This has to be the number one question I've been asked. "How can you afford to travel so much?"
I have to say there is no special formula or a magic money tree outside, it's down to sheer saving and budgeting. If you really want to travel and explore - whether it be a city break or a long haul destination, then be determined to do that and save for it!
I've compiled some of these tips that I've adhered to, to save money so I can get my travel fix.
Bear in mind that sticking to these steps can be tricky sometimes, and yes it's ok to treat yourself now and again. Don't get the guilty feelings because you've ordered a takeaway, just remind yourself that you'll get back on the saving train the next day!
I tend to do a big food shop once a week, and before I set foot in a supermarket I always write a list. Writing a list and meal planning will save you money, you'll be less tempted to buy up things that you think you need. Stick to the list and avoid the extra "deals" they have. In reality these aren't saving you any buck!
I usually head for Lidl or Aldi for food, they tend to have the cheapest produce and if you're buying vegetables don't bother buying veggies wrapped in plastic. Essentially you're paying slightly more for a piece of wrapped plastic around your broccoli.
Another tip I stick by is, if I have to visit the supermarket for just a couple of items, then don't take a basket. You'll be more inclined to fill it up and if you don't have one you can only buy what you can carry to the check out.
Remember: Stick to your list!
2. Meal Planning
I used to think that planning my weekly meals was a faff, I didn't like the idea of having to stick to a regimented menu. However, roughly plan out your ingredients and have enough things for 5/6 meals, you don't necessarily need to have a set menu for each night, but having meals planned really helps the budget. You'll be less likely to visit the supermarket everyday.
3. Retail choices
This goes without saying, but if you're really serious about travelling, then stay away from designer clothing/bags and makeup.
Instead head for charity shops and second hand stores. Or even carboot sales, you'll get great bargains. However, if second hand isn't your style, then look out for sales. If you have to get a retail fix, then buy through the sales. Or failing that, we can all get a bargain or two from Primark. I should also give the £1 stores a shout out, buy your cleaning products and toiletries from them, instead of the supermarket!
The same goes for beauty products and makeup, if you're paying £30+ for a Becca highlighter or £25+ for a Tom Ford lipstick, then that's your choice, but it just means saving will take you longer. Opt for more budget friendly products, some are perfectly fine and in reality these "high end" products are higher in price because of a logo or packaging. Don't get me started on Michael Kors bags!
Be savvy with your savings, and your bank balance will thank you for it!
Another way to save money is to insist on "pre-drinks" before a night out, or even just stay in completely with a bottle of wine (or two) and good friends. It's maybe something to do with my age, but I'm not a clubber. I don't see the point of paying entrance fees into somewhere that's loud, dark and where the creeps tend to hide behind the smoke machines.
I avoid going to events where they will be hitting the high-end cocktail bars, and if you must head out then try local pubs instead. Paying for drinks in a club will be more expensive too.
One way to think about it is, if you pay around say £40-50 for a night out, then transfer that money in your head into £40-50 that you could spend abroad doing an activity/meal out.
Essentially, what I'm trying to say is don't drink your money away.
6. Coffee shops
Living in a city, it is easy to stumble across a Starbucks/Costa coffee shop. The drinks are good, but you have to admit they are overpriced. Try and limit your daily caffeine fix, and you'll rapidly save money. Treat yourself perhaps once a week if need be, and you'll appreciate it more.
If you work throughout the day and get a lunch break, then take your own food in with you.
It's much cheaper to buy a loaf of bread and fillers which will last you several days, than hitting up Tesco everyday for a boxed up sandwich. Or think about your leftovers!
8. Cancelling contracts
Reducing your monthly utilities and direct debits can help considerably. Shop around and see if you can change energy suppliers to save annual costs. Or cancel that house phone that you never use. Everyone has mobile phone these days, and if you haven't used your house phone in over a month then it's time to cancel!
Another contract which could be cancelled is a gym membership. These days there are hundreds of workout videos on YouTube for free, and guess what... running outside is free!
9. Walk everywhere you can.
Save money on bus/tube tickets where necessary.
10. Online bookings
If you have to travel places/or be at a certain event, then look online to see if you can get early bird deals. Booking in advance can save you money, also if you are an avid traveller then consider buying up annual travel insurance to make your money stretch further.
Online websites such as groupon, itison and the money saving expert have great deals on weekends away. It's worth scouring the internet and shopping around for the best deals.
11. Look for free things to do
In Edinburgh especially, there is always free things to do at the weekend. Look on sites such as the List (Link below) or just a simple google search will do the trick. - * Check out my free things to do in Edinburgh post*
Also, join Facebook groups and forums who will share information about free events and activities.
12. Have a savings goal.
By planning your trip and costing it, you should have a figure in your head that you want to achieve. Having a savings goal in mind will motivate you more, and seeing your hard earned money rise to that target is so satisfying!
13. Sell, sell, sell.
Everyone has accumulated crap in their homes that we don't need. Yet, that crap could make you money. Sell things on Gumtree, Ebay or Facebook forums. Or have an old fashioned carboot sale!
I hope these simple steps will help you save money in the long run, and some of these are good to stick to and get into the habit of doing!