Posted Date: April 1, 2021
You may be finding yourself in a situation where you just want to be free – of your job, your routine, and your responsibilities, and just travel – anywhere and everywhere. You want to see the world, experience the thrill of exploring foreign countries and escape from the drab monotony of 9-5 life.
You know that in order to get out you need one of two things. Either you have enough money saved up to quit your job and leave, or you have a fearless sense of adventure and know that you’ll be able to make it work with what limited resources you have.
In either case, you need at least some money to get started.
There’s just one giant question. How do you save up enough money to quit your job and travel – especially on a small salary?
In truth, nothing fundamentally has changed about saving money over the years. The equation is always the same. Spend less than you make, and you’ll start saving money.
I know, because together, my wife and I saved six figures in four years on average salaries so we could travel the world.
But the question becomes how does someone save more money when rent prices are increasing and the cost of living is going up, all while wages remain stagnant?
In this article, I’m going to show you the core foundations of saving money for travel, even if you’re just getting started. This isn’t a top 10 list for how to save money, these are real practices that I’ve learned in my life coming from years of experience.
One thing I’ve confirmed through all these experiences is that the foundations of saving are timeless.
Remember, money has been around for centuries, so there are tried and proven methods to decrease how much money you spend, and increase how much money you save.
Good saving tips are still good saving tips.
So if you want to successfully save up enough money to quit your job to travel the world – no matter if you want to travel for two months or 3 years – you need to focus on doing one thing very well.
Learn to live with less.
But even before that, you need a set-in-stone determination that you are going to save your money and nothing will stop you come hell or high water.
Making a lot of money helps, but it is not essential to save. The truth is, lots of people who make lots of money just have bigger bills and end up living paycheck to paycheck.
And many people with low salaries still figure out how to save enough to quit their jobs to travel – simply by learning how to stay within their budget.
Instead of showing you how to make more money (never trust get-rich-quick schemes), I’ll teach you how to absolutely perfect your savings habits.
What you’ll read in this article are some of the same steps and practices that my wife and I took to save $150,000 in four years – and have led many other people to a life of saving success.
Find an unwavering commitment to your dream
You probably did not expect this to be the first section of a saving article. And that’s okay because when I started saving my money, neither did I.
But the approach I am going to layout here comes from having a vision of what you want your life to be. Most people have no shortage of ideas when imagining what they want their life to be like. And that’s good, because each one of those blossoming ideas can become a reason to save your money.
The hard part is turning those daydreams and visions into realities.
The reason our dreams are so hard to accomplish is simply that there is a disconnect between what we think is possible and what is actually possible if we put time and effort into it.
And a lot of this disconnect isn’t necessarily our fault. Every day we hear advice from financial gurus and life coaches telling us over and over again that we need to set money aside for retirement, a house, and a rainy day. All of which are good ideas – by the way.
While all of these financial specialists give great advice on how to save money for retirement and your future, they don’t tell us how we can enjoy the here and now while also planning for the future.
All of the advice we hear tells us to set aside our money for tomorrow while we sludge our way through the muddy waters of the here and now.
And honestly, a lot of these experts give really solid life advice…for some people and at certain times of life.
But if you want to find your commitment to living a fulfilling and meaningful life, you have to start listening to the grand ideas running through your head and pounding in your heart.
To become committed enough to save up thousands of dollars so you can quit your job and travel, you have to make a mental switch and start believing that your aspirations are worth it because you are worth it.
This is the switch you have to start making in your life. It’s easy to fall in line and listen to the experts as they tell us what to do.
But this is your life. Just because one expert suggests saving money to put down on a house, doesn’t mean that is the path that you have to take at this moment in your life.
If you want to live the life you crave, it’s going to require a little bit of money to make it work. And it’s not until you decide what you want your life to look like that you can start having a rock-solid commitment to it.
My wife and I saved for four years so that we could quit our jobs to travel the world. During that time, there were stretches where we wanted to give up because it felt like we were never going to get there.
We ran into our fair share of setbacks along the way – unexpected car problems, medical bills, and the death of our longtime well-used laptops.
But we stayed true to our goal because our goal was always our priority.
Mentally, as we saw our bank account growing, we started to see our goal become clearer and clearer – like walking out of a fog into the clear of day. But seeing our hard work bring in real results wasn’t the catalyst for our savings – it was the continued motivation.
The real catalyst was us deciding that we wanted to define our own lives instead of lead the lives society prescribed for us.
We had to decide what was really important to us. Was traveling the world really more important to us than buying a house at this point in our lives? Was it more important than driving a nice car or eating out at restaurants every night?
The answer for us was yes. Traveling is important to us, and we knew that we would never regret our decision to travel while we were young.
Your commitment to save up enough money for your goals will come as you decide what matters most to you.
How to save enough money to travel the world success factor #1
Track your spending
There is almost nothing in this world more terrifying than pulling up your bank statement and categorically going through it line by line to see all the places you spent money in the past month.
It’s an exercise that is bound to make you feel a little uncomfortable as you face the cold hard truth that maybe you’re not as good at saving as you thought you were – or maybe you’re exactly as good at spending as you knew you were.
As squeamish as this task may be, tracking your spending is the first success factor to help you take a critical look at your spending habits and help you decide where you can cut back.
My personal statement looks a lot like this:
- Eating Out
I spend a lot of money on food. What can I say? I like to eat, cook, and bake nice things.
Ignorance is bliss. Especially when it comes to finances. The less you know, the less you get stressed out about it…until you realize that you need your next paycheck to come in so you can pay rent on time.
All of that sweet ignorance goes out the window when you take a look at what you are actually spending money on. And it is the easiest way to spot the low hanging fruit – aka – your biggest splurges. Once you can physically see what you are spending money on, your spending habits will begin to change.
For me, I cut back on expensive snacks at the grocery store. I also cut back on how many times I eat out per week. Doing those two things saved me at least a thousand dollars a year.
As you take the time to go through your bank statement and examine your expenses, you’ll find spending patterns that you can examine and determine if you are willing to cut back a little bit on your discretionary spending.
How to save enough money to travel the world success factor #2
Live within your budget and get rid of debt
The biggest and most boring secret to life is that the only want to get rich is by spending less money than you make. There is no other way to do it.
By that same logic, the fastest way to get rich is to find more ways to spend less of your money on a daily, monthly, and annual basis.
The math checks out. The less you spend, the more you save.
The more you practice finding ways to spend less, starting with the items you’ve identified as non-necessary by completing the spending tracking exercise above, the better you’ll get at it.
As you practice saving, you’ll eventually get to the point where you are saving 10%, 20%, and 30% of every paycheck.
In the four years that my wife and I were saving for our trip around the world, we weren’t making extravagant amounts of money. We just found ways to excel at saving our money.
I did the math to figure out what percentage of our income we saved over those years.
We saved 56% of our combined paychecks over a four year span.
When you’re saving over 50% of your paycheck, your bank account starts growing in ways you never thought were possible – and that’s a remarkable thing to experience.
So how in the world does someone save 56% of their paycheck?
The secret to saving loads of money comes down to finding ways to save on the big three expenditures.
These three necessities combine to make up over 60% of all spending for the average American.
If you’re looking to save money quickly, you’re going to have to find ways to decrease how much you spend on all of these.
To cut down on rent, there are a handful of things you can do to save money. You can move back home, find a roommate, downgrade your apartment, move to a less expensive neighborhood, or Airbnb your spare room.
The same common-sense approaches apply to trimming back on your transportation and food bills.
You save money by doing a small handful of things. You get rich by finding a cheaper apartment, you get rich by buying a car you can pay for in cash, you get rich getting a library card, canceling your music streaming subscription, and walking wherever possible. You get rich by buying more produce and less meat. You get rich by shopping for second-hand furniture. And, finally, you get rich by extending the life of what you wear and what you own.
There you go. In one paragraph you have the keys to start saving at least 30% of your paycheck each month.
We often look at our bank statements to see where we are spending money and never even think to ask ourselves if we can save money on rent, transportation, or food because they are such staples in our lives.
We first turn to the luxuries we allow ourselves without so much as batting an eye on how much we dish out each month on rent or a car payment. But those are the expenditures that eat up most of our budget!
My wife and I looked hard and lucked out by finding an opening in an apartment complex that only charged $750 a month for rent when most people in our area were spending between $1,000 – $1,200 per month.
Our apartment alone saved us between $3,000 and $6,000 per year! Finding ways to reduce your rent will pay off quickly.
When it comes to transport, we bought a used car in cash that we didn’t have to take out a loan for. You save money when you don’t have to borrow it from the bank.
And finally, to cut back on our food bill we stopped eating out for lunch and started packing our own lunches to work instead.
Those are the tricks. They aren’t fancy or groundbreaking. They are the same tricks people before us used to build up their savings accounts, and they will continue to work forever and ever.
The other things we cut out of our lives (like not buying a new can-opener), were all an important part of living the saving mindset, but it was finding ways to reduce the big three expenses that helped us save up our money fastest.
How to save enough money to travel the world success factor #3
Being all in on your goals
Have you ever been invited to something that you didn’t really want to go to? You give a half-hearted commitment to attend, and then at the last minute, you send a text saying something came up and you’re not able to make it.
I’ve been guilty of doing that myself (sorry, friends).
And if that’s how you feel about your goal to travel, you’ll find ways to back out of it and spend your money on something else instead.
To make it on your trip around the world, you’ve got to stay excited and committed. There are a lot of things you can spend $50,000 on, so if you are halfway committed from the beginning, you’ll probably never make it on your trip.
Going all in takes a lot of patience and practice. Practice, you say?
Yes, that’s not a typo. Practice because you have to train yourself how to say no to things that may take you away from your goal.
You may want to have your own apartment without a roommate. You may want to drink an extra cup of coffee every day. You may want to go out to eat for dinner 5 nights a week. But part of saving money means learning how to say no to some things that you really love.
It doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love completely, just reduce how often you do it.
I love eating out. I could eat out every day of the week. But I also know that one meal at a restaurant for dinner costs as much as 3 meals cooked at home.
Staying committed is hard work. Saving up enough money to do something really big and amazing like travel the world doesn’t happen overnight. It takes consistent effort and a reminder that you are working towards something life changing.
Here are a few simple tricks to help you stay motivated and committed to your goal.
1. Write your goal down on a piece of paper and place it somewhere you will see it every day. This could be on your fridge, a bulletin board, closet door, dresser, or bathroom mirror. The point is that you see it and are reminded of what you are saving for.
2. Set micro-savings goals. We humans experience a lot of joy when we accomplish something challenging. Our rewards center goes off in our brain and tells us that we just did something really cool, and it keeps us going forward.
Break up your saving goal into smaller chunks. If you are currently in debt, set a goal to pay off your debt ASAP. Then, set goals to save your first $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, etc.
You can also set challenges for yourself to see how much of your paycheck you can save each month. These little self-challenges are a great way to keep you going and to stretch yourself. They can be a lot of fun.
Seeing Life from the End
Sometimes I imagine that I am an old man, sitting on my porch, drinking a lemonade on a warm summer’s day, reflecting on my life.
What will I be grateful for? And what will I regret?
As someone who has quit my job to travel the world on multiple occasions, I know that I will always look back on those memories of traveling with fondness.
I will never regret having left my job to travel. And that makes me happy to think about.
All the experiences I’ve gathered and lessons I’ve learned from the places I’ve seen are far more valuable to me than anything that could have happened at work.
Anyone who has traveled the world long-term knows that both time and money are required to make it happen. But if you ask any one of them, they’ll tell you it’s absolutely worth it.
And as you begin your journey of making a goal to travel, saving up, quitting your job, and eventually hopping on the plane, you’ll realize everything you worked for was worth it, too.