I am frequently inundated with messages and emails from readers, subscribers, friends and students on how I managed to fund my Gap Year entirely by myself. As this is something I’m incredibly proud of, and something I’ve achieved on my own, I think that I can share with you some travel-saving money tips…
1. ‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’
This is a phrase that is, admittedly, quite annoying but is actually so true. When I was saving to travel, I would be so incredibly stingy with everything – to the point where I was walking 40 minutes every single day to work (there and back) just to save £1.50 on bus fares. I remember constantly searching for deals to save me even a few pence, be that when I was going out with friends for a meal or drink, or whether I was searching for the supermarket selling the product I wanted most cheaply. Sounds sad, I know. But if you take care of the pennies, the pounds truly do take care of themselves.
If you know that you want to travel, why not ask your family and friends to gift you money instead of something specific? Since I had been planning my travels for over a year, I knew that I needed to save a lot of money. I therefore asked for money for Christmas from my family and stashed away almost all of it. For my 18th birthday, I asked my family for money and, again, saved almost all of it (~85%) and when I threw my birthday party, I only asked for money if friends wanted to get me something. This contributed largely to my travel fund!
3. Get a job
It goes without saying that if you’re planning to travel then you will want to get a job. Personally, I worked four different jobs over the space of five months: for a while I was even juggling three of them at one time. I remember working fifteen days in a row once and I’m pretty sure that’s illegal but it happened. And I earned a hell of a lot of money. I pushed myself to my working limits and bust my gut every day to earn extra money. I volunteered myself to do two 12-hour shifts from 5pm-5am just because the pay was more. If you want it, you’ll do it.
4. Sell your things!
I sold a lot of my old clothes and school textbooks on eBay before I left. It’s a pain having to photograph each and every thing and upload them with a description but it’s all extra cash. I probably got an extra ~£150 from it (I can’t actually remember the exact amount). If you’re not going to wear your clothes again or use your school textbooks (unless you’re studying the subject at university, you’re really not going to pick up that Maths textbook again) – so sell them for money.
5. Choose water
I’m the kind of girl to go out to a restaurant and only have water to drink (yeah, I’m weird, I know) buuut if you opt for a soft drink or cocktail when having a meal out, cut back. Choose water instead: your body and your purse will be happier for it. Trust me.
6. Go out less
I’m not saying stop going out altogether (girl’s gotta have fun) but do try and go out less. If I was going to meet up with a friend, instead of going out for a meal, we would have a picnic in the park, go to a café or even just go round to each others’ houses (I feel like this doesn’t happen much nowadays?!) You would be surprised how much you save if you didn’t organise your social events around things which cost money (i.e. eating out in my case). Also restricting the amount of times you go out to a bar or a club will massively save you money. Drinks alone cost a fortune and before you know it you’ve blown £40 in one night (and possibly even more!)
7. Stop buying new clothes
I know how tough it is to want to buy new clothes because you’re sick and tired of your current ones. I know exactly how it feels… but I refrained. It was the middle of summer and I wanted to buy an entirely new wardrobe. Did I have the money? No way. I sucked it up, worked my shifts everyday, and saved myself a lot of money. While it may be tempting to go and spend your earnings immediately every payday, it’s wiser not to. At the same time, be kind and allow yourself the odd thing here-or-there, just don’t go crazy.
8. Cut out the unnecessary things
Do you really need your daily fix of coffee from Starbucks? The answer is no. No matter how many reasons you try and come up with, you know that you don’t. So cut it out. Similarly, take a packed lunch instead of buying out. Even if you’re spending £3 on a meal deal everyday, that still adds up to a lot of money (which you could be saving for travel). It might be hard to give up the small luxuries but it’s all worth it in the end. This also includes gym membership. Unless you can find other areas to cut back on, your gym membership needs to go. I mean, how often do you go to the gym? Honestly?
9. Go/Do more free things!
Instead of paying money to go to places or to do things, why not have a look at what there is to do for free in your area? And if you do really want to go and see a film, go to a play or do anything which requires purchasing a ticket, look for deals and discounts! There are tons of websites out there with hundreds and hundreds of discounts so make use of them!
10. Walk everywhere
Public transport is so damn expensive. If you can walk there, even if it takes an hour, DO IT. Not only will this tick off your exercise for the day, but you’ll also be saving yourself potentially hundreds of pounds a week. The same goes for car-usage. Petrol is expensive and ain’t nobody got time for that when you’re trying to save money. Skip the car, skip the train/bus/tram/whatever and just simply walk. It may take longer (and if it’s truly an inconvenience then obviously don’t) but it does save a large amount of money. I walked everywhere I could and saved hundreds.
11. Finally, how badly do you want it?
Every time I would be tempted to do some online shopping or to go to the shop to buy some chocolate “just because it’s £1”, I would stop and remind myself that that money could pay for an extra night somewhere; that money, yes even just £1, could feed me dinner in China; that money could be the difference between going to an event and not whilst abroad. It does sound silly when you think about it but every single penny counts. Especially when you’re travelling. So, how badly do you want it?
Do you have any other money-saving tips? Let me know!
P.S. I’m sorry for not being active lately – I haven’t been feeling myself and I’ll do another post on that soon!
Peace and love,