How to Save Money for Traveling Abroad

At the start of 2018, Will and I made the decision to move to Australia and dedicate our lives to traveling full-time and work towards living debt free. In the beginning, we had no savings. We earned up to $4,500 (often less) a month from our combined income during 2018 as restaurant servers and bartenders. Here’s how we managed to save money for traveling abroad in one year.

There's nothing like a good airport sunrise!

Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • We chose to begin our travel journey by applying for a Working Holiday Visa in Australia. This way, we are able to pick up jobs on the go and earn extra cash while traveling abroad.
  • Changing your spending habits is a complete lifestyle change. It takes time and practice. You will fail a few times. Keep trying. Celebrate small victories, plan for mishaps, and you will be fine.
  • Saving money is about PRIORITIZATION, not deprivation. It’s all about the mindset.

How To Save Money For Traveling Abroad

  • Avoid having a car payment. 
    • One of the best decisions I ever made was to save enough cash to buy a car in college without taking out a loan. This have given me so much financial freedom!
  • Refinance student loans/other loans.
    • Six months after college graduation, I had my monthly payments reduced to just $10/month based on my income. For me, this is just enough to keep my neck above water until my five year plan kicks in and I am able to start actively paying off my debt through means of simple living and self sustainability.
  • Live below your means.
    • A simple, but tough guideline to follow. Break the habit of living paycheck to paycheck. What you can prioritize now for an amazing experience later?
  • Consider downsizing your living space or relocating outside of a city.
    • Do some research where you live and find out where the most affordable residential areas are.
  • Go to the grocery store.
    • This will always be cheaper and often times, healthier, in the long run.
  • Learn easy and cheap recipes that you love.
    • My go-to is a tuna melt. Will loves seasoned chicken and rice. Frozen pizza has also proven to be a very economical treat in a pinch.
  • No take out!
    • If you must indulge, save this for dates with family and friends. Cooking at home is more mindful and satisfying. Also, creating meals with a roommate or partner allows time for connection and supports community.
  • Live sober (or mostly).
    • Alcohol, smoking, and other vices are expensive. Try a few weeks of intentional sobriety out for size. Learn to appreciate a different perspective of life while getting healthier and happier. Your bank account will thank you.
  • Delete shopping apps from your phone.
    • Eliminate the temptation. Save shopping for your travels. If you must purchase something new, make efforts in buying from local shops and personal businesses or borrowing second hand. Both the quality and the cause are far better.
  • Unsubscribe from emails.
    • Eliminate all temptation. Unsubscribe from all sites and services that you don’t directly need. The less sales notifications, the easier it is to resist spending money.
  • Don’t pay for cable.
    • There are so many options for entertainment through the internet. Bonus points if you have awesome friends and family that let you use their subscriptions for free!
  • Create or make gifts for friends or family. Or pass along nice, quality items from your home.
    • Keep gift giving intentional and affordable. The sentiment will be priceless and your friends and family will appreciate these gifts so much more.
  • Celebrate occasions with experiences, not gifts.
    • Quality time is one of the best gifts a person can give or receive.
  • Keep lights off during the day.
    • Open the curtains and take advantage of natural daylight! This small effort will make a difference in your monthly bill.
  • Be willing to work extra hours.
    • Show up early, stay late. By doing this now, we will able to live comfortably while on the road and travel unemployed by choice.
  • Try downsizing what you have instead of replacing with more.
    • Donate or sell extra clothing, furniture, and appliances. Living more intentionally and minimally makes saving money so much easier.
  • Avoid convenience store snacks and drinks.
    • Small purchases from convenience stores add up quickly! It is always cheaper to buy your favorite things in bulk than spending money on small items daily.
  • Discontinue memberships.
    • Are you really getting your money’s worth? I said goodbye to a 5+ year long Ipsy subscription and I don’t miss it.
  • Stop impulse buying.
    • Make lists when you go shopping and stick with them. Don’t purchase things you didn’t plan for just because of a sale. Give yourself time before making purchases of things you want, rather than things you need.
  • Limit your time on social media.
    • Social Media is FULL of ads and sales geared towards your spending habits. Disable social media notifications from your phone so that you’re less tempted to open the apps. Slashing the time I spent on social media limited my temptations for online shopping and decreased my fear of missing out while trying to save for Australia.
  • Sell your crap.
    • Ebay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace will be your friends. Try hosting a yard sale! You’ll be surprised what people are willing to buy at the right price.
  • Eat before work and bring snacks.
    • Bring snacks or meals with you to work. Grocery shopping saves money only if you actually eat the food you buy!
  • Rent or borrow items from friends and family.
    • We took advantage of this regularly with camping gear, outdoor equipment, and tools. Often borrowing stuff from people included quality time spent together laughing and catching up in person. It’s a win-win for everybody!
  • Put coin jars in each room in the house.
    • Drop your loose change in jars and watch the dollars add up! We learned this from Will’s parents. They pay for their anniversary vacation every year by collecting pocket change.
  • The $5 Rule.
    • Each time you get change for cash, save your five dollar bills. With this method, I was able to buy a cash car my first year of college and fly to the west coast on my own during spring break.
Will's travel partner, Mac, driving them across stretches of highway in New Zealand.

As you can see, every dollar matters. This goes both ways. Your savings will still add up even when you can only afford to put away 10 or 20% of your paycheck. Small “harmless” purchases also add up at the end of each week and month.

Saving enough money for traveling abroad is no easy feat. Make every effort, no matter how small, and you will get savings results!

What methods do you use to save money for travel?