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How I’m able to travel the world: 5 steps for saving money that actually work

I often get asked how I managed to save up enough money to travel for an entire year. Today, I’m finally sharing my ultimate how-to guide for saving money to travel. With my personal experiences and best tips & tricks, you can start creating your very own travel fund. So, if making a big trip is something that’s been on your bucket list forever, these 5 steps are gonna be all you need!

I knew I wanted to make a big world trip long before I hopped onto that first plane to Dubai in November 2018. I also realized it was gonna take a while for me to save up thousands and thousands of dollars, especially since I was still in university full-time. So, I started slowly changing my lifestyle in order to be able to save up enough. Looking back, it was the following 5 steps that made all of the difference.

This guide is based fully on the ways I saved up enough money to travel for a year. They worked incredibly well for me, and I know they can do the same for you! So, without further ado, let’s jump into my ultimate guide for saving money to travel!

1. Create a savings plan

The first thing you need to figure out for yourself is how much money you’re gonna need. Think about the trip you want to make. How long do you want to travel for? Which countries do you want to go to? Are those countries expensive to visit? What are the main expenses you’re going to have?

This part of the process is really important, because you’re gonna have vastly different spending patterns in different countries. For example, I spent much more money in 3 weeks in Hawaii than I did in 2 months in South-East Asia. It’s hard to know exactly how much you’ll need, of course. But it’s very helpful and motivating to get a rough idea.

You can create your savings plan any way you like. Make a spreadsheet on your computer, write it down in a notebook or do something completely different. The most important thing is to find a way that works for you.

Tips on creating a savings plan:

  • Do your research. If you’ve never been on a big trip before, it can be hard to estimate how much money you’ll need to make it happen. Luckily, there are lots of sources online that share their daily or total costs for the destinations you want to travel to. Find a few and compare them, and use them as the foundation for your savings plan.
  • Allow yourself time. This one is so important! Saving up enough to make a big trip around the world is not gonna be a matter of a few weeks. I know it can be frustrating if the process is going slower than expected. That’s why you need to make a reasonable savings plan. If you normally save $50 a month, you likely are not gonna be able to start saving $1000 from now on. So, be honest with yourself and know that it’ll take some time.
  • Keep track of your plan by reviewing it regularly. How are you doing so far? Do you need to make any changes to your lifestyle? Saving enough money for a big trip is gonna be a long process. Of course, you don’t have to check your bank account every day. However, it’s crucial to stay updated on the progress, so you can make adjustments if needed.
Though Hawaii was super expensive, I was so glad I saved up enough to visit this incredible destination!

2. Cut back on your expenses

Now that your savings plan is made, the first thing to look at are your current expenses. It is perhaps the most vital part of my guide for saving money to travel, because it’s such an easy way to find extra money to set aside each week or month.

Personally, I’d say I’ve done alright in terms of saving for most of my life. I’ve never been a girl that blows an entire paycheck on clothes within a week of getting paid. However, I definitely do like shopping and am 100% guilty of buying stuff I don’t need (way too often). I realized that saving up enough money for a big world trip was gonna require a bit of a lifestyle change. So, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

I’m not gonna tell you that it was fun to be mindful of my spending habits and cut back for a longer period of time. However, know that it’s worth it. Simply think about all the things you could do during your travels with the money you’re saving now. Want to buy a $40 top? You could also take one or two amazing day trips in South-East Asia for that same amount!

Tips for significantly reducing your expenses:

  • Track your expenses. I bet you there will be certain expenses you’re so used to you don’t even notice them anymore, but which add very little to your life. Do you have a gym membership but haven’t been to the gym in over a year? Cutting back on expenses that don’t really add any value to your life is by far the easiest and least painful way to start.
  • Live beneath your means. Get used to the fact that you don’t have to spend every penny you’re earning, just because you can. Simply reminding yourself of this can make a big difference in your spending habits.
  • Budget your money. Know which expenses you have every month or week and budget your money accordingly. Start with fixed expenses you can’t get rid of. Make a budget for groceries and basic living expenses. From the money that remains, set some aside as spending money for that month and put the rest towards your savings.
  • Have fun for free. Cutting back on expenses doesn’t mean you can’t have a social life or do fun stuff. Figure out ways to replace your usual activities with ones that are free. Have people over for dinner instead of eating out all the time. Or catch up with a friend during a hike outside, instead of going for lunch and shopping. If you’re lost on ideas, I always find that Pinterest is a great source of inspiration.
  • It’s all about balance. I’m not gonna pretend I’ve never gone out for a coffee or lunch with a friend during the time I was saving up. Of course I did! It’s what you do consistently that is gonna determine the results you get. And it’s more than okay to ‘cheat’ every once in a while.
guide for saving money to travel
Ultimate Maui highlight

3. Try to increase your earnings

There’s no way around it: if you want to save up money, you’re gonna have to earn some. This means you’ll need to have some sort of job. It may be a job you love, or it may not be. In any way, you’ll have to bring in some dollars to put into your travel fund. If you don’t have a job yet, go out and find one that allows you to work plenty of hours. If you’re already employed or have some sort of income, see if there are ways you can increase your earnings.

Remember that it’s likely gonna take some hard work and long hours. After all, it takes effort and time for everyone wanting to do this. (Okay, unless you’re super-rich to begin with, but let’s assume you’re not if you’re reading this.) I’ve worked my butt off for two years balancing getting my bachelor’s degree and working a demanding job on the side. Looking back, I probably tried doing way too much, but not doing so just wasn’t an option for me. I knew what I was gonna use the money for and I made it happen.

Tips to earn some extra money:

  • Pick up extra shifts at work. If you’re not working full-time at your job yet, ask to see if you can pick up a few extra shifts a week to boost your paycheck a little.
  • Get a side hustle. Already working full-time at your current job? Why not have a little side hustle?! There’s probably something you’re good at that people would pay you for. Maybe you could tutor school kids, start babysitting at night or walk the neighbors’ dogs. Be creative!
  • Sell old stuff. Have piles of clothes that don’t really fit you anymore? Ten pairs of shoes you’re never gonna wear again? Sell them! I know people who’ve made quite a nice little extra paycheck selling their old stuff online. Besides it being profitable for you, it’s also a nice and sustainable way to give your items a new life, instead of eventually just throwing them out.
  • Don’t burn yourself out. Don’t overdo it and stress yourself out too much. Always make sure to take time to wind down and take care of yourself. You don’t want to be so overworked you can’t even go on that trip once you’ve finally saved up enough money.
guide for saving money to travel
Earning extra money to save up for your travels may be hard, but it’s so worth it!

4. Put your money in a savings account

This step is short ‘n sweet: put any money you’re saving into a separate savings account. That way, you won’t access it as easily as you normally might. This prevents you from splurging your saved money on unnecessary things in a moment of weakness. 😉 Oh, and even better if you have a high-interest savings account. Every little bit helps!

5. Stay motivated

The final step in my guide for saving money to travel is to stay motivated. I know from experience that there will be times when saving is gonna be hard. Saving up a lot of money is not something you accomplish overnight, unfortunately, So, there’ll likely be periods when you just don’t feel like putting as much money aside. Or you’ll have months with a lot of expenses or less income, and you’re ready to throw in the towel.

For those cases, it’s crucial to keep yourself motivated. Think of things that will increase your motivation in bad times and implement them in your life. Again, there really is no right or wrong way of doing this. It’s all about finding something that works for you.

Ideas to keep yourself motivated:

  • Divide your big savings goal into smaller sub-goals and celebrate each time you reach one. Preferably in a way that’s budget-friendly, of course.
  • Find a picture of your ultimate destination and set it as the background on your phone.
  • Make a vision board for your travels and keep it in a place where you see it every day.
  • Write down all the amazing places you want to see during your travels. List the activities you want to do, as well as the experiences you want to have. Read it when you’re feeling unmotivated, to remind yourself of why you’re doing this.
  • DIY a fun savings tracker. Put it in a place that’s clearly visible and track your progress.
  • Dedicate a jar for your travel money. Put in all your spare change and unexpected financial gains you may get. Actually seeing some physical money accumulate in the jar will do wonders for your motivation.
Highlights Curacao

Start now!

Let’s face it: as helpful as these tips have been to me, this guide to saving money for your very own travel fund will only work for you if you take action. Don’t wait for next Monday, the start of a new month or New Year’s. Believe me – I’m a sucker for starting new habits and resolutions on days that seem perfect to do so. However, realize that the moment is never gonna be perfect and you’ll always encounter new obstacles. Commit yourself to start today and get to work on your savings plan.

And there you have it, my ultimate how-to guide for saving money to travel. These 5 steps have helped me massively to save up for my world trip and will do the same for you. Do you have any tips that work well for you? Let me know in the comments!

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