The Best Ways To Save Up For The Trip Of A Lifetime

It’s the only thing standing between you and a year backpacking around the world/moving to a new country/going to yoga school in India: money.

But when you’ve got a serious addiction to large double-shot soy lattes and rent is so dang expensive, how’s a young Australian itching with wanderlust meant to save?

The first thing to do is work out how much you’ll need, says Australian finance expert Noel Whittaker. “For example, if you need $15,000 in 18-months time and get paid fortnightly, make sure you bank $417 every pay until you leave for your trip.”

Sounds simple enough. But if you’re the kind of person who finds themselves down to their last $20 note the day before pay day without having saved a cent (or you’ve got debt to clear before you can even start saving) you’ll need to make some changes to your spending habits – fast.

It’s time for an overhaul. Let’s count down.

18 months out: choose three things to give up

If you start going hard with a year-and-a-half to go, in a few months you’ll feel deprived and do something crazy like book a holiday to Bali to treat yo’ self. The key is to ease in.


Say no.

Choose three things to stop spending on from now until your trip. Clothing is an easy one – pull out some pieces from the bottom of your wardrobe you haven’t worn for a while and everyone will think they’re new. Going to a wedding? Borrow an outfit from a friend. Other unnecessary items that drain your bank balance might be pricey drinks – one $15 cocktail a week adds up to about $1,170 over 18 months – or taxis. Analyse your bank statement to decide what to cut.

One year out: get a side project

The benefits of having a second stream of income are two-fold: not only do you earn more money, but while you’re working on that second job or side project you have less time to spend said money.

Whether you wait tables or do bar work, walk dogs, start Uber driving or turn your jewellery making hobby into an Etsy business, try to choose something different to your day job so you don’t burn out. Got a spare room at your place? Put it on Airbnb and watch the dollars roll in (plus you might even meet a traveller who’ll offer you their couch to sleep on when you’re in their city).

Six months out: time to step it up

With the light at the end of your tight-arse tunnel getting brighter, it’s now time to get tougher on yourself and maximise your moolah by becoming even more frugal.

Use an app like Daily Budget to see what you can stop spending on. Buying fresh juice? Sorry, but no. If you buy five $7 juices a week for six months, that’s $840. Learn to love instant coffee – a $5 jar will last you weeks (and it goes without saying you’ve been bringing breakfast and lunch from home, right?)


Hit two or three different supermarkets when you do your grocery shop to maximise specials. Stop meeting friends at bars or restaurants and go for a walk together; have a coffee in the park or invite them over for a home-cooked meal instead.

Got a gym membership? Time to quit. Take what you’ve learned from those over-priced high-intensity workout classes and do it yourself in the park or download an app like 7 Minute Workout Challenge or Fitness Buddy.

Finding ways to save will become a game that gives you serious satisfaction (and will make those espressos in Italy taste so much better).

Six weeks out: move home with your parents

This isn’t possible for everyone. But if your parents live a reasonable distance from your place of work and have room/are open to the idea of you moving home for a while, do it.

Rent is one of the biggest suckers on your savings, and your travel fund will skyrocket when you’re not handing over hundreds of dollars to the landlord every week (leave the place in the best condition possible to maximise how much of your bond you get back).

It can feel strange to be back in your parents’ home after living independently, but try to make the most of the quality time with family – especially if you’re heading overseas long term. Just make sure to be a courteous houseguest; offer to chip in for bills and groceries, take out the rubbish and make them your famous spag bol every now and then.

Two weeks out: sell all your stuff

If you’re going away long-term, your car (if you have one) and all those clothes, books, DVDs and rarely-used pieces of snowboarding equipment are just going to be sitting there gathering dust anyway (this is especially true if you’re moving overseas for the foreseeable future).

tumblr market

Book a stall at a weekend market, list it all on eBay or put the word out on Facebook. You’ll be surprised how much it all adds up to, and you’ll feel lighter without so many possessions. It’s the era of the minimalist.

One week out: cash out your annual leave and do your tax

Unless you’ll be returning to the same employer when you get back from your trip, you’ll be leaving your job around now. Hopefully you won’t have taken much time off in the last 18 months and therefore allowed your annual leave to accrue so you’ll receive a sweet payout on your last day. Cha-ching.

You should also do your tax return before your trip and, provided you don’t owe the government money, you’ll have another lump sum in your account just before you leave or while you’re away.

One day out: celebrate!

travel van

You’ll be somewhere like this soon – and be able to afford it.

Have a shindig to say farewell. You might even get a drink or two shouted for you… unless all your friends and family are saving hard for an overseas trip, too.

Erin is a freelance writer currently living in NYC. Right now, she’s drinking too many free refills of Dr Pepper. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.