July 22, 2021
Aside from people asking if I am scared to travel alone, the question I get asked the most about solo travel is how on earth I am able to afford it. "Oh I wish I had that kind of money" - I hear it all the time. I was a college student working a single part time job while going to school full time, and I managed to travel during both of my reading weeks of my second year. Travel was and is such an important component of my life. I made sure to prioritize saving for those once in a lifetime experiences and here's how I did it.
When I was saving for my trip, I was putting cash into a ziplock bag and tossing it in my winter boots that were hidden in the back of my dorm room closet. I started by only saving bills, because I didn't think smaller change was going to make a difference. Well, when I found out the serving belt I wore to my work weighted 3.4 pounds, was giving me the back pain of an 80 year old and had about $60 in change, I started thinking differently. My nana found out that I was putting my money into my boots and decided to sew a 'loot boot' for me and now it is my personal at home travel bank.
Once my loot boot starts to get heavy, I take it to the bank and put all my money into a savings account. I have told myself that this is an untouchable account and strictly for travel related expenses. This helps me stay on top of my goal and really motivates me to watch the numbers go up. This account also takes 50 cents from my chequing account into my savings per transaction and each month will move $10 to help save more money. This is an action that is automatically set up with my bank.
I have found a cash back credit card that works for me and helps me earn a certain amount back on purchases. Instead of using my bank card to buy things, everything goes on my credit card and I pay it off while earning money back. The money that I get back from putting gas in my car every week, groceries and my daily coffee runs, will then help to pay for future flights or other travel related purchases.
I have also been collecting points with airlines, and saving discount codes that nfluncers provide on their social media platforms that may be beneficial for me to use later. Any "save $15 on your first booking with Airbnb" are discounts that you are going to want to save and hold onto.
I currently have three jobs, but it is not necessary in order to be successful in saving your money. I have decided that my lowest paying paycheck is what I get to spend on what I want. As for any cash I make in tips or side jobs, goes straight into my loot boot, and my second paycheck gets deposited into my savings account.
I am 110% an impulse shopper and I love to spend my money where my money does not need to be spent. I am also someone who will justify spending $6 a day on coffee, but won't buy a much needed quality pair of shoes. If something is on sale, you bet that I am the person who will convince myself I need it, just because it is not full price. I have had to start rephrasing and rethinking to myself when I want to buy something I may not need. "This fancy eyeliner is $20, so I could either pay for this, or use the $20 for another night in a hostel in Costa Rica". Suddenly, I don't need that eyeliner anymore.
Relating to my impulse shopping problem, I have lots of things. Things that I don't remember I have until I see them, but can't seem to let go of. When I pack up and move to Cental and South America for six months everything I am going to need will be in my one backpack, so why do I need to keep my decorative throw pillows that spend half the time in my closet, when I can sell them and use that money for more experiences? As the saying goes "one mans trash is another mans treasure".
Honestly, my biggest piece of advice for those trying to save up for travel, is to think about your goals, shift your mindset and focus on achieving your goals. Deciding to priortize saving for something is the most important part.