How to Save Money on a Budget for Long Term Travel
Liam and I are currently planning and booking our big 3 month trip to Europe via the USA for later on this year which is CRAZY exciting. As a lot of you know, we went to Greece last year with Flight Centre & Topdeck (read about that trip here), but Liam has never visited anywhere else in the UK or Europe so I cannot wait to show him all of my favourite cities and discover some new ones with him!
I’m 23 years old but this will be my fourth time in Europe and yes, I have done it all on my own. So often I have people telling me how lucky I am, how they wished they could travel and how ‘maybe one day they’ll get there’ as if all of my trips have been parent funded and I’m not going to lie, it does frustrate me a bit.
In life, we choose what we want to prioritise. In my last year of school in year 13, I had no idea what I wanted to do, or who I wanted to be. All of my friends were deciding on whether they wanted to go to Dunedin or Wellington for university, but all I could think about was travel. I was 17 when I made this decision, that I was going to finish year 13, turn 18 (the December of my last year at school), get a full time job and work to save money until the following July where I travelled around Europe for three months with a girlfriend. Travel was my priority.
I learnt SO much about saving money, and just how worth it it is to sacrifice as much as you can for the love of travel because it’s true when they say that travel is the only thing you can purchase, that makes you richer. I wouldn’t be the adult that I am today if it wasn’t for those three months of self discovery in Europe when I was 18.
Unless you’re under 18 or you have life commitments that stop you from travelling like young children etc, it’s so important to remember that anyone can save for a big, exciting trip overseas regardless of how much money you earn! It’s all about planning, budgeting and knowing all of the little tips and tricks to help you get onto that trip of a lifetime!
Make a plan & a budget
How long do you want to go for? 8 weeks? 2, 3 months? Do you want a luxurious trip or are you happy to stay in hostels and budget hotels? Think about how much you want to spend per night on accomodation, how much money you’d like to spend on food & activities per day and how much you’ll spend on flights/transport. Then look at how much you get paid, work out a realistic percentage of income you’ll need to put away each week and figure out how much time you’ll need to save that money.
It’s important to remember that if you want to go away for 3 months, you’ll probably need to start saving 7-12 months in advance, and have at least 10 grand in your bank account by the day you fly out (assuming you would have already paid for your accomodation and you only need your spending money at this point, which is the smartest way to do it).
Book everything at least 6 months in advance
The best way to save money on EVERYTHING is to book in advance. I often hear people say how they are going to go to Europe and wing it and I worry because they are going to spend an extra 5 grand that they didn’t need to just by leaving trains, flights and accommodation to the last minute. Trust me you NEED to book even those trains super early to save money!
Commit to the travel saving lifestyle
Yes, you have to stop going out every weekend, say no to dinner dates or the temptation to eat out. You have to learn to catch up with people without spending money, make food at home, make coffee at home, go without those things that add up
Remind yourself why you are doing this
Create Pinterest boards, save inspirational travel photos to your Instagram saved albums, look at your budget every time you feel tempted to purchase something materialistic that you don’t need. However.. for those who struggle with not spending money on clothes.. you will need practical clothing to travel in. If you ever feel tempted to buy something, always make sure it’s something you can wear in your travels, for example if you’re doing a big Euro summer trip and you want to buy a new dress, make sure it’s 30 degree heat appropriate so that you can wear it when you’re wandering around Rome so that it’s not a complete waste of money and kiiiiiiiiinda goes towards your trip
Sell your old clothes
For obvious reasons!
Cancel your gym membership if you aren’t going frequently
Liam and I won’t be because we go to the gym as a way to de-stress and it’s not something we will compromise when it comes to our mental health, but if you have that gym fee going out each week and you aren’t going more than twice a week, get rid of it!
Stretch out your hair appointments
If you’re dark and you get blonde at the roots, opt for a lower maintenance hair colour like balayage or have your hair dresser blend the blonde into your natural roots so that the blonde grows out subtly, this is what I do!
Use one website to get loyalty points for accomodation
When you’re booking accomodation in advance, use the same website to book through because you will get perks. I use booking.com just because it’s so easy to browse accomodation types but they also have a loyalty programme meaning the more you book with them the more discounts you’ll get! We have saved SO much on our New York and Europe accomodation just by being loyal to Booking.com!
To Air BnB, or not to Air BnB?
I’ve also found that if you are travelling as a couple or with one friend, Air Bnb isn’t the cheapest way to travel through America or Europe. You’re better off staying in a hostel because Air BnB always seems cheap but at the end of the booking process they end up adding on $300 worth of fees and the end price gets super expensive. We have booked an Air BnB in Budapest but only because we are staying with 6 other friends who are meeting us there, so it makes the total cost much cheaper! Otherwise stick with hostels and budget hotels.
Stay in hostels
If you’re comfortable doing it (and you should be! I’ve done it plenty of times and it’s totally fine), pay for bunk bed dorm accomodation in hostels. My friend and I did it through Europe and it’s absolutely fine, you make so many friends and meet so many incredible like minded travellers! Plus if you’re on your own or there’s only two of you, you’ll always make friends to go out and party with. If that’s not for you, most hostels still have ‘budget hotel room’ style rooms where you can get a small room with a double bed and ensuite for a super cheap price. Liam and I have booked a lot of these, in Prague and Krakow we managed to find our own room for 80 NZD per night, so only $40 each! In a bunk bed dorm room you can be paying down to 8 NZD per night. You spend 0 time in your room anyway, it’s just a place to sleep so it doesn’t need to be fancy. Unless you won the lotto it’s pretty much impossible to stay in luxury accomodation all through a three month trip. Save that for your short term holidays to Bali!
Book a tour
If it’s your first time overseas, book a Topdeck or a Contiki tour! I did a one month Contiki all through Europe when I was 18 and because so many of your meals and activities are included, you save heaps of money. We did our Topdeck tour through Greece last year and they are FANTASTIC value! Especially when it’s your first time in Europe and you’re unsure of how everything works and all of the tricks you need to know to save money!
There are so many ways to save money for travel, it really just comes down to committing and knowing how badly you want this.. and I PROMISE, you want this.