There’s something about travelling to far off places that have traditions we didn’t know about and food never tasted before. The rush of driving on new roads and swimming in unknown waters is hard to explain and once you’ve experienced this feeling, it’s hard not to be tempted to explore more and more. In spite of how awesome travelling is, many of us hesitate going farther and longer. Travel ‘God’, Nomadic Matt explains the why American don’t travel overseas and it seems to be true for many other nationalities, including us Indians, as well. (By the way, we love him!).
Other than ‘time’, the second biggest reason that hinders travel to farther places (“abroad”) is the assumption that it requires a tremendous amount of money. Notions, like it’s only for the rich and “other” countries, are expensive are common to hear. Because of this incorrect notion, many people prefer travelling within their own countries. We’ve calculated this many times to realise that the total amount we would spend on a few short trips within our country can get us to travel much farther.
Let us be honest here: travelling outside your country is not cheap and it does require to save up exclusively for it. Having said that, if travelling is high on your ‘to do’ list, there are ways to save money to travel. The two of us live a cycle of earning, saving, travelling and we’ve figured a few ways to be efficient at it. If you are someone who wishes to travel farther and for longer and needs some quick tips to save money to travel, here’s a list of what we do and hope others can benefit from as well.
1. Next appraisal, ask for more time
We are not rich! Vikas runs a small social enterprise that he set up a few years back and I am a freelance writer. Clearly, we don’t make plenty but what our jobs do give us in abundance is ‘time’. We have had jobs where we made salaries that our fathers were proud to boast but they gave us almost no time for ourselves. Gradually, we moved into jobs that have a better ‘money – time’ ratio. More money but no time vs more time with lesser money work better for us. How’s this a money saving tip? Well, this is a ‘save time’ tip for sure. Only if you have the time to travel, will you be motivated to save for it. Hence, always start with earning more time as you save money to travel. If you are planning on changing career plans to travel more, this blog has some great ideas.
2. Have a Travel Account
If you are avid travellers, you’d know where you are going next and your travel destinations for the year would be mostly sorted. Once you know where you are heading, figure the budget required and make it a point to save to that digit. A random amount of travel saving per month isn’t always motivational and we tend to use it for other matters. Saving for a quick, achievable goal is easy for our mind to process. This is what we do – as soon as the money hits our account, we transfer a fixed amount to another bank account/Credit Card that we internally call our ‘Travel Account’. Once this money is gone, we use the remaining as a living cost and mould our lives according to what we are left with.
3. Book off tickets first, rest comes later
Vikas is a live Skyscanner. He’s always aware of the ticket price flying around to our favourite destinations, which we discuss aeons in advance. As soon as we find a deal, we book it off and plan the rest of our life based on the dates. An advance period of around five to six months is a good time, though we strongly recommend that you start looking at prices (or at least pricing trends) eight months in advance. An advance ticket booking takes care of the biggest amount required to travel and you can then relax and spend the next few months saving for travelling expenses within the target country. This staggers our cost across many months and makes it easier on our wallet to save. Imagine saving 1000 $ in two months vs saving them over seven.
4. Keep calm on a Friday night
Spanish tapas at a fancy place in India or authentic Spanish tapas in Spain? You decide! Until a couple of years ago, we spent big chunks of hard-earned money over things that go down the drain the next day (literally!). A sacrifice of an average expense of 3000 INR per week is an air ticket for you and your partner (including hotel bookings).
3000 INR x 4 weeks = 12000 INR x 12 months = 1,44,000 INR (~ 2100 USD) = Flight + hotels
The biggest chunk that contributes to our additional savings is the money we began to accumulate by avoiding weekend eat-outs and pub-crawls. Of course, we do go out with friends and to our favourite eateries once in a while but avoid unnecessary weekend expenditure. A firm rule is to avoid high-end places that do nothing but make you spend. Budget travel requires a lot of commitment, before and during the journey.
5. Buy Experiences over Things
For a travelling lifestyle, life back home is nothing more but a preparation for travel. It’s best to keep it simple – cutting off luxury from daily life is as important as cutting off luxury from travels as well. Try not to buy things that you don’t REALLY need. For example, right after our wedding, we set up our house and literally counted the things we required to live comfortably in it. We chose local cabs over a personal car, a rug instead of a dinner table and a chair instead of an additional couch. You might not have fancy seating or cute paintings on your wall but you will be loaded with enough travel experiences. Get rid of the expensive phones, gadgets and watches – life won’t change a bit without those.
6. Stop shopping for clothes
A lot of us tend to lose it when it comes to shopping for clothes. No matter how much one has, they want more. Again, think of comfort and need before you buy any new piece of clothing. Let’s not get swayed away by glamour and feel beautiful in what we are. Even in the space of travelling, ‘fashion/glamour travel’ is a ‘thing’; we try to keep it simpler on ourselves. After all, “Travel is glamorous only in retrospect” (Paul Theroux).
7. Provide a free stay to get one for yourself
There are numerous travel websites that connect the travelling community really well. Couchsurfing is one of our favourite ones. Not only do you get to host and make friends with amazing people from around the world, you also build trust for yourself in the community to expect a free stay. Besides Couchsurfing, there are several options. Check this blog by Anita Hendrieka to find out more.
While life is hunky-dory when we’re sitting miles across the ocean, it doesn’t come without significant sacrifices in our daily lives. If saving money is what hinders you from converting those weekend getaways to going off really far, try using some of our tips. They’ve helped us and hopefully, they will help you too.
However, it is a choice we’ve made and we couldn’t be any more happy with our lifestyle. If travel is your choice, then it is important to know that it does take a lot of patience, self-control, and exquisite planning to make the choice come alive. But, if your dream lies elsewhere, share these tips with someone who has the same dream and share with us what you save for?