Good news: You do not need to be a rich kid to go travelling! Bad news: if you are not a rich kid, getting the funds together for your trip can be hard graft. Although we count ourselves very lucky to have expendable income, we both earn less than the average teacher, and our bank account can look very sad after our rent and bills are paid, that’s for sure. So, although you will not hear us claim ‘anyone can travel!’, we believe we have proved even those on the lower end of the pay bracket can make it happen!
Our decision to travel Japan and the US made money a tricky subject. Not only had we picked two expensive countries, but we’d also picked countries that do not allow you to work on a tourist visa. As we had no way of earning while we were away, we ideally needed to have saved up the entire amount we would need before we left. This was a daunting prospect- but we did it!
Essentially the method is very simple: Earn money. Don’t spend money.
Obviously this is easier said than done, especially if you are not used to budgeting, so here are some tips that really helped us save:
- Open a savings account.
It sounds really obvious, but some people never think to do this; they just try to spend as little of the money in their current account as possible and hope to gradually see it grow. Maybe this works for some people, but for me I have to physically move my allocated ‘travel money’ somewhere else, so that I know what I’ve got left to spend, otherwise it will get frittered away, and I’ll wonder where it’s all gone!
- Be realistic about how much you can save.
It’s no good telling yourself you can live on £20 a month, because it’s just not going to happen. You have to sit down, look at your ingoings and outgoings and realistically figure out how much money you can live on, and therefore how much money you can save.
- Make a plan and have a goal.
Now this is the fun part! It is so much easier to save when you have an end goal in mind. So make a plan! Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? How long do you want to do it for? Once you’ve got this down, look at flight costs, living costs and figure out how much your trip will cost you. It may be worth speaking to a travel agents about it: we went to our local STA travel and there were really helpful. Once you have a figure in mind, you can working out how long it will take you to get there:
The cost of the trip ÷ your savings per month/week = how long it will take you to save.
- Figure out what you can live without.
In order to get the most from your pay packet, you may have to make some sacrifices. This is completely optional depending on how quickly you want to your savings to grow. If you are impatient -like us! – Then figuring out which expenses you can live without can really make a difference. Before you spend money just ask yourself- do I really need this? Is there a cheaper alternative? You don’t have to live like a pauper, it can be as simple as making compromises: keep your phone contract but loose the gym membership, buy shop bought pizza rather than take out, have your friends over for a cuppa rather than paying for coffee. Even the little things add up!
- Don’t be a snob
Food costs are probably the priciest thing after rent and bills. We saved SO much money shopping at our budget supermarket and although some people turn their noses up at the thought of it, they can never tell the difference when we cook for them!
- Sell the shit out of your shit
Selling all that stuff you’ve hoarded over the years is a win/win situation when you’re going travelling: not only will you be raising funds for your trip, but you will be minimising the amount of stuff you have to find a home for while you’re away.
- Consider a second job
Some people simply do not have the time or energy to be able to do this, but if you can hack it, a second income can really bump up the funds. Utilise your hobbies or skills to make it a bit more interesting; we have friends who tutor children on weeknights, and Jasper teaches drums for a bit of extra cash.
- Keep planning and don’t lose heart!
It can feel so crappy to constantly have money on your mind but it will all be worth it, we promise! Whenever money woes get you down, research a hotel or restaurant or day trip, and it will put your spending into perspective. That £5 Frappuccino (how people can spend so much on what is essentially ice and syrup will baffle me forever… but I digress), can equate to so much more when you’re away. The value of your money changes, and suddenly you won’t want to buy yourself things that will just be forgotten about, you will want to spend it on things you’ll remember forever!
So what are you waiting for?! Get saving!
.:. Jo & Jasper .:.