Going travelling might be the best thing you ever do, but it certainly won’t be the cheapest.
Even if you go backpacking on the most threadbare shoestring imaginable, ultimately you’re still going to have to part with a sizeable amount of money. This shouldn’t put you off: travel is the greatest thing money can buy, so your carefully saved cash will be well spent. But you will have to carefully save it in the first place.
Contrary to what many believe, you don’t need to have been born into nobility and have a quadruple-barrelled surname to be able to afford to go on a round the world trip. You just need to have a reasonably clear plan of which destinations you would like to visit and for how long, and what you would like to do once in them.
Once you have this plan, you can start pricing the whole trip up, and then start saving. It is better to work this way around rather than trying to first answer the impossible but frequently asked question: How much is a round the world trip? This is akin to asking how high is up; it depends entirely on the type of experience you want to have, and trust us, there are more to choose from than there are grains of sand on Whitehaven Beach. (If you’ve never heard of Whitehaven Beach you may want to search it.)
Once you have priced up your trip – your trip – round off that figure to the nearest thousand.
Now look at that number and ask yourself if is it a sum you could realistically attain without resorting to balaclavas and high street banks.
If the answer is Yes, move on to the next section. If the answer is No, you have options.
The first is to scale back. The absolute classic mistake backpacker-virgins make before their first trip is to try and cram in too much too quickly, which inevitably leads to the most dreaded condition imaginable to travellers: that of being jaded.
The second is to reassess your destinations and routes. Rural South East Asia, for example, is phenomenally cheaper than the metropolises of North America. And do you really need to fly to Sydney via Easter Island and Reykjavik, in that order? Think about it.
The third is to set aside time on your actual trip to work for a few weeks or months, which apart from providing a helpful budget boost is as rewarding and authentic a travelling experience as you’re like to have anywhere in the world. You can never really get under the skin of any given culture until you’ve worked within it. Oh, and it’ll make your CV shine. The most popular (and best paid) places to work abroad are Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.
By now you should have your target. Remember that you don’t have to achieve the entire lot before you can begin spending. For example, you could save enough for your flights, book those nine months in advance, and spend the time in-between saving the rest.
Saving money isn’t rocket science. Essentially you will have to do less and work more. A choice between going to Thorpe Park with your mates one Saturday or working that extra shift at the pub? You know what to do. It may feel like you’re making a hell of a lot of sacrifices, but trust us, it is so worth it.
Although having an end target will make you focused, it can also be slightly daunting, so it’s always wise to break down your saving plan into manageable chunks – try dividing your ultimate target up into monthly or even weekly goals. This will help you keep on track and ensure saving money is always at the forefront of your mind.