If I got a dollar every time someone asked me how I can afford to travel so much – well it would help me fund my travels!
It’s a question I get asked a lot – people wonder if I’ve won the lotto, think I’ve borrowed money off my parents – but really, I’ve just made a few cutbacks in my daily life to save money. Here’s my tips.
1. Don’t spend your money on material possessions
That handbag, that watch, that shirt, that new couch – do you really need it? Will it affect your life if you don’t have it? Probably the answer is no. Sure it’s looks nice, but that couch at the garage sale serves the same purpose – and you can see the time on your phone – and you probably have a dozen other T-shirts. At the end of the day, they’re just material possessions, they won’t enrich your life, you won’t make lifelong memories out of that new handbag, its just money you could use to see the wonders of the world.
I recently packed my life into boxes, sold all my furniture and quit my job to travel and it’s liberating. My life is packed down to a couple of suitcases and about 10 boxes.
I don’t need to settle down – lock myself into a lease or a mortgage – I’m free to travel again when I have enough money saved again to do so.
I’m now living back in Australia to fund my next adventures later this year but I have no furniture and all I’m carrying around is a few suitcases with casual and corporate clothes. Everything else is in storage – but it even turns out I don’t need that stuff – I’ve lived without it for six months so far.
I work in the Brisbane CBD and walk past shops every day but there’s nothing I really need so I’m not tempted. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have nice clothes. I’ve got plenty of nice clothes I’ve collected over the years and if there’s anything I do need, I shop around – and places like H&M have decent clothes for relatively cheap. And some boutiques have sample sales with prices starting for $10 for really nice clothes.
My best advice is to also have a travel goal in mind and you can make it happen. Just think if you’re going to buy something – do I really need this or do I want to travel more?
I have clothes on my back and food in my belly. That’s really all you need. It’s easy to live the nomad life.
I’ve been staying with friends or housesitting between travels. I pay minimal rent with my friends and housesitting is free – it might require you to walk dogs or water the garden but you can stay in someone’s house for no charge. I’m saving at least $200 a week and I have a whole house all to myself.
Plus on occasions I get access to Pay TV or Netflix at no charge, and get to live in a new area every few weeks.
The traveller in me loves exploring a new neighbourhood every couple of weeks. New running circuits, new cafes, new parks, new people. What’s not to love!?
I’m saving a lot of money by not paying any rent every week and not paying for electricity, water, gas or WiFi. Even the little things I’m not paying for – when I’m housesitting, people are happy for me to eat any food in their fridges before it goes off, and use their cleaning products, soap, washing powder. By housesitting, I’m not buying those things anymore. It all adds up.
3. Cook your own meals
This one’s easy. Don’t buy takeaway. Cook your own meals and you’ll save a lot of money.
I always bring lunch to work – usually cooking enough for dinner the night before and bringing it in. It saves me at least $7 to $10 a day. I also try to limit myself to only eating out once or twice a week with friends when I’m back home. I still go out, I still have fun – but I just make sure when I’m at home I’m cooking.
And it’s been hard, but I rarely buy coffee now – it took awhile to get used to but I’m now on instant coffee to get my caffeine fix. But that’s a saving of at least $3.50 a day.
4. Explore the great outdoors
Looking for something to do on the weekend? Then go for a hike or to the beach. All it costs is time and money for petrol. The world has so many beautiful places to explore so get out there and see it. You’ll be amazed what you find in your own backyard when you start looking for activities.
Having a fun weekend doesn’t need to cost money.
5. Ditch your gym membership
Ditching your gym membership and moving your exercise outdoors is also a great money saver. How much do you pay per month for your gym? I paid $85 and didn’t even go that much.
I cancelled it and moved my exercise outdoors (although admittedly Brisbane’s beautiful climate makes that easy and not everyone can exercise outdoors year round). I run along a bikepath every night, use park benches for tricep dips and step ups, and borrowed weights and a skipping rope from a friend. And you know what – I actually do more exercise that way because I’m getting fresh air or watching TV while I’m working out.
6. Revise your phone plans and health insurance
Are there policies or plans in your life that you could revise? You’ve probably had the same health insurance for years but maybe it’s time to revise your policy – could you reduce your level of colour and save some money? I did just that and now I’m saving $10 a week. It all adds up.
And what about your phone? I got an unlocked phone and moved off a plan and onto prepaid – a saving of $40 a month. And if I don’t use all the credit in a month, which I usually don’t, I can roll it over to the following months and then I use this credit when I’m overseas if I need to text or phone someone and rarely need to use a travel SIM.
Think about the bills you pay each week and where savings could be made.
7. Stay in hostels
Staying in hostels is a money saver to travel here and overseas.
When I’m home in Australia, I still travel. Maybe I go away for a long weekend. And I still stay in hostels.
Whenever I travel, I stay in hostels – or even go one better and couchsurf. I don’t need a fancy hotel when all I’m doing is sleeping there.
Hostels have lockers to securely store your valuables, earplugs and eye masks help with noise and light from your fellow room mates and you’re saving a lot of money so you can see more of the world.
8. Set a weekly budget
Set a budget and stick to it. I try to stick within a budget of $150 a week, which includes my public transport to and from work, food and petrol. I housesit so I have no household bills to accommodate. If something I want to buy takes me over $150 a week, I reason that I can’t afford it. It’s totally achievable and I still go out and do things and get takeaway once or twice a week.
9. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive
It’s actually cheaper for me to travel than to live in Australia. I’m not kidding. I’m not earning anything so yes eventually your savings run out but I don’t know anyone who said I wish I didn’t spend that money travelling the world.
Overseas, my living expenses are lower. Hostels in Europe and Asia are cheaper per night that what I would pay if I was renting in Australia. I have my health insurance on hold because I took out travel insurance. I’m not paying a gym membership because I’m walking everywhere and hiking mountains. I have no bills when I’m travelling.
Buses and trains are often cheaper overseas than in Australia. You’re walking everywhere to see the sights and probably staying in the city centre so I don’t need public transport that much.
Food can be ridiculously cheap in places like Asia, Central and South America and Eastern Europe.
You don’t have to eat out every night – staying in hostels or couchsurfing means you can still cook your own meals a couple of times a week.
I’m not looking to go out and do special things on the weekend because my life is a weekend and every day is an adventure.