“Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage.”
– Paulo Coelho
One question I’m frequently asked is,
“How can you afford to travel?”
This is a fair question. Money is one of the main reasons many people think they can’t travel more often. Sometimes people don’t believe me when I tell them that I paid for my entire university tuition without any help from my parents (they couldn’t afford to help me). I graduated debt free and had enough money saved to go on a two-month long Europe Trip after graduation.
“How is this possible!?”
First, please note that I live in Toronto, Canada, and our university tuition isn’t as expensive as the States – but it still cost me about $35,000 for four years of university. That was still a lot of money to save while going to school full time, working part time and commuting a total of three hours daily.
But, if I can do it, you can do it too!
Here are my top 20 tips to help you save towards your dream trip and help you realize that you can afford it!
- Stop shopping for clothes/shoes/purses/things you don’t really need. Yeah, you, stop it. If you have two of each type of clothing, you have enough.
- Shop at thrift stores. You would be surprised at the gems you can find for super cheap!
- Make handmade gifts instead of buying expensive items. The recipient will love them so much more knowing you spent your time making it.
- Only buy items you don’t absolutely need when they’re on sale or clearance.
- Go out for dinner with friends less. Like wayyy less – 1-2 times a week should be the maximum. I’ll be the first to admit that this is really hard for me. I love going on dates with my friends, eating great food and getting lost in conversations. But if you’re serious about saving money then you need to learn to say no sometimes. Instead of going out, you can invite your friends over to your place for drinks/dinner, or go out for coffee dates instead of drinks at the bar. Coffee is MUCH cheaper than alcoholic beverages.
- Stop going out to parties or go out much less. You can either save your money and have the trip of your lifetime or waste your money to shake your booty in the club. I choose the former.
- Stop buying drinks when you go out to parties. Let’s be realistic, just because you’re trying to save money doesn’t mean you can’t go out. If you’re going to a bar/party, pre drink at home and limit yourself to 1-2 drinks max at the bar.
- Pack your lunch. If you’re one of those people who never bring your lunch you will be so surprised at the amount of money you’ll save when you start bringing your lunch. The average lunch meal costs $10, 10 x 5 days a week is a savings of $50/wk! Bringing your lunch to work will save you a minimum of $200/mth.
- Stop buying lattes/coffee/anything you can make or bring from home. If you have a coffee machine at work, use it! If you need to go for a break just take a walk. Your wallet and waistline will thank you.
- Plan out your meals for the week and buy only exactly what you need when doing groceries . Many times people buy more food than they can eat in time and it goes bad. Throwing out food is just like throwing out money. I learned this the hard way 🙁
- Set up an automatic transfer of “X” dollars to be tucked away in your travel savings account each pay. This way you’ll be saving without even realizing it.
- Get a credit card that gives you cash back or travel rewards – there are a lot of options out there so make sure you do your research for the best one for you.
- Get a bank account that is free. There are tons of banks that offer free acounts, free cheques, free everything. Why pay for something you can get for free?
- Instead of paying for waxing, start shaving. Legs, arms, bikini, brazilians – they add up.
- Go for hair cuts less frequently or if possible, cut your own hair. Guys – If you have a short hair cut you may find yourself at the barber every other week to maintain it. All those trips can start to add up really quickly. Lucky for me, Andrew has been cutting his own hair since before we met but for special occasions he will go to the barber. Ladies – if you go for a hair appointment monthly that may be a little too frequently. You only need to cut your hair once every 3-4 months to maintain healthy hair.
- Stop coloring your hair at the salon or get an ombre color. Maintaining colored hair is expensive and a pain in the butt. No one wants to see a blonde with black roots. Go for a more natural look so when your hair grows out it won’t be noticeable. In addition, going for an ombre look will allow the hair growth to continue to add to your look. I chose an ombre hair color because I wanted to go much lighter and have some blonde. My natural hair is really dark brown, almost black, so there was no way I would want to spend money monthly to maintain it.
- If you can, move back home. I don’t even need to explain how much money you’ll save if you’re not paying $800-$1000+ for rent, food and utilities.
- Get a higher paying job. Work less, make more money. Don’t settle for a low paying job just because you’re comfortable. If you have skills, go out there and get a better job. In university I knew a lot of people working minimum wage jobs and they were always wondering why they never had enough money. While I was in university I always worked for a minimum of $15-20/hr.
- Take public transit if possible. To this day, I still don’t own a car. I live in a big city so having a car is more of a luxury than necessity because you can get pretty much anywhere using the transit system in a decent amount of time. Having a car comes with a whole heap of expenses so if you can avoid spending on gas, insurance and maintenance, do it! Like I mentioned earlier, I used to commute to school for 1.5 hrs one way.
- Cancel your gym membership and workout from home. There are tons of at home workout programs on DVDs that require little to no equipment. One of my favorites in Insanity from Team Beachbody. I love Shaun T <3 🙂
- Get a cheaper cell phone plan. I talked my phone company down from $80 to $60 to $45. Don’t believe them when they say they have nothing less because every time I’ve gone to cancel the cancellation department gives me an awesome deal!
Start to realize that every dollar, every cent counts. If you start to implement some or all of these tips you’ll be surprised at how much more money you’ll have in your bank account to make your travel dreams come true.
If you have any tips that I can add to this list please comment below!