Like the post on budgeting, everyone’s situation is different. Some people have more bills,loans, and responsibilities than others which make it harder to save. If you’re looking for a way to save a ton of money overnight here, I suggest you look elsewhere. In the grand scheme of things my bills weren’t much and it still took me a year to get everything I needed for this trip. Hopefully you can do it in less time.
What I can do for you is give you some tips on how to save money for your trip. I personally did all of these myself, and while none of them will save you thousands of dollars towards your trip, doing a combination of some or all of them will. Unless you make insane money and have very low overhead, you’re going to need to get a little creative. Maybe you have some tricks I haven’t listed. If so, i’d love to hear them!
- This isn’t necessarily a way to save money, but a different way of thinking. While you’re saving for your trip start to think of your money in terms of what it could buy you where you’re going. I always joke that I think of things in terms of how many donor kebabs I could buy with it, but in some ways I’m serious. To someone earning a western salary $20 may not seem like much but that could be a whole days budget in some countries.. or 10 donor kebabs if you think like me. Thinking like this will really put things into perspective for you and will help you save money without realizing it.
- Lay off the take out and start cooking more. Not only is this healthier, but also so much better on the wallet. A 10 dollar meal can be done for 2 or 3 if you’re doing the cooking. Multiply that by 300 ( assume you eat out every now and again ) and you have saved over $2000! Plus, you’ve got some serious cooking skills to show off when you’re chefing it up in a dingy hostel kitchen.
- Ditch cable and get Kodi for your computer or smart tv. This alone can you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. It takes little to no computer knowledge to set up and will have everything you watch, plus a ton of things you didn’t even know existed. Currently using it with no issues in Cambodia. (*High Speed Internet required for smooth streaming*)
- I know getting rid of your phone is impossible for most people nowadays, so i’ll suggest switching to a lower priced carrier. A year ago I switched to T-Mobile from At&t and my bill went from $109 to $50, saving me $708 over the course of the year. Plus, T-Mobile includes international data for over 190 countries in their plan which nobody else does. That being said, I’d suggest switching to a pre-paid SIM card while traveling in most countries which is even cheaper.
- If you do switch to T-Mobile, try getting some friends or family to join with you. For just $100 you could get 4 lines with unlimited calling and data, saving you even more money. Hard to beat $25 for unlimited everything!
- Sell all your old junk! This is especially true if you plan on being away for a long time. Being the packrat/collector of everything that I am, I had a lot to sell and made a decent bit of money doing this. Start long before your trip though because the more obscure things may take a while to sell.
- Don’t buy anything you won’t need for your adventure. That new $100 pair of sunglasses is 2 days in Europe or up to 5 in parts of Asia. This is especially true if you’re leaving for a long term trip. You’ll spend all kinds of money on things and you’ll have to leave most of it behind anyway. Save your money.
- When there are things you must buy, look online to see if you can buy a discounted gift card to whatever store it is. My favorite website is Gift Card Granny. It pulls data from all discount gift card websites, saving you the work of searching each site individually. Some cards can be as much as 30% off, saving you a ton of money! I had to get a custom framing job done at Michaels and combining one of their sales with a discounted gift card I turned a $500 job into about $150 my cost.
- COUPON COUPON COUPON! Maybe you couldn’t tell, but i’m a big fan of coupons. I always get this perplexed look from cashiers when I had them a stack of coupons, like guys aren’t supposed to coupon or something. To me, coupons are clippable dollar bills. I’ve gotten particularly savvy over the last couple years couponing and have gotten tons of things for free, or even made money back!
- Stop smoking and drinking coffee! Both of these things add up fast. Breada gave up coffee last August after coming home from our trip to Portugal and saved over $500 by the time we left for Bangkok!
- If you are like me and just can’t give it up, I suggest signing up for your favorite coffee shops rewards program. I was getting a free coffee on average of about once a week from Dunks this way. Combine this with the discounted gift card tip I mentioned earlier ( Dunks and Starbucks you can usually find for about 10-15% off ) and you’ve saved even more money!
There are plenty of other ways to save money, but these were the ones Breada and I used most when preparing for our trip. There are some more advanced ones, such as building a cache of frequent flyer miles using your credit cards, but something like that needs a whole post dedicated to it. The tips listed above are easy enough that anyone can do them. Like I said, just one of these may not make a big difference, but when you combine a few or all of them it will help immensely. Saving isn’t easy, but if you’re dedicated you’ll have the money for your own adventure in no time.