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Home » Travel Planning

How to Save Money for a Backpacking Trip

dollar bills against a blurry background

Photo from Flickr by Thomas Hawk

Recently I was asked “How do you afford to go travelling all the time?” Simple… I don’t afford it, I just don’t spend my money on things that aren’t travel. Planning a backpacking trip for a lot of people never gets further than the first financial hurdle; it often seems like a pipe dream that will cost a fortune or require you to either be a  superstar English teacher, offer translation services,  or learn to be a blogger first. NOT true! Saving for a backpacking trip can be as easy as looking for cheap airfare, cheap accommodation, not eating out too often or thinking twice about buying that new jacket. I’ve always been an awful saver, my whole life I’ve pretty much spent more than I’ve earned every single week… but that’s never stopped me backpacking.

How to Save for a Backpacking Trip in 10 Simple Steps

1. Leave your money in the bank. Cash burns a hole in anyone’s pocket and notes soon become spare change… and spare change soon becomes chocolate bars. Open a savings account and have your wages, allowance or gambling winnings paid into it. Transfer over only what you need. With most banks this can take 2-3 days, removing the temptation of impulse buys.

2. Learn photography or a hobby. Take beginner piano lessons. It will take up your spare time and stop you over-planning and wasting money on stupid things you don’t need, like water purification tablets.

3. Smoke less, drink less, eat out less, stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize.

4. Work overtime if you can. If you’re earning, you’re not spending.

5. Walk or cycle everywhere. It will get you fit and save money on transport.

6. Write down every penny you spend and every penny you save. Doing this helps you to stop and think about your cashflow.

7. Set a tight weekly budget and stick to it. It’s great practice for when you finally get on the road.

8. Pick three luxuries you can’t live without and forget the rest. Get back to basics.

9. Make a rough plan of where you want to go and for how long. Break the plan down into sections and save for each chunk of time. Doing this will help to keep you motivated as each time you get a step closer to that backpacking dream.

10. The biggest motivator to save for a backpacking trip is buying the ticket, be it plane, bus or  train. When you have a deadline you’ll be amazed at how good you can be at saving the cash you need.

Fiona Tulloch has written 32 articles. At the age of 27, Fiona gave up a publishing career in London to travel round the world, spending a year around South America and Asia. She currently resides on the Cambodian coast after deciding that rain and unemployment back home in the UK were not for her. She enjoys eating local food (a lot), learning languages (badly) and living a simple life surrounded by sunshine, smiles and palm trees.

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