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We’re digging deep today as I reveal how to save money to travel ($13,000 to be exact).
Let’s be honest. One of the main reasons people don’t travel is due to lack of money. I get that because it was the big reason I returned home after travelling around North America for three months in 2014. I came home with nothing, worked a (crap) part-time job to save as much as I could and then moved to Melbourne. It took me a few months of scraping by in Melbourne until I found a job and I was able to start saving like crazy for the next adventure. Here are the things I did to save money for travel.
How to save money for travel
Work multiple jobs
In Melbourne, I worked two casual jobs. This meant I earned quite a good amount of money each week. Casual work in Australia means you don’t get paid entitlements such as annual vacation or sick leave, which translates to a higher rate. This worked fine for me. My two jobs were as a cafe supervisor and a bartender at two of the big event stadiums. I worked six days a week, but usually still averaged about 40 hours per week. My jobs worked in perfect harmony, as the supervisor job was during the day and no weekends, while events were all night and weekend shifts.
If you are serious about saving, I highly recommend finding a second job that complements your current position. In Vancouver, I am working in the same position as a bartender at an arena. Keep your eye out for casual, event and seasonal jobs to help you save money faster. In Australia, I recommend perusing Seek and Gumtree. In North America, Craigslist is full of open positions. Indeed is also a great worldwide resource.
I also made a little bit of money freelance writing. Do you have a skill that you could earn money from freelancing? Web design, development, accountancy, graphic design, photography? The list is endless.
Here is my Melbourne archive if you’re looking for inspiration
Working nearly every day and most Friday and Saturday nights also meant less socialising. Going out to bars and restaurants is definitely a money drainer, especially in Melbourne. I mean, the food and company are always good, but travelling to a new country is better. Stick to an entertainment or fun budget if you want to reach your saving goal quickly.
While you’re at home saving money, read some romance novels or Australian classics instead 😉
Set up an automatic savings deposit
The best way to save money quickly is to automatically deposit a certain amount into your savings account each week/fortnight. I worked out how much I could easily deposit each week when I got paid and put the money into a high-interest savings account. This meant that each month I earned a little interest too – free money is free money. If I had a slightly less-spendy week and had some money sitting in my everyday account, I’d usually deposit that directly into my savings too. Every little bit helps, trust me.
Save money and use public transport
The last time I owned a car was 2013. Over three years car-less and counting! When I moved to Melbourne, I didn’t think it was going to be a permanent stay as I wanted to do the ex-pat thing again. Hence buying a car wasn’t a great financial option. It also would have cost a lot of money. I instead relied on public transport. I know this depends on where you live, as before I left for my first working holiday, I didn’t sell the car I had in Brisbane. From where I lived in the city, it was incredibly inconvenient and time-consuming to get public transport to my work. But if not owning a vehicle is an option for you, take it.
Always compare insurance
Even though I was scrimping to save money, I still needed insurance. This included private health insurance and travel insurance for this big old journey. The best thing I did was use a comparison site, like Compare the Market. For the Aussies, you totally know their television ad with the meerkats. Anyway, comparing insurance and getting the best deal will definitely help you save money.
I would say I cut back on shopping, not that I stopped completely. This is because a girl needs pretty layers and boots and things in Melbourne. It’s one fashionable city, let me tell you. I have always been a budget shopper, so I bought most of my clothes in Australia from Kmart and Target and visited the DFO outlets. Buying clothes is nice, but unless that piece of clothing is definitely going in your suitcase, think twice before purchasing.
Shop locally at markets
I lived about a 30-minute walk from Melbourne’s favourite market, Queen Victoria Market. But I was usually too lazy to journey there and pick up some fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. However, once I started going on Sunday mornings before work and got into a bit of a routine, I couldn’t stop. The market is huge, with so many businesses to choose from. I usually had a couple of favourites I returned to each week. But definitely check out your local farmers’ markets and see if shopping there will also help you save money. The thing is, it not only saves money but buying fresh produce from locals just feels better.
Use your Frequent Flyers
One random day, I decided to go through all of my loyalty and reward cards and update my address. When I got to my Frequent Flyer card, I was stunned to find I had a lot of points in my account. Like so many points I could fly home from Melbourne, and then to Sydney, for free. This saved me so much money, and to this day I still don’t know where my points actually came from. I think I got a bonus when I signed up for my credit card, but I obviously wasn’t paying attention.
Bonus tip: Signing up for a rewards credit card is a great way to earn points. But you obviously won’t be saving money if you don’t pay off the card each month. I always pay mine off every payday.
Get your bond back
I don’t know if this is common all over North America, but the security deposit on rentals in Vancouver is only two week’s rent. In Australia, it equals six week’s rent. That is a lot of money, particularly when you are renting in capital cities. So getting my bond back definitely gave my savings an instant boost.
Here are some things I didn’t do to save money
I didn’t move home
If this is an option for you, then I say go for it. Unfortunately, I wanted to live in Melbourne and not in my hometown a three-hour flight away. Magnetic Island is pretty, but I like the city life. I also lived quite close to Melbourne’s city centre, so my rent wasn’t dirt cheap, but I still saved. It also had its own gym, which was another way to easily save money.
I didn’t save money on my one-way flight
My flight to Vancouver was a lot of money, as I only bought the one-way ticket three weeks before I departed. That’s how excited I was to come back. If you have more time, I recommend buying your flight in advance to save even more money.
I didn’t stop travelling
So when you are trying to save money to go overseas, you probably shouldn’t spend money on other travels. However, it’s an addiction and I couldn’t go months without flying somewhere. Thanks to some ridiculously cheap airfares, I was able to visit Bali, Brisbane, Sydney and Magnetic Island (three times) while I was saving. Just stalk the flight sales to save money.
I didn’t sell all my possessions
This is an easy way to earn money, but all I sold before I left was my bed frame and mattress. I probably could have sold some clothes online, or if I didn’t live in an apartment I could have done a garage sale. However, in the end, I just donated my clothing, which is a “good karma” solution.