By Hodan Ahmed
My number one motivation for working has always been travel. The minute I could travel, I did, and I haven’t stopped since. As a Somali woman, it is something I’ve had to fight with my family to be able to do, but I’ve found that it is often the case for something you love. I love the ritual and excitement of a trip, and my two favourites are packing and saving as they make the trip that much more real.
Saving is hard for a lot of people, including myself. After running out of money 3 weeks into a 4 week holiday in the U.S and having to call my family for money, I vowed to be a better saver. Saving like anything else is a habit you have to practice in your daily life, and saving for travel is everyday saving and budgeting, but on steroids. Below are a few helpful tips for people who struggle to save money for their travels:
1. Make a budget. If you don’t already have one, make a budget. This is something you need for your everyday life, and even more so for travel. Make one column for necessities like rent, bills, food, and a second one for extras. Ask yourself – “where do I want to go and how much am I willing to spend?” This will inevitably determine how much money you need to save as a month in Europe is a lot more expensive than a month in Southeast Asia.
2. Cut back on expenses. Cut costs as much as possible. Spend less on groceries, even $10 a week over 6 months adds up. Look into eating out less and making your meals at home, as well as cutting back on unnecessary expenses like shopping. If you’re living at home right now, this is your biggest blessing (believe me), especially if you’re not paying rent. Use this opportunity to save as much money as possible because once you move out, saving up becomes 10 times harder. It helps to think of saving for your trip as another bill and try and put away a certain percentage of your pay every time, anywhere from 10-50% and the closer your trip, the higher the percentage.
3. Prioritize your trip. Do you really need a coffee a day? Can you reduce your phone or grocery bill? Work out what’s important to you - going out for dinner every other night or saving for your trip? If you really want to travel, you need to keep this goal in mind when you’re tempted to spend. Think of alternatives for the things you love. For example, having friends over instead of going out dinner or doing something cheap and outdoorsy together. Even if it’s not as fun as dinner, remember that it’s only temporary and you’ll have fun on your trip.
4. Travel cheaply. I know this doesn’t really work for everyone as some people prefer hotels to hostels, but this is one of the biggest ways to cut back on daily expenses once you get to your destination. Accommodation and travel within the country eats your money more than anything else. Whenever I can, I catch the bus or the train and I usually stay in hostels or with family or friends. Do you have a family member you can stay with at your destination? Chances are that you do! I’ve stayed with family members or friends on almost all my trips, and I even stayed with my mum’s primary school best friend once. If you don’t know anyone, hostels are your best bet, but make sure you read the reviews, and stay in all female dorms or private rooms for safety. Air BnB is also a great option, especially if the place you rent has a kitchen as this saves you having to eat out all the time. Air BnB is usually more expensive than a hostel but cheaper than a hotel and you can usually find a place to stay in areas that might otherwise be too expensive for a budget traveller.
There’s a myriad of websites and blogs out there to help plan your trip, so make sure you do your research. Below are some of my favourites:
Sky Scanner: Sky Scanner helps you to see all the available flights for where you want to go, and even what day of the week is cheaper to fly. Start looking as soon as you’ve decided where you’re going and when as this website is especially helpful if you’re flexible and you plan ahead.
Rome2Rio: Will show you how to get from one destination to the next via car, plane, bus or train as well as much how it’ll cost you. Similar to Sky Scanner but using all modes of transport.
Airbnb: Rent someone’s house or apartment for your trip! Depending on the location, it can be cheaper than a hotel and will most likely be cleaner then a hostel (but pricier). The place will also be private and will come with all the facilities of a house so you can save money by cooking some of your meals, which you normally can’t do at other places.
Hostelworld: See the prices, reviews and facilities of hostels and keep and eye out for deals.