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!
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Nice article. I’m just wondering how long did it take you to have enough money to travel to Europe? was it for months, or years?
Hi Anna. I only spent P180,000 for my 70 days in Europe, including the airfare. It’s not so much 🙂
Heyah Aleah! Your blog has definitely inspired me to save up and travel (cheap)! Wow backpack across europe in 70 days?! How was that possible and what was your travel itenerary and how much did it cost you?
Oh my god my palms are all sweaty from excitement!
(P.S. My mandible is still lying on the floor)
Hi Beyah. You can find my itinerary here (though not per day, my blog doesn’t have that kind of post): http://solitarywanderer.com/2012/12/solo-backpacking-trip-in-europe/
For 70 days in Europe, I only spent P180,000 including the airfare of P52,000. You can find out how I traveled so cheaply here: http://solitarywanderer.com/2012/03/how-to-travel-cheaply-in-europe/
If you want to plan your Eurotrip, you can also read another post: http://solitarywanderer.com/2012/09/how-to-prepare-for-your-first-euro-trip
Hi! Any tips on where/how to invest?
It actually depends on your personality, and whether you’re comfortable with risk or not. The higher the returns usually, the more the risk. I opted to go for mutual funds, it doesn’t earn as much but it’s safe. Some of my money also went to my mother’s business which is a bit riskier but earns so much more.
Great Tips! Many people think that, going to Europe is like a trip to the moon! Myself included. 😐
I’ve been considering Investing for the longest time. Your last statement on that made me really think hard about it.
These are very good tips and very doable. Follow what the writer said that you need not to think about the money you save. Para hindi mo sya magasto. Ipa auto debit mo yung money sa isang account mo every month. Para parang bawas lang sya diba. Yung matitira mong pera yun yung gawin mo panggastos.
so glad i found your blog! really awesome…! keep up the good work girl! and keep the passion alive!
Love what you’ve written. Especially Date a girl who travels.
I was wondering what your budget was for 7 months in europe? or what the total you spent was? Not including getting there or flying home.
Wow! Bakit ngayon ko lang nabasa ito?! Sobrang helpful nito te!
I have two bank accounts na, sige magawa nang 3! 😛
Great tips Aleah! Will be putting your suggestions to good use. Makapaghanap na nga rin ng company na pag-iinvestan. What company do you suggest?
You mentioned investing as a good way to build funds. I’ve been toying with the idea of investing for quite some time, but I just can’t settle on which business/investment plan to try. Where exactly would you recommend a newbie like me to invest?
@ BPS: Once you get the hang of working there, you can earn pretty well!
“When you are living from paycheck to paycheck, a trip to Europe might seem like a trip to the moon.”
Spot on! Haha. Thanks for the tips. I am trying out oDesk, but can’t keep up with tight deadlines.
@ Joann: Setting up a separate account for travel also works. That is, as long as you don’t get tempted to use it up in other ways:)
@ Christian: I buy my coffee in neighborhood stores. Costs only P10 hehe
@ Mark Anthony: It’s only difficult at first. Good luck!
Thanks for the infos! 😀 I am convinced with the savings part it is true, I am more inspired to do it and go for an extra mile! 😉
remove S from your life haha.. nakakapag coffee na lang ako ngayon now that i’ve resigned from a normal job pag may gc 😛
I also have more than 1 bank account. I opened 5 bank accounts and 1 of them is for travel. Also, I try to live below my means, less na ang pagkain2 sa labas and I buy clothes annually. hehe
@ Marivic: I think it’s really a big challenge to set aside some money if you have a family. I salute your saving powers! 😀
@ Gelo: Too true. You never notice the small things eh, and don’t realize they really add up.
Hi Aleah! Nice tips..Naalala ko tuloy yung isang quotation:
“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” – Benjamin Franklin
Thank you for sharing this =))))
Right, that’s what I did when I started earning and still doing it. Still getting broke now but I am happy coz with my habit of saving and cutting expenditures I was able to send my daughter to one of the most prestigious university in the Philippines… 😀
@ Traveling Morion: Hi Jeffrey! Overspending can be a difficult habit to stop, but it’s very well worth it. Try it in baby steps so it doesn’t seem too overpowering.
@ Jhana: Thanks for dropping by my blog. Yes, Air Asia has a lot of cheap flights, but I do find it a hassle to have to go to Clark. A lot of my friends have tried it already though. 🙂
thanks for the tip. another tip might be helpful like making a target for the place where you want to go. find flights that are lower than the popular airlines. if you plan to travel in asia. try Air Asia to browse low rates flight. I heard until June 19 they have flights to hongkong for only 2,800.00 round trip ticket from clark.
anyway, thanks for the tips!
Galing ng tips Aleah! guilty aq sa overspending:( will try ur 3 bank accounts teknik:) jejeje
@ Ruby: True, true. Be productive and earn 🙂
@ Ding: I’m not business-minded either, but the ROI changed my mind haha
Very well said! But I think that business thing will not work for me…I am not an entrepreneur…hehehe.
I am seriously considering signing up in Odesk! Instead na magbabad online magtrabaho na lang para sa extra budget. Hehe!
@ Noel: 5 months is very doable. Just plot your budget (remember it’s SG dollar is expensive!) and plan how much to save per payday. It’s good your hotel is free. That’s big savings already. Don’t forget to check out my post on why I love SG: http://bit.ly/L22Uci
bakit ngayon ka lang? he he he
we’ll be going to Singapore and Malaysia this November and all i have right now are the plane tickets which i had already bought plus a two-night complimentary stay at a hotel in SG.
i still have 5 months to save for the 3 of us. parang mahirap ano? pero i am sure doable. just focus, ha ha ha
@ Apol: Yup, lots of small jobs there!
@ Spencer: Yes to garage sales! I just emptied my closet now but I didn’t sell my unused clothes though. Just gave it all away. I hope to get good karma from that haha
Good suggestions! I would throw in their ‘have a garage sale’ too. It is amazing how much you can make by selling the stuff you never use!
waaahhh i did odesk before. ok i will go back hahaha. 🙂
@ Killerfillers: I forgot to include credit cards in my tips…I pay off the whole amount every month. This way (1) I don’t have to pay any interest, and (2) I make sure I can pay what I charge 🙂 Can you imagine how much the banks have profited from you, if you pay interest every month? Wow.
@ Sarah: Yup, you’re lucky you have that farm! Rich! haha
i so agree with investing. 🙂
thanks for the tip. i already settled 3 of my 4 credit cards and will open 2 atm accounts as well.
@ tndcallphilippines: Yeah, it needs a LOT of self-discipline. Definitely not an easy thing to do!
@ Trevor Warman: Now, that’s not something most of us can do! You the man! hehe
i have NO out goings. no car , no cell phone, free internet , i work half way up a mountain. we pay a set ammount for food and accomodation. there are no shops, no buses, and there fore no way to spend 1 cent of my wages. plus i get tips…… thats a dream job for saving for travels…. or….
Thanks for the tips. definitely see your point. 🙂 and yes, cutting back this way will really help!!! self-discipline!!
@ Michi: LOL that’s one way of keeping that money safe–forget your PIN! Seriously though if you just keep the money in the bank, you won’t get a lot.
@ Regine Garcia: True, true. The interest’s so small. Better to invest, whether in mutual funds or a business, as long as it’s not just in your account.
Wow. I should invest on something as well – not just time but also money. True that you pointed out that stuffing money in the bank doesn’t have any returns 🙂 God Bless and More travels to you! 🙂
i agree with all your points. i also have 3 accounts and i leave my 2 atms at home and now i’m having hard time to withdraw on those 2 accounts because i can’t remember my pin number. hehe! but like you’ve said, i need to invest so i can save more.
@ Grasya: Thanks hehe
@ Apol: In my experience, it’s still easier to find work in oDesk. Have you signed up?
well-written.. hay of course I know of these tips na but you made me seriously think again.. like a big REMINDER.
I only know of Odesk, but if Elance and Freelancer are mentioned here, they must be legit! hehe. Ma check nga. 😀
Thanks for the reminder..
great tip! makapag invest na nga din ^_^
@ MheAnne: I used to have passbooks too but I found them too inconvenient when I needed to withdraw. For me, it’s enough to leave the ATMs at home 🙂
@ Karla: Thanks! The lifestyle-catching-up with your salary is really true. If you have more disposable income, you find yourself spending more too. That’s why I prioritize setting aside a percentage to savings so that I won’t be tempted to use it 🙂
@ Izah: It really helps, doesn’t it? 😀
pareho tayo! i have 3 bank accounts. haha. bawat isa may designation din.
helpful tips 🙂 especially ung cut your spending. hope this will inspire readers.
Simple steps but very true 🙂 In cutting back spending, it helps to actually identify your monthly expenses into essentials (like rent, transportation costs, food) and non-essentials (eating out, salon or spa treatments, etc). I had budget envelopes every month, for essentials, for my target monthly savings, and another envelope allocated for non-essentials. The rule is I can never ever touch money for savings (which goes to a separate bank account) but if my bill for essentials like electricity needs additional funds, the money has to come from my budget for the non-essentials. I think it is still important to allocate a certain portion of our pay for little luxuries we can enjoy here and now (in my case, getting a massage) so we don’t get the feeling for being deprived. But yes to cutting back on spending! An increase in one’s pay should not really translate into an equivalent increase in the one’s lifestyle cost. If one really wants to travel, that should be above a frappucino :p Nice post, as usual!
another well written post Aleah and very informative too. i agree with your 5 ways and particularly love about having 3 bank accounts and leaving the two behind. Mine is with a slight variation – i opened one ATM account and the two are passbook accounts so there is less temptations to use it other than what it is for. Also it is easy to see how much money is saved up and inspired to put some more into it!