How To Save Money For Travel In 6 Steps

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How did you save £10K each? A question asked often. Mainly by asking myself ‘Canada or crap, Gemma?’ and executing Two Scots Abroad’s 5 S’s of Saving. This guide will teach you how to save money, rapidly. Scroll to see us share these tips with the Royal Bank of Scotland and STV.

How To Save Money For Travel

1. Separate Your Salary

Open three bank accounts. One for income/bills, the second for untouchable savings, the third for temporary savings that can be dipped in to.

Regardless of any travel trip on the horizon, wedding invites will still happen and gifts still need to be bought.

I get paid monthly. As soon as I get paid I move £600 into my house account for rent, bills, etc and £500-£600 into a separate account.

Initially, savings were put into an ISA but once we reached the £15k yearly allowance we moved the funds over to a second account which does not charge you when taking money out of ATMs abroad.

In the beginning, you need to work out what you can live off.

Make a list, calculate how much that list costs you, you don’t need a new leather jacket, doubtful you will wear it in Costa Rica, and minus that from your income.

Craig is self-employed so his wages don’t work like that. Every time he makes £1000 he banks it. He doesn’t recommend this way of saving but it’s the nature of his job.

For my birthday, Craig bought me a ceramic pot – one of those pots you have to break to get into. And it’s pretty so I don’t really want to break it.

When I initially stopped eating sweets (my vice) I put a £2 coin in every second day.

The pot can hold £1000 worth of £2 coins. Craig has a tin that he puts his £2 coins in, his last count was £206. Nice.

It really is a question of needs and wants – when I feel the urge to purchase I say to myself ‘Canada or crap?’

Now I know there will be times you need to spend money – birthdays (like my Mum’s 50th, Granddad’s 80th, all of my friend’s 30ths), weddings (all 6 of them) and the like, but gifts don’t have mean splurging.

Friends and family understand – it’s time to get creative!

 Here’s our guide to cheap but impressive homemade presents
Thrifty Homemade Gift Ideas

2. Sell Your Stuff to Save Money

What’s the point in buying things?

You will ask that question when you are selling off everything and making 50p on a top worth a tenner.

I’ve participated in two car boot sales at the (Greenside) Omni Centre in Edinburgh.

It’s actually an enjoyable experience but you need to be prepared to sell low and accept that punters want everything for less than £1. The first time around I made £95 and the second time I went for the ‘everything for £1’ strategy and made £83.80.

Shout out to my friend Shelley and my Mum who helped me at these sales!

Car boot guide: I’ve totally got car boot sales covered now, here’s how to execute

I was determined not to sell our DVDs for 30p to Music Magpie. It felt like such a waste but I only managed to shift one of three boxes over the two car boot sales so Music Magpie was the only option left.

You can download the app and scan the DVD barcodes which is easy.

You then need to box them (they have to be covered, we made that mistake) and leave them in a designated area on the date agreed for collection. It takes one month for the company to processes the cheque so you do need a bit of time.

Our total was £41.65 for 99 DVDs, two were deemed unacceptable, they keep and ‘recycle’ these!

I’m lucky because I have a great relationship with a pre-loved clothes shop owner of Glorious, formed through my shopping habits (addiction to second hand/vintage clothes)! This relationship has progressed from shopper to seller.

Twice a year I pass my beloved Top Shop goods on to Glorious, the owner decides what will sell and I collect funds from previous sales (£150 last time).

There are now apps like Depop which give you online space to advertise clothing sales. Check out local Facebook market and groups too.

What about a clothes swap party with friends?

Failing that there are shops that buy your clothes, bedsheets, towels etc but don’t expect much from it. I put in four black bags worth and got approx. £7.

eBay. Love it? I’ve never had much success selling on eBay.

Two items never made it to the buyer but Craig has made a fair bit – £200 on worky things kicking about the garage.

Remember eBay charges you at the end of each month. There are ways to save money on the road too, like swapping your skills for a bed and meal.

We did this, read about our experience here.

Pile of dollars

3. Speak and Find Money Solutions

I’ve always been against speaking to my bank. I just assumed they wanted me to take out more bank accounts or loans but the meeting I had last year was really useful.

The adviser went through my accounts and cleared up any outstanding direct debits, not in use. She also pointed out that I had a whopping bill from Sky one month, two films and the boxing.

This made us really assess our spending, back to needs and wants list.

I am never against complaining!

  • Most recently I called to ask about closing my mobile account and I wish I had done this sooner as they moved me down a tariff! Prior to that, I made complaints as the online team kept telling me different things from the phone team, the phone team reduced my tariff and gave me a refund too
  • I complained to a bank as they kept sending me letters about loans – £50 cheque for my inconvenience
  • Cancel Sky, get Now TV. It’s a fiver a month for the entertainment package! Sky actually called us and offered Sky back for free since we had our phone line and broadband through them

Airbnb in La Paz

4. Searching Helps Save Money Too

Setting aside time to search online is worth the input but you don’t have to as I’m happy to save you time and share what we found out.

Why sell your soul to the car boot sale when you end up losing a chunk of cash when spend that hard-earned money abroad?

There are debit cards that do not charge you from their end and credit cards that you can accrue points which can result in flights and free hotel stays!

  Read more: best cards for travel

Searching for accommodation for your travels can really put in perspective how expensive a country is.

If you are travelling alone, consider hostels. If you are travelling as a couple, consider apartments as a cheaper alternative to hotels.

Naturally, the type of holiday that you are taking dictates the saving process.

If you are looking to laze for a week in the sun why not try for a last-minute deal? Avoid school holidays too, sorry fellow teachers!

Travel deals often advertise money off, kids go free, upgrades or extra days.

Off-season options can be a steal and keep an eye out for the increasingly popular Black Friday deals in November.

I’m a big advocate for buying experiences and avoiding ‘things’.

For my last birthday, Craig surprised me with a trip to Iceland.

If you are flexible with your flights you will benefit.

Use the ‘fly anywhere’ options for the cheapest routes.

Sign up for airline newsletters, join a credit card scheme which offers points for flights, avoid checking in baggage surcharges. Here’s a guide to carry on bag sizes for note.

A flight issue we’ve faced many times – cheap flights don’t always work out cheap when you arrive or leave during the night or very early morning.

This often results in an expensive airport hotel, often not even in the airport vicinity, taxi rides or car rental.

Pay a little more to arrive/depart at a reasonable time which allows you to use public transport.

 Research travel insurance: I’ve done it for you, click to read
Seljalandsfoss Iceland Waterfall Hike. Gemma and Craig kiss at sunrise.

5. Keep Planning Costs Down

Another tip for keeping flights cheap is baggage.

The budget airlines are really hammering down on the amount and style of baggage you can take on the flight.

For example, EasyJet only allows one bag – whether that be a small wheeled cabin bag, small rucksack or a purse style handbag. Regardless if you get through security with your wheeled carry-on case they will still target you are the departure gate.

I managed to get around this by taking my new Cabin X One which is a hybrid suitcase and backpack.

You just unzip the straps and cover the wheels with a discreet piece of cloth which is attached to the bag. It is really a great option for a few days of travelling or for those who pack light.

I spent months searching and making several phone calls regarding travel insurance.

I am one of those annoying customers!

We settled on True Traveller because the team answered my ongoing questions, they were reasonable for 18 months’ worth of travel that including winter sports (skiing in Canada) and they covered high altitude for our hike to Machu Picchu which many of the cheaper insurance packages did not.

We witnessed two members of our hiking group being taken away by donkeys (there is no transport until you reach Machu Picchu Pueblo) because of altitude sickness and poor health.

 Check rates for your trip: True traveller insurance search 

Click play to see our saving tips in action [with RBS and STV]

6. Sobriety – The Unthinkable Answer to How to Save Money?

Whhhhhhaaaaat? Seriously, stop drinking – it saves money and you’ll feel like a boss at gym.

Have you seen what South American girls look like in swimwear? I still drink, just not every weekend. We have too much to do to waste a day on the couch under the dark cloud of hangover guilt.

We also can’t justify a take away every weekend (ahem Craig). When you are headache-free there is more chance of going outdoors.

There is so much of your own country that you can see for free by using your legs! I did the West Highland Way last April and I am in awe of Scotland, she is such a beaut.

Here’s a biggy – quit your vice. Mines is sweets (chocolate, jelly sweets, just sugar in general, not really cakes bizarrely).

If I can go four days without eating sweets I am in control again. And it means more £2 coins for the pot (and pounds off the waistline)!

So that’s number five of The 6 S’s of Saving. Update – as of January this year I have not had any chocolate, sweets or cakes – it can be done!

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Coco Surf Cocktails

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Final Words

To recap – less Singapore ‘Slings means more kerching, use your searching abilities for more than just Tinder, seek out support, sell what doesn’t fit in a backpack, and lose it before you use it (to another bank account).

What are your saving tips?
Tell us in the comments below

18 thoughts on “How To Save Money For Travel In 6 Steps

  1. Rachel says:

    When I had a ‘proper’ job (hah!) I did the same, took the living costs away then squirrelled the rest into savings. What I actually did was buy Premium Bonds with them! It made them harder to get at and there was a chance I could win, and I did three lots of £50 in 9 months of saving, not a bad return eh! I just cashed them in before we set off!
    My vice was magazines, of the glossy fashion kind. I quit them and saved a ton, also I wasn’t getting brainwashed into buying clothes and shoes either! I did buy a few travel mags though.
    Selling everything helped my saving mindset, having nowhere to put things means no need to buy things. I’m still completely in that mindset 7 years on, I hardly spend anything, still!

    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      I am partial to a copy of Look magazine every couple of months! You are right about the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy of shopping. I am so ready to move out now. Tripping over boxes is boring.

    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      Thank you Sally! We’re still hard at it. Fridge/freezer and table/chair set just sold on Gumtree. Couch still looking for a good home.

  2. Serena says:

    Thanks for the post. I’ve recently just saved enough (8k) to go traveling and I’m so pleased with myself. You guys should be too because it is dedication and determination that will get you there. Thanks for sharing. I cut down in coffee, made all my lunches, always checked for vouchers online before I bought anytime, started using loyalty points I had saved up, let my boyfriend use my car because it saved us money, moved in together so the bills halved. And now we will be backpacking for 7 months… So happy.

    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      That’s excellent news. Moving in together was a good idea to test the relationship before being in each other’s pockets too! Is it South East Asia you are travelling around?

  3. Serena says:

    Yes we are. It’s not long now. We are leaving on the 1st April. It’s getting exciting because all my Twitter feed is awesome pictures everyone keeps posting.

    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      We were there Summer 2013. Be sure to check out Sapa Valley, Vietnam and Pai, Thailand (both on our site)! Let me know if you need any advice.

  4. Sammi Wanderlustin' says:

    Ahh, so you’ve got £10k each? I’ve got £15k saved for just me (I was on twitter saying about the last 5k) , tho’ I’m aiming for Europe, with a dog…

    The thing is, I don’t really have any vices. I go to the pub sporadically, the alcohol I have at home were all presents. The only thing I spend my money on (that isn’t my phone bill, rent, or petrol) is £7 a week to go climbing, and that’s good for my health!

    There really isn’t anything better than Music Magpie for DVDs? I had the worst luck with eBay for that, too. Sold absolutely bugger all. I did think about selling books, but amazon charge a surcharge and eBay are, well, eBay! Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      I sold one box of DVDs (out of four) at the car boot sale, many were computer games (which were going for more on Music Magpie than DVDs). I took them a second time but they didn’t sell so had to just Music Magpie them, it really makes you wonder why you buy anything at all when you are in this situation!

  5. Kiara Gallop says:

    Great tips but aargh, I already do all of them (plus I don’t have a car or paid for TV) and I barely manage to save £100 a month due to having a job that pays little more than minimum wage 🙁 I’m lucky that my previous long-term trips were funded by redundancy money (yes, I got made redundant twice in a row!) otherwise I doubt I would have been able to spend 6 months in South-east Asia or 5 months in South America 🙂

    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      It’s really tough. We are haemorrhaging here in The States. SXSW for free isn’t 100% possible (although we did enjoy a free McDs yesterday!) Hopefully it’ll even out in Peru.

  6. Ruth MacGilp says:

    Really great advice. I’m saving for a 2 month internship in London this summer and have a terrible clothes shopping addiction, and like you I have a real sweet tooth! Thanks for the tips, will take these into account for sure!

    Ruth x

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      I am regretting eating that Bounty before Metafit! Damn sweet addiction. London will be worth it though. Thanks for reading Ruth!

  7. Kay says:

    Thank you so much for this post, it’s given us the inspiration to keep saving!
    So happy I stumbled upon your blog today, it’s absolutely wonderful and full of so much great advice!

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      Thank you very much Kay! I am pretty good at saving, it’s that tight Scot stereotype! Canada or crap = that’s what kept me going. What are you saving for?

  8. Tam Gamble says:

    I also save all of my 2 euro coins which last year equated to more than 500 euros. This year every time I log on to my online banking app I also move any odd I have over to my savings whether that is 13p or 3.13. It may not sound much but I have saved quite a bit so far this year.

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