“How can you afford to travel around the world; did you save that much money for a world tour?”
This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions, together with the question “will you work on your trip“? No, we will not work during our trip, but maybe we’ll do some woofing, helpx or workaway to save money on food and accommodation. How can we afford to travel for so many month without having a job?
It was actually not as difficult, because we didn’t need to save an unrealistic amount of money, and we had some time to save up for the world tour. The amount of money you need obviously depends on the time you are going to travel and how much money you are willing to spend on food, accommodations and tours. After doing online research and quantifying the money we spend on prior trips, such as one month in Vietnam, we found out that it isn’t even as expensive to make a tour around the world, if you don’t go “full luxury”. We aim at spending €1000 p.p. per month. But yes, we needed to save money for the trip and for the time afterwards.
To save money for the world tour, we took no extreme measures affecting our daily life. The way we saved money allowed us to go on multiple holidays every year, go out for food and drinks, buy board games, et cetera; we still enjoyed our life.
How we saved money for our world tour
- We both had a full time / nearly full time job (good income).
- We lived together in a small apartment of 40 m2, and could therefore split the rent (low costs).
- Because we lived in a small apartment, we didn’t have the space to buy many new things. This way, we had to think twice about buying something we liked. Do you like it? Yes. Do you need it? Maybe. Do we have space for it? No. Easy (low costs)!
- We don’t have a car (no insurance, no gasoline, no repairs), so we walked or biked everywhere nearby. Larger distances we traveled by train (NS 40% discount in the Netherlands) and we always tried to book early-bird tickets to get a good discount (e.g. in Germany). In addition, we rented a car if it was economically viable (low costs).
- We made meal plans for an entire week, made a grocery list, and did all the shopping in the weekend. We only bought food from the market or supermarket we truly needed (including special cheese, fruits, drinks). Trust us; this will save you quite a lot of money for your world tour. By doing so, we hardly ordered in, because we already had the required ingredients at home for a meal. Check out recipes from our culinary tour around the world!
- Most importantly, we transferred a fixed amount of money to our savings account each month (many months x some money = a lot of money). If we got a pay raise, we increased the amount we saved proportionately. In addition, if we would end the month with more money than we would need, we would send it directly to our savings account (steadily saving up).
How to make a world tour affordable
- Don’t stay in luxurious hotels or resorts.
- Hotel or hostel rooms for two are more costly. As a cheaper alternative, we will pick rooms in which we will have to share the bathroom or sleep in dorms.
- Couchsurfing – a good way to get to know locals.
- Woofing – working on a farm in order to get free accommodation and food.
Food & drinks
- We don’t buy small plastic bottles every day, but try to buy big(ger) water containers. This is cheaper and environmental friendly, because you can fill your own water bottle. During this trip, we are going to use a water purifier (UV-light that kills bacteria, viruses and protozoa), so that we can directly drink the water from the tap (pay attention to chemical pollutants).
- We typically don’t go to the restaurants recommended by a tourist guide. They are often more expensive, because they attract many tourists due to their reputation. We tend to walk along the street and stop at restaurants where many locals eat. Here, you typically get local prices. In addition, if the restaurant or the street food stall is busy, you are mostly guaranteed that the food is fresh because of the high turnover rate.
- We don’t go out for food 3x a day, but also cook ourselves. This will save you a lot of money, especially in more expensive countries.
- We don’t book expensive tours for everything. We will arrange many tours ourselves by asking fellow travelers or doing online research. This way, you discover the region by yourself and don’t have to share the experience with an “entire bus”. We prefer these kind of experiences.
Example in Cuba, Valle de Viñales:
We arrived at our casa particular and the women told us that it wasn’t possible to discover the area by ourselves, and we really needed to have a guide. A man came over and told us about some guided tours. Because we didn’t want to waste the day, we booked a tour with him. Not one of our smartest choices. We had a private tour and our guide was really kind. He gave us a standard tour and saw many people doing something similar. We all stopped at the same tea house, at the same coffee plantation (a few coffee trees), the same tobacco farm etc. It was very touristic and we had the feeling that we did not see the real “Cuba”.
The next day, we studied online maps and found some streets going into the nature area. Using these maps, we created our own itinerary. We hired bikes and started our own tour. We found amazing cultural and natural landscapes with local farmers working the land, tobacco-drying sheds et cetera, but without any tourists. It was an amazing experience and almost free!
- We will book alternative tours. For example, the Inca trail to Machu Pichu in Peru is quite expensive. However, there are also several alternative routes (with the same destination), which are much cheaper and have good recommendations.
- We never book the first flight we will find online, but typically compare different flights and consider different nearby airports. We normally use Skyscanner or Momondo to compare flights. Make sure to search in incognito mode, so that the websites cannot track you and make flights more expensive (yes that happens). Be careful when comparing prices. The cheapest flight is not always the cheapest option: 1) if you have (multiple) long stop-overs, you need to buy expensive food and drinks at the airport or 2) if you have an early flight, you have to either sleep on the ground or a bench on the airport or book a cab/car/accommodation to catch your flight. These scenarios could result in higher prices compared to the “more expensive flight”.
- On long distances, we will probably use night buses. This way, we don’t have to book an accommodation and the journey passes quite fast (at least if you can sleep in a bus).
- We don’t hire a car for everything. Local transport is a cheap alternative, a nice experience and a good way to get to know people. If we want our own means of transport, we will rent a bike or a scooter. This is often a cheaper alternative than a car.
- We stopped many contracts, so that we don’t pay for services we don’t need while travelling (for example, the rent for our apartment, a phone contract, sport abonnement, Netflix etc.).
- We will not buy new books if we finished one, because in hostels there often are book exchanges. In addition, there are many copyright free e-books available on the web.
How do / did you save money for a specific goal? Let us know about it in the comments.