Christmas Eve 2017 in Austin
Travel Advice

Money Matters: How Should You Save Up For Long-term Travel?

Every time we read about someone quitting their jobs to hit the road, we are tempted to do so ourselves. Countless travel bloggers on the internet have repeatedly mentioned that all you we have to do is to let go and start but in a real world with real responsibilities, is it that easy? Some of us have elderly parents. Some of us have to take up the financial responsibility of our families and to do so we need a steady income. We have to account for our parents’ medical bills, our siblings’ education, and though living on the road, living off of the road sounds magical, it is not always feasible. The weak INR and the infamous Indian passport only complicates the problem.

However, we also acknowledge that these are excuses, no matter how difficult to overcome they might appear, and thus we’ve given ourselves a deadline and our plan is to save as much as we can till then. So, how should you save up?

1. Get a savings account where a part of your salaries (we suggest at least 30%) is deposited every month. We’ve made a mutual pact to not carry that particular debit card around. The principle of if you don’t see it, it’s not there works excellently!

2. Maintain a monthly and a daily budget rigorously. At the end of each day, add your expenditures to your list of expenses. Keeping track of how much you’re spending and knowing which expenses could’ve been avoided will help you manage your budget.

Tip: Divide your expenditure into Needs and Wants, and slowly try to get rid of the Wants.

Tip: While we love budgeting apps, we’ve found using Excel Spreadsheets to be the most helpful.

Paddle-boat on Columbia River (Day Trip)

Paddle-boat on Columbia River (Day Trip)

3. Instead of dumping all your savings into savings accounts which usually don’t have stellar interest rates, invest a portion in Mutual Funds and in the Stock Market. We invest in mutual funds and we have decided to save this amount primarily for our families than for our travel goals.

4. Think of the type of traveler you are and the kinds of experiences you seek. Even if you call yourself a couch-surfing, minimal backpacker, think of how your monthly expenditures are categorized at the moment. Do you pay for rent? Are you responsible for grocery and utility bills? For us, it really boils down to the fact that we’re financially responsible for our families and even when we aren’t spending a lot on our travels, we still need enough savings or a steady source of income to be able to pay the bills back home. Assess your finances and set a goal. Once you have an amount in your head, it will be easier for you to work towards it.

5. While you have a day job, try your hand at freelancing. Remember that your savings won’t last forever and to be on the road longer, you have to learn to work from the road. Pick what you are passionate about: Writing, Coding, Photography, Design, Social Media, etc., and learn how to use your skills to earn on the road.

6. When I moved to the US, I found that once you are an adult, it is a given that you will move into your own place. It’s an important step at being independent but in the era of sky-high rents, if you are living in the same city as your parents, you might consider staying at your parent’s house. While you have to pay, we can assure you that it will be lesser than any other place in town. They might even be kind enough to let you stay for free!

7. If you live in a primarily cashless economy, scrape your purse for changes religiously every night and put them away. Remember if you don’t see it, it’s not there! This won’t be successful in a country like India that runs on cash. Every one from the bus-conductor to the grocer emphasizes on being paid with khuchro! 

But if you have to travel, you have to travel! At the moment we have our day jobs and we travel on long weekends. We take at least one week long vacation a year. You can always start small. Here are some things you can do while you are saving up for long-term travel:

1. Practice the art of flânerie. Choose a neighborhood for the weekend, set off with your camera and a notepad, and explore. You will be amazed at what you can find.

2. Do some field research. Be it the local cuisine in your hometown, some specialities that are only found in your region, etymologies of your city and its neighborhoods…there is no dearth of things you can research and learn more about.

3. Go on day trips. Often there are places of interest within 100 km of your hometown that you do not know about. Put on your researcher’s hat and find ’em and explore ’em!

Day Trip: Columbia Gorge

Day Trip: Columbia Gorge

4. Set yourself a task. Be it something like: I will take the train from Howrah to Bardhamman and note all the food items that are sold in the train, or I visit my grandmother and ask her about the pickles she made, or I will go to the local library and conduct archival research of the architecture of the High Court…pick whatever fascinates you and make an effort to learn more it and record your experiences. Make a blog to share your findings or try your hand at freelancing.

5. Learn new skills. Remember that a nomadic lifestyle will also require you to earn your living on the road. Sites like edX, Coursera, Lynda, SkillShare are your friends.

Remember that these are only some ideas and everyone has different liabilities and requirements. Think of this not as a manual but a suggestive guide which might help you to put your plans into motion.

Share your money saving tips with us!

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