I am your average 20 something year old. Big dreams. No stable income. And all these dreams are centered around...you guessed it....TRAVEL.
There are so many young people with similar dreams. You could be that young person. You just want to travel and see the world. You want to learn about new cultures and try different cuisines. Your only restriction is the size of your wallet.
Worry not. Your travel dreams are about to come true.
Here is a foolproof guide on how to save money for your next adventure. Luckily, you do not need a corporate job for this to work.
1. Have a clear purpose for saving
Before you begin saving, it's important to have a reason for doing it. Why do you need to put away money? Is it a travel fund, tuition or rent money? If it is for travel, write down your travel plans, and set aside the money with a specific destination in mind.
If you start saving without a clear purpose, you will lose motivation along the way. If not, you will end up spending that money on something less important.
2. Start with the amount you have
I once met an Indian man who was really good with his money. At the age of 15, he was living on his own and paying bills (he doesn't know it but he is my role model) ;-)
During our interaction, he asked how much I saved per week. Since I didn't have a job, my answer was 'zero'. He then inquired about my parents and how I survived on a daily basis. 'I rely on my parents', I replied, to which he nodded knowingly.
What I learnt from this interaction is that we are all capable of saving. Whether employed, unemployed or transitioning. We can't afford to start saving only after we begin earning a certain amount of money.
You do not have to start with large sums of money. Start with what you have, put it aside and slowly make your travel dreams come true.
After our discussion, I made it a point to save 10,000 Uganda shillings per week (sounds like much, doesn't it? Wrong!). Sometimes, I opted to walk home instead of paying for a taxi or a motorbike. I learnt to save from what my parents provided.
3. Store your money in a different currency
This is a trick that I learnt during my university days.
You see, I ran a retail business as I attended college in Kenya. It generated about $700. When I returned to my home country, I was so afraid to spend it all. So, I maintained it in the foreign currency.
Months went by before I used any of it. And this is why it works so well;
a) I wasn't always in the vicinity of a foreign bureau, hence I couldn't easily spend it.
b) As a foreign currency, it didn't seem like much money, in comparison to its equivalent in the local currency.
So, I kept it. And the method worked, again and again.
But if this doesn't work for you, you can always open up a fixed savings account with a trusted local bank.
4. Set spending limits and stick to them
This is so effective because it allows you to be in direct control of your money. You need to set monthly, weekly and even daily spending limits.
On my recent trip to Rwanda, I had a strict weekly spending plan. If I spent more than expected in a week (due to unexpected costs), I made up for it by spending less than specified the following week. I always made up for the difference. However, if I spent less than expected for a specific week, I saved that.
Certain choices you make can also help you stick to the limits. For example, making home cooked meals rather than eating out, buying a water bottle that you can refill instead of buying bottled water every time you're thirsty, restricting your nights out. All this helps you spend less and save more.
5. Set up an emergency fund
I am not talking about an exorbitant amount of money that you hope your kids will benefit from one day.
I am referring to a small fund that could get you out of a glitch at a moment's notice. For example, if you got ill and needed medical attention, if you got robbed, if you lost your travel documents, etc. Or if something came up and you needed to go home immediately. That's when the emergency fund is handy.
You should keep this money somewhere in a bank or on a card. Under no circumstances should you use it up for something less than an emergency. By the way, KFC is not an emergency!
If you don't use it up during your trip, it could contribute to your next adventure. Hello, Thailand!
6. Make online reservations
As you begin the booking process for flights, hotels, hostels etc, remember that online reservations could save you lots of money.
Instead of using a travel agency the next time you secure a flight, try booking directly with the airline. Travel agencies are usually more expensive because they include their commission to the flight fare. (This is most effective for short distance flights)
Just visit the airline's website, fill in your travel information, make the online or bank deposit and you are good to go. You will save $50 to $200. When you are on a tight budget, that is everything.
You can also sign up for travel website newsletters to receive email notifications about price drops. I like to use TripAdvisor for this. Once you have a travel date set, look out for the price change and then book as soon as the price is within your budget. Do not wait too long though.
Booking.com is one of the most reliable websites with affordable accommodation price ranges. It offers free bookings (pay upon arrival) and free cancellations.
What I like to do is search their website for the cheapest hotel/hostel price, call or email the hotel/hostel that I am interested in for a better price. Use the price stated on the website as a quotation and negotiate your way to a suitable deal.
What I have learnt over the years is that no destination is too expensive. You can travel to lands far and beyond, if you are determined to save your change.
All you need is discipline and the zeal to make it happen.
I am currently saving up for 2 trips: Morocco and Thailand. Which countries are you saving up for?
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