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How to save for full time travel - 12 tips to help you save!

Woman at viewpoint looking across the Islands of Ang Thong Marine Park, Thailand

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So, you’re preparing to travel full time? (YAY!) I’m so excited for you! Deciding to quit my job to take some time out and travel full time really was the best decision I ever made!

Of course, I didn't just decide to pack up and jet off overnight. I spent months (and months…!) planning and saving in order to make this trip possible.

In this post I’m sharing my 12 top tips to help you save for full time travel, or so that you can save up to take that special trip you’ve always dreamed of.

Make sure that you also read my post on How to budget for full time travel, where I guide you through how to create your own travel budget. You can also download my Travel Budget Spreadsheet template to use to plan your own travel budget.

How to save for full time travel - 12 tips to help you save!

Whether you want to spend a month in Vietnam, take a road trip through Switzerland or travel to Sri Lanka, here's my 12 top tips for how to save for full time travel:

1. Workout how much (if anything) you can currently save

Before you start to put some of the below saving tips into practise, work out how much you can currently save each week or month, if you change nothing. It may be that you can’t save anything at the moment, and that's OK, don’t panic. But if you are able to save a little, set up a direct debit into a dedicated travel savings account straight away. Even if this is just £10 per month to start with, it's better than nothing.

2. Cut out the takeaways (or at least cut-down!)

Are you a fan of takeaways in the evening? I get it, after a long day at work, the last thing that you might want to do is to cook, but cutting out those takeaways will save you money.

3. Embrace the packed lunch

Most of us are actually much worse for getting ‘takeaways’ during the day. And I don't mean getting a Chinese delivered to your office desk! I’m talking about all those M&S or boots meal deals, or nipping to your work’s canteen for lunch. It might seem like nothing, but even if you spend £5 per day on buying lunch out, that's £25 per week and £100 per month, just on buying lunch out!

4. Ditch the takeaway coffees

How often do you stop at your local coffee shop, or the Starbucks at the train station on your way to work in the morning? Buy yourself a reusable travel mug and make your coffee at home instead, it could save you £60 per month!

5. Cancel some subscriptions

Take a look at everything that you pay a subscription fee for and ask yourself if you really need them. If you have a subscription to Sky / Netflix / Amazon Prime / Spotify etc - see which ones you can live without. Don’t feel like you need to go mad and cancel them all. It’s OK to keep the ones you think you will continue to use. For example, Netflix and Spotify are two subscriptions I personally kept as they are great for long travel days and chilled evenings in the hostel or campervan.

6. Cancel your gym membership

Gym memberships can be expensive, and they often require 2 or 3 months notice for cancellation anyway. So, cancel your membership straight away and subscribe to some free YouTube fitness channels, or start running or walking instead.

Any other memberships you may have can fall under here too. For example, golf memberships are really expensive - that was one of the first things on my husband’s list to be cancelled!

A couple sit on the steps of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

The scarifies of saving will be worth it for the amazing experiences you will have, like visiting the incredible Angkor Wat in Cambodia

7. Plan low-cost or free activities with friends and family

This can sometimes be tricky as you don't want to feel awkward asking to do things that don't cost much when you meet up with friends. But just explain to your friends or family your reason for saving. Share with them how much you need to save and when you are leaving. This will make them realise that you are serious about saving money and will be more likely to be empathetic.

Suggest going for walks, and take a coffee with you from home. Pack a picnic and meet friends in the park. Have film nights at home, instead of going to the cinema. Just because you can’t spend lots of money, doesn't mean that you should miss out on social activities, just suggest doing cheaper things instead.

You may actually find that they are grateful. For example, instead of going out for our usual Christmas girls night out, I invited my friends over for a Christmas girls night in. Everyone bought some food and wine and we had a great time. A couple of them actually said they were grateful I had suggested it as they were trying to save for different reasons too!

8. Trying to save over Christmas?

Saving over Christmas can be really difficult, but again, just speak to your friends and family. Suggest having a night in, instead of going out. Or, instead of buying everyone a present, can you suggest Secret Santa? In my family, we agreed to set a maximum spend budget, and just treated each other to a small gift.

9. Shop less

Sounds obvious! But every time you walk past a shop window, or your finger hovers over the ‘add to basket’ button, ask yourself if you really need whatever it is? The likelihood is that you don't! You are about to set off travelling for a certain amount of time, where you will only have a small bag, so no, you definitely don't need that designer handbag, or a scented candle! If you're a bit of a shopaholic, remind yourself that every penny your saving can go to an amazing bucket list experience, like snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef!

10. Sell unwanted items

When you leave to travel full time, you need to consider what you are going to do with all your belongings. If you own or rent your own house or flat, you will likely have lots of furniture and random items, such as sports equipment, kitchen equipment or home ware. When you leave to travel, you may need to hire a storage unit to put everything in whilst you are away. If so, you’ll want to make sure that you are only paying to store things you really want to keep.

Go through everything you own, room by room and make a note of things you definitely want to keep and things you don’t. Anything you don’t want to keep, pop it on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace. I'm not saying sell everything, but you will be surprised how much ‘stuff’ you’ve accumulated over the years, some of which you can't remember ever buying (or using!)

Also, bear in mind, if you are planning on travelling for a long time, you may decide to sell larger items, such as a car. Even if you are not ready to sell this until you are about to leave, get a couple of quotes so that you have a rough idea of how much this will add to your travel pot.

11. Be mindful of your spending on groceries

When you’re trying to save, it is easy to only focus on the big things, but it's the little things that add up too. For example, when you do your food shopping, try the supermarket’s own brand products instead. These are often cheaper and just as good.

12. Budget for some small treats along the way

Saving can be really hard. Saying no to lots of things, cancelling memberships and making small sacrifices can sometimes feel a bit rubbish in the moment. Even if all these sacrifices are worth it in the end (and they will be, when you’re living your best life, travelling!).

With this in mind, make sure that you budget for some nice (small!) treats for yourself. This could be going for coffee and cake with a friend at the end of the month. Or treating yourself to a bottle of wine for a night in. Whatever it is, don’t go crazy and undo all your hard work, but a couple of small treats here and there won’t kill the budget and doing this will make it easier for you to stay on track in the long run.

These 12 tips for helping you to save for full time travel are so easy and really simple, but you will be surprised how quickly doing these things will start to make a difference. If you make all of these changes straight away, you will be surprised how much you are able to save each month.

The crystal clear water of Lake Annecy Alpine lake in France is surrounded by mountain ranges

Travel allows you to discover hidden gems like this beauty - Lake Annecy, France

Once you have made these changes, check-in in with your deadline date and target saving amount. (The date you want to leave and the amount you want to save within that time frame). Is this still realistic based on how much you are now able to save each month? If not, what do you need to change? Push back your travel date? Spend less time travelling? Or perhaps you could put in plans to earn some more money whilst travelling. There’s lots of ways you can work online remotely, or get a working visa in countries like Australia.

You can also sign up to be a house sitter or dog sitter or join a Workaway-style program where you work a few hours each day in return for free accommodation.

Whatever you decide, do what is best for you and don't compare your journey to someone else's!

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