Getting ready for a big trip is exciting. There's the promise of a new place with people to meet, new food to try and brand new experiences that await you. Before taking off, it often requires a fair bit of planning and being a student can mean meticulous preparation and saving of funds. Some people will say it's not possible, that it's crazy and that all your extra bits of money earned should go towards setting up your future.
We here at The Travel happen to think that getting abroad for a trip at least once a year is your education away from your education and where some of your biggest lessons will come from. We also happen to think that where there's a will, there can also be a way. With just a few minor tweaks to your daily habits and spending, you would be surprised how much money you can actually save! We've gone ahead and listed below 14 tips for saving away some money for travel and 9 things that you should stop doing now in order to get on a plane to your dream destination.
With these few tips and tweaks, you'll be whipping out your boarding pass quicker than you can say licitly split. While it won't be easy at first and you may slip up at the start, just know the bigger the sacrifice can mean the bigger the reward (aka the trip), so be strong, you've got this!
23 Pack Your Lunch
A simple meal prepping plan will almost effortlessly put money in the bank for your trip. With a simple take-out lunch costing anywhere from $6 (sandwich) to $20 (sushi), it can rack up quickly from $30 to $100 a week which will drain what little cash flow you have coming in. If you plan ahead for each week on your trip to the grocery store, a packed lunch can cost as little $3 dollars a day! That’s a savings of anywhere from $15 to $85 a week! Not to mention the added bonus that eating fresh, home-prepared meals will be better for your overall health and wellbeing.
22 Study in the Library vs a Cafe
Who doesn’t love a good cafe sesh? For people watching purposes alone coupled with that strong WiFi, it can be tempting to try to get your studying done at your local coffee shop. The trouble is that if you spend long enough there, you can rack up quite a tab without too much effort! What starts out as a 'treat yourself' green tea latte can easily turn into a twenty dollar session. Do yourself a favour and take your study break at the local library. Not only is it free, relatively quiet (for productivity purposes) with half decent WiFi but there will be little opportunity to spend money. If you’re worried about getting peckish, pack a snack!
21 Get a Travel Credit Card
Having a credit card that has travellers in mind can save you quite a bit of cash. The points system alone can ensure that every dollar spent earns you a return! Most of these cards have a signing bonus as well that can give you a healthy jump start to actualizing your travel dream. Pick a card with built-in insurances so that you’re not paying double for short excursions abroad.
Many travel cards will at least have trip cancellation and a basic form of medical insurance that can save you literally hundreds of dollars! While the top of the line cards often come with an annual fee attached, there are plenty of free options that will be well worth your while. Read up on the card that best suits you and start planning your trip!
20 Automatic Monthly or Weekly Transfer to Your Savings
Online banking is pretty much the only banking we now know and there’s a reason for it! You can accomplish so much from the comfort of your own home - it's brilliant! Granted you have set up a savings account for your trip, you can set up an automated transfer that ensures that each week and/or month you are contributing a basic set amount! Even as little as $20 a week can add up to over $1000 a year.
That’s one sushi lunch a week towards eating the real deal in Japan. I don’t know about you, but I’d say that’s well worth the sacrifice.
19 Work That Student Discount
You are a student! Use this as a reason to get discounts on everything from your bus pass to your books to bifocals. Almost every business has a separate rate for students because they know that they are usually poor due to crippling costs of living and student debt. Be sure to ask what the discount is and take advantage of it!
It can be a bit awkward at first to ask if it’s not advertised but once you see how much money you’re saving and how much closer you’re getting to your dream trip, your embarrassment will very quickly melt right away.
18 Set Flight Trackers Well In Advance
Everyone knows that the earlier you book the more likely you are to score a deal. Even if you’re not totally sure of the exact dates, set up multiple flight trackers on websites like Kayak, Skiplagged, and if you want to get a really thorough search, Ita Matrix.
Ita Matrix involves a few extra steps but gives you a complete picture of not only the airport you hope to fly into but also the neighbouring closest airports that might be much cheaper. The tricky bit is only that you can’t book directly and would need to call the airline and/or travel agent with the flight numbers to get the deals. In any case, it will be well worth your while to keep your eyes on flights for your Spring Break seeing as how they tend to fluctuate like the stock market.
17 Move Home
If you really want to stash away some cash for a major trip, say after graduation, it can be worth your while to bite the bullet and move home. Sure, it’s not the most ideal while you’re living in close quarters with the very people you were hoping to escape at Uni, but what’s a few months of family living if it means a 6 month trip in South East Asia or having enough to go abroad to Australia for a year?
If your living situation is bearable it is definitely worth considering moving home. Why not start off with a pros/cons list!
16 OR At Least Do Laundry At Home
If you can’t manage the thought of moving back home for whatever reason, then you can certainly visit more. Not only will your family be happy to see you but they will often let you use their washer and dryer! Considering that coin laundry can cost as much as $3 a load (and is incredibly inconvenient), this could be a considerable saving on a monthly average.
Feed two birds with one seed and grab a bag of your clothes the next time you’re heading over to visit mom and dad for supper, they’ll surely understand.
15 Cook More
As a student it can be hard to find the time for everything, never mind cooking healthy meals each day. That’s why meal prepping can be a saviour to your weekly schedule and your wallet.
Sectioning off just 2 hours on a Sunday evening can mean that you have fresh dinners prepared and ready to go all week! Grab a few chicken breasts, some rice or quinoa and veggies and make big batches of each.
If you have 5 containers you can even prepare each portion so it’s a matter of grab and go or organize them by dish and create different combinations as you go. While it takes a bit more planning and time out of your weekend, the amount of time and money it saves throughout the week is immeasurable.
14 Used Furniture / Sell Your Furniture
As a student, you still want to feel at home in your dorm or apartment so it can be tempting to splash out on decor that emulates that. Instead of going straight to the Ikea website (although mostly a budget-friendly option) why not scour your local second-hand shop? In most cases, the furniture is cheap and can even be delivered for a small fee.
The best part is the money often supports a local charity so you can feel good about spending what few dollars you spend. It’s also good to get familiar with these shops for when the time comes to pack your bags, you may be able to get some cash for your stuff. Every penny counts when you’re on a budget!
13 Go Low Maintenance
No one is saying that you have to stop buying soap for the shower or the shampoo brand that you like best - these are small luxuries that you should be able to afford. However, going for highlights or routine beard trims every other month can rack up quickly. If you can manage to pad your haircuts with an extra month in between it can be helpful. Or if you really must, try to find a student who’s just learning to cut hair because they will often do it on the cheap if not for free and then it’s a win-win all around!
12 Switch to Outdoor Workouts
Are you hitting the gym regularly enough that you can justify the hole that the membership card is burning in your pocket?
If you really love the gym, be sure to find out if a student-friendly plan is offered (as we mentioned above), but if you joined 3 years ago and can’t remember where the gym is exactly, it might be time to switch up your mode of exercise.
Perhaps you can join forces with a roommate or friend and go for evening walks or find a yoga class in the park on the cheap! There are many free ways that you can get those endorphins pumping without draining your travel fund.
11 Look For Free Activities
It can be tempting to associate social time with the student pub but the truth is that you can usually find lots of activities that are just as fun and don’t cost much. If you live in a big city you can usually find exhibits or concerts around town, or maybe pay what you can classes. Most towns also have festivals throughout the summer that rarely cost any entrance fees and can be quite entertaining.
Whatever your interests are there are likely ways that you can have a good time if you think outside the box a little.
10 Have a Potluck (vs eating out)
Catching up with your buds is often done over dinner with a few drinks but why not bring that into the home! Turn a routine restaurant meet-up into a potluck supper by inviting your pals over and asking them to each bring a dish or a side with them. That way, those who prefer to splash out can get those gourmet finger foods but those who might be on a budget can prepare something more economical at home and bring it along. You still have the variety of a restaurant but in a much cozier and cost-effective manner.
And here's what NOT to DO more of...
9 (Don't do it!) Take Away Coffees
Curb this habit of the default takeaway coffee, STAT. While the streets are littered with adorable cafes and you may have a favourite local spot who knows how to make a soy latté just the way you like it, it is one of the most inconspicuous ways you will end up spending away your travel budget.
With fancy coffees costing as much as $6 a cup, it really cannot possibly be worth it. If you’re pressed for time switch to instant coffee which is a matter of dumping boiling water into a spoon full of mystery coffee powder or prepare your coffee machine the night before so it’s automatically ready to brew in the am by the time you wake up. It’s well worth it.
8 (Don't do it!) Impulse Purchases
Retail therapy is a thing but it’s no longer your thing! You have places to go and people to meet and you won’t get any closer to boarding a flight if you’re spending on needless impulse purchases.
An impulse purchase isn’t always an expensive purchase either, stopping at the cash to pile on a US Weekly or grabbing that gadget that looks like something you might need in the future (even though you’re not exactly sure what it is) is how travel dreams disappear.
Stay strong and limit yourself to must-haves like toilet paper and bananas. If you like to treat yourself, make sure it’s not a routine thing.
7 (Don't do it!) Too Much Partying
We get it! You’re in University and you want to meet people and have fun and let your hair down and that’s all gravy. The problem is when you’re making a habit of hitting all the parties. When it’s late you’re more likely to take cabs (as you should) and get greasy takeaway food before bed - these are all taking away from sunsets in Santorini or surf lessons on the Gold Coast.
No one is saying you have to chain yourself down in your apartment but be a bit more methodical about which gatherings you say yes to. You can thank us when you’re getting a tan on the beaches in Thailand.
6 (Don't do it!) Buy Books Brand New
Books are in abundance, friends and therefore there are lots of ways to be thrifty! You can swap reads with a friend who has similar tastes to you or take a trip to the local library for all your literary needs. If the library gives you the creeps because #bedbugs then you can always order used books from Amazon as an option
In some places, you can even find free libraries and book swaps in coffee shops and on people’s front lawns with the words ‘take a book, leave a book’, which would be good since you can’t take your whole library away with you on your trip.
5 (Don't do it!) Hang With Your Spendy Friends
Peer pressure spending is dangerous. This is where even the thriftiest of savers can fall off. When you’re around people who don’t have the same financial restraints as you, it can be tempting to want to meld in with the crowd and say yes to eating at ritzier places than you normally would or extending yourself financially in other ways.
No one wants to be the wet blanket and start talking about their budget but you can avoid this altogether if you hang out with people who are on a similar trajectory and wish to save their pennies. By doing this, it will be assumed that you would maybe pick low key activities and you will likely jointly celebrate your ability to save together.
4 (Don't do it!) Drive Everywhere
Put. The. Keys. Down.
Cars are notoriously expensive from the insurance to the fuel. From unexpected technical issues to accidents. Driving is a fiscal drain. Lucky for you there are a number of other options like walking! Not only is it great exercise but a good pair of walking shoes will cost you less than one week’s worth of fuel. You can also buy a second-hand bike which gets you from A to B much more efficiently and may be a little easier while you study.
There are also a number of bike share and car share options that are popping up in even the smallest of towns to help those out who can’t bear to fork over the cash of maintaining a car.