How Three Travellers Save Money Before, During And After A Big Trip
Travel is an essential experience while we’re young. But, of course, you already know that; you’re a Millennial after all, and Millennials are smart enough to realise that humans are wired to value experiences over possessions. But just like fancy cars and brand-label clothing, travel can come with a hefty price tag that can sometimes seem hard to justify.
We speak to three different Millennials, at three completely different stages of life, about the ways they save for travel – and how they got back on their financial feet after taking that big trip.
Traveller #1: saving for travel and the future, too
For so many of us, the anxiety of setting off on an extended trip lies in having to say farewell to a huge chunk of savings. It’s our head and our heart arguing, manifesting an imaginary fork in the road between travel and making investments. But this isn’t necessarily how it needs to be. Apparently, you can have your travel and future, too.
Kate, 26, is a Sydney-based radiographer who found a way to make both her dreams of travelling and owning a home a reality. In the past three years, Kate has departed for two separate six-month-long trips – while also putting down a deposit for an off-the-plan apartment in Sydney’s west.
Like many financial goals, Kate reached hers with a certain kind of determination. A determination disguised as a strict budget, a negotiation with her workplace to ensure she always had a job to come back to and hours upon hours of overtime.
She also found a way to make the whole mortgage thing work for her. Knowing that she couldn’t sustain her travel plans and pay off a mortgage at the same time, Kate looked into other options: “My partner and I were looking for an apartment before we decided to do the second trip. We couldn’t find one that we liked in our budget so we decided buying off-the-plan would suit our needs. We only needed to pay a deposit (which we already had in the bank) and no mortgage payments for another two years. This gave us the advantage of locking in a 2015 price and not paying a mortgage until 2017”.
Obviously, not everyone has the benefit of sharing an apartment with a partner, or a job stable enough to allow such frequent travelling. But Kate admits that the determination to be in the position she’s currently in has come with a lot of sacrifices – the biggest one being the fact she’s always lived at home with her parents.
Other sacrifices she says she’s happy to make are, “swapping clothes with friends instead of buying new ones, not having my hair done professionally, bringing lunch to work everyday, limiting myself to one meal out a week and catching public transport instead of Ubers or taxis, where possible”.
And her golden rule? “Budget more, pack less.”
Traveller #2: Work as you go and be strategic
Another way of ensuring that the cost of travel doesn’t cripple you is to find a way to work while you travel. Erin, 28, is a freelance writer currently living in New York City. Before settling in the Big Apple, Erin travelled for seven months around Central and South America, adhering to a pre-planned budget and keeping up with freelance work.
While travelling, she volunteered for long stretches and used Trusted Housesitters in exchange for free accommodation. She always bought and cooked her food in the hostel, searched extensively for the cheapest tours and opted for beers in a park over a night out.
When Erin arrived in New York, it was the planning she stuck to on her trip that allowed her to land on her feet – even when her bank account and the drop of the Aussie dollar provided her with a rude awakening. “Thankfully I had freelance work to keep me going. I can’t recommend enough having some kind of way of earning money while you travel. Or stopping at some point in the trip to work for a while to bolster your savings and then continue on”.
Staying on top of planned budgets can sometimes be tough and limiting, so having that extra income on the side may mean the difference between lengthening your trip or having to go home.
Traveller #3: Save, travel, repeat
For those of us who just can’t shake the thrill of adventure, returning home from a long stint of travel is just another opportunity to get your finances in order so you can jet off again.
This is certainly the case for Kieran, 23, who has worked and saved while studying at uni to maintain his passion for exploration. As a result, his expert money-saving skills have given him the freedom to live in both England and Canada, as well as to travel extensively across Europe, Canada, the US and Asia.
With five years of travel experience under his belt, Kieran is well greased in the art of getting home and dealing with that feeling of being flat broke. However, he admits that it’s this deflation that motivates him to get back and save more. “The feeling that I don’t want to always settle into a mundane daily routine back in Adelaide spurs me on to start planning the next trip”.
Constantly saving and travelling gives you a wealth of experience to know what works – and what won’t. “Having experience from my first trip definitely helped me in formulating my budget for the Canadian trip,” Kieran admits. Not only does experience help with outlining a budget, it gives you a more realistic understanding of how much you’ll actually need.
Kieran told The Cusp that his ability to save is always motivated by the end goal: “I always have in the back of my mind the thought, ‘You don’t need to buy that, you can spend that money on your next trip!’ Sometimes I can be called a tightarse by some of my friends but in the end I am the one that continues to go off to cool new places overseas, and to me, that is far more important”.
Moral of the story?
Travel can teach us healthy money habits – different ways of saving, budgeting and the meaning of value – that we can apply to our lives when we’ve landed back home, wherever that is.
Josephine is a writer from Sydney. She has written for AWOL, Kaleido Press and is a commissioned poet for the Disappearing 2.0. She tweets nonsense here.