A lot of people think that traveling is out of the question for them because they cannot afford it. In some cases this may be true. However, I believe that if traveling is truly your passion then you will find ways to make it happen. I managed to travel throughout university and after I graduated- even though I had a low paying job. In order to see the world I not only had to learn how to travel cheap, but how to live cheap. These are my tips on how to live your life and save so that you can afford to travel.
One day I went for coffee with my friend and she asked me how I could afford to travel so much. My friend asked me this question as she sipped her $7 coffee while wearing name brand jeans and carrying a designer purse. I pointed out to her that just her coffee alone is more than I have ever spent on a nights accommodation in South East Asia. So would you rather have a caramel macchiato or one night on a tropical island?
When it comes to traveling the first step for being able to save is to prioritize. I know that we would like to have our caramel macchiato and drink it too- but that is not always realistic. If you really want to save you have to prioritize. Is buying an expensive coffee every few day's really worth the expense when you could be making your own coffee at home? It may just seem like a little splurge but chances are that your money could go a lot further while traveling a cheap country.
Say you buy a $5 coffee about 3 times a week; by the end of the month you will have spent $60 on just coffee. With that money you could stay at a hostel in Thailand for 2 weeks!!! That coffee’s not sounding so delicious now is it?
#2. Get Room mates
Throughout my life I have always had roommates- and thankfully I have been very lucky and had great roommates. The reason that I have always lived with other people wasn’t just for company but to save money. By living with people I have been able to take the extra money that I would be spending on rent if I was living alone and put it into a savings account for my next trip. Another great bonus of living with people is that you save on bills!
Another option for roommates can also include family members or moving back in with your parents while you save.
#3. Ditch the car!
Okay, I realize that this is a lot to ask. Especially when you already have a car, it can be really hard to give it up. However, if you are thinking about getting one- don’t! I know it can be a huge pain in the butt sometimes not being able to drive but there are plenty of other options such as carpooling, public transport, biking, taxis and uber. Throughout university I refused to get a car. I always made sure that my school, home and job were close together.
According to Thestar.com the average Canadian spends $5,250 a year on vehicle costs, including payments, insurance, gas and maintenance. That means that for the 4 years that I was in university (well, 5 really since I went travelling) I saved $21,000 in vehicle expenses! Gosh - I could travel all of Europe! In fact I did travel Europe and it was so worth it!
#4. Get Busy
During University I was a full time student but still worked part time. I was always very busy and my life was stressful but it was something that I knew I needed to do if I wanted to continue traveling. I found jobs that were very flexible, didn’t demand a lot of hours, and paid well. The jobs that I had while in school included being a waitress and nanny. In fact, one year I lived with the family that I nannied for so I got super cheap rent and could still waitress at the same time- bonus!
By just working two 5 hour shifts a week as a waitress I could make about $150 a week. After 8 months of school that is almost $5,000! After 4 years of school you will have $20,000 less in student debt than you would if you weren’t working. And of course, this goes without saying- work during your summer! When you are busy you also have less time to go out and spend your money- helping you to save even more.
#5. Get cooking
One of the easiest ways to waste money is by paying someone else to make your food. Especially if you go to a restaurant and you pay for them to bring it to you too. By cooking your own food you can save bundles! I always like to make a big pot of something at the beginning of the week, divide it into Tupperware and bring it in for lunch everyday. If you go out for dinner you easily spend about $20- this could buy you a week’s worth of food in Thailand! And I’m talking yummy food like Pad Thai and fresh mango's.
If you don’t want to give up date night consider cooking a nice meal at home together or going somewhere beautiful for a picnic.
Tip: When grocery shopping make sure you bring a list of what you need for the week. This way you won’t spend money on unnecessary food. Also don’t go hungry- you’ll end up buying everything in sight!
#6. Use your credit card for everything!
This probably sounds like a really weird tip when trying to save money.
This tip will only work if you do the following:
- Use your credit card like cash (ONLY spend what you actually have in the bank)
- Pay it off right away so that you never incur interest
- Have a credit card with travel points
Instead of using my debit card I use my credit card for every single purchase, even something as little as gum. Then, I immediately pay off my credit card. I do this because my credit card racks up points that allow me to travel for free- while, my debit card doesn’t. Also, I loved using my own credit card for work purchases to help rack up my points- so ask your boss if you can use your own credit card (just remember to save the receipts).
After a year you may have enough points for a free flight! Winning!
Words by Tessa Elliott