• Claire

How I Afford to Travel | My Top Tips for Saving for a Trip

Updated: Apr 27, 2019

In the last three years I've been lucky enough to go on a number of trips and travel to 15 countries all entirely self-funded. SO many people ask me: ‘how do you afford to travel so much?’. No, I don’t have rich parents who fund my trips and I don't hold a high-paying job. Unfortunately there's no secret shortcut and a lot of hard work and saving went into making these trips happen. I share the principles I apply to my everyday life when saving for a trip.


Work Hard

This may be obvious, but unfortunately in order to travel you need money and for most of us, getting money requires hard work. I was prepared to do (almost) anything for money to save to travel. I worked as a waitress, barista, a flower courier for a florist, sold show bags at the Ekka, babysat, as promo staff for events and I tutored kids. In order to save up as much money as possible in the lead-up to my gap year trip, I was working multiple jobs (up to 5 at one point!) and 50+ hours most weeks which was exhausting, but I knew the whole time that it would be 100% worth the effort.

If you're motivated and committed to your goal and prepared to work hard it's easy to attract opportunities and find jobs to make money.

Stop Spending Money Unnecessarily

I've always been good at saving and motivated towards reaching my financial goals but in the lead up to my gap year trip I realised I needed to ramp it up a bit. I found that once I stopped buying stuff I didn't need and worked on decluttering and minimalizing my lifestyle I felt happier, more free and became closer to reaching my savings goals.

I did things like:

  • Sold unwanted stuff on eBay/Gumtree and decluttered - I sold my guitar, electronics, piles of old magazines, old clothes etc. you'd be surprised what you might have lying around that could make you money! I found that the act of decluttering and minimalizing my possessions left me feeling lighter and with a clearer headspace.

  • Reduced how much I ate out - I made a rule for myself that I would only eat out on special occasions and I always made sure to put in the extra effort and cook something at home and bring lunch to work rather than be lazy and buy takeaway.

  • Drank only water! - I made a real effort to stop drinking alcohol, coffee and soft drinks and only drink water or homemade smoothies. A few dollars on a daily coffee can really add up and buying alcohol can be very expensive. For some people this might be really challenging, but I actually found it easy and I felt a lot healthier too!

  • Only bought things I really needed - In the lead up to my trip I only bought things I actually needed for my trip. I realized that you don't really need a lot of 'stuff' in your life to get by as everything I needed to live off for a year (or more) abroad fitted into a backpack!

  • Found alternative ways to hang out with friends - Going out with friends can be expensive and I was determined to spend as little money as possible in the lead up to my trip. I would suggest activities like beach trips, picnics or movie nights which are just as fun and also inexpensive!

  • Be stingy! - I would always get paid-out by friends for being stingy with spending money, but hey! being stingy got me living out my dream and travelling around the world! Saving is all about priorities. As one of my friends always says, "it's not about how much you earn, it's how much you save". Looking back now, it is totally worth it.

  • Saved my change - I bought a money tin from a $2 store and every time I received cash - whether that be from selling things, baby sitting or as gifts - I put it straight into the money tin and forgot about it. When I opened it right before I went away, I was blown away with the amount of money I was able to save which I had completely forgotten I had!

  • Reduced my financial commitments - I got rid of things like my Netflix and Spotify premium subscriptions and I also ended up selling my car. This meant I was able to save money on rego and insurance and also means I am lucky enough not to have any bills to pay back home while I am overseas.

Be Smart With How You Plan and Book Your Trips

Many people hold misconceptions about travelling - that it is expensive and to travel cheaply means you'll be roughing it hard. If you're smart with how you plan and book your trips, travel can be surprisingly affordable.

I like to spend the absolute minimum on flights and accommodation. This means I can afford to spend extra money on doing fun activities and adventures when I get to a place. Staying in hostels and flying with budget airlines can save you a heap of money! In my opinion, you only really need a basic bed to sleep in as you didn't come on a holiday to stay inside the whole time and who even remembers the plane flight anyway. I like to use Hostel World to book accommodation and Google Flights to find the cheapest flights going.

Visiting friends can reduce your spending on accommodation and give you an awesome insight into a new place - it's always best to have a local show you around! Strategically planning your holiday around making the most of free accommodation and catching up with friends can save you a heap of money.

Sometimes booking ahead is really important and can save you a lot of money. For example, I booked accommodation in Banff way ahead in March for my trip in September. My hostel is costing me $43 and a week before my travel dates the only accommodation left is upwards of $200 per night! This is particularly important during peak times in popular tourist destinations.

Travelling to cheap countries can make your money go a lot further. I love travelling to Asia because there are so many cool experiences to be had and everything is so cheap! You might need to be prepared to rough it a little in underdeveloped countries where things are cheaper and to experience things outside of your comfort zone - but hey, that's the coolest thing about travelling!

Find Ways to Travel Long Term

Finding ways to travel long term usually works out to be more economical than doing multiple short trips - especially when coming from Australia, as flights to anywhere that's not Bali or Japan are super expensive. Travelling slower enables you to spread out the cost of flights over a longer period and often enables you to get discounted accommodation.

A working holiday is a great way to experience living in a different country and to immerse yourself in the culture of a foreign place. It also allows you to stay put in one place for a while to build up funds for the next portion of your trip. A number of countries provide working holiday opportunities for young Australians including the UK, Canada and New Zealand. See my post on how I easily applied for my Canadian working holiday visa here and read about my experience working at a summer camp in Ontario here.

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Check out my other travel tips blog articles here!