Whether you eat from a golden spoon or with your hands, you still need to take the step of jumping on that bus/train or plane. It’s not the question whether you can afford to travel, it’s whether you really set your mind on it and do it. Further below you will read how you can save up a basic travel budget.Apparently there exists a prejudice in this world, that every Swiss person secretly is an owner of a bank or has a hidden bank account full with gold somewhere. If you believe in that prejudice, you’re probably not reading this post, since you’d think that I’m a hypocrite but just to be clear again; Swiss people have to work and save to get somewhere, just like everybody else. Now, I do know some people who work for banks or insurances and I also know people who are students, cooks, hairdressers, flight attendants, teachers, engineers, nurses, gardeners and people doing various ridiculously paid internships. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter what job you work, the ones who want to travel just do it.
Of course, I can call myself lucky. I never suffered from hunger and I always had a solid roof over my head (when I wasn’t travelling) and for the most part, Swiss money is a strong currency. Therefore, wherever I go, I get a lot for my money in return. But the thing is, I have to go there first. Just like all the French, Chilean, Australian, British, German and Brazilian people (and basically any other nation) I meet when I’m in a different country somewhere around the globe. So, if you still think that I as a Swiss person have nothing to say to the subject of how money relates to travel, just leave your house, find a tourist from a country, where you think the people are poor and ask them, how they afford to travel. I mean, Australians have to fly half around the world before they get anywhere else at all, same for Americans, who can go to Canada or Mexico but how do they end up in Europe? They will most likely give you similar answers to the ones I give you now.
How to increase the number on your bank account:
- Get a job (Any kind that’s legal. If you really want to travel, you shouldn’t feel ashamed to try glasses in a bar because you’re not qualified enough to mix drinks. Money doesn’t grow on trees.)
- Decide on an amount you want to save from each paycheck and put it towards your travel fund. I bet a person from South America can get much farther with $150, than a Swiss or Norwegian person.
- Lower your living costs
Before I was 16, I mostly babysitted to earn money. Afterwards, I was a waitress at banquets, helped at expos where I was in charge of the wheel of fortune or handing out flyers, sold food at fairs, worked at a cinema, worked as a cashier in a supermarket, worked in a bar and what I sometimes still do, is work for a promo agency to hand out samples of chewing gum, ice tea or whatever they are doing a promo for. This was all during my time as a student. What I’m trying to say; there is a job for anyone, since most of them are flexible timewise, if you can’t work on a regular schedule. If you already have a regular job, even better!
The amount you should save
That really depends on how much you can take away from your paycheck and how far you want to travel or how long you want to go on a journey without having to work. The important thing is that you pick an amount that you will be able to save for sure every month. Never find an excuse to go below it and just look at it as a fixed cost you have to spend, like for example, to pay rent.
Lower your living costs
Since I am used to sleep in hostel dorms, I actually prefer to share a flat with other people instead of having my own place and therefore, my rent is pretty cheap. This way, I also never feel guilty if I leave my room for a month and pay rent for nothing (and Zurich definitely isn’t the cheapest place to live). Then, think about what you really need and which special treat you can do without from day to day. For example, with every Starbucks coffee or beer I don’t buy in Zurich, I gain $8 I could put towards travelling. Or with every cocktail I don’t drink, I save $14 to $20. This is pretty easy for me, as I’m not a big drinker but sometimes it’s hard to resist a nice looking piece of chocolate cake or a t-shirt that’s on sale or it’s just much more time-saving to buy lunch ($10 and upwards) instead of cooking it myself. Maybe it’s a bit overwhelming to find an item where you could cut back on. Therefore, I recommend writing down everything you spend money on and how much it costs for at least a month. A budget app might help. Soon you’ll see what your big money eaters are and you can decide what you want to cut back on.
So. That’s how I afforded to travel as a student and how I still need to save now, that I have a regular salary (of course I would like to have a massage every week or a manicure or go to the cinema but hey, if I don’t do it, I can go to Thailand in half a year instead and have a real Thai massage!)
If you already are travelling and need more funding, you could always try to find freelance work. I met a Moroccan guy in Kuala Lumpur who financed his travels by creating web pages for other people with Elance.
Once you have a little sum saved up to travel, there are of course different ways to travel aswell. If your funds are limited, spend your nights camping, CouchSurfing or with Airbnb and take your time looking for cheap airline/train/bus ticket offers. If you saved the whole year to finally splurge on that 3-week vacation – enjoy!!!
What’s your strategy to save money? How do you afford to travel? Please share in a comment.