What’s a travel bug?
Is it contagious? Ring the GP!
The travel bug is basically like having a little bug climb into your brain, sit at your control panels and start spinning a globe, making you dream constantly about seeing exotic new places like no other and meeting people of different cultures who will have an effect on your life forever. And yes, it’s infectious. But don’t ring the doctor because the NHS is stretched enough.
My travel bug comes from my mum, who at 20 years old answered a newspaper advertisement looking for an English teacher to go to the Sudan, got the job and off she went to live in a mud hut for a year, washing her clothes in a well and having only a chalkboard for material. Yes, really.
It’s that drive and urge to go and do something completely out of the ordinary which I share, and which has made me completely swerve any plans to settle down.
Obviously, it’s not as simple as just deciding to go and hopping on the next flight to Bali. Usually, an event happens in your life which finally tips you over the edge, and you say ‘Sod it, I’m off!’.
For some, deciding to travel means having to start planning to save. Fortunately for myself, when I decided to throw caution to the wind and set off around the world, I already had a savings account. However, this doesn’t mean I haven’t had to work my arse off to turn my plans into reality! All it has done is shorten the planning and saving time I’ve had to take.
This post will explore a lot of different ways to save, so you can also turn your dreams into reality!
Saving to travel
So once you start thinking about the places you want to go, a whole tidal wave of other considerations swoop in to make you doubt the feasibility of this seemingly massive undertaking. What about my phone bill? How will I afford accommodation? What if tourist attractions are too expensive?
Don’t worry. Along with my own experience and research, plus advice from fellow globetrotters, I’m going to go through many different aspects of saving money that you may not have even considered or heard of.
So, first of all, take a leaf out of the wise book of Wu Tang, and think ‘Cash Rules Everything Around Me.’ Make it your mantra. In all aspects of your life, there is probably a way to save money but you must be absolutely diligent with your spending.
Without a doubt there is much more to saving than the aspects of just booking your trip so lets take a look at some of the things you could be doing whilst gearing up to go!
Work Work Work Work Work Work
Wherever possible, up your hours at work or even take it upon yourself to get another job, if circumstances will allow it. For the last 8 months I have worked long shifts, evenings and weekends to make sure I could afford everything I have planned to do, but these kind of sacrifices are worthwhile to keep those extra pennies in your pocket.
For me, knowing every hour I put in was more money towards my trip makes it absolutely worth it and I do not regret the 50 hour weeks one bit, just make sure you are caring for yourself at the same time!
I spoke to fellow traveller Hannah, who mentioned that in 2 years saving for a long term trip she created and pushed dog walking, ironing and house cleaning services locally to fit around her current job, and was able to decide on her own wages which helped her reach her savings goal. It’s a big commitment and incredibly hard work but so worth it
Now you’ve worked extra hard to get that money, you might feel you deserve to indulge in something fancy to wear or even splash out on a nice meal (although that’s well spent in my eyes, amiright?!)
It’s imperative you stop thinking of extra cash as SPARE. It’s not! It could be the difference between a fancy meal or evening down the pub, or a few extra nights adventuring in Thailand. Honestly!
If you want to be extra nifty, you could even cut costs when it comes to your bills. I recently switched to 3 network to get use of their worldwide data plan so I could use my phone abroad as I know I would be using social media and other platforms for blogging, although many people might buy cheap pay as you go sim cards in each place you visit, or not bother with one at all!
Other savings can be made by stopping paying any unnecessary direct debits or subscriptions, start travelling on foot or by bus, selling any clothes you havent worn in the last three months on eBay or kilo sales, and cutting down on expensive days or nights out in favour of spending more time at home or with loved ones! (They probably quite like having you around.)
You can also use apps such as Plum, an encrypted savings app linked to your Facebook and bank accounts, which monitors your earning, saving and spending habits and saves money for you, giving you an update every month on what you’ve put away – all without you noticing! Don’t worry, you can set it to take as little or as much as you’d like!
If you’re like me, I have booked my flights and accommodation ahead of time, simply because I wanted to know how far my money would take me, but if you’re a little braver you might wing it the whole way! These tips should apply in either situation!
These can be some of the most expensive things you pay for.
If it’s not already obvious, always fly economy and only take one piece of luggage (which is usually included in the price). Using sites such as Skyscanner and Kayak will compare lots of prices for the same flights and show you the best deals. Although always be sure to delete your cookies/search browser history or use an ‘incognito’ browser if searching multiple times as if you don’t the prices could go up each time you search!
Another tip I have used is booking all my flights through the same provider (Expedia), via skyscanner. You can usually find the most relatively cheap flights this way and earn air miles to use in future!
Comparing the same dates with companies that specialise in round the world travel such as, STA Travel (who can give great discounts for students), Travel Nation, Worldspan Travel and Trail Finders is also a handy, cost-effective way of booking a RTW trip in one go. Some companies also offer long periods between placing your deposit and having to pay off the balance, which can help when paying for what is presumably going to be one of the biggest costs of your trip.
Hannah mentioned that when she went on her first RTW trip in 2011, she got a ticket from London to LA, to New Zealand and on to Hong Kong for £900 so it is definitely worth doing your homework on these companies!
Other than Airbnb, I always use Hostelworld to search for the most cost effective, comfortable and safest places to stay, as well as being able to see which have the best location and hundreds of reviews from travellers in my exact same situation. Airbnb can be slightly more pricey for the privacy and comfort of using someones home but don’t underestimate the luxury of a bit of space to yourself to recuperate after long haul travel and being constantly on the go! This can also be achieved by booking privately rather than sharing dorms in a hostel which is cheaper than airbnb, but may not offer its own bathroom and living space. Both of these options are great for meeting new people and hostels and airbnb hosts can sometimes kindly offer their time to show you around the area! If you’re really looking to get a serious cultural experience and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, HelpX is a great cultural exchange program where you can get stuck in helping on places like farms and hostels in exchange for accommodation and meals! A fantastic way of saving money and getting a totally different experience!
Really simple this one, go to TravelSupermarket. If you’re travelling to multiple countries or think you will be moving around a lot, picking backpackers insurance covers you worldwide and you can compare the best rates and cover from hundreds of providers, including having the option to cover gadgets, and extreme activities!
It’s natural to want to go and see world famous tourist attractions; who would go to Paris and not visit the Eiffel Tower right? But these can be some of the most expensive activities you do. Booking ahead for some of these could save you some money, but research the area beforehand, look at travel blogs, pinterest recommendations and ask for local knowledge of off the beaten track attractions which won’t be full of tourists and will also be much more cost effective!
A lot of museums and art galleries have a free day once a month, usually on a weekday and if you are a student it is ALWAYS worth asking if they do student discounts, which can be around 10% but sometimes it can be completely free!
This said, I find some of the best and beautiful sights and attractions are hidden pricelessly in nature!
Always take time to research the city or area you’re visiting before you go, so you vaguely know the names of local districts and streets. This can help when using the underground, trains or buses which are cheaper than heading straight for a taxi. In more touristy areas, there will often be trains or shuttles heading straight from the airport to near where you may be staying for the fraction of the price of a taxi.
This seems like something you shouldn’t have to consider at this point of the planning process, but I have made the mistake of booking to eat in fancy restaurants in places like New York and Toronto which have been extortionately priced!
Always make breakfast or lunch your biggest meal of the day. Breakfast options are usually free in a lot of accommodation so fill up as much as possible, and lunch menu’s are usually half the price of a dinner menu so fill up midday and enjoy a light snack in the evening instead. Street food is also a great option and is abundant in places like Asia and can offer really tasty, cheap meals instead of booking in at a restaurant!
Using these tips will certainly help you make savings but really, if you allow yourself enough time to save and plan ahead and remain motivated and committed, you’ll get there in the end and you won’t regret it!
Of course, there is another option you could take when it comes to making and saving money travelling and that is working abroad!
This year marks my second year working as staff on an amazing summer camp in the USA and my first year as a voluntary TEFL teacher in Thailand! Both of these options offer unique life experiences while also being cost effective as I am paid for my time and/or receive accommodation!
Stay posted as next time I’ll be talking about the ins, outs, ups and downs of working abroad!
Many thanks to Hannah, Katie and Sarah, whose advice and experiences have helped me write this post and inspire me everyday!