7 Simple (but Effective) Strategies to Save Money to Travel

By Mark Wiens 66 Comments

This is Part 2 of the “Foundationology of Migrationology” series.

If you are just joining, you might want to check out “How Failing the SAT Helped Me Make Enough Money to Travel the World.”

It’s difficult to make and save money when you float through life.

Spending builds and feeds off itself. Money disappears.

But it’s not difficult to make and save money when you live wisely.

Before we get started though, there’s no way around first making some money. There’s no way to save money if you don’t make money in the first place – and it takes work. You and I probably won’t win the lottery (and we sure aren’t going to wait for it).

The good news is, if you have a way to make some money (job, business), you can use effective strategies to save it.

Blowhole in Hawaii
What are your passions and goals?

Think about your goal

In fact, your goal (your migration) doesn’t even need to be traveling or seeing the world. Your goal should be your passion: what you want to be doing, where you want to be doing it.

What is your goal? If you can keep it in the front of your head at all times, it will help you to keep focused, to live in a more optimized way to accomplish it.

Once you have your goal set, that’s the only way you can start to take command and save money to accomplish it.

1. Be financially smart

Don’t buy things on credit when you don’t have the money to pay it back.

Sure you have the opportunity to pay it back as time goes on, but that time it takes to pay back, will hold you in jail.

It will force you to remain stabilized and work to pay off something that most likely brought short term gain / benefit, something that I’m guessing is not your passion.

I ONLY used a credit card in order to build my credit score (not to buy things I just wanted).

2. Transform habits to occasional treats

When I was in University I got into the habit of drinking a soda (Dr. Pepper to be exact) almost everyday at work.

I decided to quit (for the most part) drinking soda altogether in an effort to save money and get rid of unnecessary intake. I still drank a soda every now and then, possibly once a month. Soda became more of a treat for me, it even tastes better when you don’t drink it so often.

This is just an example, but there are many things that with a little effort can be transformed from a habit to a treat. Not only will it save money, whatever you transform will turn into something more special when you do it.

You don’t need to transform everything, but if you think you can do it, go for it!

3. Lower your rate of need or adapt to it

Receiving a bonus on a paycheck is not an excuse go out and have a β€œbig night,” or blow 3/4 of it the next day on something you really wanted. Save it.

Train yourself to need less. Utilize self control to modify the things you really need. No, you don’t need 23 t-shirts. 6 is probably sufficient.

Throughout university I was addicted to stylish clothes and designer jeans (you might not believe me now!). I didn’t like shopping that much, but enjoyed searching for clothes online or at discount outlets. I would frequent used brand name clothing stores and sometimes line up at stores like Last Chance (fancy name-brand clothes returns) to get incredible deals.

Even so, I kept just 4 pairs of pants and 6 shirts to wear. The rest, I would sell (I didn’t NEED anymore, despite how cool they were). On top of that, clothes that I bought were almost all an investment. I might buy something, wear it a few times, and sell it used on e-bay for more than I purchased it.

“If you lower your rate of need, it won’t take long for you to adapt to it.”

4. Don’t buy depreciating goods

Depreciating things lose value, fast.

I’m talking about unnecessary or entertaining items, impulse purchases, or things that are straight impractical but maybe cool.

I’m NOT talking about personal value here, I think there are plenty of things that we have / buy that lose their value to the world after being purchased, but may mean something to us. It’s sometimes best to question yourself though.

5. Junk to you, treasure to someone in the world (find them online)ebay-sales

Way too many people have way too much stuff that uselessly sits around.

I worked at a glorified waste management job for 2 years and saw people holding on to valuable things that they will never ever use ever again for anything (despite lying to themselves). I was also the recipient of many things thrown away that were valuable.

Sort through your closet, any clothes you really like, but will never wear again? Any gadgets, electronics, books, or things you hold onto because you think it might be useful sometime?

Spend time to figure out how to sell things on e-bay and Craigslist, where the world is your market. If you need help to get rid of stuff and want to make money from it, I’d highly recommend taking a look atΒ Sell Your Crap: Turn Your Clutter into Cash*. You’ll make money and learn in the process!

6. Cut back on monthly fees

Monthly fees are the enemy.

You don’t need entertainment subscriptions to everything. Choose a few necessary subscriptions you think are really beneficial and after narrowing it down, go back AGAIN and ask if you REALLY NEED it, or not.

7. Take advantage of your personal skills, passions and opportunities

Everyone has individual skills, opportunities and circumstances that can be leveraged and used advantageously.

Use your skills to pursue what you do best and use your opportunities to take full advantage of getting in to a position where you want to be.

I enjoy selling things, as evidence from my previous e-bay sales. Though I don’t do much of that anymore, I’m looking for opportunities now to get back doing some sales. I recently created the Eating Thai Food Guide that sells for $7 per copy, something that took time and effort to create but without any major costs (other than eating…a lot!). And by the way, eating is my passion!

But what are your skills? Might they also be your passion or hobby? Find ways to use them to your saving advantage.

Final thought

I did initially start traveling the world with some money, but using effective strategies for saving over my 4 year period of attending university, I was able to accumulate enough money to leave as soon as I graduated.

I set off to travel the world about 3 years ago with around $8,000 USD to my name. I haven’t stopped traveling, but I have been able to make more money in other countries and stretch that initial cash (read more about how, in the next article – coming 19 July 2011).

I’d love to hear your questions or comments below.

————————————————————————————————————————————————-

This is Part 2 of the Foundationology of Migrationology series.

Don’t miss the next article (19 July 2011): Migrationology: The Sustainable Way to Travel Long-Term

Enter your e-mail below to sign up for my (FREE) monthly newsletter to get more long term travel tips and advice on how live a life to pursue your passions.

Stay tuned for the next articles in the series!

*Affiliate link – I’ll make a percentage, but I stand behind all recommendations on Migrationology.com.



66 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Gianni

    4 years ago

    Hi Mark, thanks for sharing these tips. I have used many of these strategies for saving money for my travels… and the most rewarding was quitting 2 unhealthy and expensive habits: smoking and drinking alcohol. This definitely changed my life and my bank account. I am now in Thailand and working on my blogs. Looking forward to meeting you at some point πŸ™‚

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Gianni, wow, big accomplishments and glad that you’re able to pursue your dreams as a result. Looking forward to meeting you as well.

  • Stefano

    4 years ago

    Hi Mark!

    I am in Bangkok at the moment, just arrived a few days ago, and your videos on YouTube have given me so much inspiration and willingness to try out different areas and streetfood!

    Tonight I was in chinatown and it was a great experience!

    Then I found this blog of yours, and your story is simply amazing… Now I understand why you have the Tanzania t shirt. πŸ˜‰

    And it’s also amazing to know that you lived in Kenya (I have been there this year) and that you lived in Albertville (I work at restaurant on Annecy Lake every summer in order to finance my world trips during the remaining months of the year…)

    In short, it would be really nice to meet you in Bangkok, I will be here for the next 8 days before exploring other parts of Thailand, so I would be really happy to get a message from you!

    Going to sleep now, it’s 5am and could not stop reading your blog….

    Stefano

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hello Stefano,

      Good to hear from you and sorry for the late reply. Thank you for watching my videos and checking out my blog. I’m really sorry, at this time I’m traveling in Africa right now, so not in Bangkok, but would have been nice to meet you.

      Sounds like you do a lot of traveling as well. Where are you originally from?

  • Jade

    4 years ago

    These are really helpful tips for everyone, not just travellers. Really responsible tips for a healthy relationship with money. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  • Annie Andre

    6 years ago

    All really good tips for saving money. Finances and how to pay for long term travel are always the number one question people ask me.
    One of the best ways to stay on budget is to use the envelope budget. either actual or virtual. You designate x amount of dollars for a monthly item like food or entertainment and that’s it. When the money is gone you have no more. Simple but effective.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thank you so much Annie, and I appreciate you adding your input. I think some of the most effective strategies are actually the simplest things… we just need to make up our minds to actually do them and then hold ourselves accountable. Setting aside a certain amount of money each month or even taking that down to the “day” leve is a great way to save.

  • SENAKA

    6 years ago

    Hi,Mark
    I agree your way, and i need to know what do you think about my strategy of life to earn money for travel :
    I was born in Srilanka, but live in France, I work as an commercial employee in a Hypermarket near Paris, and I’ve reduced all expenses, In France every year, we have a five week holiday but it isn’t enough for me, coz when I travel, generally I use three or for weeks to visit the whole country ( science 2008, I ‘ve visited Brasil, Morocco,Myanmar, Namibia, Dubai etc )
    so my project to do a part time job near future,
    the advantage : I can change the company when I want, and i have the choice to do the job I want, and have a lot of experiences of life,

    but there is no security, so i have faced now to a hard philosophical question : security against the liberty, those two things have the good arguments, do you think that you can help me to choose one of them, with arguments Mark?
    thanks
    senaka

  • Sonali

    6 years ago

    Hi Matt,

    I saw your website for the first time. I am in Mombasa and was looking for information on Tsavo East. I have 2 days and I want to go to Tsavo East. I need some cheap way to get there and was not sure how to find a tour guide/company.

    I noticed that you have not visited any country in west Africa. Highly recommended. I just recently visited Mali and it was fascinating!. I think the Anglophone world does not hear much about Francophone West Africa.

    I really enjoyed reading your articles, it was the only site with such detailed and readable information on Nairobi/Kenya that I could find.

    Thank You!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      No problem Sonali, I’m really glad to hear you found my site useful! No, I’ve never been to West African, but it’s an area of the world that I would love to visit. I hope in the next few years I’ll be able to visit and even spend some time in Mali. Thanks again for checking out my site and for leaving this comment!

  • Graham Mortimer

    6 years ago

    Great advice here! I’m rubbish at saving money, I just like spending money too much. I decided to go traveling 10 years ago and set off with just $1000 in my pocket. My friends and family thought I was mad and I’d be home in a few weeks. 10 years later, I’m now living in South East Asia. Before I left I did my teaching qualifications after getting a masters degree.

    I’ve worked my way about for 10 years now, I still don’t have any money, but I’ve found you don’t need much. I just ensure that I’ve got enough for a flight home!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      That is incredible to hear Graham, Thanks so much for sharing! 10 years, wow, that’s a long time, and you are an example that that anything is possible with a will to do it. Where do you live in SE Asia and are you teaching now? You are very right, it doesn’t take so much money to travel, and there are opportunities all over the world!

      • Graham Mortimer

        6 years ago

        I’m currently in Bangkok. Teaching at a private English school. I’ve been in Asia for a few years now. When you move around a lot you get a lot of unexpected fees here and there. So saving is key, you always need a bit put away, just in case.

        • Mark Wiens

          6 years ago

          Thanks for sharing Graham. I’m with you on that. If you are really trying to quickly move from place to place, you’ll likely have to spend quite a lot. Saving happens when you can remain stable for a period of time – that’s often why long-term travel is in the long run much more affordable!

  • Bama

    6 years ago

    Saving is the biggest challenge for me to fund my travels since I’m often tempted to spend my money on anything unnecessary. I also met some other travelers who think the same. So, this piece of writing of yours is definitely worth reading.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Bama, appreciate it!
      Saving can be a very hard thing to do, but if you can make some things a habit – it will get easier and easier. Hope you can continue your travels and keep saving up! Good luck Bama!

  • Luke

    6 years ago

    Ill add a quotation for a book :

    “If you think “hmm i guess we can afford it” then you cant afford it. You don’t think about buying a pack of gums – you just buy it. But if it a new car, and you “think” you can afford it, assuming the future will be good for you – you cant afford it.

  • Lisa

    7 years ago

    Great tips, I love lower your rate of need and lower your monthly fees. Those really do take a bite out if you aren’t careful.

  • Kat

    7 years ago

    I’ve got some of my old books up for sale. I’ve sold quite a bit of them, but since I don’t really keep an active track of it, I don’t know if anyone is interested in buying them still. I need to find a way to effectively monitor it.

    I’m saving up for my next trip. I’ve been bitten by the travel bug so bad.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Great that you’ve been bitten by that bug Kat!
      Books are a great way to make a bit of extra cash. I know that when I was in University, I tried to buy most of my books used offline – and then I sold them again online once I was done with them.

  • Renee

    7 years ago

    Good stuff, Mark. I think it’s important to start monetizing your talents which may mean that you won’t be able to give unlimited tech support to family and friends for free. Ok, I added that for my daughter who happens to be the go-to girl for my entire family. lol

    If raises still exist, do not include that as a part of your current income. Put it in the bank and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Continue to live on the income that you were living on before the raise.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Thanks Renee,
      I agree, if you can get a raise, it’s not just an excuse to go out and raise your lifestyle too. The money could be saved and used to pursue a bigger goal in life. Cool to have a daughter who is helpful!!!

  • flipnomad

    7 years ago

    great tips man… i frequently use my credit card to earn miles (and get free plane tickets)… but i make sure that put a limit to my monthly usage so i could pay it in full and not incur charges…

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Yah, that’s another good idea, as long as you are wise about using your credit card and can take control of it, it has some great advantages – like earning miles!

  • Theresa Torres

    7 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    You know what I find missing in quite a lot of money saving tips that I’ve read so far? It’s what you mentioned at the beginning of your post. Make money first. I guess it’s because the writers are assuming that everybody has some kind of income and it’s kind of common sense that before we can save we need money but I still like it that you mentioned it.:)
    Thanks for sharing your effective strategies. I’m currently practicing #3 and I’ll be working more on #7 so I can have lots of money to save.:)

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Thanks so much Theresa,
      I think there are sort of 2 different saving periods, 1 while you are making money, and 1 while you are not making any money. But you definitely need to have a way to make some money prior to saving any of it. From there it’s about using money wisely. #3 can be a tough one, but it really does work if you persist with it!
      Thanks again for the comment.

  • Nomadic Samuel

    7 years ago

    These are great tips. I’ve actually in the past (2008-09) been able to save my entire teaching salary while working in Korea picking up lots of overtime and being very thrifty. One of the ways I was able to do this was by pursuing hobbies in the evening (after work) that were free or nearly free. For example, jogging or lifting weights, reading downloadable ebooks on photography, learning Korean at home and watching youtube videos related to travel. It’s amazing how many individuals get hooked on hobbies that require expensive equipment, membership fees and subscriptions. None of the hobbies I pursued required any of that, yet I felt my free time was being spent better than in previous years when I would open my wallet freely.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Awesome Samuel! Thanks for sharing that.
      It really is amazing how many hobbies you can pursue that are free of charge and just as entertaining and educating as things that people pay loads of money for. Many people get hooked in to buying things, when it’s really unnecessary. Great examples Samuel on how to rearrange a lifestyle and save without having to give up fun!

  • Carrie

    7 years ago

    Thanks for this! It’s always nice to have a reminder of why budgets are important, and how saving money will get you ahead in life, especially if travel is on the menu! πŸ˜€

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Thanks the comment Carrie!
      If you are looking to accomplish something, that’s when savings really starts to make a lasting impact.

  • Grace

    7 years ago

    Great tips…as for the the treasure into junk section I think that it is very psychological that people tend to hoard material possessions. If they don’t want to sell it they should consider donating it to those who need it =)

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      I agree with you Grace, in it is very much a mental hurdle about saving junk that will never be used again. Just giving some things away is a great way to clear the mind and then pursue some others ways to save and get to your goals. Thanks for the input!

  • The Travel Chica

    7 years ago

    These are really great and easy-to-follow tips. I am currently working on #7 πŸ™‚

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Stephanie – I’m with you on working on #7. I’m still sitting on the computer working on that goal as well! Hope you are able to turn your passion into a sustainable lifestyle!

  • Pamela Marasco

    7 years ago

    Just joined the group and already found a kindred spirit and great article. Great way to re-think travel and make it happen.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Thank you very much Pamela. Having that goal to travel in mind is the first step to saving the money for it!

  • Christopher

    7 years ago

    Excellent ideas!

  • Lorna – the roamantics

    7 years ago

    GREAT list mark, and all things i subscribe to through and through. i’ve just taken it to a great extreme by downsizing to next to nothing, but learned to live well beneath my means years ago. it’s all about priorities, right? if you decide you need to save money to travel (or other aspirations) then those other things become less important. i’m sure many many folks with benefit greatly from reading this. fab! πŸ™‚

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Appreciate the comment Lorna, and it’s awesome that you too subscribe to these saving strategies. It really is directly correlated with rearranging what’s important and sticking with necessities in order to reach the intent or goal that you might have. Having a goal and will to make it happen is powerful!

  • Nico

    7 years ago

    It’s so important to keep reminding yourself to stay on your savings track because it’s so easy to let that slip, especially if there’s a great concert in town, or a pair of pants you really really want to splurge on. Thanks for the reminder, Mark.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      No problem Nico, thanks for reading.
      It really is important to make savings a part of your life, and if you have the strong will and mindset in place it can be easier to avoid those impulse splurges. And as long as you stick with your strategy, it just might be ok to splurge on a very special occasion!

  • Jeremy Branham

    7 years ago

    Good tips. I especially like the ones on occasional treats and monthly fees. It is so easy to save but learning to save is about a mindset. For some people, this comes easy. For others, they have no idea how to adjust their minds to a different lifestyle. Love the practical tips for doing this. The key is to thinking about your life differently.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Thanks Jeremy. Your’re right, once you can train yourself and build the savings into your lifestyle, it becomes habit instead of sacrifice. Sometimes it really is easier for some people, I guess it depends quite a bit on one’s parents and growing up life.

  • jade

    7 years ago

    Train yourself to need less… I like that!

  • John D. Wilson

    7 years ago

    Good stuff, Mark.
    One always has to think if one is to live wisely and well.
    Cheers,
    John D. Wilson

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Right about John, with the right intention, there’s always a way.

  • Kelsi

    7 years ago

    I love this series about spending. Usually I’m more of a just let the budget work itself out kind of girl, but I’ve found these tips to be useful and interesting to read.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Thank you Kelsi!
      I’m hoping this series will be beneficial, so I really appreciate you sharing that!

  • Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista

    7 years ago

    This is a great list! I have not really entertained selling the junk I get rid of but because of you, I am looking at it in a different light πŸ™‚

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Appreciate it Debbie!
      Hope you are able to do some experimenting with selling junk. I think the biggest benefit is that something may be worthless to you, buy when you put it on the market where millions of people will be exposed to it, you just might find a match for that thing you thought was junk!

      • betsy alano

        5 years ago

        hi mark,

        am just pressing my luck in writing you.are you based in bangkok? oh! my name is betsy and i am from the philippines, am taking a trip in bangkok sometime feb.next year and i would like to know some great tips on how to enjoy the trip at a reasonable price, or would i get the day tour that the travel agency offer?

        • Mark Wiens

          5 years ago

          Hey Betsy, thank you very much for contacting me. Great to hear you’ll be coming to visit Bangkok. No, I don’t thing a travel agency is necessary, it’s pretty easy to visit on your own. You can get a hotel and then just navigate Bangkok its sights on your own, no problem. Also I’m actually just about the release a Bangkok travel guide that includes much of the information I know about the city!