Saving for long-term travel

Quite a number of friends have been asking how we saved for the trip and how much we’ve been spending on the road. So I thought I’d share what I know and what we’ve been doing.

We had slightly more than a year to plan and save before embarking on this journey. And this is what we did, or at least what I did on my part.

  • Reduce travels: We made a conscious decision that there will be NO travels at all, until we leave for the big one. Yeah, it is difficult because there will be desires to at least go somewhere new a few times a year. The most interesting trips I had were heading back to my hometown, which is a 4-hour drive away from where I live and work. Well, I did go to Europe for 2 weeks, but that was for work (okay, I stayed on and traveled on my own for a week since I was already there *excuses*). For travel junkies, this is probably where the bulk of your savings will come from.
  • Eat at home: Malaysia is a foodie’s paradise, so this was a little tough when it came to dealing with cravings! On weekends, we will head to the market, buy fresh produce and cook at home. In a way, this is a healthier & cheaper option, keeps us at home most of the day as we’ll be busy cooking, cleaning and I’ll be getting some household chores done at the same time. Once in a while, we will pamper ourselves and have a nice proper meal.
  • Pack lunch to work: I would prepare my own lunch a few times a week so that I can save on going out to expensive yet mediocre eateries. It also helped keep myself sane at work, having some “me time” during lunch hour when the office is quiet, get work done and catch-up on daily news.
Home-made baked Cajun chicken
Packed lunch: Spaghetti with tomato & tuna. Just pop it into the office microwave before eating!
  • No shopping: I must admit that I completely failed at this. What’s a girl gotta do? Never tell a girl to stop shopping! Yes, I was still shopping away until reality finally hit me a few months before departure and I panicked. While I was packing up all my stuff, I realized that there were sooo many things I bought that have been sitting idly in a corner. Regret! But trust me, once you stop shopping, you will see your savings piling up. So, resist the urge!
  • Fewer nights out: I became so domesticated that I think I literally fell off the social radar. It was hard but I started to pick and choose occasions which I would show up and let go the rest. Remember, those bucks saved from the few Whiskeys or fancy meals you decide to forego will last you for a day (or more) in some countries.
  • Ditch that gym membership: If you’re not a hardcore health freak, you will be better off without a gym membership because it comes with a pretty hefty price tag and it’s a monthly commitment (especially more tricky if you have a contract). You can always take a walk in the park or do simple exercises at home.
  • Check your account balance: You will probably get paranoid if the numbers don’tn look too good but you need to do this at least once a month. Check ALL your bank account balance and be realistic. Set aside money for spending before the trip (living your normal lifestyle), during the trip (depending on where you’re going and how long you plan to travel) and after the trip (you will be on your own for a while before getting a new job).
  • Spend wisely: This is a general rule – Spend on things you need and not want. Suppress your desires and think with logic. Need a proper backpack for the trip? Yes. Want a new handbag? Hell no!
  • Learn to say NO: There are bound to be evil people around that will tempt you to do something you don’t want to (money-related, of course). Make your plans clear, explain that you’re saving for a trip and say NO when you know you shouldn’t be spending unnecessarily. Family and true friends will understand and support you. The rest can just f*ck off.
Seriously, you don't need all these booze
Funky fun, but had to resist myself from buying this!


At the end of the day, do what works best for you. You might have some financial responsibilities that you can’t run away from (mortgages, apartment rent, insurance, car maintenance, etc) but trim your expenses wherever and whenever possible.


One thought on “Saving for long-term travel

  • July 19, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    I am impressed!! I can’t be as determined as you! It take a lot, and I mean a lot of courage to do this! But I’m sure you have been doing this alongside Edwin so he must have been a great motivator! :)


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