Shoestring Traveller: Top 3 Planning and Budgeting Tips!
It’s no secret that putting away savings can be hard as hell. Sacrificing nights out, weekend getaways & even eating out on the daily can take some serious self-control, but guys trust me, if I got this- then you got this! Being something of a budget travel connoisseur and currently on the adventure of a lifetime for three months through Europe, I think I can safely say that some of my saving and planning tactics have paid off! So, if you’re sitting at home, wondering why on earth it seems that everyone is living their best life’s in Greece and you can barely afford a $10 bottle of wine down at the super, then strap yourself in, because I’m here to save the day with my top 3 saving and planning tips!
When I first started budget travelling and learning how to save on little income, the first question I asked myself was “what are you willing to sacrifice?” For me, that was nights out spending money I didn’t have on alcohol I didn’t necessarily need. It was saying no to the 6th coffee in 2 days, and to that takeout when I knew that there was food waiting for me at home- I finally understand what my mum meant by that after all these years. Prioritising your time, money and goals is so important in planning travel! It took a while to understand that by saying no! to the little things and, on occasion, to the bigger events, I would be able to say yes! to anything whilst travelling!
Prioritising doesn’t mean you need to cancel your social life in all its entirety, it may just mean giving yourself one gig to look forward to a month and staying in or choosing free activities whenever possible. It may mean picking up extra hours (I know that 6 day weeks and 12 hour days aren’t fun, but you’ve got this) just to hit your savings targets but know that the pay off is so worth it!
I’m out the other side of this prioritising period, where I did say no to more than a few beers down at the local Spoons and now I’m saying yes to late night ocean dips and sunset ciders!
2. Set an attainable & realistic budget scheme
I’m going to start off by saying this- if I, a girl who lived in London and built her way back up from zero savings, can save enough money to travel for 3 months, then so can you! It all comes down to planning out your pay, making sure you’re hitting those hours, being patient and sticking to a budget ‘schedule’. From the moment I knew I was going to be long-term travelling I budgeted out a realistic savings and budget allowance. This allowance was calculated by planning out an estimate route of travel (how many days, which countries) and comparing prices for average accommodation and transport cost expectations for the trip! From this I was then able to plan out a budget ‘schedule’ to structure my savings. For instance, my budget ‘schedule’ for a fortnight would consist of 4 main elements:From the moment I knew I was going to be long-term travelling I budgeted out a realistic savings and budget allowance. This was calculated by planning out an estimate route and comparing prices. From this I was able to structure my savings. Click To Tweet
- Travel Savings
- Treats (very important, choose your treats wisely!)
After averaging my discretionary income I was able to plan accordingly as to how much I could realistically save! I started off small further out e.g. £150 per fortnight, and found myself becoming comfortable enough to double the amount closer to the departure date. Put a lock on this savings account if you need to in order to prevent any withdrawal!
Another savings hack I found really helpful was to set up a separate ‘pot’ in my account that any residual money from my ‘spending’ account could go into. Your ‘spend’ is rounded up to the nearest dollar and any cents left over go straight in! That extra money, which you never notice is being saved, could pay for an extra night’s accommodation or maybe that *cough* ‘missed’ flight home.
Budgeting in the short term not your thing? Try this long-term savings hack! The 52 week challenge helps put away money for the aspiring traveller e.g. Week 1=£1 saving, Week 40= £40 away. This adds up to just over £2,700 for the year and makes little to no difference to your weekly pay package! This money could fund your return flights and accommodation!
3. Pre-book your major travel needs
Some people might not believe it, but I’ve heard rumours that there are travellers who still don’t book their flights, accommodation or any other necessities until the day of travel- this is what my nightmares look like. You wouldn’t catch budget travellers dead doing this! Pre-booking travel today is effortless with the amount of content and information available online!
For my trip I typically booked 2-3 months out for accommodation and any flights- I try to slow travel (e.g. catching trains, buses, carpooling) as it saves me around £60-£70! But I also don’t tend to book in-between details such as transfers and city-to-city transport until a few days prior as these prices rarely fluctuate. Booking in advance as a budget traveller has given me a greater insight as to how much I would be actually taking away as spending money!
A major booking/planning tip is to make travel alerts your best friend! Turn on your notifications for all the best flight and accommodation deals so you can get in quick where needed. Utilise apps such as Skyscanner, Omio, Hostelworld and Booking.com to evaluate and compare your best transport and accommodation options- majority of the time slow travel is cheaper than flying so implement trains, buses and car pooling where you can! Or, if you really do have a love air-fare (see what I did there) with flying, Skycanner does cheap flights on Tuesdays- the cheapest day of the week to fly! Also, remember to turn on your incognito mode and download a VPN so that travel wholesalers cannot see your search activity! Price influx occurs frequently on these sites and that’s where it can really sting your wallet!
Saving and budgeting doesn’t have to be a chore, and should be looked at as an investment into pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and seeing what the world’s got on offer! So set your budget, grow your savings, work your ass off and book those flights! It’s time to live your best (budget travel) life!