How To Save Money

Budget Backpacking: Tips For Saving Money

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As budget backpackers, one of the first things people ask us when we meet them is: “How are you able to afford to travel for so long?” The answer: We saved our money and prioritized. To us, being able to be free and travel the world as we like is MUCH more important than having beers at a bar, buying the latest fashion or having the newest home entertainment system. You do NOT have to be rich to travel on long trips. Even a couple with a combined income of $70,000 / year, should be able to save enough money for a year long trip in little more than a year. If you are disciplined, debt-free or paying reasonable mortgages, minimizing “nights out on the town” and living within your means, then it shouldn’t be out of the question to save nearly half of all your income.

Here are some of our tips for saving money. Following these guidelines, we were able to save up for a 1.5 year long trip!

  • Put yourself on an ‘at home budget’. Take your monthly salary, subtract your expenses and allot yourself a certain amount of “entertainment” money. This money is used for drinking, buying clothing, books, eating out, etc. Once that amount is gone, the entertainment is over. This is probably the most important of the tips for saving money.
  • Take a look at your monthly expenses. Is there anything you can do without / anything you can consolidate? Can you take the bus rather than driving your car? Can you look into a cheaper cell phone plan? Do you really need 4000 TV channels? Can you wait for sales at the supermarket?
tips for saving money

Tips for saving money: take the bus rather than driving your car everywhere

  • Write down everything you spend, that way you’ll see where your money is going.
  • Set a goal. Decide how much money you are able to save a month (after expenses) and stick to it.
  • Always use cash. If your weekly entertainment budget is $50 (very reasonable), then withdrawal $50 cash every week and only use cash for your entertainment purchases. NO PLASTIC ATM CARDS. That way you will physically see your hard-earned money being spent.
  • Have a separate savings account specifically for your trip. Go online and create automatic deposits into your new “Travel Account” every single time you get paid. If the money isn’t in your regular account to spend, you’re more likely to save it.
  • Put your money into an interest accruing account or, if you’re good with investments, invest your travel money. But be careful, put it in high risk and you’re risking staying at home another year. Use the interest, it doesn’t seem like much at first, but leave that money in while you’re saving and once it reaches 5 figures and up, that measly 2-5% interest really starts adding up. Your “Travel Account” should work for you.
  • Consider working overtime shifts if possible, or taking on a weekend job.
  • Have friends come over to your place for a dinner party rather than going out to a restaurant, bar, club or pub.  By making dinner and everyone bringing their own booze, you will be able to save money for travelling.
tips for saving money

Tips for saving money: By having a dinner party where everyone brings their own booze, loads of money will be saved

  • Every time you’re out at the mall or shop, ask yourself: Do I really need this? Most of the time, you do not.
  • For women: Do you really need to have your hair cut and coloured for $200 every month or so? Maybe buy a box of hair dye and go to a cheaper stylist instead.
  • For men: Can the most up to date, newest, must-have electronic gadget be taken with you overseas? Probably not. Therefore, you don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on it.
  • Buying coffee. That is a big one. Make it at home! If you think of it this way: $5 / coffee / day, for 7 days a week = $35….also known as: a hut on a beach in Thailand, 3 meals, a motorbike rental & 4 big bottles of beer. That cappuccino isn’t seeming so necessary anymore, is it?!
tips for saving money

Tips for saving money: Say ‘no’ to the delicious $5 a day lattes from Starbucks!

  • Don’t think of your money as currency that buys you things while you’re at home.  Instead, think of your money as backpacking experiences you can have, think “What would this buy me abroad?” When you go out for dinner, instead of thinking “well that’s only $30”, think “that’s 30 meals in South East Asia” or “that’s a dive in the Red Sea in Egypt”. After you have a trip or two under your belt, this will come all too naturally. This is another one of the best tips we can give you for saving money. 
tips for saving money

Nick going in for a dive in the beautiful, clear Red Sea, Egypt

  • Most importantly…still allow yourself to have fun while you are saving your money. Otherwise, you will be resenting the trip altogether.
That concludes our list of some of our best tips for saving money. If you put your mind to it and really want to save up for a trip, then you will be able to say “no” to the material things. Trust us, once you’re on the road travelling and having life altering experiences, you won’t be disappointed that you didn’t get to buy the newest Ipod!

WHERE SHOULD I TRAVEL TO?

TO-DO LIST BEFORE TRAVELLING

CHOOSING A BACKPACK

WHAT TO PACK

FIRST-AID KIT CHECKLIST

TRAVELLING AS A COUPLE

OUR TRAVEL STYLE

Planning A Trip Now?

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About Nick Dariece (Goats On The Road)

Nick & Dariece started this website to encourage others to do what they love. For some it's travel, but happiness comes in many forms. It's all about lifestyle design.

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23 thoughts on “Budget Backpacking: Tips For Saving Money

  1. Lan

    Great advice for saving money! I especailly like the part were you tell pepole to think about what it will buy them once they reach their future destination.

    Reply
    1. GoatsOnTheRoad

      Glad you found this helpful Lan. Thinking about money in travel terms has always worked for us when we’re trying to save. Eventually you just can’t help it! Travel days are the currency of backpackers.

      Reply
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  9. frugalexpat

    Thanks for sharing.. I like what you wrote – don’t money as currency but what experience it can buy you abroad.. great way to think and to stay motivated..

    cheers

    Reply
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  11. Srini

    So true..Especially the drinking out(when you don’t know and you in the high of things splash money on unnecessary others),eating out,using cash instead of card,having a record of spending and then deciding what really is essential…It saves a lot mate..I’ve learn it from my girl and it has been helpful!

    Please do check our page…thanks!

    Reply
  12. nomadic_couple

    Hey Goats,

    Good stuff guys. We have have been bitten by the travel bug and done a few trips around and are always looking for more. Live your dreams guys… so few do it, and it really makes us happy to see younger people doing it. ( we are both in ur fifties now… and still enjoy working for a year or two to take off and travel… Mind you some of the travels ( Alaska for one) needed more money, but hey what else is work for if not to feed your travelling habits. Even that can be done in the cheap :). Stumbled on your site while researching on off the beaten pat trip in south east asia. Even though we are Australian, and have travelled to further afield, we have some how out south east asia off, so far. Plan to do a minimum of 8 to 10 weeks around that part of the world, and am trying to come up with a back packing itinerary that takes us off the tourist traps and crowds. Love nature and authentic people places.

    Any suggestions, were thinking of Burma, laos, Vietnam, cambodia and THailand ( not all countries necessarily) but some of these places. Not interested in the been there done that type of trips, want to experience the places we have been to. Let’s know what are the places in these countries that you found most interesting and least touristy.

    Cheers
    Padma

    Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      Hey Padma,

      Thanks for the compliments on out website and lifestyle! It’s always inspirational to talk to people in their 50′s that still have the travel bug! We hope we’re still travelling every year when we are 50.

      As for off the beaten path in Southeast Asia. There are a few places off the top of my head.

      Burma: The southern end of Inle Lake (The north is quite touristy) and Hsipaw in the North of Burma
      Cambodia: Koh Rong – a stunning tiny island off the coast of touristy sinhoukville
      Thailand: There are two Koh Chiangs here, one of them is kind of off the beaten path in the northern gulf of Thailand, while the other, to the west in the Andeman sea, is REALLY off the beaten path!
      Laos: The very north of Laos is where you’ll finally get off the gap-year-tourist radar. But also in the south around 4000 islands, although busy, you can find some hidden places.
      Vietnam: Hard to get off the beaten path here, but up north around Sapa you can find a place to yourself (although things may have changed here recently).
      Indonesia: For sure, Sumatra is little visited, especially in the shoulder seasons. the major tourist draws here are Bukit Lawang, Lake Toba and Lake Meninjau and they are still pretty quiet. Consider jungle treks around Bukit Lawang and ask your guide to take you somewhere away from other people.

      For more off the beaten path places check out this post if you haven’t already seen it:
      http://goatsontheroad.com/10-placesoff-the-beaten-path-places-in-southeast-asia/

      There are still lots of places to find off the beaten path, even in south east Asia!
      Keep an eye out for deserted islands and ask for rides to them to camp out for a few days. The Philippines is great for this!

      Anyway, hope this helps!

      Enjoy SEA! It’s one of our favorite places in the world!
      Goats On The Road recently posted…On Foot: Top Barcelona Walking RoutesMy Profile

      Reply
  13. JB

    That’s great advice. However…..unless you’re millionaires, money eventually runs out. How do you afford it unless you have some sort if income?

    Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      Hello,

      This article is just about how to save money in order to go on a year long trip or so. However, there are many ways to make money (or not spend money) while on the road. some examples:

      Teaching English
      Bartending
      Waiter/waitressing
      Working at hotels
      Becoming a Dive Instructor
      Starting a website
      Using Couch Surfing
      House Sitting
      Hitch Hiking
      …etc.!

      Of course, it’s always a good idea to leave home with some money in the bank, but there are definitely ways to sustain a trip.

      I hope this helps!
      Goats On The Road recently posted…Hola Mexico! We Have Arrived!My Profile

      Reply
  14. Mike

    Ok so I’ve always wanted to travel and I’ve just turned 22 and have zero responsibilities and my lease just ended at my apartment. The only thing really stopping me from going is someone to go with (all my friends are broke). Also I have only 10 grand saved up, I’d like to either do Europe (uk) or China. Which would you recommend also would you suggest doing a cross country America trip before leaving the country? With air fare and all to uk or China what would a whole trip average for say a month?

    Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      Hey Mike!

      It sounds like this is the perfect time in your life to think about travelling. Don’t worry about not having anyone to go with. As a backpacker, you’re never alone. As corny as that may sound, it’s true. Currently, we are in Mexico at a hostel and we are one of two couples here. The other 20 are just solo travellers. Everyone gets together to eat, go out, talk about travel tips, where they’ve been, etc. It’s a great community to be a part of.

      The UK will be a LOT more than China. Look for flights to Hong Kong as well as to cities in China, typically, we’ve found flights to Hong Kong are a much better deal from North America.

      Check out HostelWorld.com for prices of dorm beds in the UK, after that, you’ll probably want $7-$10 for a very cheap meal, beers are the same price as home (basically) but they don’t tip in the UK. Buses are quite pricey as well. To save money on accommodation, you could use Couchsurfing.org
      Your airfare will probably be about $1200 return. We have a website in Canada called Canadian Affair which is budget flights to the UK, but I’m not sure if you have that in the US, maybe google it.

      Our daily budget in China was $80/day for two people. In the UK, our cost was $87/day (without any sort of accommodation, we stayed with friends).

      So, if you do the math on what our budget was, you should be able to come up with a similar one for yourself. Also, for flights, check out farecompare.com

      The main thing to think about is that the culture and customs in China are way different than those at home in the US. the UK is similar to what you’re used to in North America.

      I hope this helps. $10,000 is LOTS of money for a one month trip to either country.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  15. Mike

    Thank you for your reply! And the ten grand is all I have as far as my savings go. My intention is to travel much longer than a month.. Have you stayed in hostels in America?

    Reply
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