Being able to travel as a young person isn’t easy. It’s a time of exploring your passions, completing education, finding your feet in the “adulting” world and starting at the bottom rank of your career.
For some young people, taking time to travel is crucial to finding themselves whilst for others, it’s not even on their minds as they try to fan into flames the beginning embers of what their careers will look like.
I feel like I fall in the middle – I spent my teenage years a nerd and studied politics to pursue a career around that field – yet I want to explore the world in between and get those short breaks that expand my horizons.
Though it’s not easy, I’m proud to say that in 2020, I travelled every month for the first three months of the year – travelling 4 months in a row. If not for COVID 19, I would have travelled every month for the first 5 months of the year, visiting 7 countries. How was I planning my finances and budgeting my humble graduate salary to afford all of that?! By a few things.
- Making travel a priority
Everyone has priorities for their finances. For many adults, its rent payments, their children, or investments. The benefit of being young is that you’re less likely to be as settled or have as many responsibilities. Even still, young people can prioritise fashion and clothes, beauty and makeup, sports and fitness, entertainment etc. and spend their money in these areas.
For me, it’s travel. And to be honest, for anyone who wants to travel often – travel must be high on their priority list. Travel must be on their mind whenever they’re going to buy a cup of coffee, or they’re wondering whether to splurge on more clothes. Because you can’t do it all.
When I started working last year, I knew already that I wanted to travel, so that framed the following decisions and boundaries I’ve set for myself below.
- Saving at the start of the month into a separate account.
At the start of the month, I set aside just over 20% of my pay, into my savings account. I call it “savings”, but in reality, I use all my “savings” on travel.
Because I know I will save this set amount of money every month, I can calculate my future projections and plan travel based that.
By not even thinking of this money as part of my allowance and putting it in a separate account, psychologically and physically, it’s hard to cheat. Saving a set amount of money every month is the foundation of having money to travel with.
- Limiting other expenses
This is quite a personal thing. There’s the well-used mantra, that if you stopped buying readymade coffee every day, you could save enough money to travel.
Whilst this is true for some, for someone like me, who’s not really into coffee and buys supermarket coffee mostly, this wouldn’t make much of a difference. I really needed to think about the things that took my money and how I could reduce those expenditures.
After the first few months of working, I realised that after rent, food and transport, I spent a large chunk of money on eating out. So, I made more effort on cooking at home.
If I overspent, I would spend the last week of the month eating instant noodles or cheap frozen food. I also try to make my skin products stretch longer than a month so I’m not constantly having to reorder. Finally, I mainly take the bus to work, over trains, to reduce my fare.
It’s really important to reflect on your past month’s expenses because they reveal your spending habits the most. Your bank app may be really good at dividing your expenses into groups.
Or you could get your bank statement, with Fearless Nomad’s budget planner, and review your transactions.
When you identify where you need to cut, don’t be ashamed. It may mean suggesting to your friends a cook up at home, instead of meeting up at a restaurant.
It may mean having a coffee flask whilst meeting your friend at Starbucks. It may mean going to a family gathering with that old dress that’s still decent.
We have a lot of peer pressure and influences around us as young people, so it’s hard to not give in and overspend. But keep your mind glued on the picture of the beautiful travels you want to experience, and hopefully, that’ll be motivation to keep on going.
- Going to cheap destinations
I can’t imagine going on holidays with my old husband and kids and sleeping in a dingy hostel. But whilst we’re young, we can do these things with little care! And your pocket will thank you for it.
I will often take long bus rides if it’s cheaper than other travel options. Like a £20 8hr overnight ride from London to Paris, is a no brainer compared to the £70 plane flight.
Likewise, staying in hostels and eating street food can reduce your expenditure by a lot. South East Asia is a really popular area for young people because it is so cheap.
And I can testify – I spent just over £200 in Vietnam for 8 days. Researching and going to destinations where the cost of living is low, will allow your money to stretch further.
Overall, these are the key points that help me manage my young adult budget so that I can travel alongside. Did you find this useful? Let me know in the comments!
All the best,
Abena – @travellingtuesdays