You have plans to backpack in Europe someday. Like a lot of people you know, you have a bucket list, and the Eurotrip is one you’ve been burning to cross off the list since forever.
The big question, however, is can you afford it? You’re not a millionaire, so is it really possible to make your dream trip come true? When you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, a backpacking trip to Europe might as well be like a trip to the moon.
Here’s some good news for you then: yes, even if you’re not rich, it can be possible for you to go backpacking in Europe.
I did it for 70 days without going broke, using the tips I’ve laid out in my post on how to travel cheaply in Europe.
What if you’re not actually planning to go to Europe yet, because you can’t even find the funds to travel locally? You can prepare for your backpacking trip to Europe in advance, including saving up for it.
Here are some really simple tips on how to finance your passion for traveling. Before you dismiss them as too basic, just remember you don’t need to complicate your life just to build your travel fund. Start simply and you will succeed.
Cut your spending.
No matter how much you’re earning, you will always run out of money if you don’t cut your spending. In 1998, I earned a four-figure salary from a publishing house where I worked as an editorial assistant. I practically lived paycheck to paycheck, I even had to pawn some of my jewelry sometimes to meet my financial obligations.
One year later, my salary doubled, but I still found myself short of cash at the end of the month. Why? Because even as my salary increased, my lifestyle also kept up with it!
So if you want to have money left over for your travels, cut your spending. List down your daily expenses for a week or a month, and see which you can do without, and this includes:
- taking taxicabs (commuting is so much cheaper)
- going to the movies weekly (those can really add up)
- eating at restaurants often (limit it to once every two weeks and see how much you can save)
- buying things you don’t need, including clothes, accessories, and gadgets
- your daily coffee from posh coffee shops (yes, wean yourself off S!).
Save up a portion of your salary.
When you manage to cut down your expenditures, allot a portion of your salary to savings. I keep three bank accounts: one for my salary/daily expenses, a second one for my short-term needs (which includes my travel fund), and a third account that’s only for emergency use. Every month, I allot something to my travel and emergency funds, ranging from 10 to 20 percent, and the rest goes to my daily living expenses.
What’s important here is to forget that you have saved some money, so that you won’t be tempted to use it to buy that nice blouse or pair of shoes that you don’t really need. Leave your ATM cards for your second or third savings accounts at home, and only use it for what you had intended it to be.
Earn more by using your idle time.
During weekends, instead of spending the whole day playing games or watching TV, why don’t you do something productive where you can earn money? Canvass what marketable skills you have; do you know how to write? Draw? Design and make accessories? Maybe you know how to bake, cook, or make chocolates?
Make use of these skills; start small by selling to your neighbors or your friends. Majority of the profit you will get from this should go into your travel fund, not to buy another pair of jeans.
You can also sign up at online marketplaces like oDesk, Elance, or Freelancer. There are a lot of small jobs there that you can do on your free time, from writing, to transcription and maintaining social media accounts. Just remember to put your earnings in your travel fund!
Nothing earns you money more than investing. You can put your cash in the bank for years without seeing a significant interest, but when you invest in a business, you can have as much as 5 percent return in investment every month.
This is the best thing that I did with my savings, and it enabled me to go to Europe!
Make use of free tours or travel locally.
Finally, take advantage of free tours or trips in your area. You can satisfy your wanderlust by exploring your town or city. As I have said in Date a Girl Who Travels, learn to appreciate the sights around you. Traveling is not just appreciating far away places; it’s also looking at something familiar and seeing its beauty.
What’s YOUR strategy to fund your wanderlust? Do share in the comments!