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How to save for travel & during travel – backpacker style

The number one reason people say they don’t travel is because it’s ‘too expensive’. I am the biggest advocate for the ‘cheap’ holiday and for simple ways to save those extra bucks. I’m here to put things in perspective, and once you put these easy, every day methods into your everyday life, you’ll be out of the country before you can say ‘bon voyage’.

Firstly, how to save before you even begin to think about booking your flights.

Skip your barrister-made coffee

Coffee lover? I hear ya, but try to enjoy a coffee at home in the morning instead and take your coffee tin to work if you love to have an afternoon one. Save that $4-10 a day and here’s what you could save..IMG_7468

4 x 5 = $20 a week
20 x 52 = $1,040 a year!

And for the heavy coffee drinkers
8 x 5 = $40 a week
40 x 52 = $2,080 a year!

There’s your flights sorted.

Make your own lunch/dinner

Going out for lunch everyday? At most cafe’s you’ll be paying anywhere upward of $15 and even takeaway can cost around $7-10. Instead, make a sandwich at home, take leftovers or even some packet noodles. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives.

Going out for dinner is more of a social thing but can usually cost a minimum of $20. IMG_8275Try inviting your friends over to cook instead, or catch up for a picnic in the park and each bring something yummy.

Then there’s the nights you just can’t be bothered cooking and want to buy take-away. But it can be bad for the budget and your waistline. A Good Food study found that most Australians eat fast food at least once a week

So as an example, lets say you eat lunch out most days at work, dine out maybe once a week and get takeaway twice a week. Here’s what you could be saving

75 (lunch) + 25 (dining out) + 20 (takeaway) = $120 a week
120 x 52 = $6,240 a year!


And whilst some of that money would need to go towards groceries for home cooked meals, it won’t be nearly as much. That’s your holiday sorted!

Don’t buy unnecessary things

Seems like an obvious one, but it can sometimes be hard to change. Just try to re-think everything you buy.
Do you really need that new top for the party this weekend? Or could you wear something you already have?

TIP: If you do feel like you need new clothes, op shops are amazing. Some people give away some really nice things, or grab a needle and thread and make something unique!

If your a party animal, try to limit your nights out

It’s hard to give advice on this topic, but being a party lover myself I found this to be where I spent most of my money. A guideline might be to try and save yourself for one big night out every fortnight. Try having friends around for some wine or head to a bar close by with free entry instead. Or even offer to be the soberfuturama-fry-not-sure-if driver. You might even make some money. Entry to big clubs can be expensive and then add the taxi rides, drinks (anywhere up to $15 each) and more, it can be an expensive night out.

20 (club entry) + 20 (taxi) + 30 (if you only have 3 drinks) + 10 (drunk feed) = $80 a week (and that’s a cheap night out for most of us)
80 x 52 = $4,160 a year… minimum

Budget, budget, budget!

Give yourself a food budget, a social budget, a petrol budget, a rent and bills budget etc. With food, budget just under what you think you need and week by week take $5 off. You’ll be surprised by how much unnecessary food you buy. With petrol, try to walk or ride if you can. It doubles as great exercise.

With bills, be observant of how much electricity and water you use. Turn off lights and power points whenever you aren’t using them. Keep a coin jar. Pop all of your coins in there at the end of the day and you’d be surprised by how it adds up.

Create a high interest savings account

And every week, work out an amount to deposit into it. I understand this can be difficult with rent, loans, bills etc. But if you follow the rules above, you should have at least $50 spare. Start at $50 a week and try to increase that by $5 a week as you get better at it. Once you hit $200 a week, that can save you over $10,000 a year + whatever extra interest you make on it.

Doing the $50 + $5 every week challenge, in 52 weeks you would be putting in $305 on that last week and in that year, you would have saved $9,230 minus the interest. Challenge yourself!

Now for organizing the trip

Booking flights and accommodation

Get a quote from a few different travel agencies, but almost always it will work out cheaper if you research things yourself. This can take a lot of time and effort, but it can save you some big bucks. But of course, sometimes travel agencies have great deals you just can’t beat.

Flights: The internet is your best friend IMG_3795and there are too many flight searching websites than you could poke a stick at. But here are a few of my faves.

Skyscanner: I discovered this a long time ago and it was actually the first website I ever used to book flights. I still love it today. It searches more websites than most and has many functions such as the ‘whole month’ button. This searches everyday of that month to find the best price. Or the ‘everywhere’ function. Feeling adventurous? It finds you the cheapest deals to any destination worldwide. You can also use this function for within a certain country.

eDreams: I used this website a lot with flights whilst in the US. I always seem to find the flight I want on another site, then come to this one and its cheaper. Just watch out for the service fee they add on at the end (usually around $12).

Expedia: Not one I use regularly, but there has been a few times when it has been a lot cheaper than all the rest. Different search engines will have different deals with different airlines, so it’s good to use as many as possible.

Booking Buddy: Compares even more search engines in tabs to make it easy and diverse.

The Airline’s website: This doesn’t happen too often, but if you find a cheap flight on a flight search engine website, try out the airlines website and it might just be cheaper.

Honorable mention to CheapOair.

Hostels: If you’re traveling solo, or even if you’re not but want cheap ‘no frills’ accommodation, then hostels are your best friend. They often include free breakfast, host social events, give cheap tour ideas or sometimes organize their own tours. Great way to meet like-minded travelers from around the world. And if you’re a young couple that don’t feel like sharing a room with strangers, most hostels have private rooms for a little extra.

Costs can be anywhere from $10-50.
My cheapest: $12 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
My most expensive: $44 in San Fransisco (during summer season)

How to save money when traveling

If you’re traveling for a long period of time, then you probably want to make every dollar go further. Top 5 FREE things to do in any city might have some ideas.

Budget for simple things like your food, taxis etc so you can splurge on exciting day tours where you can see the most important things!

Try to cook as much as you can using hostel kitchens as food can be the biggest expense on holidays. Try to use cheap public transport over taxis or flying (if possible) and use your legs to discover the town. It gives you exercise and you might just find some cool things on the way!

Saving money can take a bit of time and effort, but if you are passionate enough about seeing the world, you can be off in no time!

Happy Travels!

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