Travel Diary: Budgeting for your trip (step 0)


Ever since I embarked on my travel journey, I have gotten this question: “How can you afford it?”

I am not rich(monetarily)

I am not a trust-fund kid

I didn’t win the lottery

I didn’t rob a bank

Here is the secret: I saved up for it! 

My husband is my witness.  Since we started dating, I was honest with him about my plans to travel the world.  It was so important to me that I have been saving up for it since I graduated college and got my first job (2009).

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The first step: Making the decision to save for a trip.  Everyone has different priorities, and they change. It’s life.  Don’t look at it as a matter of paying the bills or saving up. The fact is:  You stick to a budget and live within your means. Also, you figure out where you can cut corners. For example, making your own coffee instead of buying it every day at Starbucks or passing up that extra pair of shoes that you have no need for…you get the idea.

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The second step: Creating a budget goal.  This is relatively simple:

1) Take your target amount, lets say its $12,000.

2)How much can you afford and are willing to invest in your “Travel fund”? Lets say its $200/month.

3) Length of time = total amount / [monthly contribution x 12].  In this case $12,000/($200x 12) =  5 years.

It seems like a long time, but this is the old-fashioned way.  You can be as aggressive as you dare and can afford, but this starts to paint the picture.

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The third step: Go travel the world!

I gave you a very simplistic look at how I went about it.  It really wasn’t more complicated than that.

Doing all I have mentioned was not particularly easy for me.  The fact that my husband and I worked full-time, and shared expenses allowed for me to spend 5 years savings.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that during those 5 years we also managed to buy a home and throw a wedding all 100% funded by our savings.  It can be done.  It takes hard word, wise financial choices, and focusing on our goal!

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Other items to consider:

  • Factor in the cost of your home or apartment.  Do you rent while away? sublet? You can decide to factor in those costs into your budget but that may increase the saving period.  It all comes down to personal preference, length of travel, and how much you manage to save.
  • Don’t mix your savings/rainy day fund with your travel funds.  It tends to disappear.  You should have two, otherwise when an emergency happens, you will be forced to wipe out your only savings and that will put you back on square 0!
  • If you want to be a shopping diva or spend tons of money living the high life but can’t afford to save; this is not the advice for you.  Sorry, you can’t have both. The key takeaway is that you have to make sacrifices.  I know people who have part-time jobs to earn “fun money”. It’s just an option.  Unless you are rich, you will have to work hard or make wise choices to achieve the savings you want for your trip. period.

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I shared my story but below is some additional help and food for thought:

  • If you are serious about getting started, Bootsnall is a great site that walks you through the entire process of planning for a trip.  It’s a 30 day process, and each day they provide reading material and to-do’s for you to be on track for trip planning.  Jose and I used it! 2 thumbs up!
  • For all of you Pessimists out there: read these articles to get you thinking about affording travel.  There is no excuse.  You can make them, but they won’t be valid. 
  • Nomadic Matt’s blog has proven to be a go-to for Jose and I during our travels! Feel free to browse his site.  I highly recommend it!
  • If you can get up and move to another place:
    • Work-aways: Travel to another country and work in exchange for housing.  This gives you some wiggle room for expenses.
    • Consider countries like Australia and New Zealand that have high minimum wage and grant working visas (US citizens need to be under 30).  Many travelers stay put there for a few months to raise funds for the next leg of their trip.

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For those who have found useful tips for saving and budgeting for your travels, please comment and share on this post! I am sure the readers will love anything you have to share!

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14 thoughts on “Travel Diary: Budgeting for your trip (step 0)

  1. I reckon you’ve got it pretty down packed 🙂 but I would add something – that travel and work away option is GREAT for divas! I don’t live the high-life at all (I sleep on the floor and own a total of two t-shirts), life for me is about what I can see and who I share it with, but I did leave my country with only $600. I didn’t want to wait and wait and slowly save, so I just left! And now I am working as I travel, which is excellent. So yeh! Thats a totally feasible option for anyone who just can’t seem to save- just go, but be prepared to do the saving bit less drastically as you travel

    1. Sketchpacker: You bring up a great point. Thanks for sharing that you are a Diva. I admire your spontaneity. Based on what you shared, you balance out what you get which is the point I like people to walk away with. You can start with less money, you just have to adapt to the circumstances, like in your case! thanks so much for commenting. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Indah. I am actually going to post about different aspects of travel every week. I believe starting with funding your travel was a good topic! 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I agree with all of your points. I put aside up to 250 € every month (depends on the extra expenses one has). It helps a lot that I don’t have a car (public transport in Europe is great anyway) or a fancy cell 🙂

    1. Suze: Great job! it takes discipline to commit to saving in general, let alone for travel. I am glad you are providing yourself as an example of my topic. Let us know when you head to next!!!

  3. Saving up is definitely the way to go !! I save up every year a little bit of what I get a week for college , and by the time December comes I have more than a 1,000 ! Jet Blue throws amazing offers sometimes and to different places ! Great Experience to travel you and learn you don’t always have to start by going over seas 🙂

  4. This is such a great post. Even I travel on thinner than shoe string budget. You two are awesome to work together to save up for the world trip. Very motivating post indeed. Thank you for sharing. Hope you are having a great time travelling 🙂

    1. I am having a great time and we both enjoyed the experience. Jose has to work and stay put while I still travel (currently working in Costa Rica). In Sept we start the process all over again…planning our next adventure! 🙂

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