The number one reason I hear why people don’t travel is because they don’t have enough money. Most people get at least two weeks of vacation, so lack of time is not a real excuse, although neither is lack of money in my opinion. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive, as you see in this blog. But I will admit most travel does cost something, so this post is dedicated to ways to save money to travel without sacrificing your lifestyle…painless savings!
Simple Savings–Cut Back Rather than Cut Out
When Bob and I committed to taking a year off for our around-the-world trip, not only did we have to save for the trip itself but we had to pay for expenses to put our life on hold at home, like storage, and for a fund to set our lives back up after the trip. Talk about a daunting task! Here are the first simple things we did…
1. Reduced our health care insurance premium by increasing the deductible. I was a little nervous to do this but the truth is we rarely go to the doctor anyway so we decided to risk a little peace of mind to save $150 per month.
2. Lowered our cell phone plan. We had about 1000 rollover minutes so it was obvious we were in a plan too big for our needs. We were over our contract period so we were able to save $60 per month by moving to a smaller plan.
3. Called the cable company and asked for a reduced monthly fee. It was as simple as asking and they reduced our bill by $30 per month.
4. Went to happy hours! We decided to go to happy hours instead of ordering from the regular menu. In truth this was a little bit of a lifestyle change but we discovered many great happy hours with excellent food and drink choices. We stuck to $25 per week rather than the $75 we had been spending. This saved us $200 per month. No matter how much you spend going out for full dinners, you are going to save money if you switch to happy hours.
5. We ate Cuban beans & rice ALOT! We cut our grocery bill by $40 per week by making more cost-effective, creative meals and shopping smarter.
6. We had a garage sale and sold stuff on Craigslist. We knew we needed to downsize into a storage unit so we got rid of $700 worth of stuff we really didn’t need.
7. Every bonus and bit of extra money, no matter how small, went into our travel fund. All Christmas and birthday money, bonuses, tips, and “surprise” money we got went into savings for travel. If we found a $20 bill on the street, it went into the travel fund!
From just the ideas I’ve listed above, we saved $600 per month, that became $7,200 in 12 months, plus $700 from selling things and another $1,000 from “surprise money,” TOTALLED $8,900!!
Once we made the simple changes in our budget and we saw how easy it was to start building our travel fund, we took it to the next level. The dream our “Big Trip” became our motivation to make bigger changes.
1. Downsized our home. We had an expensive home at the time and when we really thought about it, it was too expensive for our future financial goals, even beyond our desire to take the yearlong trip. The housing market was not good but we had equity in the property so we sold it at a loss but saved $3000 per month by eliminating that mortgage and downsizing to something that cost considerably less.
2. We exclusively did home exchanges for all our vacations while we saved for our big trip. I wrote about home exchanges in another post, but basically it’s where you swap houses with another family; you stay in their home while they stay in your home. Not traveling is not an option for us even when we are trying to save for future travel. Home exchanges enabled us to do both at once!
3. We stopped buying stuff. Every time we wanted to buy something that cost more than a few dollars we would ask ourselves, “Do we really need this?” and more importantly, “Do we want this more than going on our trip?” The answer was almost always NO!
By doing all of the above savings techniques, Bob and I were able to take our year-long trip after a little over one year of saving up for it. Actually, we had wanted to save a little more money but I was getting itchy feet so we took the trip earlier than planned and decided to focus on cheaper countries to travel in to make our money last 12 months. These savings ideas worked for us, I know it can work for you, too!