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The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money for Full Time Travel

Full-time traveling is an exciting idea, but it can seem unattainable when you consider all the resources it takes to make it happen. One of the biggest concerns is preparing your bank account for life on the road.

Saving money to travel can seem like a task that has a never-ending goal. How do you know when enough is enough, and if it’s so possible, then why isn’t everyone doing it?

On the surface, it seems really difficult to save money to travel. However, we know it’s possible. There were 1.4 billion people who journeyed through the world in 2018. That’s a lot of people, sharing a lot of similar experiences (and travel saving tips, too).

This year, my partner and I will become some of those people. As I gear up for a full year of traveling, it makes sense to share some of the strategies and preparations I’ve made to feel confident and secure in our decision to hit the road. Read on for our ultimate guide to saving money for full-time travel!

1. Saving Money to Travel? Set a Goal.

The first step to saving money to travel is figuring out what type of traveling you want to do, and where. Let’s say you are planning to hop through Southeast Asia. Your savings goal would depend on the costs of traveling through countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Websites like Budget My Trip can provide you with an index that breaks down the cost per day to travel in specific countries. With that info in mind, decide how long you would like to travel for. Then use the average cost per day to make a savings goal.

Working towards a specific financial goal is often better than working towards a date, especially if you have a set income every month. Currently, I’m planning for a year of full-time travel, mostly around Southeast Asia. I’ve set my savings goal using the cost of travel in Indonesia, which is around $51 a day. This means I need around $18,600 to travel around Indonesia for a year. Taking into account the cost to get there, traveler’s insurance, and other related expenses, I settled on a goal closer to $25,000.

You can discover other destinations that can make your savings go further. For example, the average cost of travel in the Philippines is $52.09. Yet, in Taiwan, it is $85.39. You can save close to $33 per day by hitting Maremegmeg Beach in the Philippines, instead of Baishawan Beach in Taiwan (though if you’ve got the funds, we recommend experiencing both).

This may not be an option for those who are looking to visit a specific location. But, for travelers who are looking to wander anywhere they can, analyzing cheaper locales is the best way to stretch your money to travel longer.

Explore ancient architecture in Myanmar on a budget.

2. Create a Savings Account (and Don’t Touch It!)

Having a designated savings account is a simple and effective step in saving money to travel full time. Once you create a travel savings account, there are simple precautions you can take to avoid the temptation of pulling from this account.

First, disable your savings account from online banking. This way, taking money out of your savings account requires a few more hurdles than casually hitting the “Transfer” button on your banking app. The idea of going into a bank, filling out a withdraw slip, and speaking to a teller sounds like an awful lot to do for a new pair of shoes.

Second, look for banking accounts that will help you reach your goals. For example, high-yield savings accounts are a good place to start. Money management websites, like Nerd Wallet, can help you find banking accounts that offer you the biggest return on your savings balance. Look for accounts that offer benefits such as airline points, reimbursed ATM fees, low membership fees, and no international transaction fees.

3. Cut Your Costs

The biggest and best way to save money for traveling? Cutting your pre-travel expenditures. Take a look at your monthly budget and find items that are aren’t a life necessity that you can cut out. Is a commercial-free Spotify experience more important than the chance to hear authentic Cuban Jazz in Havana?

Things like subscriptions, going out to eat multiple times a week, and your daily latte should be on the table for cuts. It’s estimated that the average American spends over $3,000 going out to eat each year. Even cutting that in half goes a long way towards your savings goal.

Additionally, it’s estimated that the average monthly cost of subscription services is $237 a month. That’s $2,844 a year! Your monthly wine subscription may be convenient, but it’s costly. We bet nine out of ten Sommeliers will tell you that drinking wine in Spain is better than drinking it on your couch.

And, speaking of your couch… You happen to be sitting on a bit of money here too! Your furniture, cooking tools, and general household goods are a savings deposit waiting to be made. Saving for long-term travel requires collecting every penny possible.

Take a look through your wardrobe and pick out the clothes that would serve you better by being listed on internet sale sites. Poshmark and LetGo are some good apps for selling your belongings. Start with the things you don’t need right now, like books, or spare clothes.

As you get closer to your savings goal, work on selling the larger things. Pinch every penny, and resist your vices: remember, you’re planning for something bigger than a night out on the town.

The Balkans are a wallet-friendly European destination.

4. Add More Income

The only thing that can help you save money for traveling better than cutting costs, is earning more money. Adding more income streams can help you reach your savings goal faster, and even help you surpass it.

Gig economy jobs, while not always the best for full-time employment, are a great way to supplement your income and increase your savings. Driving, pet care, and performing household tasks are all flexible jobs that you can take on through companies like Lyft, Rover, or TaskRabbit.

Adding a side hustle can be a big boost to your earnings. The average income from secondary jobs can be close to $13,000 a year. That’s close to half of my personal savings goal; how much would it impact yours? Prioritizing your hours and working your tail off is as tried and true of a savings method as anything else out there.

5. Find Cheap Travel (with sites like Skyscanner)

Once you choose the continent or country that you want to check off your bucket list, you can use the Skyscanner app or website to find and book flights, hotels, and car rentals. Skyscanner works side-by-side with the most resourceful companies in travel. With this search engine, you have all the options you need to plan and book travel at the most affordable price.

To save even more moolah, be flexible and search ‘Everywhere’ to see where in the world you can go for a great price. You also can also search by an entire month, or search what the cheapest months to travel are.

Set up Price Alerts to find out when prices are changing in order to score the best deal. In planning for my world travel, one of the biggest expenses has been the initial flight to leave the United States. So, I prioritized this and purchased the flight long before I’m scheduled to leave. Booking it in advance helped me save money, and since I still have a regular income, it didn’t come from my savings account.

6. Save Money to Travel by Paying Off Debt

There is nothing that will disrupt the joy of travel like the worry of credit card bills. That’s why paying off debt is an important part of saving money to travel.

Having money woes from credit card or auto loan debt can be a major distraction from the scenes outside your train window from Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling (or wherever else your full-time travels will take you!). Consider what debt you can get rid of, and then work to pay it off before you start saving to leave. Cut out the things in your life that are holding you back.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a catch-all. Debt is different for everyone, and so is the ability to pay it off. A small way to start is by breaking your debt down into categories. Then, look at your debt specifics. Pay off debt that has shorter loan terms with higher interest, and budget your long-term, low-interest debt as a monthly travel expense. For example, I have student loans which will cost me around $3k for a full-year. Budgeting for that meant raising my bare-minimum goal of 18k to $25k.

Saving money to travel will allow you to more fully immerse yourself in travel experiences.

7. Find Opportunities to Earn & Save Money to Travel

There are lots of ways you can make your money go further while on the road. For example, destination hopping around Europe is a bit more expensive than exploring Southeast Asia or South America.

You can save a lot of money by staying in hostels, Couchsurfing, house-sitting, and searching for cheap accommodation through Skyscanner. To stretch your budget, you can also consider looking for work-trade opportunities that will allow you to be a tourist in your off-time while covering the cost of room and board.

If you’re planning to volunteer for organizations that may provide that exchange, like WWOOF, be sure to spend significant time building your profiles before you leave. There are lots of people applying and it’s important to stand out to get the best opportunities.

This has been my ultimate guide for saving money for full-time travel in 2020, and I’m wishing you lots of savings growth this year!

Search for cheap flights and start budgeting for your full-time trip below. 👇👇