Chances are, you’re not that well off… don’t get offended, I say this as a fellow pauper. Also, in Sherlock Holmes fashion, I have deduced that if you were ‘in the money’ then you wouldn’t choose backpacking as your method of seeing the world. If I had the dough it would be Kardashian-type excursions to the Maldives, sippin’ on yak, and wearing Roberto Cavalli kaftans. As it stands, I’m a mere mortal; travel – even on a shoestring – requires cold, hard cash and quite a lot of it. So you’re going to have to save those pennies, something I have realised is hard, so here are some tried and tested tips to help you fund that trip.
Please bear in mind that I’m from the UK and lived in London, one of the most expensive cities in the entire world, so my tips come from that perspective. If you’re an Ozzie or from the US or Western Europe you’ll still probably find they apply to you.
1. SET A GOAL
Before you depart you need to have a rough idea of how much you’ll need, if you’re travelling for a year £3000 isn’t going to be enough. 6 months and you might be okay. A good rule of thumb is to save £1000 per month of travel – this seems a lot but it’s a good goal to aim for.
2. TAILOR IT TO YOUR LOCATION
If you’re going to be visiting the United States then probably double this budget, if you’re following Leonardo Dicaprio to one of South East Asia’s many beaches then you can get away with spending much less – if you’re savvy. Going to Africa? Well then, that’s cheap, cheap, cheap. Also, and this is hideous, some places will make you PAY to visit – so check your visa requirements and make sure you’re legit so as to avoid fines. See also vaccinations – if you’re living in the UK most of these are free on the NHS, but you’ll have to pay for Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Yellow Fever – but this depends on your borough. In the USA vaccinations can be costly. Don’t skip any to save cash though, your health is priceless!
3. EVEN CHEAPER PLACES HAVE EXCEPTIONS
Although places like Thailand, Cambodia, parts of Africa and Eastern Europe are super cheap, you have to factor in the tourist attractions that you are going to want to see. In India and missing the Taj Mahal – MENTAL! Ditto extreme sports and random but fun activities, just make sure you take these into account.
4. ASK YOUR MUM/DAD/PARTNER TO ACT AS YOUR FINANCIAL AID
I don’t mean beg money off them (although it never hurts to try), rather ask them to look after your money or bank accounts from back home. It has to be someone you trust, obvy. I ask my mum to pay me a ‘wage’ out of my savings each month, this means that even if the temptation is there, I can’t go crazy and blow all my cash and I’ll always have money for the next country I visit. This is also good if your cards are stolen – the thieves can’t totally clean you out.
5. SELL ALL YOUR WORLDLY GOODS
Maybe not all of them but y’know… I sold about 70% of my wardrobe (which still left an awful lot of clothes) to raise money for travelling. It was emotional, but for every item I sold I kept thinking ‘this is a day in India’, ‘this will pay for my ticket to Machu Pihccu’ and letting go of that Topshop dress became way easier. eBay is an obvious choice but they do charge 10% seller’s fees, Depop is free to use but is more difficult to sell things on. I made over £2000 just by selling clothes and I really don’t miss them.
6. SACRIFICE… *SAD FACE*
The f*cking tragic fact is that for most of us saving is just an impossibility. Fo me living in North London with rent, bills and travel topping the £1000 a month mark and entertaining myself in the big smoke being outrageously expensive, I ended most months waaay in the red. When I decided to go travelling for a year I had to move in with my mum, away from my friends, away for London (love ya babes) and work boring temp admin jobs. This sacrifice meant I saved at least a £1000 a month in expenses even though I earned less.
Other things to give up: Pret, Nandos, Starbucks, manicures, pedicures, cinema, Spotify, gym membership, ASOS. It sounds bad but when you think about it, NONE of that stuff is essential. It’s all crap you buy to make your dull, stressful life more palatable. I mean, a few indulgences won’t make a difference but just keep that trip in your mind before you mindlessly splash out on needless luxuries.
7. DON’T WORRY
At the end of the day, sh*t happens, you’re probably not going to save as much as you wanted – it’s really hard and there’s always something on the horizon to drain your cash. Don’t let that stop you from travelling. There are some things you can do last minute to give your fund a cash injection; get a credit card – you’ll be in debt but who isn’t, YOLO, ask friends and family for money, which is especially useful if you have a birthday coming up or Christmas, instead of presents ask for a donation to your travel savings account, do a medical trial – I have a friend who made £3000 doing this, sadly as an asthmatic female I’m ineligible for most trials but they’re worth checking out. While you’re travelling you can work to earn money, house sit, or just be as frugal as possible. Where there’s a will there’s a way!
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