Do you ever sit there looking at people who travel all the time and wonder how the hell they afford it? This is one of the most common questions I see online. They say money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a plane ticket and that’s basically the same thing.
Where do you start?
Let me tell you one thing right now, there are a hundred ways that people can afford to travel. Maybe they got a good inheritance or their parents are loaded? Maybe they work online or maybe they won the lottery? Or maybe, like me, they worked hard and saved every penny.
Start saving your spare change. Every copper, silver and gold coin, maybe even a few notes if you’re feeling baller. If you work in hospo then save your tips. Get a giant tin can money box so you can’t open it and steal money from yourself. I did this one summer and saved over £500.
Open up an online savings account. Most banks offer this free of charge and give you a little bit of interest on the top. The money in your savings account can’t be withdrawn or spent with your debit card unless you transfer it manually. Transfer as much as possible each pay check, after budgeting for life’s necessities.
You need to prioritise. Stop buying coffee in the morning, take your own instead with a super cute travel mug. Don’t buy lunch every day, pack an adorable lunch box with leftovers from the night before, or meal prep on Sunday for the week ahead. Stop going out every weekend, have a night in with a glass of wine and a movie. Don’t buy those new shoes, buy a flight instead.
Work work work. I literally end up with 3 or 4 jobs at a time which means I’m constantly on the move, earning money and having no time to spend it. It’s exhausting and can get a bit overwhelming but I know that each paycheck I can put a huge chunk into savings. Job hunting sucks but you need to do it.
Sell off things you don’t need. Make the most of websites like Gumtree, Ebay or Craigslist. There are also local Buy and Swap groups on Facebook for probably every city and town around you where someone will be willing to pay real money for things you don’t want anymore.
Cut back where you can. Rent, phone, car. These things seem like necessities, but they aren’t. Move in with friends, or better yet, your parents. Cancel your extortionate phone contract and try Pay As You Go. Walk, skate or cycle when you can to save on petrol which is more expensive in the UK than literally anywhere else I have been.
There is one thing that shouldn’t be cut because of budget: travel insurance. Even though it can cost a fortune it would be absolutely horrific if you suddenly found yourself hospital bound in a foreign country where the ambulance fee alone is $500 (yea I’m looking at you Australia and Canada).
Now that you’re saving money at home you need to start planning how you can save money on the road. You’ll need to budget for flights and other transport, food and drink, accommodation and any tours, activities or shopping you want to do.
Be flexible when booking flights. I always use Sky Scanner, but it’s worth trying Kayak or Momondo too, always in a private browser. You can put in your local airport and choose a city, country or even “Everywhere” as a destination. You can search for specific dates, entire months or just the ‘Cheapest Month’.
Look around for cheap accommodation. You can use sights like Hostel World or Hostel Bookers to find budget hostels, or Booking.com for a huge range of every accommodation type available. Air BnB can be a great option if there is a large group of people. If you hate booking ahead then you can still look around on foot when you arrive at your destination.
Try Couchsurfing. This site allows you to set up a profile and get in touch with people abroad who have a couch or spare room for travellers, or you can find people who can meet you for coffee and show you around, all for free! You can sign up here.
Shop around and do your research. Whether you’re booking everything before you leave, or you’re going with the flow and figuring it out when you arrive, it always pays to look around for the best deals. TripAdvisor is my favourite way to find the best things to do, or find an amazing online community like Girls Love Travel to help you out.
My biggest tip here is to read reviews and all the details before you book anything! If something costs a significant amount less than it’s competitors then there may be a reason why. Compare each option and think carefully before committing. That flight may cost £80 less but if it has an 18 hour layover then you could end up spending a lot more on airport food, drinks or hotels.
If you have any money saving tips that work for you or that you’re thinking about trying, please leave them in the comments below.
Just so you know, Six Year Gap Year may make a small commission from some of the links featured in this post through the Amazon Associates Program, however this will not affect your shopping costs at all.