Like most people who enjoy travel we’ve gone through the phase of considering selling up and disappearing to travel around the world, in fact we’ve gone through that phase twice! It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that walking away from the rat race is the only way to scratch your travelling itch. “Travelling” doesn’t mean taking your life savings and living out of a backpack for a year. You can achieve your travel goals by planning ahead and dedicating your annual leave/vacation allowance on ticking off your destinations whilst still having the security of a monthly pay cheque, pension and home comforts. We’ve managed to strike a balance between work and travel that means we don’t need to make that big jump to fulfil you’re travelling ambitions, with just some simple changes you really can get the best of both worlds. So here are my top 10 tips to get your travelling fix whilst holding down a full time career.....
1. Make travel your number one priority
The biggest step you can take is to prioritise travel above all other luxury outgoings, this includes eating out regularly, a nice brand new car on finance, this season’s new wardrobe or the latest gadget. Coming to the realisation that all these things are taking away from your true goal of travel is the first step towards seeing the world differently and helping you realise saving for your next trip whether it be a week in Paris or a year trip around the world is within your reach. Now we all have different priorities and it’s important to find the right balance for you and what sacrifices you’re willing to make but if you’re reading this blog then chances are travel is higher on your list than most, so start asking yourself before any none essential purchase “is this taking me further away from my travelling goal?” Remember every pound you spend above your basic needs is a pound not spent whilst travelling.
2.Track your expenses
We all know that feeling of stretching out what’s left of our pay cheque towards the end of the month and not being able to remember what you’ve spent it all on over the previous three weeks. That’s because it’s so easy to not realise how quickly all those little spends add up and eat away at your disposable income. After tracking our outgoings for three months it was easy to see that eating and drinking out was a major drain on our finances but at the same time the thing we enjoyed the most. So after we started to prioritise travel in 2014 we knew that if we sacrificed having a nice meal out down our local pub a couple of times a week that it would translate to either a night's worth of accommodation or an excursion whilst on our next trip. At the same time we weren’t willing to sacrifice our social life with our friends or time for ourselves, so we made the choice to restrict ourselves to one meal out a month and invite friends over for dinner rather than eating out. This instantly saved us £100’s each month and went straight towards our next trip.
3. Set up a dedicated travel account
We all have our monthly outgoings rent, mortgage, insurance or car payments so it’s easy to see these as a hurdles as to why you can’t make travelling a reality but once you’ve focused on keeping track of your outgoings you want to make sure that money you’ve worked hard for is protected. It’s so easy to set up an additional bank account that’s solely for your travelling fund, this way it’s somewhere to put all the extra savings you’ve made and you clearly see how your funds are growing towards you travel goals.
4. Maximise your annual leave/vacation days
It baffles me that some of my work colleagues struggle to take their allotted annual leave or vacation days. We’re lucky enough in the UK to get some of the most generous annual leave or vacation allowance, with an average full time worker having 25 days excluding public holidays which is over double compared to the average 10 days workers get in the USA.
That’s 5 full week holidays per year which if worked between both weekends are extend to, five nine day trips a year. Or if you’re looking for shorter trips take a few days either side of a bank holiday weekend and you’ll easily be able to extend your trips to include cheaper mid week flights whilst giving you the extra time away.
5. Minimialise your life
In today’s online consumer culture we’ve all bought something that on reflection didn’t add true value to our lives and it’s these purchases that can easily take you further away from your true goal of travelling. Minimalism is not about stopping you from buying the things you want but rather about having the self awareness to ask yourself “is this purchase adding true value to me life?” If the honest answer to that question is yes then go nuts don’t let me tell you how to spend your money but if the answer is no or even an unconvincing yes take the time to be curious as to why you’re buying the item in the first place, as you might find it would give you more satisfaction to know that money could be being spend on an extra night’s accommodation in Greece or hiring a Ford Mustang to drive the Big Sur in California.
6. Travel credit cards
There are plenty of credit cards that give you rewards towards air miles on purchases which don’t require an annual fee. With your new found discipline of managing your outgoings you can start making purchases with the credit card which will earn you money towards a free flight but make sure you set up the direct debit to pay off the whole balance each month. Travelling is not worth getting yourself into debt as this will only lead to a negative outcome.
7. Leave late and wake up early
Look for the earliest and latest flights you can take as this could allow you to leave work and catch your flight on the same day or stay in your destination later to maximise your time at your destination. This might mean a late night before getting back to work but life is all about choices, so you need to be prepared to sometimes sacrifice your time and effort to achieve that travelling goal.
8. Stop watching TV and paying for your phone
This might be a hard one for some people to get on board with but one of the most positive decisions we’ve made is to cancel our monthly Sky contract, not only did this save us instantly £30 a month but it also freed up so much time to plan and research our next trip. Now we’re not complete cave men we still like the Big Bang Theory as much as the next person, so we pay for the simple Netlix package of £5.99 a month to get our TV fix. It’s the same with your mobile phone contract, rather than paying the high monthly bill each month just so you can get the latest phone every year. Pay for a one off older phone and go for a sim only plan which can again save you up to £40 per month.
9. Take advantage of weekend trips
Travelling doesn’t mean going abroad or even going very far; take the time to explore what’s near your own home. If saving up for a big trip seems too difficult then consider smaller easier to budget for trips. Not only will this cost you less but can be just what you need to focus on pushing yourself to save towards that dream trip.
10. Ask for unpaid leave
This one depends on how good your relationship is with your employer or line manager. Some employers allow employees to take unpaid leave or buy extra days. This could easily push your annual leave allowance to over 30 days.
Whether you choose to implement one or all of these tips it’s important to strike the balance that you’re comfortable with, but the first step is making travel your priority. As this will change the way you see your disposable income and how you spend it.