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General Travel

Best way you make/save money to travel?

Looking to travel abroad next year with the hubs, and he's a full-time student and I'm making an entry-level salary at my job (below 40k and above 30k). We budget and keep to it (including socking some away for savings), but I was wondering: How do others save or make money to fund their travels?

(And yes, I'm female, but the "Give up your daily Starbucks latte and your shoe shopping addiction"-type suggestions do not apply, as I do neither of these things and count myself as a very frugal person, haha.)

Any jobs you take? Things you sell off? Unique ways you save? I'd like to hear it! :)

11 Answers

top answer by
Travis from Kamloops

For us, as soon as we decided to travel long term we knew we had to make changes to our lifestyle in order to be able to reach our goals. We began saving 8 months before we left. Here is how we did it:

Step 1 - figuring out our rough finances:

We calculated our income per month (after taxes) and our necessities (mortgage, strata fees, utilities, etc.). We then looked at our spending over the previous few months to estimate what we were spending on everything else. From these numbers we were able to spot places to trim the fat from our budget (we were in the same boat as you, already being fairly frugal....however, there's always places to cut). 

Step 2 - putting the right framework in place:

We opened an account designated ONLY for travel (we even gave the bank card to family to hold on to). We designated an amount from each of our paychecks that was immediately transferred upon receiving them. THis formed the base of our savings. We made this amount challenging yet sustainable so as not to get discouraged. We also began taking the necessary steps to make sure we could put our place up for rent before we left, arranging a place to stay for the time before leaving, finding a place for our vehicles, etc. 

Step 3 - making sustainable changes:

After formulating a plan, we started carrying it out. We began cooking at home more (and making cheaper dishes that we could take for lunches as well) - oatmeal, chilis, stews - it's amazing how much more you can save! We downsized to one car, began walking or biking whenever possible, got rid of our cable, dumped the extras on our cell phone plans, etc. Even though we had been living pretty frugally, it ended up being nearly $400/month! That's $3200 in the 8 months that we would've wasted!

Step 4 - supplementing our income:

This is a pretty easy one. Sell your extra stuff on Kijiji/Craigslist or have a garage sale, look for odd jobs...or better yet see if you can sell something you're good at (my girlfriend reviewed and helped people with resumes and cover letters as she is a Human Resources Specialist). You could also look into renting out your place and moving somewhere cheaper if that's feasible, renting out a room on AirBnB or something similar (AirBnB makes sense if it's something you are looking to use when you travel) - there really are countless options. We rented our place out three months before we left (reason one being we had a place to stay; reason two being it made us extra money; and reason three being that we didn't want to have to be down to the wire worrying about planning AND moving). All in all we were able to make $900 from our extra work, we sold our unneeded crap for about $800, and saved/made $3500 from renting our place out. 

Step 5 - refining our travel budget:

We made an outline of all the places we wanted to go and budgeted out how much each place was going to cost us as accurately as possible. We had decided on Europe, but had not decided on which regions specifically. When doing our research, we quickly found out that some regions (Balkans, Eastern Europe, etc.) were much cheaper than others (Switzerland, Scandinavia, etc.), and we made priorities from there. We developed an itinerary and made our approximate budget.

**I'll be honest here - if there's a place you want to go, GO. You'll be much happier going somewhere you've dreamed of for a shorter period of time rather than somewhere you're not as excited to see for a longer period of time!

Step 6 - figure out how long you can realistically travel:

For our first trip, we calculated that we were going to spend approx $100/day total plus flights in and out. About three months before our departure date, we realized that we were definitely going to make our goal of $20,000. With this math, we planned on traveling for approx 150 days plus $3000 total for our return tickets. This gave us a little flex room.

Step 7 - ask for help:

Whether it's on a forum like this, to other travelers and bloggers, or to friends and family, you quickly realize that people out there are generous with their time, advice, and even money. Family members surprised us with some extra money in the weeks before our trip, and we had tons of success getting tips and recommendations on how to save once on the road (and trust me you get better as time goes on). 

Step 8 - the return home:

The last bit of advice I have is to make sure you have funds and a plan for when you get home. About two months before getting back, we started submitting resumes for jobs, lining up a place to stay until our renters were out of our place, and making sure we had enough money to last us a while when we got back.

Sorry this was a rambling post! Hopefully you found at least some use in here and don't hesitate to ask more questions!

5 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Ross from Fort Collins

Save your pennies. Me and the wife go out of our way to get change. we throw anything below a five dollar bill in the jar. We had $1200 extra for our trip to Spain In one year! I have great tips on my blog

4 thanks

answered by
Karen from Dallas

For me, downsizing was the biggest help. Selling things I really didn't need (I used consignment for both clothing/shoes and furniture, but craigslist/eBay would work, too) allowed me to stop paying for a storage unit and move into a smaller place with lower rent. I also dropped cable, since there is a LOT available to watch online. I started two years ago and am leaving on my RTW trip at the end of January. Good luck to you!

3 thanks

answered by
Amy from Florida

Hi Lindsey! The biggest expense in most people's lives tends to be rent or a mortgage. So, if you really want to make a huge jump in savings, these are the things to get rid of. No, I don't want you to be homeless! Here's something you could try: House sitting. If you can find a long-term assignment (some 6-month to 1-year ones exist!), then you could live there instead. Obviously this is not as stable as having your own place, so you would sacrifice stability as you'd have to move to a new place every 6 months or so. If you own a place, you could rent it out while you house sit. and are two major websites to find house sitting gigs. 

3 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Matthew from St. Louis

Lots of good suggestions by others so far. One thing I've tried to do is reduce expenses as much as possible, especially those that are recurring. Two big, easy ones (for me anyway) were my cell phone and tv/cable.

For cell service, I switched from one of the big carriers to Republic Wireless and after some up front cost for a new phone, I've been saving about $100 a month, with no contract or long-term commitment. I've been completely satisfied with Republic Wireless but there are other options out there. I first heard about this from Clark Howard who I've started listening to periodically.

For tv/cable, I dropped cable entirely and just use Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Also, with a $20 over-the-air antenae, I can still get local/national broadcast on the major networks. I wasn't a big tv watcher to begin with, but even compared to basic cable, this is saving me $50 or so each and every per month. Also, the great thing about these other services is that you can turn them off and on throughout the year with no extra charges or anything (at least with Netflix and Hulu; not positive about this with Amazon). 

A third thing I've been doing for a while is to bike as much as possible, rather than drive. This one takes a little more effort and may depend on location or other factors, but in addition to health and other benefits, it can be a big money saver (gas, parking, etc.).  

Somewhat related to biking, I've recently starting renting out my car through Relay Rides for a little bit of extra/offsetting income. 

Lastly, I haven't actually done this one yet, but in addition to Airbnb, one thing I'm looking into now is doing a home swap. Especially if you have flexibility with your schedule, this seems to have a lot of potential for eliminating one of the biggest travel related expenses. 

Hope this helps and good luck!


2 thanks

answered by
Roger from San Marcos (Texas)

Decide abt your travel goals & be open minded. My goal was to go to New Zealand & have an adventure at low costs. I don't blow money on Hotel or air fare. Online shopping can help with air deals . If you have a mileage program could save you big .I used that for my Big Island trip to Hawaii.

I have used Just Lodgings for  my sleeping accommodations, usually a hostels. Went to local grocery store  for lunch & some breakfast .  I used local train/ trolley/walk / bus to save money. Also shared Taxi w other travelers I met at the hostel.  As a married couple you might look to team up w another couple. Just a few thoughts

1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
James from Bon Aqua

Lindsay, I am a home based travel agent and one of the tools that I use is called Celebration Wishes, It allows you to create a page where friends, family even yourself can put away money for future travel. It can be as a birthday present, anniversary, Christmas, ect... Anyway, we all get enough toaster's, and things that we don't need, so why not put out there that you have a vacation fund sight?

1 thanks

answered by
Billy from Chicago

If you get paid direct deposit, you could probably have a small percentage go to a savings account that is out of site, out of mind. Then you are forced to make do with what is left and slowly accumulate travel funds. 

"Necessity is the father of creativity"

1 thankscomments (1)

answered by

Hey Lindsey  

I met a wayfarer on the road while traveling across Europe some time back he said "The Lesser you own the better you live/Travel". 

I personally equate the money I am about to spend to the how much it can get me on a trip. Lets Say a pair Of denims cost £20/- so instead of buying a new pair, I put that money aside (I call it the travel Safe). This was so useful I manage to travel 3 times this year.

1 thanks

answered by
John from Carlsbad (California)

My travel is largely financed by mileage programs.  I think the last time my wife and I paid for a flight to Europe was in 1991 and we go just about every other year.  I have three travel credit cards and charge everything I can on them.  The trick is to not charge more than you can pay off every month.  You can get credit cards that give cash back, but I see mine as a savings plan for travel.  If you pick one that has some flexibility, you can cash the miles or points in for everything from airlines, trains, hotels, cruise lines, ferries, and rental cars.  On our last trip, we stayed four nights in a great hotel in London for nothing when the price would have been about $400 a night.  I wouldn't have stayed there if I were paying for it, but it was nice.  I usually don't use points for hotels because we usually stay in inexpensive places and use the miles for airfare.  If you pick correctly, you can get a lot of miles just by getting the card.  It's amazing how many points or miles you can accumulate when you charge your gas, food and utilities.

1 thanks

answered by

I have been on the road for 26 years and things i have decided to exclude from my life is mortgage, Car, children and I have never owned a TV.

This does not mean I have aboring life.

Actually I go out most evenings and is sitting writing this post in a cafe by the sea with a glass of redwine in my hand.

But where you can really save money is by opting out on what most people consider musts.

Last week I was in Athens, this week I am in Funchal and next week I am in Copenhagen for a few days before heading to Kuala Lumpur.

And my annual income is lower than yours by the way.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Athens (city)
  2. Funchal (city)
  3. Copenhagen (city)
  4. Kuala Lumpur (city)
1 thanks

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