Like many other nomads who chose the unconventional life of long term travel, I had to change the way I utilized money. I scoured the internet for ideas to save money and every article I encountered advised to adjust my budget. It is imperative to have a healthy savings account while traveling long term.
I drastically changed my lifestyle in Los Angeles in order to save money for my first long term travel. I constantly spent money on entertainment, dining in restaurants, socializing in bars and other insignificant luxuries. Realizing that I had to choose between premium lemon drop martinis and weeks at the beach, I sat down with a print out of my checking account and a highlighter to light the things I could live without. Yellow was for completely unnecessary expenditures, red was for parking tickets and green was for eating out. I devised a plan to cut my expenses so I could maximize my adventures.
SEPARATE TRAVEL ACCOUNT
My goal was to save $7,000 in 6 months before summer season. I opened a separate travel account to start saving cash for my pending trip to Ibiza, Spain. I opened a new account, and filled out paperwork to split my paycheck in between my old checking account and my shiny new travel account.
Outside of bars and clubs, I also frequented concerts, sporting events and festivals. Once I decided to make traveling the top priority, I stopped wasting money on socializing in bars. I traded repetitive mainstream concerts for free concerts in Los Angeles. Not only was I saving loads of money, I was also actively exposing myself to new genres of music and a different crowd. In order to keep attending my beloved Clippers games, I came up with a bartering system. I traded coupons and vouchers with the stadium workers for nose bleed seats, then at halftime, I made my way down to the empty seats I’d been eyeing the whole first half.
COOKING AT HOME
After noticing that I spent 35% of my monthly budget on dining out, I decided to cut it back by 20%. I used half of that money to buy groceries to make enough food for the whole month, only eating out twice a month. For personal reasons, I became a vegetarian at the same time. Frequent trips to Trader Joes and late night Grub Hub orders became my best friend.
GETTING RID OF INSIGNIFICANT LUXURIES
There were dozens of insignificant luxuries eating away at my bank statement like Starbucks, FroYo, cable television, etc. Letting go of cable was an easy decision since most things I wanted to watch can be streamed for free or are found on on-demand streaming websites like Netflix and Hulu. I even took it a step further and shared streaming website accounts with friends. Now, $10 for a Netflix subscription isn’t much at all. But when you can stream on 3 devices at the same time, the cost of the subscription can be split down to mere dollars.
TRAVELING IS CHEAPER THAN YOU THINK
Traveling is wayyyyyyy cheaper than you think. As a comparison, traveling can be cheaper than just being in your city. Between June 19th and July 7th, I was waiting for a flight to take me back to Europe. In those few weeks, I spent $1000 just living in Los Angeles. I was crashing at a friend’s house, so rent wasn’t a part of my budget but I spent that much money on food, travel, entertainment and other expenses. When I returned to Spain, I finished out the rest of the summer without spending close to $1000. The cost of living is cheaper in the places that I travel and I just don’t have the need to buy so many things.
Here is a side by side comparison of a typical month in Los Angeles versus a typical month in my new home of Ibiza, Spain.
Los Angeles, CA
- Rent – $700
- Utilities – $100
- Food – $300
- Student Loans – $50
- Car & Upkeep – $400
- Gas – $120
- Social Activities – $250
- Misc – $160
- Total: $2,080
- Rent – $0.00*
- Utilities – $0.00*
- Eating Out – $60
- Groceries – $80
- Student Loans – $50
- Gas for Moto – $20
- Social Activities – $100
- Misc – $50
*My first year in Ibiza, I lived in a squat house, so my rent and utilities were $0. Afterwards, I rented a room at 320 per month. That made my total monthly expenses: $620.00*
What tips or tricks do you have to save for travel?
Jelisa is passionate about inspiring fellow millennials to travel. Specifically, utilizing travel as an educational right rather than an elusive reward after long years of working. There are enriching lessons tucked into every corner of the world, and it can be accessed by less than a fraction of the national average college tuition. She firmly believes that life is best understood and dissected through travel, rather than in a classroom lecture. Follow her posts on her personal site.