Travelling is one of life’s greatest joys. Learning how to save to travel is not! Whether you want to embark on the trip of a lifetime or simply afford a week on a beach somewhere hot each year, you’re going to need some money. When I was saving for my year long backpacking trip I realised that fundamentally it’s largely about priorities. You might fancy that coffee or that takeaway on the sofa now, but do you know what’s better? Sipping cocktails overlooking a far-flung sunset.
I’m always asked how I afforded my trip and how to save to travel. The simple answer is that I planned and prioritised: I cut down on unnecessary spending and saved it instead. I also used the formula in this post on budgeting to ensure I was saving as much of my income as I could each month.
My advice, every time you feel tempted to spend unnecessary money on stuff like a takeaway or getting your nails done, transfer that money over to your travel fund account instead. Quantify it: £30 on a Chinese at home is 4 nights accommodation on the Gili Islands or THIRTY meals from a night market in SE Asia.
Of course, you’ve still got to live, even when you’re doing your best to save. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite money saving tips and tricks that won’t drastically compromise your lifestyle either.
It goes without saying that the figures and lifestyle habits in this post will not suit everybody. I am not attempting to make generalisations, rather reflect on my own spending habits and where I realised I could save or earn money with little effort. Even if you only manage to save a quarter of what’s listed in this post, you’d still have enough for an annual holiday.
There are certain bank accounts and credit cards that I use referenced in this post. Please, please do your own research. This post is purely my own experience and not intended to be taken as expert financial advice. I usually refer to Money Saving Expert when making my own banking decisions.
How to Save to Travel
1. Use a cash back credit card and make free money on your day to day purchases
In a year I make about £200 just from putting purchases on my cash back AMEX. Obviously do not put anything on a credit card that you cannot afford to pay off! However if you’d be spending the money anyway from your debit account, you may as well accrue the cash back and pay it off each month before any interest is added.
This is the AMEX I use; this is a referral link and will earn us both £10.
Annual earning: £200
2. Switch to a SIM only phone plan
You can find great deals with lots of data for as little as £10 a month. Most people pay £30-40, most of which is paying a premium on the handset. No, you may not be able to afford the latest model but saving to travel is all about priorities!
Annual saving: £360
3. Cut £10 a week off of your food shop
Unless you’re already shit-hot at meal planning and budgeting, chances are some unnecessary purchases sneak their way into your basket. For me, it’s the quick nip to the shop for milk that somehow turns into a £25 spend that is really dangerous. If you plan your meals, order your food online or stick to a list you could easily double that saving too!
Annual saving: £520
4. Switch bank accounts and take advantage of any bonuses
I made £100 by switching to Nationwide, as did my boyfriend who referred me. Since, I have referred 3 friends (you’re allowed up to 5 a year) on the current scheme which has earned me a further £300! For doing absolutely nothing!
I’ve got 2 more referrals to use if anyone fancies switching, on a side note I’ve been super impressed with them as a bank.
Annual earning: £600 (if you use all 5 referrals)
5. DIY beauty treatments at home
Yes, it’s nice to get your nails and eyebrows done each month. You know what’s nicer? Getting a £4 massage in Bali. A monthly shellac appointment will set you back about £30 whilst an eyebrow tint and wax might cost £20 (obviously varies by region).
I recommend the Eylure Dyebrow for a super easy, super cheap at home tint. You could even buy the lamp and a few polishes and do your own gels at home too – I have in the past and it’s so easy.
Annual saving: £600
6. Ditch the daily coffees
Yep, I said it. Your lattes are standing in the way of your next plane ticket. I’m not saying you should stop drinking all together, but a Nespresso coffee pod costs about 30p a cup. Make it at home in your reusable cup (yay for saving the planet and our wallets!) and you could save around £2.70, five days a week (based on about £3 a coffee).
Annual saving: £702
7. Don’t order take out
Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re probably reading this and silently cursing me right now. I know I said this wasn’t about compromising lifestyle, and it’s not. How much does dropping £30 on a Chinese on a Friday night actually bring to your life?
I’m throwing this one in because it’s definitely something I could have saved a lot more money on. Personally whenever I order takeout it’s out of laziness and hunger. By the time it’s arrived, I could’ve easily made something low effort for a fraction of the cost.
Buy a nice Waitrose pizza for a fiver, rather than dropping £20 on a Dominos. Trust me, when you’re eating the best Thai curry you’ve tasted in your life on the streets of Chiang Mai for £2, you won’t miss splurging £30 on Deliveroo.
Annual saving based on £30 on takeaway a month.
Annual saving: £360
8. Don’t overspend on birthday or Christmas presents
Whenever Christmas comes around, my number one piece of advice is always to streamline who you’re buying for. Your friends know you love them, you don’t need a fancy present to prove it. Aside from family, I only bought gifts for 2 of my friends last Christmas. We all mutually agreed there was just no need, so we all saved!
For those that you do buy for, be it Christmas or birthday, make sure you’re not spending an unrealistic amount. I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t rather I lived my best life road tripping around Australia than dropping money on a material item for them; I certainly wouldn’t want my friends spending money they could put to better use elsewhere on me. If you do buy (for family or friends) set a mutual budget and stick to it.
It’s hard to predict the saving on this one because what each individual spends varies but I’m going to estimate how much I personally saved in 2018 on cutting down (or out) gift spending.
Annual saving: £300
How to Save to Travel: 0ther tips ~
- Look on eBay, Depop and in charity shops for clothes and accessories rather than buying full price
- Take lunch to work if you usually buy it
- Have a date night in rather than out
- Put yourself on an Uber/taxi ban
- Split a Netflix account with friends