HOW TO... OTHER

How To Save Money & Travel Long Term

 

I’ve been traveling full-time for the most part of the last six years and traveled all of the worlds seven continents. At 25 years of age I have been traveling pretty much since I finished school and life on the road is all I know. Airports and bus stations are very familiar places for me and exploring new cities and countries is now routine.
The question that I get asked the most, therefore, from friends and strangers alike is just how I manage this lifestyle. “How do you afford it?” is the most common of them all.
I want to make this very clear. All of my travels have been self-funded. I have never been paid to travel. I have never been given anything for free. I have never been given money from anyone. I’m sure many have thought, “her parents must be rich,” and that pisses me off. That belittles all of my sacrifices and all of my hard work. Besides a few hundred dollars here and there for birthdays and christmas gifts my parents have never funded my travels (though they have given me much more, with their generosity time and again in letting me stay rent free during my periods at home).

Besides being born in a developed country I have had no extra privileges from anyone else. No more privileged than any of those who ask me “how do you afford it?”
Anyone can have this lifestyle, even you, if you want it bad enough. But don’t be fooled. Luck has nothing to do with this. It has all come down to hard-work, sacrifice and extreme budgeting.
Here is how I did it…

 



Dancing in India at the Wagah Closing of the border ceremony between India and Pakistan

 

As soon as I finished school I got a full time job and started my savings. In order to really save a lot of money you have to really want it, because you will have to sacrifice everything.
Gone were the days of partying. Whilst my friends were out every weekend and even most weeknights I was at home, saving my money. Would have I liked to be out with my friends, drinking cocktails, wearing pretty dresses and dancing the night away? OF COURSE. Who doesn’t like having fun with there friends? But with cover charges (entrance cost), costs of drinks, costs of taxis and the cost of having to keep up appearances with pretty new outfits each night it all added up to a lot of money quickly. Even if I went out once a week it would have cost me $50 minimum. So instead I stayed at home, watching movies, reading books and saving money. I would go out once a month instead.

 

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I said goodbye to shopping. Like most girls I love clothes. I love buying clothes. I love being able to put beautiful, fashionable outfits together and looking pretty. But clothes are expensive and fashion changes too much to be able to afford to keep up when you are trying to save. So whilst my friends always looked stunning from their new purchases I would wear very basic, indistinctive clothes again and again. I learnt to love black and other neutral colours because wearing the same black shirt again and again is less obvious then wearing the same patterned shirt regularly. Rather than keeping up with the latest styles I chose a personal style and stuck with it. Not only can you not afford to have nice clothes when you are constantly traveling but you wouldn’t want to have them anyways, they will only get wrecked. Between the industrial washing machines you often find on the road (or hand-washing in sinks in hostels), to getting dirty daily from dirty buses and roads or hiking up mountains, from sweating in the crazy heat or from losing items/having items stolen. My backpack is full of simple, basic and versatile clothing that I can wear anywhere, that I can wear multiple ways and doesn’t matter too much if they get lost or dirty.

Instead of buying lunch during my work break I would bring food from home. Instead of eating delicious meals at lovely restaurants and cafes with my friends I would limit it to once a month and instead have cheap picnics on the beach.

 

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I would fill up my car with petrol once a week and if it ran out early I would stay home. I canceled my gym membership and would instead go running in the park. I cancelled my phone plan and switched to pay as you go so I could never be surprised with a crazy phone bill at the end of the month. Instead of going to the cinema I would wait until the movies were released on dvd. For every birthday or christmas since I was 17 I have asked for money in lieu of gifts (I really miss opening presents). Instead of getting my hair done professionally I would colour it myself at home and get a haircut twice a year at most. I used to love buying the best make-up on the market. Now I have a tiny make-up bag of basic, cheap (yet chemical free) make-up that lasts me two years or more as I wear make-up very, very rarely. I ate food that was very cheap, lots of pasta, rice and bread. Cheap but definitely not healthy.
I lived with my parents and in return for living rent free I would cook and clean the house regularly.

I worked a lot. I picked up every extra shift I was offered. I worked nights. I worked weekends. I worked public holidays. I worked double shifts. I worked every opportunity I could.
Within six months I saved $20,000 AUD. Of course it majorly helps that we are so well paid in Australia.
(In the last six years I have returned home twice for six month periods to save some more cash and have worked at two summer camps in the USA and worked a ski season in Canada, which has helped earn extra cash whilst on the road too).

 

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When I travel I travel cheap. It’s the only way I have been able to attain this lifestyle. That is 100% the secret. You have to be willing to get very basic. No fancy restaurants and five star hotels. If your aim is to stay in nice hotels and eat at nice restaurants you are more suited to holidays and vacations. These luxuries are great but it’s just not possible to do long term.  The only people who can travel full-time and stay in luxurious hotels and eat three course meals at expensive restaurants are either the rich or the travel bloggers who get paid a lot of money to do so. And honestly, it’s not really traveling in my eyes. Sure, sometimes when I am in a dirty hostel full of bed bugs I am so jealous of those people and their luxuries. But they totally lack adventure. Traveling, not holidaying, is the whole package. It’s not always fun and games. You have to be prepared for the good, the bad and the ugly. I like that about travel. You get pushed to change your view on the world, on your limits and on yourself. You learn more. You experience more. You learn you can survive on a lot less. That you can rough it. You make more memories and stories to look back on and laugh at. Not only are those travel bloggers missing out on so much adventure but they are creating false expectations for people who dream to travel. I’m sorry but it’s not as glamourous as they make it look online. Unless you are the select few lucky ones that are either blessed with a large bank account or the one in a million bloggers who will get paid the big bucks you will be staying in hostels and eating street food. It’s not always glamourous but it’s what traveling is all about.
If you can accept these things then you will have the best adventure of your life.

 

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I stay in cheap hostels. I eat street food. I cook in the hostel kitchens. I fly on budget airlines. I catch 24 hour buses instead of flights. I do my research and spend hours comparing prices and dates online. In the last two years I have flown from Sydney to Japan, Japan to Thailand, Thailand to France, France to England, Return England to Italy, England to Ireland, England to New York, New York to Canada, Canada to San Francisco, San Francisco to Colombia, Colombia to Panama, Mexico to England (and many buses in between) for less than $1500AUD. I research my flights a lot before we book. I think ahead. As I write this, in fact, I am sat at the airport in Cancun, Mexico about to board a flight to England. I am surrounded by restaurants serving meals at around $16. I am sat eating plain bread rolls I purchased from the supermarket earlier today for $0.10cents. I am getting weird looks and probably being judged but they can judge all they like. Because of decisions as simple as this I have been able to travel around the world. I think it’s worth it.

 

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‘What’s your secret? How do you afford it?” The answer is simple. There is no secret. You make budgets. You sacrifice a lot. You save hard and you travel cheap. You just have to want it bad enough. Sometimes it still surprises me how I have managed to travel the world so much with so little money but it’s not rocket science. If I can do it then you can too!

Over to you! What’s your tips to saving money for adventures??

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32 Comments

  • Reply FS 09/11/2016 at 5:00 pm

    Nice post. The money saving tips that you have written are really helpful. Can take a lot of inspiration from you.

  • Reply Maja | Mexatia 09/11/2016 at 12:14 pm

    Excellent post, dear! I will never forget my first bigger trip, which was exactly the same like yours. A month all across the US on a tight budget was a lifetime changing adventure.
    Today, my hostel days are counted and the travel style changed a lot, but I am still saving money the same way, I still book cheap flights, but together with my husband I managed to enjoy some expensive things as well, which I definitely skipped before.
    Happy travels!

  • Reply Kreete 08/11/2016 at 11:54 pm

    “How do you afford it?” is probably one of the most asked questions I get as well. I haven’t sacrificed as much as you have, as I still allow myself some fun while I’m saving, but everything in modesty. I’m working every weekend anyway and haven’t been out for ages so that helps a lot too! If I didn’t have to pay rent in Sydney, I would have a lot more saved up than I have now. And what comes to other travel bloggers, I have not yet read a blog where the person is getting paid for something and is not on an adventure or not having fun. Everyone is on their own journey and I believe if you were offered to travel for free, you would take the opportunity as well.

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 22/11/2016 at 3:45 pm

      Yes, Sydney rent was a killer for me too. I agree with the travel blogger statement, if I was offered free stuff now I would take it, but I am also really glad that I worked so hard to do it for myself for so many years too. I just like to show that realistically anyone can travel, not just sponsored bloggers. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply Lauren West 08/11/2016 at 10:39 pm

    YOU ARE SUCH AN INSPIRATION! I relate to this so much. So many girls our age care all about shopping, but why?! For me, I look at that pile of clothes and see and potential plane ticket, or an incredible experience I could be having. I actually love cooking, so eating out is also not a problem for me! I love love love this post. Cheap flights, cheap hostels, cheap streetfood–that’s where it’s at <3

  • Reply Allison 08/11/2016 at 9:46 pm

    I think it’s great that you have found s travel style that suit you. Been there and done the hostel thing but honestly bed bugs are no longer my style lol Great deal on all those flights for only $1500! Even though my hostel days are done I still always book the cheapest flight I can and budget airlines are my friend lol It leaves more cash left over for a bit of luxury on arrival 😉

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 22/11/2016 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks. Can absolutely relate, the older I get and the longer I travel the more I splurge also 🙂

  • Reply Sara Essop 08/11/2016 at 3:44 pm

    Great post. You have some great money saving tips and they obviously work – because you have travelled a lot. I would rather spend my money on travel, then fashion, entertainment and objects too.

  • Reply Ticking the Bucketlist 08/11/2016 at 2:28 pm

    I totally enjoy hostelling…one of the best ways to travel and save money. It takes an effort to save money to travel. India doesnt have any social security …so I will have to save for my retirement. I am travelling full time now…but may have to go back to a full time job soon!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 22/11/2016 at 4:30 pm

      Oh that does make it hard! Though as long as I am not working in Australia I also am not contributing to a retirement fund, so I will also have to think of the same soon too. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply Kate Carter Hickey 08/11/2016 at 2:04 pm

    You meet the best people in hostels anyway! I wish my parents still lived in the city. I’d totally live with them if they did. I love your adventures! You’re really dedicated!

  • Reply Faith Coates 08/11/2016 at 1:54 pm

    Good for you I do so get pissed off when people constantly say “oh you must be loaded then if you can travel so much”….grrrrrr We have figured out very economical ways to do this and now we travel permanently. We have no home country and we get to actually live in a community rather than do a flying visit. I wish my kids could learn what you know, I hope your parents are rightfully proud of you.

  • Reply Nadine 02/09/2016 at 3:26 am

    Wow, you’re so inspiring. Not only are you doing all this, you’re also sharing! I found this site while researching San Blas and thank you thank you for the info.

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 05/09/2016 at 2:49 pm

      Aw, thanks so much for your kind words Nadine, it means lot.
      I am so glad that you found the San Blas post helpful. Thanks for reading.
      Sasha
      x

  • Reply Mason 07/03/2016 at 2:57 pm

    I really love your commitment in saving money to do what you love! I am currently in college now and I have to cut back on going out or buying new things pretty often. Really inspiring post though!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 11/03/2016 at 12:59 am

      Thanks Mason, I am so glad you found this post relatable and inspiring.
      Thanks for reading and good luck with your own saving goals 🙂

  • Reply Shivam Gajjar 07/02/2016 at 7:00 am

    OMGGG!!!!!!!
    REALLY U r great Sasha….i m so much inspired by u. U r amazing.The tips for the cost of travelling , really u surffered a lot . and nic tips for saving. And u should visit Gujarat,India. The culture of the Gujarati society, Holi , Diwali , Kite fastival , Navaratri , the flower shows …are so great u really gonna like it…
    And Thank you so much for inspire us and notify a single little thing.

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 09/02/2016 at 10:48 am

      Thanks so much Shivam for your enthusiasm and for reading! I wouldn’t say I necessarily suffered a lot, haha, but I made choices to get me where I am today, yes. I have actually celebrated Holi in Jaipur, it was so much fun! I love India!
      Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Reply Annabelle 24/11/2015 at 4:12 pm

    Gal U r amazing…. so proud of U… stay safe N all the best to U both…xx

  • Reply Rob 23/11/2015 at 5:34 pm

    Awesome tips and all of it so true. Bottom line is if you want it badly enough you will find a way to do it. Although saving money in Asia is simple compared to an amazing continent like South America…but I put that down to how much more is on offer in SA compared to Asia, there is so much more to do and things to see and doing these things cost. I guess like you say, budget, planning and sacrificing all life’s luxuries…if you want it badly enough. Great tips though, an inspiration to all who dream of ‘travelling’….(not sure on Birmingham though)!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 24/11/2015 at 4:57 am

      Thanks Rob for reading, glad you enjoyed it. It’s absolutely true, where there is a will there is a way.
      I actually found South America to be much cheaper than Asia. I don’t know if I was just there at a good time but I spent six months traveling South America and I didn’t miss out on anything and I only spent $5000. I found India super cheap but I thought South East Asia was quite a bit pricier, and I was there during off season. I guess it just depends on the year and how the economy is going.
      My boyfriends family live sin Birmingham and I agree, I’m not normally a massive fan but they do a brilliant Christmas Market!
      Again, thanks for reading Rob 🙂

  • Reply Amy 23/11/2015 at 2:35 pm

    The part that impresses me the most is how LITTLE you have spent on flying – that is insane! What are you secrets?! Seriously though, great effort… that’s a long time to have lived off $20K plus top ups… amazing!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 24/11/2015 at 4:58 am

      Thanks Amy! I will write a blog soon on how to score the cheapest flights! Though I’m sure you know most of them.
      Thanks for reading 🙂

      • Reply Hazwan 27/11/2015 at 8:48 am

        I look forward for your tips on scoring RTW flights! Been covering Asia & Europe for the past 6 years on one-off return trip but I wanna make it around the globe for once and for all! 🙂

        • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 28/11/2015 at 4:47 pm

          Thanks Hazwan. I will definitely be writing my tips on this topic in the next few weeks, keep an eye out 🙂

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