How to Save for Long-Term Travel

Trying to figure out how to save up for an extended trip or long-term travel can be really overwhelming and often it simply just seems impossible when you have bills to pay and normal human expenses to deal with.

Don’t let that seemingly small budget fool you, there’s some saving power there and it’s just ready for you to harness it so you can head out on your next adventure.

There are a few important steps that will help you create a practical travel stash. You don’t have to be a sponsored travel blogger or professional travel journalist to make long-term travel happen, you simply need a plan and a good amount of discipline.

Saving up for any pricey thing in your life will take some work. The sooner you want to make it happen, the more creative you’ll have to be.

Here are a few ways to get the funds you need to travel more and travel longer.

Identify Your Travel Costs

People who desire long-term travel have an idea where they would like to spend a little extra time. If you’re one of these people, write down that destination and then start researching some basic things about that country that will help you set a travel budget. Some of the things you’ll need to know about your trip in order to save properly are the following:

  • Food – Check out the prices for groceries and eating out. Find out if you can save by finding an apartment or rental where you cook for yourself or simply find a place with simple included meals.
  • Transportation – What will you need to pay to get around in this new place? Is there free public transportation? Can you rent or buy a bike or scooter?
  • Accommodations – Check to see what’s generally available. From extended hotel stay discounts to apartment rentals and home-stays with local families, there are many options.
  • Entertainment – Get an idea of what kinds of things you’ll want to do for fun in that area and check those prices. These things can often add up and surprise you if you don’t budget for them so don’t forget to budget for nights out, hobbies and touring you’ll want to participate in.
  • Shopping – Whether you’re looking for souvenirs or basics like soap and clothing, it’s a good idea to see what the prices are for shopping and what is available locally.

You can find some of these things on handy sites that do cost of living calculations for you or you can talk to locals or other expats and travelers in those areas. Blogs can be a great resource for finding pricing for things in other countries.

Ultimately, just get a general idea of prices for things you see yourself needing and using while you’re there. Let it be your guide. It doesn’t have to be exact.

Now that you have an idea of how much it costs to get there, eat there, sleep there, play there etc.. you’ll need to figure out how long you want to be there. Long-term travel can mean very different things depending on the person so whether it’s 2 weeks or 2 years, figure out how much (on average) it will cost you per day, multiply that by the number of days you want to stay and then make that your goal.

I would also recommend planning a buffer of at least $1000-$5000 because it is always better to aim for a higher goal. You may discover extra expenses along the way and you don’t want them to set you back from your plans to engage in long-term travel.

Squeeze That Budget

Whether you’re already on a strict budget or not, a major part of the process needs to be finding new ways to squeeze your budget down so that you have more money to save each month. Don’t panic, I know you may feel like your budget is squeezed already but just get in there and take a look. I promise that if you really want to make this happen, you will find something to cut out. Here are some classic examples of a budget squeeze:

  • Food – Most of us are aware that we spend too much on food. Whether being lazy or busy are the cause, try to spend a bit more time to find coupons, deals and cook at home. Also take a look at snack and drink purchases because these add up. Aim to stock yourself with affordable snacks and drinks so you don’t fall for the convenient marked up ones.
  • Phone plans – Eek! Not the phone! This is not for the faint of heart but if you really want to cut out unnecessary spending, look at your phone plan. You may be able to switch to a different carrier to save a bit each month or even (if possible) downgrade to a cheaper plan that doesn’t use data. You can still use your apps in WiFi but without data to pay for, you can save a ton of money each month.
  • Housing – This is definitely a tough one but a huge money saver. If you can downsize your living situation, take on renters, or move in with a friend or family while you save, the saving process will go a lot faster.
  • Memberships & subscriptions – If left unchecked, these things can get us into paying too much for things we don’t need every month. Cancel all subscriptions and try to cut down on memberships or downgrade them to a minimum level that is necessary.
  • Extra income – This is hugely helpful especially if you are having a hard time squeezing much out of your budget each month. Find ways to make an extra income each month whether it’s selling some of your stuff, picking up pet or babysitting jobs or even diving into the freelance world.
  • Stop buying stuff – I know it’s impossible to actually stop buying things but challenge yourself to go a day or two without buying anything. It’s amazing how much we buy without even realizing it. Re-purpose clothing, swap with and borrow from friends and only buy if it is necessary.

Using all or some of these budget squeezing methods, you will be able to find ways to save each month. Set a goal for how much you want to save each month and make it into a game if that helps. When you deprive yourself of something you usually spend with but you see that money going towards your travel fund, it suddenly becomes exciting and worth it.

Commit to a Plan

Once you know what you’re aiming to save and you have an idea of how much you can save per month, set a date. Find a time, whether it is 6 months from now or 4 years, set a date and time that you will leave on that trip and start planning accordingly. Don’t treat it like it might happen, treat it like it is happening because you will find all kinds of excuses to not stick to your saving goals and push back that departure date. Set your goals, set your date and commit to it.

Be Flexible

If unforeseen expenses come up one month, don’t freak out.

If you had a weak moment and splurged one month, don’t freak out.

Take the amount that you went over budget and transfer it to the next month to pay off. Hold onto that amount until you pay yourself back. You’re human and will have setbacks or get sidetracked.  Your long-term travel goals will be your motivation to get back on track.

Sara Jones
Sara Jones

Sarah Jones is a writer, adventurer and lifestyle consultant. She graduated from Grand Valley State University and has a passion for dancing and dark chocolate.

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