The first step to take is to grab your bank statement. Total up all your essential / regular costs each month, such as rent, bills, food, petrol etc. Take this number away from your monthly income, this gives you how much money you can start saving from.
It is now up to you how much of this you wish to save, and how much you want to use for your social life etc.
For me, the amount I saved started very low, and increased as D Day (departure day) came closer. Upon reflection I wish I had saved more of what I could have.
I decided the best place for me to stick away my savings was into premium bonds (UK-based government scheme). This doesn’t offer any interest but does offer the chance of winning prizes, ranging from £25 – £1,000,000, each month. Which I thought was better than any savings account available at the time, as the interest on those was negligible.
There are many options out there. The important thing is to just get one. Then set up regular payments into it just after you get paid, building up your travel fund. Having your savings separate to you everyday money is essential, as it prevents you accessing and spending that money on the fly.
It is important to point out, most savings schemes do allow access to your funds, but you may have to wait a few days. Which is great as it creates a period where you may decide you don’t need whatever it was, and that’s more money in the travel fund! But for really essential things and emergencies you can get the cash.
Once you’ve got an idea of how much you can save each month and a rough departure date, you can work out how much you can possibly save before you leave. You should set your target at or above this figure, whatever you think is right. What you should definitely do is tell everyone your travel fund target, it will motivate you to try to reach it; especially when people keep asking how the saving is going.
For me this was the most useful thing to enable me to start saving, and to save more. When I first decided I wanted to go traveling I had done no research and didn’t have a clue on how much things would cost or what I wanted to do. It just seemed like a good idea and the next natural chapter in my life. But after a lot of research, reading travelling books, watching travel related blogs, films and TV shows, I knew I had to do it!
The idea of travelling the world consumed me, it’s all I could think about, nothing else seemed to matter, this made it a lot easier to save. Whenever I considered spending money it always came back to what that amount of money would get me on the road, and 9/10 times I decided that money would be better put into my travel fund ready for the road!
If you end up saving anything like the same proportion of your income as me, you will not have much left over each month. This means that you might need to fill your time with alternative activities that are free.
For me that consists mostly of extra gym sessions and more exercise such as running and cycling. I’ve also taken up reading, prior to deciding to go travelling I had only read one book in my adult life! I’ve also started to learn Spanish using the app Duolingo, and its free (extra travel fund money!). Travel research and blogging also (happily) consume a lot of my time too, and cost nothing!
Just because you have no money doesn’t mean you have to change your lifestyle dramatically, it can be achieved just through a series of smaller changes, for me this consisted of:
Just taking in these few small(ish) changes, boosted my travel fund by £265 per month!
I’ve given up alcohol for extended periods of time before as a personal and health challenge. But I also discovered that I would save a massive amount of money during these dry periods.
This didn’t mean I didn’t have a social life, I would still go out to the pub with mates, but would order tap water instead (I’m not a fan of coke or lemonade, unless it’s with rum!). You can even subsidise the cost of petrol if you taxi all your friends around too.
Not drinking also has the knock on effect that you won’t spend money on that 3am kebab, taxi, entry to a nightclub or hangover snacks. Comparing my lifestyle now to that of when I went drinking every week, I’m around £100 better off each month, and feel so much healthier and fitter.
Being totally dry isn’t sustainable for most people, myself included. I still allow myself a few beers at a BBQ and cheeky glass of wine with my dinner every now and then.
This is the biggest change I’ve had to make. Previously all my income and energy would go into planning trips abroad. This is probably why the decision to go travelling was so obvious and such an easy one to make. Last year I went to Spain, Turkey, Dublin and Las Vegas – and loved them all. So the idea doing this for 365 days a year seems like heaven. However I have had to decline the offer of many trips already, some very reasonably priced. But I know it will all be worth it in the long run. Time to stay strong!
Get researching, read and watch as much as you can!
This will motivate you to write a budget and start saving. The rest is easy, just keep reminding yourself that the sacrifices you make now, will benefit you when you do leave. Compare the price of that pint of beer to what that would buy you when you leave, and it becomes a much easier choice to make.
If you have any money-saving tricks or tips, please leave a comment below!!