How hard is it to travel without savings?

Want to travel but you don’t have a huge savings account? I know how you feel! 12 months ago when I decided that I wanted to hit the road and start a new life as a Digital Nomad the one thing that kept me awake at night was my lack of a 4 figure savings account. In fact, I didn’t even have a savings account! But here I am 1 year on and I’m still on the road. So How hard is it to travel without savings? It’s not easy but if you want it enough I’m going to share a few ways you can still travel without large savings.

Under Pressure

First things first, most people work better under pressure or if they have a set goal to work towards…so pick a date you want to leave, if you can book a flight, you are going to need at least 3 months ideally.

Buffer

Start creating a buffer. You may have no savings right now, but you are going to need a buffer, at least a few hundred £ or $ for emergencies, and to fall back on. It needs to be at least enough for you to survive for a few weeks or for a flight home. I have done a whole post on How to Save for Traveling here that you should read and follow too.

Here are a few things to think about so you can get some quick cash together as a buffer:

  • Open a savings account, if like me you aren’t that good with money, ask someone trustworthy to keep the money for you.
  • Start selling your stuff! You aren’t going to need it where you’re going! So if it has no sentimental value and it’s not going to fit in your backpack then sell it! Be ruthless, and put every penny in your savings account.
  • Look for a second job. If you can find some temp or casual work for a few months then this is a great idea. Because you have your flight booked you know it’s only temporary so you will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, making all of the extra hours totally worth it! Keep all of the money you make in your savings account.

This money you make is for emergencies. It doesn’t need to be a huge amount but $200-$500 can make a huge difference if you get really stuck. Keep it in an account you can easily access in an emergency.

Now what?

So now you have some emergency cash, you need to think about how you are going to make money while traveling! Below I have listed some of the main ways you can travel without having to spend very much money. I’m not going to go too deep into this here as I have written a whole post on trying to find a job abroad which goes into a lot of detail. You can take a read of it here but briefly:

  • Becoming a Digital Nomad – Everyone seems to want to become a DN these days. It is possible but it’s also not for everyone. Take a read of this post if you are thinking of becoming a Digital Nomad.
  • Volunteering/ Exchange – This is what I mostly do as well as my Digital Nomad work. I’ve used work away as well as contacting people to offer my services in exchange for something that I want from them. For example, I’ve exchanged my services as a photographer for yoga classes or managed someone’s Instagram for accommodation. There are always hostels looking for volunteers to work their desk in exchange for accommodation and even meals sometimes. Read this post on I wrote about Workaway.
  • Finding a Paid Job Abroad – Obviously, this is the ideal situation. The downside to this would be most companies need people to commit to at least 3-6 months so if you don’t want to stay in one place for that long this many not be for you.

 

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It’s NOT easy

To be clear traveling without a big savings account is difficult. You will have to make sacrifices. You will likely have to skip expensive trips, do a few jobs you don’t like, take long bus journeys instead of flying and you will probably get more than a few stomach bugs from eating street food! BUT you will meet some pretty amazing people, do some amazing jobs and because you might stay for longer in one place you will get to experience living and working in that place, rather than just passing through ticking places off your list. You will also have to think much more carefully about what you do want to spend your money on. So when you do splash out on some big tours and experiences they will be even more precious to you.

Traveling with savings can be done. It’s not easy and you will have a very different experience, but different isn’t always a bad thing. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Want to travel but you don’t have a huge savings account? I know how you feel! 12 months ago when I decided that I wanted to hit the road and start a new life as a Digital Nomad the one thing that kept me awake at night was my lack of a 4 figure savings account. In fact, I didn’t even have a savings account! But here I am 1 year on and I’m still on the road. So How hard is it to travel without savings? It’s not easy but if you want it enough I’m going to share a few ways you can still travel without large savings.

If you need a cheap flight to anywhere check Skyscanner first! Or download their App here, and don’t forget your insurance!

11 Replies to “How hard is it to travel without savings?”

  1. Great tips on how to get started as a digital nomad. I use skyscanner often and have found some really cheap flights on the site this year. I’ve also traveled with very little savings over the years, and because of that, I have worked in lots of different countries. Good post – thanks for sharing!

  2. Hanna Jobes says: Reply

    I so agree! I used to travel all the time with barely any money and it can be done. Your advice about at least having a couple hundred is so smart! Emergencies happen and you have to be prepared for that! I love this article because it proves you don’t have to be rich to travel.

    1. It’s so possible, you just have to make some sacrifices. For me, it’s worth it though!

  3. Great advice! I couldn’t agree more – saving is not easy but It can be done if you are willing to do it. I once heard the advice “treat your savings account like a paycheck and you’ll get places!” and its SO TRUE! The amount you put in your savings account doesn’t even have to be big. 🙂 Safe travels. – Mariella

  4. It was interesting to read your article because I am one of those persons who make sure that they can afford to travel before actually going on the road. However, I somehow was in your situation when I started my journey though Asia, without a savings account and without a job to return to (which I didn’t know about), with a bank account in which I had a limited amount of money. I remember how I would keep a diary of all my spending to make sure I don’t go over what I had in the bank.

  5. It surely is hard. I do it all the time, not because I love it but then I never had a habit of saving and nor did I earn much. A bit of better planning won’t hurt anyone though.

  6. I agree it’s not easy but totally worth it. Finding a second income before you hit the road is a good idea to start creating a buffer for yourself. I had a savings when I quit my job but it wasn’t huge and I didn’t have anything else lined up, so when I started pursuing the online business I’m working on now as a DN, I was 1000x more motivated because I needed to start bringing in money ASAP! That’s the silver lining of not having been as prepared as I should’ve I guess haha 🙂

  7. Having an emergency fund is super important, you never what can happen to you on the road. I’ve heard a lot about workaway, my friend just did a 6 month trip primarily using their services, will have to look into it more incase I need to make money on the road. Great tips, thanks for sharing your experience!

  8. I’m the sort of peron who needs to have a certain amount of money in my bank account before I feel comfortable going travelling and really admire people who just go for it! Volunteering is such a good way to travel cheaply and I love services like Workaway that have made it super easy to find volunteering opportunities 😀

  9. Traveling without savings can be difficult, yes the tip to use Skyscanner is helpful.
    They do show a good range of cheap flights. It is best to be prepared for emergencies as you said.

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