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Drastic Ways to Save Money for Long-Term Travel

by Steve James May 4, 2007
Just imagine … relaxing on a golden beach in Thailand, trekking through a teeming jungle in Peru, swimming up close and personal with the inhabitants of the Great Barrier Reef, roaming the electric streets of Tokyo at 3am in a sake-fuelled haze – Ah, the possibilities!

BUT AS THE REAL world back seeps back in (a dreary nine-to-five desk-job, perhaps?) your dream can feel so very distant, perhaps even unattainable.

Intensive money saving requires some lifestyle changes. Here are some tried-and-tested ideas to save some cash.

Stop Drinking Alcohol

Or at least, cut it down drastically. A typical English Saturday night bender of a beers, a club, some shots and a taxi back can easily rob you of £50 ($99) or so.

Repeat that a few times a month, together with a few after-work drinking sessions and you’re losing hundreds of pounds a month that could be going straight in your travel fund.

A little tip to help you get through it: every time you feel like buying a pint, remind yourself that you could buy yourself a night’s accommodation in Thailand with that money instead (or, if you prefer the thought, FOUR big bottles of Singha beer!)

Give Up Cigarettes

Smoke twenty ciggies a day? That’s over £150 ($300) a month that could have gone in your travel fund, and hence another few days you’ll have to work in your dull 9-5 job. Or to put it another way, you’ve just smoked away the equivalent of a month’s fully-paid travel in Laos.

It may be difficult, but try to cut down on the cigarettes, or if possible, give up. (You can always take it up again when you’re out on the road, they’re dead cheap in Asia).

Don’t Go Shopping. Ever

If there’s anything that a year on the road teaches you, it’s that you don’t need stuff. Get into the habit right now and stop buying unnecessary things.

How many clothes/CDs/books do you need anyway? You won’t be able to fit it all into your backpack. If you really get the urge to buy something, then make sure it’s something that’ll be of use on your travels; even better if it’s something inspirational like a Lonely Planet Guidebook for the first country of your trip…

No Eating Out

Well, OK, only on special occasions, like that LAST BIG CELEBRATION JUST BEFORE YOU GO TRAVELING. Seriously, if you work, then taking the time to prepare a lunch the night before can save you around £50 ($99) a month, an amount that will easily feed you for weeks in somewhere like Laos.

Move Home to Your Folks

Erk! Probably not an option to most people, but since it’s something I did when saving for my Round the World trip, I thought I’d throw it in there.

I was renting a pricey room in a house with some friends when I made the decision to go traveling. So I moved back to my parents’ house, which was only 10 miles away.

Paying a token amount to cover my keep, it meant I could put a shedload of money away each month, and enabled me to go off traveling far sooner than I expected to.

Keep A Record Of Your Savings

An important thing to do all through this is to keep a record of your lifestyle savings. So you’re saving £100 a week by giving up drinking and smoking? Write it down. If you don’t see the results of your effort, you’ll be less inclined to stick to it.

Write down every saving, and total it up every month. Ascribe the extra you’ve saved to something specific you want to do on your trip. Pretty soon you’ll realise it’s much more fun to spend £60 ($120) on a parachute jump in New Zealand or on an all-nite sake’n’karaoke bender in Osaka than down at your local pub.

The measures above might seem harsh, but if you are determined enough to go away, then you will be more than willing to make these sacrifices. The message is simply to think before you spend money.

How far could that amount of money get you around the world? Cause that’s your goal, isn’t it? To travel, not break the record for the number of pairs of jeans owned by a single person?

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