Traveling is AWESOME, it is a privilege, and it is one of the most eye-opening experiences anyone can have. Now of course it takes money, and with expenses up to wazoo especially in NYC, it’s really challenging to actually save money. So here I am, humbly offering some things that have worked for me in saving for my trips and how I have saved abroad. As an associate teacher with tons of student loans I have had to learn how to seriously budget and try to be a little creative in how I spend and save my meager earnings.
Saving Before Travel
- Keep Track of Income and Expenses – I created a spreadsheet a couple of years ago and it helps me to keep track of my monthly income and expenses, so I know what’s coming in and what’s going out. One of these expenses includes a set amount of pocket money. This is money that covers going out for food, drinks, parties, etc. Knowing what’s going out is really important, because those little things like cups of coffee or that beer during happy hour add up quickly, so it’s good to know where you’re money is going.
- Set a monthly budget, and STICK TO IT! – Now there are always going to be days where you just need a drink after work, or that friend you haven’t seen in a while suddenly resurfaces, so that’s why this is super tricky, but you have to be strict. What I’ve started to do is pull the amount of cash that I’ve decided on for the month, and once that’s all spent, that’s it.
- That stuff buried in your closet, sell it. – I usually am more likely to throw stuff out than hold on to it, but there are some things that I definitely hang on to. Books for instance. I’m a bookworm like you wouldn’t believe, but am beginning to realize that those books I thought I’d re-read, I simply won’t because there are SO many other books I want to get to. Granted I’m going to hang onto my Jane Austen boxed set and the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series for example, but those other books, yea I can sale them. Half.com is awesome. I sold all of my college textbooks and some other literature and made a few hundred bucks. That was my flight to Costa Rica.
- Rock on for Leftovers- Buying lunch is expensive. Even those lunch special prices (I definitely cave for the $8 lunch special at a sushi spot down the block once in a while. It’s soooo much food, how can you turn that down?), can rack up quickly. And if you dislike cooking as much as I do, what I did in college was cook a massive amount of food Sunday night, and I was good for the rest of the week. Leftovers are your bank account’s best friend.
Saving During Travel
- Hostels are the (choice word similar to AWESOME here) – I first stayed in a hostel down in Costa Rica and immediately wondered why I hadn’t discovered them sooner. They are CHEAP and, if you do your research and make a smart choice, beautiful and clean. I mean, have you ever heard of only paying $15 a night to stay somewhere, with a possibility of having a home cooked breakfast for an additional $5? Not only that, but they are the best place to meet people. People talk to each other in hostels. Which brings me to my next point…
- Make Friends and Connections– Besides the fact that some of the strongest and closest friendships I currently have are with people abroad, when you meet people they can hook you up. I’m not suggesting to just go talk to people to see what they can get you for free, you should talk to people simply for the fact that they are fascinating and you never know who you’ll meet. But through those connections, you can get a serious hook-up. One of my best friends who I met down in Ticalandia, her uncle owned a ziplining company, so I didn’t have to pay a cent to shakily attach myself to a cable hundreds of feet in the air over a swamp full of crocodiles and chug a beer after in relief. 🙂
These are just a few suggestions, but ones that I’ve found most effective in helping me save to and while traveling.