Everyone knows a few tips to save money to travel – make coffee at home instead of buying it at Starbucks, pack your lunch instead of buying one at work, blahblahblah.
Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
I’ve been budgeting so long that I’ve come up with a few, well, let’s say… interesting… ideas on ways to save money to travel.
Let’s get weird.
4 Borderline Ridiculous Ways I Used to Save Money to Travel the World (and 2 I Still Use)
Crazy Way I Save Money to Travel #1: I don’t pay for haircuts.
First off, I’ve never dyed, highlighted, lowlighted, ombre-ed, or whatever other new overpriced hair treatment is popular these days, which can easily rack up to a hundred dollars or more every few months. If you want to save a lot of money for travel? Embrace your natural hair!
I haven’t even owned a straightener, curler, or blow dryer in over a year. [edit: I JUST today February 13 2016 bought a straightener and blow dryer. because: engagement photos ]
And maybe most crazy? I’m a girl that doesn’t believe in the investment of a haircut.
My fiance cuts my hair for me, with normal scissors, on a straight line. Let’s be honest, sometimes more straight than others.
Crazy Way I Save Money to Travel #2: I hand wash the majority of my clothes.
I once read an article about a woman who committed to hand washing her clothes for a year. After the year, she continued doing it because she said the process made her more mindful of the crazy amount of clothing that she wears. I thought she was nuts until I tried it. (I wish I could find the article now but I can’t! You’ll just have to take my word for it)
To be honest – hand washing your clothes actually gets them cleaner (if you do it properly) and damages them less.
Most importantly to me, it saves a TON of money for travel. In Brazil, most condos don’t have a washing machine, and coin laundry is still pretty expensive (and you run the risk of someone stealing your stuff), so we end up carrying a bulging sack of clothes a few hundred meters down the street to our favorite laundry guy twice a month. Each load works out to $15 or more. Everytime we do laundry, it costs around $40. That’s real money.
Crazy Way I Save Money to Travel #3: I don’t go shopping.
At least, not for fun. I’m a woman that truly no longer enjoys shopping because I’d rather save that money for travel.
I only shop if something wears out or I can’t make do with anything else I have. To be honest, after almost 10 years of adult life (wahhhh I’m getting old), I have a pretty solid wardrobe. And its hot AF in the places I choose to live, so most days I’m half melting no matter what I wear anyways.
When I do go shopping, I choose quality over quantity. I own 5 pairs of shoes (casual sandals, fancy sandals, Vibrams, heels, flats) and I could do with a lot less. I used to own more than 50 pairs of shoes, and 80% I’d worn once or not at all.
Stop buying shoes you won’t wear, stop buying clothes you don’t need, even if they are on sale. In fact, stop going to the mall or a shopping center unless you actually need something. Spending money shouldn’t be a hobby, a pastime, or something that you do for fun – at least, it shouldn’t be if you’re trying to save or travel or do anything actually cool and meaningful.ThredUp, mainly because it’s so much better for the environment – though my wallet benefits as well!]
Crazy Way I Save Money to Travel #4: I don’t go to the movies.
Netflix and chill? Hell yes, as long as you’ve got popcorn.
Maybe my second best skill after budgeting is popcorn making. I am ridiculously good at making popcorn on the stove (bonus: you skip all the nasty movie popcorn chemicals). You heard right, I won’t even usually spring for microwave popcorn.
My bed is way more comfy than any theatre seat, and I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want, and maybe even do never ending back to back marathons of How I Met Your Mom… all while I save money to travel.
Crazy Way I Save Money to Travel #5: I cook everything from scratch.
You know the good old days, when your granny made delicious food from real whole ingredients?
Welcome to my kitchen. Cooking from scratch is healthier, cheaper, and it tastes better. And it’s CHEAPER (it needed to be said twice).
Canned beans? No way, make them from dried.
Vegetable stock? No way, make it yourself from veggie scraps.
Premade soup? No way, the best soup is homemade and you get to use the above mentioned from-scratch broth and formerly-dried beans. Even better if you make a ginormous batch and fill the whole freezer full so that your fiance can’t even fit a beer in for chilling.
I also save money to travel by making my own salad dressing, vegetable burgers, hummus… the list goes on and on. If you make a big batch, it’s really not that hard and it saves a LOT of money over the course of a year.
I only buy fruits, vegetables, legumes mainly. If it is absolutely necessary and I can’t make it myself (I’m not going so far as to press olive oil or grind my own wheat, I tried it once in Israel and it is HARD), I’ll buy it in its simplest form. Meaning, I do buy oil, I do buy flour and oats.
Processed foods have to go through more hands, undergo more messing with, and those labor and transportation costs are passed onto you. Nothing is cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables.
Crazy Way I Save Money to Travel #6: I don’t and won’t own a car.
Cars cost SO much and most Americans feel so dependent on them. Take a minute, and figure out your monthly car cost. Take into account your monthly car payment if you have a loan (if it’s paid off, take the amount the car cost divided by the rough number of months you expect to own it) + maintenance + insurance + gas + parking fees.
When you consider it, it’s no surprise that Americans don’t travel because they’re throwing away all that potential travel money into a car.
I choose to save money to travel by living in cities with public transportation. I walk and bike, and take the metro. I take a cab if absolutely necessary (or if it’s dark and cold and rainy and I’m wimpy). It’s better for the environment and better for my wallet.[2019 Update: I got a car for my 30th birthday so I HAVE joined the driving masses. We paid for it in cash though so no loan, and I’m saving money on Uber fees since I live in a neighborhood where public transportation isn’t well-connected. I still do love to walk, and do it more frequently than I drive.]