it is to be able to do everything (or most of) that you want to while you are traveling. No one wants to get home, and think about all the things they COULD have done, they want to reminisce about all of the amazing things they DID DO! Live the Dream … whatever your dream may be. ☺