Monday, December 14, 2015

How I Save Up For Travel

So far, I have visited 9 countries. 7 of which I have visited before the age of 18. I have seen snow-covered mountains, exotic beaches, monkeys, bears, snakes, elephants, giant castles and also tiny little tin shacks. I have gone on road trips and boat trips, and many, many plane rides, short and long. Travelling has been something my family has done together for as long as I can remember. I was about 2 months old the first time I travelled. We took a road trip to the Rocky Mountains, and then every 3 years after that. Sometimes in between, we would go to Quebec, or even France one year. One time, our road trip took us all the way to Alaska and the Yukon.

At first of course, my parents paid for most of my travel, as they were family trips. But when I decided to go to Spain with my high school, the tables turned and it was now up to me to fund my travels. Ever since I was 16, I have been travelling on my own dollar. I have paid for a trip a year and have visited Spain, Mexico, Thailand and Germany twice, and once more in 2016. 

I have my own little method to saving up for my trips. I save up all year long to be able to travel. It's crazy how hard I work for 6-9 months to save up and it's all gone in less than one month. Here is how I save up in order to be able to travel as much as possible:

Create a second bank account. I opened a saving account with a completely different bank, that way I couldn't have access to that money by simply clicking "savings" instead of "chequing". Even better? I left that card at home so I really couldn't use the money unless I made the effort to find it and take it with me. And by the, I had the time to think about if I really needed to use that money of if I could simply wait for the next paycheque to come in. 

A little bit every cheque. Of course everyone knows that you should always out some money aside from every payday, but I tend to put a lot aside. Usually half or more goes into my savings. My paycheques aren't very big to being with, so every penny counts. 

Reduce phone bill. I have wifi everywhere I go, I barely talk on the phone and so paying $75 a month for data and unlimited minutes seems like a waste. I managed to reduce my phone bill to $40 a month by reducing my data to 300MB and 200 minutes Canada-wide. I have never once passed my data limit since I changed it. We use it less than we think. Or maybe that's just me. 

Live at home. I still live with my parents. I could have moved out a while ago, but it just happened to be cheaper to stay at home. Although that doesn't quite work it you're 30-40, but at 21, I can most definitely still pull it off. 

Budget. Budget. Budget! This is the best way to stay on track. I've never been a fan of budgeting, but my method is a little simpler: I start by estimated how much I'll make that payday, then divide the cheque in categories: travel savings, phone bill, spending money, credit card bill. That way, when the cheque comes in, I know where to set my priorities and can give myself some room to breathe on where I spend my leftover money.

While away...

Couch surfing and hostels. I discovered this last year, and it's amazing. It's such a great way to meet people and to get free accommodation. Of course you always have to be careful since not everyone is as sincere as they claim to be, but so far I haven't had a bad experience! Here's my blogpost about it. If you have a bit of money to spare, hostels are also a really great way of meeting people. They usually have an information centre and younger travellers from all over the world who are in the same boat, and will definitely talk and even visit with you.

Walk two blocks South. Or North, East or West. Just walk two blocks away from the touristic area you're in and the food will be so much cheaper, and probably better quality as well.

Go off the beaten path. A little like the tip above, doing the tourist things are great, but they're usually very expensive and sometimes, doing them yourself is way cheaper. For example, when we were in Cuba, taking a trip to Havana through the hotel came out to three times as expensive as going ourselves on a bus and finding our own hotel. Personally, I think it's way more worth it to do it that way.

Don't diss the guided tour bus. Sometimes, you come into a city with absolutely no idea what there is to visit. As much as "tourists" are annoying, it's a really good way to get some pointers on what to visit but also all kinds of interesting facts about the city. It's also usually quite cheap, especially if it's the hop-on, hop-off type.

Do you have any tips on how to save money for and while travelling?

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