Saving for an around the world trip (RTW) shouldn’t be stressful. But let’s face it. Whether you’re saving for a one month trip backpacking Europe or a year around the world, saving any amount of money for a once in a lifetime adventure can seem impossible. After I made the decision the first thing I did was figure out my budget for my first year around the world trip, I broke out in a cold sweat and forgot to breathe until someone informed me my face was turning purple.

My first thought was there was no way that I would ever be able to make that kind of money before my departure date, let alone save it. I had 22 months to save and I wanted this trip more than anything and so after regaining my breath, I put my mind to the task and realized saving isn’t hard if you are willing to sacrifice, work, and put your heart into it, and (of course practice good money management). I am now fourteen months into my quest, and I have made a few mistakes.

I have had months in which my bank account has taken hits making my goal seem beyond possible to reach. At one point, after some serious car issues, I thought the whole trip was a bust and was about to throw in the towel, but I told myself giving up wasn’t an option. I have learned to stay the course.

I have also learned some of the monetary mistakes I was making in my saving. Keeping with the motto that mistakes can be a good thing, I did some serious course correction, not only have I made that money back, I am ahead of my budget. Following these tips, I have seen my monthly saving goal increase by fifty percent.

So the next time you say, “I would love to travel, but I just don’t have the money”, do a little victory dance because I am about to show you how to save that extra cash.

Save Your  Spare Change

I feel like change always gets the short end of the stick. People underestimate how quickly it adds up. I love saving my change. In fact, when I buy something, I always pay in a way so that I get some sort of change back. I do this because saving your change is a way of tricking yourself about how much money you really have.
Every four months I cash it all in. I have done this for the last eight months and already have saved over $1,300 in change! That is an international flight paid for just by making sure I put my change in a jar at the end of the night.
Save your change and you will shock to see how much money you will save.
The big money comes from saving your small money.

Shop Around

Never walk into a store and just buy something. Shop around at different places and/or look online. A lot of the time, there are better deals online. Also take your time; chances are you don’t need that item this very minute. Many times, I will wait days or weeks to see if something goes on sale before I buy it.

For example, I just bought my brand new RTW trip backpack. At full price, it goes for around $250. I didn’t want to pay that much for a backpack and decided to check around.

I checked Amazon, Ebay, and other various sites until I found one on sale. Suddenly I slashed that 250$ to just over a $100. Taking the time to do a little comparative shopping paid off. I also have shopped around for tickets, tours and flights for my trip and by waiting for deals, sales, and watching flight prices,

I have saved over $5000 from what I originally expected to pay. That is 5 months in Asia!

With the price of gas these days, a lot of gas companies are offering extra ways to save a little extra at the pump. I save mine through Walmart (don’t judge me). To save at WalMart, all you need to do is walk in and buy a gift card. Then buy gas with that gift card and save ten cents a gallon.

While doing this won’t make you rich, every bit helps. I have saved over $200 since I started doing this. I also buy all these gas gift cards with my airline credit card. Chances are at least a few gas stations in your area offer some sort of savings.

Want to rack up major airline miles doing this? Of course, you do, here is how!

A great way to earn some extra miles is buying your gas saving gift cards through an airline’s mileage mall. You earn bonus miles for every dollar spent plus the miles for using your card. So essentially you are earning 2-3 miles per dollar to save money on gas. Doing this I earn around 1200 miles a month for gas I have to buy anyway.

Get more bang for your buck. There are also some great tips  to get really cheap flights.

Short Term GoalsLong-Term Success

For the longest time, I only had monthly goals. No matter what I did I would have to hit X$ a month. When I had a monthly goal, I would buy little things like coffee and snacks throughout the day which added up to a good amount over the month.
Then I moved to weekly goals and eventually to a daily goal and that is when I saw my savings skyrocket.
Now if I am struggling to reach my daily goal, I will make the necessary sacrifices and cuts to reach it.
As a side note, if you happen to make over your daily goal, it is a wise choice to save all of it. You never know what unsuspecting expenses might hit you in the future.

With the price of gas these days, a lot of gas companies are offering extra ways to save a little extra at the pump. I save mine through Walmart (don’t judge me). To save at WalMart, all you need to do is walk in and buy a gift card. Then buy gas with that gift card and save ten cents a gallon.

While doing this won’t make you rich, every bit helps. I have saved over $200 since I started doing this. I also buy all these gas gift cards with my airline credit card. Chances are at least a few gas stations in your area offer some sort of savings.

Want to rack up major airline miles doing this? Of course, you do, here is how!

A great way to earn some extra miles is buying your gas saving gift cards through an airline’s mileage mall. You earn bonus miles for every dollar spent plus the miles for using your card. So essentially you are earning 2-3 miles per dollar to save money on gas. Doing this I earn around 1200 miles a month for gas I have to buy anyway.

Get more bang for your buck. There are also some great tips to get really cheap flights.

AUTOMATIC WITHDRAWALS ARE NOT

ALWAYS A GOOD THING.

Before you can trim the fat of your expenses, you need to keep records of your savings. I always write how much I saved that day, as well as how much I spent. This is important for later when you are trying to cut your expenses. Be consistent with it. It is important to know how much you are making and spending so you know how much you can save a month.
It may not be fun cutting some of your expenses but it adds up fast. After a few months of saving, I realized I was blowing money on stuff that I had set up to automatically withdraw from my bank. It totaled around $80 a month. I cut 90% of that stuff out.
Over my 22 month saving period that is $1,760. Automatic withdrawals add up and people don’t really think about that money since they are not handing it over directly. Get rid of that stuff.
Here is another example.
I was buying two or three cups of coffee a day (I am a coffee addict) as well as spending an average of 8 dollars on lunch a day. That is around $915 in coffee and around $2,440 on lunch over my 22 months saving period. I switched to making enough coffee for the day at my house at a fraction of the price.
For food, I switched to finding cheaper options for around $4 a day. Just those two examples add up to almost five grand. FIVE grand! You can do a crazy amount of traveling on five grand. That is worth cutting some things out. Of course, I don’t know your expenses, but I am willing to bet there are things you can cut out. You don’t have to cut everything out. Just make a list, cut what you can, and watch your saving soar.
Before you can trim the fat of your expenses, you need to keep records of your savings. I always write how much I saved that day, as well as how much I spent.
This is important for later when you are trying to cut your expenses. Be consistent about it. It is important to know how much you are making and spending so you know how much you can save a month.
It may not be fun cutting some of your expenses but it adds up fast. After a few months of saving, I realized I was blowing money on stuff that I had set up to automatically withdraw from my bank. It totaled around $80 a month. I cut 90% of that stuff out.
Over my 22 month saving period that is $1,760. Automatic withdrawals add up and people don’t really think about that money since they are not handing it over directly. Get rid of that stuff.

Keep Your Goal At The ForeFront

Focusing is single-handedly the most important thing you can do. Keep reminding yourself of your goal and what you are working towards. Find ways to stay excited to save. Here are a few things I do when I find myself losing focus. I read other travel blogs. If I am struggling with saving money in one month I read blogs such as further bound. Hannah from Further Bound who went from being 24k in debt to having 24k to travel in 18 months.

That is inspiration right there. If I am trying to fix my budget I look at sites likeNomadic Matt who is the master of budget travel. I look at pictures of places I want to go our work on my bucket list to keep my travel excitement level high all the time. If you focus your vision on your trip you won’t want to spend your money on other things.

Gillian from One Giant Step gave me some great advice, “We always thought of every dollar we spent as what it would cost us somewhere else. For example, the thought that money could mean two beers or an entire night in Thailand worked like a dream!!” Approach your savings like that and you won’t have any trouble at all.

Saving for a trip doesn’t have to leave you on the verge of a heart attack. I have learned by trial and error but once I discovered these tips, I saw an immediate increase in my daily savings. That is huge. Now I make a game out of it. I try to find new ways and tricks to save a little extra money each month.

The important thing is to stay focused, challenge yourself, and remember why you are saving. That will give you all the passion and drive you need to reach your budget.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Gillian @OneGiantStep says

    Excellent tips Stephen!! Eye on the prize – that’s what it takes. I love the idea of weekly, or daily, savings goals – that keeps it right in the forefront all the time. Just imagine how great it’s going to feel when you’re on that plane having reached all the goals and are on your way!

    • Stephen says

      Thanks Gillian, yeah keeping focus is key to success. I think about the day I will finally board the plane all the time. I can’t wait! Six months from today!

  2. Ashley says

    Great article! We did a lot of this when saving for our own trip, but the purchasing of gift cards online to use for gas (and get extra miles) is something I never thought of…great idea!

  3. Matt at LivingIF.com says

    Great article. I think you did an awesome job breaking it down and putting some new ideas out there such as collecting change. For us it was easier to do everything on credit cards, this way we knew where every dollar of every day went. It cut down on small expenses because each time we had to think about charging it, and made us accountable as we could see exactly what we spent money on. We used Mint.com to track it and saved enough to travel for three years without working.

  4. Luke Abaffy says

    Great post man! Great post. I’m totally motivated to save more. Even though I may have blown an enormous amount on something huge—as you know—I’m still going to keep saving. You’re a badass.

    Luke

  5. Andy says

    Great post Stephen! I think too often people don’t realize how saving those little bits can add up in the long run. And that’s really the basis of any budgeting and saving up for anything – whether it’s a trip around the world, or a down payment on a house. More in, less out, and put your savings towards whatever your heart desires.

    Those unexpected bills can be doozies – I spent 6hrs in the ER a few months ago with a meningitis scare. I think it always helps to put money into an “emergency” savings fund, for just such occasions. Sometimes you have to plan for the unknowns.

  6. Tom Summerfield says

    Some excellent budget & saving tips there Stephen! This tip especially: “”Short Term Goals Increase Your Chances of Reaching your Long Term goals” – so true, I think people set MASSIVE goals and then feel bad when they fail to reach them. Setting smaller and more easily obtained goals give you confidence and will ultimately result in reaching that big goal after all 😀

    • Stephen says

      So true, if you take it a little at a time it, not only, makes things easier but is a lot less stressful. Thanks for reading Tom.

  7. Heather - the kiwi travel writer says

    I always say to myself when saving for travel — and I’m always saving for travel! … i can have this OR a coffee in Paris, Borneo, India … wherever is in my sights! Right now it’s Borneo in July 🙂

    See Naked In Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad about my 3 RTW trips — on my own, no bookings.

    • Stephen says

      Same for me. However, coffee is my weakness 🙂 Thanks for checking out my site. You’ve been on 3 RTW. I travel a lot, and that is impressive!

  8. AroundTheWorldForHappiness says

    Awesome motivating post, the day by day is a great idea!
    It is sometimes a battle to stay focused, but with many of the helpful tips you mentioned,
    it makes it easier.
    We find the hardest part of saving for a nomadic lifestyle of travel, is figuring out what exactly the over all
    goal amount should be? The best bet we found so far, was just shoot the moon 🙂

    • Stephen says

      Actually my next post is about how to stay focused 🙂 so be sure to check back. I’m also starting the first draft of the post about my budget, it will explain what my target goal was, how I came up with that number, and how I reached it. Although, no matter what your target goal is the best advice is what you said. Shoot for the moon! Better safe than sorry.

    • Stephen says

      Hey Ricky,

      It really all depends on where you want to go and for how long. I’m sending you an email, and I can get a little more details and be able to help you more accurately.

  9. Carl says

    I think the only way to save money on travel is to travel during the low season. However, I personally doubt that anybody that plan to go on holiday, have “money saving” idea in mind.

  10. Myran says

    Great post on saving! It’s crazy how those little modifications in spending can make a huge difference! How much did you save all together?

    • Stephen says

      Thanks Myran. Yea, the devil is in the details especially when it comes to money. I am working on a post about how much I saved as it is a question I often get asked. Stay tuned 🙂

  11. money ideas says

    That is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Short but very precise information… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  12. Ray says

    I try to have a percentage of money being deposited into my checking account automatically transfer over to one of my High Interest Savings Accounts for future travel and then don’t touch it. That has worked like a charm, as did putting my loose change into a large jar and then depositing it every few months.

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