How to Save for Travel: Creating a Travel Fund

After watching the film Eat, Pray, Love, I was inspired to create my own adventure around the globe. And I want to help you do the same! By helping you save for travel.

There is criticism around the film. Critics say that people need plenty of money to be able to do this trip. 

But I want to prove the critics wrong.

My belief is that anyone can save up the money to go travelling if they want. Yes, it can take some time and thoughts around spending. But my belief is anyone can afford to travel if they desire!

So here are my top tips to help you save for travel:

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Travel fund

First things first. Before you save for travel, you need to know what your fund looks like.

Think about how much time you want to go for. What’s your current life situation? Are you able to take unpaid leave off work, or better yet, paid time off!

Could you do your current job while you travel? Perhaps you work for yourself, even easier! How long would you be happy to be away from family and friends?

Personally my decision to create my own Eat, Pray, Love trip was from a place of wanting to just start again.

I felt like I had fallen down the long snake at the end of a Snakes and Ladders game and was back at square one.

So I was happy to go away for a long time and leave everything behind. My home, job, city where I lived, and broken relationship.

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Destination

Next, which countries do you want to visit? Are you hoping to travel around the world, or is there just one country/area you want to explore? This answer depends also on how much time you have to go away. 

People often make the mistake of thinking that the longer they go away for, the more expensive the trip will be. This completely depends on how you like to travel and the countries you want to visit.

For example, a fortnight stay in a 5-star hotel in India will cost a lot more than living in an ashram in India for a month where yoga classes and all meals are included in your nightly rate. Read my blog on Living in an Ashram to discover more. 

Timing

Finally, when do you want to travel? This is dependent on the countries you want to visit. Check their climate and seasonality before deciding. Once you know which times of year are best for each country, you can look at your own schedule and think about when is good for you to leave. 

I was desperate to just get up and go on my trip. But actually waiting the 6 months it took me to plan was so much better! 

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The Plan

Now you have a rough idea of where you want to go, for how long, and when. You can start laying down the foundations of a plan. Time to get out that Excel spreadsheet. 

I know Excel isn’t the most glamorous part of travelling but it will be a lifesaver as you save. And when you are on your trip to keep an eye on spending. 

Simply write down each country and document the costs as you research them. This way you can see how much money you actually need. 

Top Tip: When viewing flight prices, always open in an incognito tab (right click on your browser e.g. Google Chrome, and click New Incognito Window). This prevents companies from seeing that you are searching for flights and putting the prices up next time you search and book.

For all the details on how to plan a trip, check out my blog on How to Plan Travel Safely in COVID-19

Next steps

Okay, so you have your rough plan of timings and have started researching. Now you need to save for travel.

There are two ways to increase your savings. Firstly cut down your spending. Secondly, increase the amount of money coming in. I know that sounds pretty obvious! But here are my tips for both parts of the equation.

Managing your spending

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1. Evaluate monthly costs

Do you have any monthly direct debits? To view all of your direct debits and standing orders, visit your internet banking website.

It’s so easy to sign up to things which have low monthly costs but they can quickly add up and become sufficient drains on your paycheck. 

Have a good look at these costs and see if you really need these. Can any be cancelled, maybe just while you save for travel.

When cancelling direct debits, make sure you cancel directly with the company. Don’t just hit ‘delete’ on your banking website as you may incur additional costs.

To save money, I changed my phone to pay as you go. I’d already paid off my phone (it’s pretty old!) And I knew I didn’t need all those minutes, texts and data while I was travelling. You often need a local sim if you want to use your data, minutes and texts anyway. 

You don’t need to cancel everything and live on bread and water while you save up. I’m all about the little luxuries! But just think about whether you want to spend that money or save for travel...

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2. Create a weekly budget

To help save for travel, I like to create a weekly budget. This allows me to pace my monthly pay across the whole month. 

The best way to start is to look at your monthly money coming in. Figure out how much you want to save for travel each month and take that out.

So you can now see how much money you have to spend for the full month. Divide that figure by 4.5, there are just over 4 weeks in a month. Now you have a weekly figure. 

Have a think about what you usually buy each week and from that how much you need realistically. This may be the full amount or it may be less, meaning you can add more to your travel fund.  

It’s better to be kind to yourself and have a budget that you can stay within each week. This will make you feel like you are progressing towards your travel fund by staying within budget. 

Remember this isn’t rigid, it can be changed throughout the months. Just try a figure and see if it works!

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3. Look at your daily costs

This is the time to get creative! Be objective and look at your costs day-to-day. Maybe you buy a coffee every day on the way to work. Or perhaps you buy your lunch out. 

How often do you buy food from the supermarket? Is it daily on the way home from work? Or do you plan a weekly shop? Perhaps you have a shopping habit of buying clothes online in the evenings. Or maybe you like to purchase music or films online. 

Be kind to yourself and just observe. This is not an excuse to beat up on yourself. It is merely showing you where you could potentially save for travel. 

My weakness is takeaway coffee and lunches. I used to love going to a coffee shop on my lunch break to change the scenery of the office.

To save for travel, I started making my lunches at home. And limiting my coffee shop trips to once a week. It became a little luxury to look forward to rather than the everyday norm. 

Look at your spending habits and see which ones could be cut down. Even just for the period of time while you save for travel. 

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4. Food, glorious food

I am all about eating healthily and the importance of nutritious food. But actually, I have discovered, it is the unhealthy food which usually hurts your bank balance most.

To save money on food, the key is organisation.

I know, pretty boring. But if you want to enjoy a 3-month stay in Bali, hanging out on the beach, planning your food shops will be essential.

It is obviously more economical to buy food at a supermarket as opposed to eating out. And a lot healthier too! You know exactly what is in your food when you cook with fresh ingredients. However, daily shops at your local supermarket could be doing just as much damage as ordering takeaways. 

Often local supermarkets have higher prices than in their larger stores. You are paying for the convenience of the location.

Therefore, it is much better to plan one weekly shop at a larger supermarket. Here you can also benefit from the much wider choice. Also, have you ever popped into a local supermarket to buy one thing? And then come out with a whole bag of shopping!

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5. Eating out

Another thing to bear in mind is how often you do go out for dinner, or drinks. Or order that cheeky takeaway.

I used to order takeaway on a Friday because, well it’s Friday! And then maybe drinks on a Saturday because it’s Saturday!

Then Sunday Blues made me go out for dinner on Sundays, the best cure for Sunday Blues! And then well it’s Monday, the start of another long week at the office so better order a takeaway… 

Anyway, you can see how easy it is to get into spending far more than planned. My advice, just pick once a week. You’ll get far more joy from a weekly treat and your travel fund will benefit too.

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6. Bag a bargain

As I have previously mentioned, I LOVE a bargain. I think it’s a Swindon thing...

So, you want/need a new pair of shoes, shampoo, birthday present for your sister etc. Yes, I get it. Sometimes you do need to spend money.

But instead of scouring the world wide web, endlessly searching for coupon codes. You can download an extension to your browser which finds coupons for you!

I signed up with Piggy, just to see what it’s like. And have saved some good money! Yes, sometimes Piggy is sleeping but overall he has scored me some great deals. And cashback too.

Increase your income

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1. Pay yourself first

So technically, this is a better way of using the money you already make. Many money advice gurus talk about the importance of paying yourself first. Paying some money into savings as soon as you get paid. This means you won’t even include it in your potential spendings. 

If you have set up a travel fund, I recommend setting aside some money each month which automatically goes into your travel fund the day you get paid. 

Personally, I would take 10% of my earnings and save that. It is a nice amount to save each month and also not such a big chunk of earnings that you feel like you are in poverty. 

However, this is where your spreadsheet of travel costs comes in. If you know when you want to travel and how much you will need. You can figure out how much you need to save each month.

Top Tip: Always add a buffer of £500-£1000 to your overall travel fund. Just in case anything happens whilst you are away and you need more money. 

After returning from LA, I knew I needed to save as much as possible. LA had financially wiped me out! Probably because I didn't include a buffer in my travel fund.

I was saving around 50% of my wages to be able to travel as soon as possible. I worked in a coffee shop so my lunch was included in my wages. Plus I had little time to spend money. Coffee shop hours can be long! So that worked out really well for me. 

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2. Earn interest on your savings

This is a really great long term goal to increase your overall earnings. Yes, it can be slow to start but over the years, you will get money for free!

There are lots of different savings accounts out there with different interest rates and risks involved. Usually the longer you “lock” money away, the better interest rate you will get. Also, the more risk involved yields a better rate. 

Personally, I don’t like to gamble my savings so after some research I opted for some low-risk options.

I split my savings into two accounts. One with a variable interest rate - it can change at any time. And one with a fixed interest rate - the rate will remain the same for that period of time.

The variable account was flexible so I could access that money at any time. Perfect for any emergencies. While the fixed account was locked away for a year. 

All of my knowledge came from online research. So do your research and see what options work best for you and your situation.

Best to start low risk with no way of losing that money. You want to make more money, not gamble it away! A great interview which helped me was Marie Forleo and David Bach discussing how to make money without budgeting. 

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3. Set up mini pots of money

Another easy and quick tip is to set up small pots of money on your online banking.

Starling offers this and possibly Monzo and other banks. You can create subcategories (pots of money) and automatically add round-ups into that account. 

For example, you pay £3.15 on a coffee. The bank will automatically round up to the nearest pound and transfer that money into your pot of money. So your Travel pot of money would have 85p added to it.

This is a nice simple way to save more money every time you spend.  

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4. Sell things you don’t need

This may take a bit of time to set up. Especially if you don’t have an eBay account. But it is a really great way to make a bit of extra cash, and declutter your space! 

Go through all of your drawers and cupboards and find things you don’t need/want anymore. If they are still in good quality, eBay is a great place to sell them. 

There are other companies who you can also sell your things too. For example Music Magpie for electronics. And there are lots of other clothing websites. Money Saving Expert has a great blog on the best places to sell clothes. 

Personally, I find eBay is great for good quality branded items like new footwear, labelled clothes and beauty.

Each website has different fees but the norm is to take a cut of the money you made. So you will still take the majority of the profit. 

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In summary

To save for travel, the best place to start is knowing when and where you want to go. This will help you decide the best plan to save for travel for you.

Remember, I am in no way a financial expert and am just sharing the ways I personally saved up to go travelling. 

Hope you enjoyed my blog on How to Save for Travel: Creating a Travel Fund. I would love to hear from you! Let me know what works best for you and any tips you have on saving for travel.

As always, happy travelling my friends! 🙂

If you enjoyed this, check out my other blogs...

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