The biggest excuses people give as to why they don’t travel is that they just don’t have enough time – or cash. If you’ve decided that you want to go RTW, you’ve found the time to make it happen. Now it’s just managing the dough.
You Must Make Your RTW Trip Your Top Priority
One of the keys to pulling this off is making and keeping a commitment to it. We see many people who intend to save up for a RTW, but of course not all of them make it. This isn’t much different than saving up for the down payment on a house, and to be honest, this can be considered sort of an alternative to that. For the money you save for this trip you could make a nice dent – or even more – in a down payment on a house.
But you can’t start from zero and decide you want to leave on a RTW in 6 months. Most of the people who successfully save up money specifically for a RTW trip plan out years in advance. So instead you might decide you’ll want to leave 18 months from now, or 30 months from now.
For many people the idea of long-term travel is a passing fancy during a frustrating time in their lives, but if you look around the travel forums here at BootsnAll, you’ll see that thousands of people caught the RTW bug and then achieved their goal through hard work and some sacrifice. And we’ve yet to hear of a person who has regretted going RTW.
Resources To Motivate You
Speaking of the BootsnAll message boards, there is a great thread that discusses this exact topic. We’ve also published an article with down-to-earth suggestions for 28 ways to save money for traveling. Most of it is common sense stuff – instead of spending $50 at the pub on Friday night, buy some wine or beer for $10, invite your friends over, and put the extra $40 into your RTW fund. Cut down on expenses now, and later you’ll reap the rewards of that sacrifice. Even if you know all the tricks, they are still inspirational to read because the people who are contributing ideas are people who are currently saving up for a RTW trip or have successfully done it in the past. If you really want to do it, you can do it.
Be sure to read Budgeting for your Trip to get even more hints and advice.
Tips For Saving
This is the “money rolling in” stage. Although it may not feel like it’s rolling in, believe us, when you’ve been on the road for a while, you’ll look back and think about how rich you were when you were working. The goal of the “money rolling in” stage is to stockpile as much moola as possible. This can start months, if not years, before you leave. Here are some tips for keeping the money in the bank and not in your hand.
Open a savings account
Consider this account to be your “travel” money – it should be kept separate from your checking account, your nest egg (if you don’t want to spend that on travel,) and any other accounts. Do not open another checking account because you will be more tempted to spend that money.
Make a deposit schedule
View your travel fund as something you have to “pay.” For example, every month when you sit down to pay your bills, “pay” the dollar amount that you can afford to set aside into your travel account. We recommend dong this right after you receive a paycheck. By forcing yourself to part with your money right away, you won’t spend as much throughout the month.
If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, like a year, there is no reason to have your car sitting in the garage (or on the driveway) at your parents’ place. The value of the car will only depreciate while you are away. If you will absolutely require transportation upon your return, set the money aside in another account, so you can purchase a better car when you get back. As far as housing goes, if you have a mortgage, you can choose to sell your house or arrange for someone to rent your place. If you’re well enough off that you don’t have to do that, do it anyway. A little extra traveling cash will be worth it.
Manage your debt
If you have student loans, car payments (not if you get rid of your car!) or a mortgage (not if you find someone to rent your house!), pay ahead on those items for when you will be gone. Start well before you want to leave, especially if you have high payments. It is not easy to make payments from a jungle in South America or the desert in Africa. Besides, your money will dwindle very quickly if you have to make massive payments every month. If you do have to pay them while on the road, simply build this into your budget and set up automatic payment so you don’t have to worry about it.
Do some babysitting, mow a few lawns, start waiting tables or bartending, or just pick up another job that you can work once a week. It will suck, yes, but the more you work now, the more fun you can have later. Take that extra dough and put it in your travel account.
Cut corners in your spending
This is the biggest money saver before you leave. If you don’t already track your money, you’re probably going to be disgusted by how much you actually spend on things like going out for food and hitting up the bars. The good news is that by changing a few habits and using these cost saving tips, you can start saving so much more. Buy food that’s on sale, make your morning latte at home, go out to Happy Hour instead of a nightclub. Pack your own lunch, buy in bulk, see if your favorite restaurants have early bird specials. Saving 5-10 bucks a day adds up quickly. In some parts of the world, that’s enough money for the whole day! Every dollar you save lets you travel a little bit longer. A great motivator is to tell yourself, “If I don’t go out tonight, that’s 4 extra days in Thailand!”
So now you have a rough idea of how much this whole venture is going to cost. You’ve worked out how long you’ll have to save for, and now you have tips for saving and pushing that departure date up. Next up could also help with the budget. Have you thought about working during your trip?
Saving Money For Your Trip Checklist
- Figure out how much you can afford to save each month
- Open a savings account to be your travel fund
- Pay your travel fund each month just like it is a bill
- If you don’t feel like you are saving enough, consider getting a second (or third) job
- Cut back on unnecessary expenses like eating out, going to bars, shopping, etc.
- Sell or rent big items that you won’t be using while on your trip
- Go through all the stuff you’ve accumulated and prioritize what’s necessary to keep
- Put the stuff you don’t need/want on Craigslist or eBay for some extra cash