How to Save to go Overseas: Easy Ways to Pinch Pennies (and Still Drink Wine in the Process!)

Galata Bridge, Istanbul

So you’ve decided that your life won’t be complete without taking a long haul, round the world trip? Congratulations – it’ll be totally amazeballs! But wait, what’s that stricken look for?

Hmmmm. Money. Yeah, you’ll definitely need some of that.

But before you imagine yourself eating instant ramen on the floor of your darkened living room after they cut the lights, know this: It’s possible to save for an overseas trip and enjoy your existence here on Earth like a reasonable, social human being.

Here are a bunch of ways to pinch pennies and cut corners, all while being allowed to drink wine and eat well in the meantime. You don’t have to do all these things. In fact, you’ll probably find there are several techniques you can steal right away, while others will need to be worked towards.

It really doesn’t matter. If what you want is a healthier-looking overseas savings account, the basics are spend less. Ready to start? Flick through these, pick a few and experiment.

1.    Coffee addict? Buy a thermos and plunger for your workday caffeine drip

2.    Make your own lunches

Ducking out of the office every day to buy lunch is a true money-suck. To stop those lunch dollars disappearing on their own, get into the habit of cooking double portions at dinner and freezing them for the next day.  Or, if you’re just not a lover of cooking, bring ingredients for an easy lunch to make at work: think sliced tomatoes and tuna on crackers, tortilla wraps, cup-a-soups and easy salads.

3.    Chuck your car during the week

Bring carpooling back into style! Or get friendly with your city’s public transport (even if petrol costs are almost on par with train tickets you’ll save on city parking, which is usually what kills a driver’s budget).

4.    Be ruthless with your energy use

Turn off the lights when not in use and grab some energy-saving lightbulbs.

5.    Follow your favourite bars on Twitter and take note of their deal nights

2-4-1s? Girls free? Happy hour? Yes!

6.    Buy meat and veggies in bulk with friends or another couple/share house

7.    Research when the off-season is in your future destination

Very often, you’ll save buckets on accommodation and activities by avoiding peak travel times. (Plus, you won’t be joined at every turn by those “Duuuude, we drank so much last night, dude” high season drinker-travellers.)

8.    Clean out your wardrobe and sell quality, useable clothes that you no longer wear

9.    Wait a day before making new clothes purchases

Sometimes the urge to buy something is really just the silly thrill of swiping your plastic. Instead, when you see something you like, wait a few days and let the idea mull. You might find that you don’t think about the item again (in which case – yay! – you didn’t actually need it). If, after some time, it’s still sticking around in your grey matter, consider the purchase again – especially if it’s going to help you on the road.

10.    Cancel your gym membership

Later, use what would be your next month’s gym membership to buy a yoga mat and DVD and get a-practising at home.  Not a namaste sort of girl? Go for a hike on the weekends, join a local runner’s group or meet your friends for walks around the city/river/park to combine exercise and socialising.

11.    Ditto for any entertainment subscriptions

Ciao Netflicks, cable etc. Instead, viva the days of borrowing from friends (and of course, cheap Tuesday movie or DVD rental offers).

12.    Book worm? Stop buying ’em new

New books are expensive (and sometimes, bizarrely, the Kindle versions are just as pricey). Borrow books from your friends, buy them second-hand and join the local library (yes, they still exist!).

13.    Ditch your pricey hairdresser

Use student salons, take advantage of coupons, go to a friend of a friend who does home visits or at leaaaast, skip the colour and blow-dry.

14.    Evaluate your internet use

Do you really need an expensive home internet package, plus that smart phone contract? Choose to downgrade to a cheaper contract, or lose your high-powered home connection and share internet from your smart phone to your laptop.

15.    Take advantage of free offers from your favourite restaurants or cafes

(Guys, sometimes they’ll give you something for free on your birthday!)

16.    Pay off your credit card

That’s one credit card, guys. (If you have more, you’d best be asking yourself why.) Say no to accruing extra interest by always paying more than the minimum repayments. Another tip is to only use credit to only buy unavoidable essentials that you were going to buy anyway (such as to pay the bills, or do the weekly shop) and pay the balance off each week.

17.    Cook at home – limit dinners out to once or twice a month

18.    Eat less meat

Use eggs and legumes to replace meat several times a week. If you’re still living in the trap that meatless = tasteless, it’s time to say hi to Google. A quick search for tasty vegetarian dishes will bring you (and your taste buds) out into the light.

19.    Meet your friends at home

Bring back girls’ nights in. Beer and flicks nights. Pot lucks. Sunday brunch. Progressive dinners. All cheap, delicious and completely boredom free.

20.   Get your budget on

Google an easy to use Excel spreadsheet, plug in each purchase you make and see where money just disappears from (Coffees out? Magazines? Chocolates at the checkout?). Then, decide where to pull in the belt straps. The results are usually pretty damn enlightening.

21. Make extra cash selling your skills

Advertise as a tutor, mechanic, proof-reader, teacher, personal trainer, tax accountant, hairdresser, gardener, babysitter, pet-walker…

22.    Transfer your savings straight away on payday

Removing your savings from sight takes half the problem away. (And, for a little incentive, rename your savings account to something a little snazzier, like “Gelato marathon money,” “Sunset on Mt Kilimanjaro” or something thematic and inspirational about your dream trip.)


What have I missed? What are some other easy ways to save cash for overseas travel?


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