Daily I hear from people who have the deep desire to create greater freedom in their lives so they can take off and travel. I remember being there once myself, and how overwhelming it all seemed. More than any other factor, finances seem to be what we consider the greatest barrier towards living a life of travel and chasing our dreams. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can start with one simple step today.
So I’m writing to you with one simple thing, that I believe is essential in preparing yourself for travel: saving money.
Even if you have plans to work abroad, volunteer, or travel on a shoestring (check out my post How to Travel When You’ve Got Absolutely No Money) it will certainly take the pressure off if you have an extra cushion. How much you should save varies dramatically depending on where you plan to go, how long you plan to travel for, your personal travel style, and whether you have work lined up. I’ll save that for another post. Today let’s talk about saving in general, and how you can get started!
#1: Make Travel Your Priority
I cannot stress enough the importance of getting clear with your intentions and priorities. In my own life I’ve noticed that when I scatter my energy, I become depleted and nothing really seems to move forward. If you truly want to explore the possibility of traveling long term, you must make it your priority, or else it simply won’t happen.
(Read my post How to Manifest Miracles to Make Your Dreams Come True if you need more help in focusing your intentions.)
#2: Set a Goal
If you want to focus your aim, you need to have a target. This is why goal setting is so important, really, in achieving anything. Spend some time considering what kind of budget you will need to make this trip possible, and factor in any work or volunteer opportunities you have. If you feel stuck in planning your trip at all, check out my post How to Plan a Long Term Trip, which will help you create a general itinerary and develop a budget. If all of that sounds overwhelming, select a goal that simply sounds like a practical, achievable number right now. Remember, one thing at a time, no need to get overwhelmed.
#3: Spend Less
This can be both the easiest and the most challenging step of all. Easy because so many of us spend far beyond what is necessary to keep us healthy and happy. Challenging because so many of us have become used to living and spending in excess. My best advice is to simply start being more mindful of how you spend your money. The next time you go out for dinner, drinks, shopping, whatever, take a moment and take a breath. Ask yourself, “do I really value this, or do I value something else more?”
If you don’t already, start tracking your expenses in a spreadsheet. At the end of the week, look through them, and take note of each transaction and how you feel looking at the dollar amount beside it. Do you feel content seeing this number, or do you feel regretful? This nugget of wisdom comes from Kate Northrup, an ultra inspiring financial maven. Check out her amazing video full of advice for saving, spending, and attracting more money, here.
#4: Sell What You Don’t Need
When I first set off to travel the world, the money I made from selling my belongings contributed hugely to my travel savings. I sold clothes I didn’t wear anymore, said farewell to my furniture, and I even sold my car. I decided that I valued my freedom to travel over having those possessions. I’ve met many people on the road who have financed their travels this way, some who even sold their homes (For more on simplifying your life by letting go of stuff, check out my post Less Stuff = More Happiness.)
I realize that for some people that may be too extreme or scary, but I guarantee that everyone has at least something they can let go of.
The primary way I sold my furniture was through Craigslist. For small items like decorations, I included them in with my furniture listing and managed to sell quite a bit. You might also consider joining forces with some friends and having a garage sale. It’s a way to encourage everyone you know to create more space in their lives by clearing out old stuff.
I sold my clothing through local consignment stores, which admittedly don’t give you much. Nonetheless, I was happy to have them off of my hands rather than spending the time listing them and shipping them through eBay.
Simply by selling things I already had, that were of no use to me on the road, I managed to save over $15,000. To put things into perspective, in 9 months in Southeast Asia, including flights, I spent less than $10,000.
#5: Find Extra Sources of Income
This can be a tricky one for those of you who already work a lot. And if you’re feeling depleted right now, I wouldn’t recommend it. However if you have the space and the energy to add in a side job, it’s a very fast way to save up cash. This varies widely depending on your skillset and experience, however if you can manage to take on freelance work, you’ll have great flexibility and higher hourly pay. Ideally you can even find freelance work that you can do online, and keep doing once you start traveling. Win-win!
If you need more tips on funding travel, read my post How I Afford a Life of Constant Travel and You Can Too.
It may feel overwhelming at first, but I can almost guarantee you that if you genuinely decide that this is what you want you can and will save every penny that you need to.
What are some ways of saving money for travel, that I didn’t mention already? I’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions.
While I would never be able to do what you do, I find it absolutely fascinating! With a child and one on the way, I would love to do some traveling to places with them in the future. I love reading your story & appreciate you sharing.
Thank you for your kind words Jennifer. I so wish my family had traveled more when I was a kid 😉
I find your blog highly inspiring; thanks a lot for all those detailed information and recommendations! Though, regarding “spending less money” I have one question: I love hanging out with friends and when ever we are talking about meeting for a drink or going to see a concert or exhibit, I find it very difficult to always say “You know, I cannot afford this and that” (be it because I just don’t have the money, as right now, or I decided to save money). Do you have any recommendation how to handle this?
Jenny I understand, that’s a tough one. I too struggle with this. What I’ve done is suggest activities that are free, which are often things I actually enjoy MORE. For instance, instead of going out to dinner or drinks I suggest taking a sunset walk on the water somewhere or cooking a meal together. In my experience they actually appreciate these suggestions. When I lived in the states I went out to dinner with friends nearly every night of the week but the best times I had were actually picnics in a park or dinner with friends on my sofa. I used to be stuck in the routine of assuming I needed to spend money to have a good time. Actually I’ve found that even in my travels the places I love most tend to be the ones I end up spending the least money in. When you enjoy your surroundings and your company there is no need to spend.
I just found your blog and I love it! I am about to lead a nomadic lifestyle and am in the process of selling everything (well nearly everything) I own. It’s going to be hard to part with certain items but like you say, it will be definitely be worth it for a loire on the road. Thanks 🙂
Thank you so much Lisa! Keep in mind you can always store some things and then let them go as time progresses. Once you’re on the road you’ll likely lose attachments to all that stuff anyway 🙂
Hello there! I ran into your blo via the elephant. Your whole story is amazing and since this morning at 11(it’s now 14:00) in Greece, i ve already read a bunch of your posts. LAst month i hosted a girl with quite a similar story as yours and I got so inspired, so seeing your blog now just thrills me. it’s not that i would def like to ran away just like, at least i haven’t been “struck” with that need yet, but i really really want to travel the globe. i ve already started writing on my blog (www.tincturetales.com)which is mostly booze & food oriented and i’d love you to check it out! Also, about saving for traveling, have you ever couchsurfed? do u recommend it? that’s how i met that girl i mentioned. Anyway, if your wandering heart ever brings you to the beautiful country my home is, Greece, i am surely no 1 candidate to host you! Keep inspiring us with your lovely words and pictures!
Thank you so much Anna! I haven’t couchsurfed yet, but some of my friends have and they loved it! I will definitely reach out to you when I go to Greece 🙂 xo
Ur blog is just excellent! I love it. Life your dream. I am just at the beginning (10 month) but I will also keep on going
Thank you Alex, good luck on your journey!! <3