Ultimate Hacks to Save Money and Travel the World

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

A couple of days back, I came across an article on my Facebook. The author said ‘Do not worry about the money; just travel’ is the worst advice of all time. He also stereotyped travelling to be for the ‘privileged ones.’ My purpose in writing this blog is not to critically evaluate the article. Nor is it to the wrong author’s opinion, but, to show the other side of the story. And, maybe change the way you associate travel with privilege. Because the fact nothing comes easy, all of us work hard to earn money. But, it’s only some of us who take steps to save money and travel the world. 

The dreamy-eyed Instagram generation with their alluring posts captivates us in thinking travelling is the only way to live a better life. I will say it is not the only way! Because it isn’t a case of one shoe-fits-all here! Something that works for me may not work for you and vice versa. So it is entirely possible not to be an extensive traveller and still live a happy life. But if you have that burning desire in your heart to travel. Or, if the thought that there are so many adventures waiting for you keeps you up all night! Then I kid you not; do not let anyone dim your fire by saying that you aren’t privileged enough!

In my opinion, it is all about one’s mindset. Because while travelling, I met people from all walks of life. Like, teens backpacking at the age of 18, minimum wage earners globetrotting on their savings and backpackers as old as 70! All of them had only one thing in common; the will to subside their wanderlust. 

Now, if you wish to go galavanting across the globe, maybe in search of the perfect cafe, or to witness the different cultural events. You may want to spike up that adrenaline by scuba diving across the seven seas! Or eat pizzas in Italy, burgers in America, Naan in India, and paella in Spain! Whatever is it that you wish to achieve by travelling but are stuck at saving money to do all that? You are at the right place! I will show you how you can save money and travel the world. 

How many of you are still waiting for the “Monday” to start working out? How many of you are still smoking that one last cigarette before quitting? You know where I am getting at. These examples of everyday life clearly show that if there is a goal to be achieved, there will be tonnes of excuses. And as they say, where there is a will, there is a way.

The same applies to travel. Travel, for many out there, is synonymous with a luxurious spa, fancy food, chauffeur driven car around the city, 3 (4 or 5) star hotel and whatnot! They start calculating the cost for all of these services get disheartened and drop the idea altogether, concluding that it is only for the rich. But hey! How about budgeting your travels? Book a hostel, try the street food, sip a coffee instead of a beer, and walk around the city it gives you so much more time to soak in the beauty of a place.

A photo of a girl smiling at the john lennon wall in Prague, with quote "Work, save travel, repeat"

Plan and Budget Your Trip Mindfully

  • List down what makes you want to travel, and your driving force. For me, it’s history, food, culture and adventure. This activity will help you centre your travel plan around what drives you the most and automatically push budgets on what’s important. 
  • Bucket destinations you wish to visit basis your driving force. You don’t necessarily have to go for that larger-than-life Europe trip. I chose Vietnam for my first solo trip. Simply because it was not as costly as a Western country and yet it fits my driving force: history, food and adventure. 
  • Keep a budget in mind and divide it into these categories – Accommodation, Transport, Food and Drinks, Shopping, Adventure activity, and Other experiences. Find out rough estimates via secondary research and then play around. My favourite way of finding the possible cost of travelling is through travel blogs they chalk out average prices on the categories mentioned earlier. You can also check websites like to book affordable accommodation or couch surf! When it comes to food and drinks, stick to local.

Bonus Tip: Give more weight to what matters to you the most! Do you want to chill in the private sauna? Or do you want to try cliff jumping? Do you wish to have that Michelin star experience? Or do you want to take cooking lessons yourself? You don’t have to do it all! You will get a chance to come back, or perhaps visit another country with the same experience. Also, know that the choice is yours, it’s your holiday! Don’t let popular opinion drive it.

How to Save Money to Travel

Now that you have learnt how to budget a trip, another dilemma crops up. ‘Where will the money come from for even a budget trip?’ My answer is to SAVE! Save money to travel the world! Believe it or not, you can easily save 30% of your income every month and put in a travel kitty. I did it, and I still feel I could have saved more! There are so many everyday activities we blow our money on it is okay to find less-expensive alternatives to them. Some of the changes I brought in my lifestyle are:

  • If you drink a coffee a day, you end up spending (in India) an average of INR 7000 a month! That’s how much I spent on my 14-day accommodation in Sri Lanka! So, I started brewing coffee at home instead of drinking at Starbucks. Result? I saved a tonne of money and learnt a new skill! 
  •  Drinking at a bar in India is an expensive affair, a weekend drinking session every month set me back INR 16000. I cut it down drastically and chose to either pre-booze or enjoy an excellent whiskey at home. The same goes for smoking.
  • Take public transport to work or better yet carpool! You save on fuel and EMI/maintenance for the vehicle. Also, start walking for short-distance travel. It will help you stay active and save money! 
  • Go, Marie Kondo! Yep, time to get rid of things you don’t want- put them on Olx, hold up a garage sale, or simply donate! Now, this helps in two ways- earn you an extra buck for what you weren’t using, and push you towards that minimal lifestyle. Once you get a taste of what’s it like living minimally, you wouldn’t want to go back to hoarding! It is almost meditative and most undoubtedly, sustainable. 
  • Retail therapy! The most difficult of the lot in today’s “offer” economy. With every other eCommerce site running sale offers, we all tend to let loose. I have a foolproof formula for this one. Next time you see an offer and have the urge to buy something “just because” think of: do you need it, will you use/wear it at least 30 times in the next two months, do you have something similar, is it an impulse/emotional purchase. You will know what to do! Another great way to cut unnecessary shopping down is by keeping a tab on your credit card statements. Check how much you spent monthly only on shopping (not groceries and essential items) you’d be shocked! 

The list can go on so much that I can do a separate blog post on ‘Unnecessary expenses that’s stopping you from saving money to travel”.

Stay on Track to Save Money

  • Remember I mentioned I saved 30% of my income every month in a separate kitty to travel? You must be thinking about how to do it. You can’t possibly withdraw that money and put it aside. And let’s face it if the money is in the bank you spend! I opened a savings account. It’s super easy to do and is a handy trick to save money to travel. Call this your travel fund and add the money the moment your salary credits. Personal trip: keep the debit card linked to the account hidden safely, when you don’t have a natural outlet to debit you won’t. And don’t keep checking on the balance, it’s a savings account, not a mutual fund! Let it grow, check before planning your trip and be surprised! 
  • I love journaling! So when I was struggling to save money to travel, I kept a journal for it. Started by keeping a goal, “I want to save XXX by the end of this quarter” and made a plan to hit that number. This journal became my monthly planner where I budgeted- everyday activities, travel funds, other savings, leisure purchases etc. to get to my goal savings. Keeping a journal to map my expenses helped me a lot in the initial days. I was appalled at my spending habits and surprised to see the potential to save money to travel the world. Once you get the hang of it, you will run on autopilot and may not need to journal every month. I still have the journal, just to remind me of my journey and get me back on track whenever I get disheartened/distracted. 
  • Spending money wisely is by far the most important thing to do in the process to save money to travel. I can’t stress enough how most of the things we spend on is our want and not our need. I mentioned a bunch of items I found an alternative to earlier on the blog (jump to how to save money to travel) you can do it too! If you need help, reach out to me, your parents, your friends, or your partner. Or do what I did – I compared how I feel having a coffee every day at the best cafe to how I’d feel having one in the bylanes of Prague. There it was, the motivation to travel and experience a new culture. It was the urge to experience a new culture for me, and it could be something else for you. Find what drives you to travel and how much happiness it instils in you. The satisfaction globetrotting fills you up with is the best motivator. 
  • Remind yourself why you started. It is easy to lose track of this habit of saving money after a couple of weeks heck days! I did it too! Every time I stopped myself from eating out/ordering every shoe I didn’t purchase. I felt horrible. I wanted to give up, and maybe ask my parents to fund my travel, not travel altogether! But the day I stepped out of the aircraft in Vietnam (my first ever trip) I was far happier than I’d have been if I would have owned five extra pairs of shoes and eaten out three times a month. Yes, that’s how much it costs to travel to Vietnam! So keep reminding yourself, to look at the bigger picture. Make sure you visit the journal every week to check on your goal, leave a little note on the fridge, and keep a wallpaper to the destination you are eyeing. Get creative! Keep yourself motivated, and you would be on that aircraft sooner than you think! 

I hope these tips help you save and plan your travels better. Check out my other blogs to help budget your trip country-wise! Comment below and tell me some of your tips! How do you save money and travel?

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