One of travel’s biggest lies is that it’s expensive. Here’s how I’m saving up for my year in Korea, all while working minimum wage jobs.
- Give up conveniences. Your traveling self will appreciate this later anyway. Forgo the McDonald’s drive through for fresh fruit and veggies and you’ll be amazed at how much you save weekly by eliminating fast food (for me, this meant local coffee shops).
- Socialize Simply. Feel free to join everyone for a night on the town, just don’t splurge on the $10 drinks (tip: volunteer as the DD, then you have a ride home).
- Start downsizing. You can’t take your quirky collection of star wars figures with you, it’s time to say good bye. I have three “sections” of stuff started: keep for Korea, irreplaceable memories for storage, and the rest of it I’m selling.
- Cancel subscriptions. You don’t need Netflix or Cosmopolitan while you still have time to socialize and appreciate the people at home.
- Public transportation and/or carpooling. I do not have a car and have saved so much by car pooling with my family or using public transportation.
- Do not “purchase more”. For me, this has been my greatest weakness. I try to find excuses to buy another pair of shorts for my trip, when in reality, I already have more than I need. The less you buy before your trip, the more you can purchase abroad.
- Pack snacks. Whatever you do, DO NOT buy your meals at the airport, it’s definitely not worth the price. Pack a sandwich and snacky foods for the flight and/or layovers.
- Need suitcases? Try resale shops like goodwill, just be sure to clean them thoroughly before use.
- Purchasing tickets? Airfare Watchdog and other sites that you can either subscribe to via email or twitter are really great resources. Also, consider traveling during “off seasons”; Paris in the winter is still the same ‘ole Paris. (Tip: look into flights flying in/out of larger hubs and take a bus to and from these airports.)
- Homemade gifts make heartfelt and personalized gifts to any host, advisor, or boss abroad. Skip purchasing generic postcards and make your own.
- Don’t fall for name brands. I’ve had the same backpack and luggage that traveled a year through Europe and they’re about to travel a year through Asia, no big names needed.
- Exchange your money for foreign currency at your local bank. Most often, they have better exchange rates than airports.
- Buy your comfort toiletries and cosmetics at home because they will cost an arm and a leg abroad, if you can find them at all (one of my two suitcases is designated for just toiletries/cosmetics and shoes).
- Start purging yourself from your comfort foods as soon as possible. For me, that means Gevalia coffee, peanut butter m&m’s, and Kraft macaroni and cheese. You’ll crave these less later if you give them up now and also save all the money you used to splurge on them.
- Spend your free time enjoying the simple things. Your friends want to spend time with you? Go biking, window shop downtown, throw the frisbee around.
The moral of the story: live simply, save loads of money. I find that it’s really easy to save knowing I have a huge adventure awaiting. My latest mantra is “do I really need this for Korea”, if not I let it go.