How hard is it to travel without savings?

How hard is it to travel without savings?

No savings account but you still want to travel? Then you are probably wondering how hard is it to travel without savings. Plus how much money do you need to travel? As a fulltime traveler without a travel savings account, I feel in a pretty good position to answer these questions.

When I decided that I wanted to hit the road and start a new life as a Digital Nomad there was one thing that kept me awake at night. How can I travel without savings?

I had no savings. NADA. In fact, I didn’t even have a travel savings account!

But in 2016 did it! I packed my backpack and hit the road.

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 a large savings account.

Put Yourself 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 to save money ideally.

Travel Money | How hard is it to travel without savings?

You are going to need a Buffer

Start creating a buffer. You may have no travel 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 travel savings account, if like me you aren’t that good with money, ask someone trustworthy to keep the money for you. I gave money to my dad.
  • 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 into your travel savings fund.
  • 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 in your travel fund can make a huge difference if you get really stuck. Keep it in an account you can easily access in an emergency.

I actually wrote a whole post full of ideas for saving money that you can read here.

How to make money while you travel

Now you have some emergency cash in your travel fund jar, 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:

Become a Digital Nomad

Everyone seems to want to become a Digital Nomad 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/ Work Exchange

This is what I mostly do as well as my Digital Nomad work. I’ve used workpackers 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 at their desk in exchange for accommodation and even meals sometimes.

Finding a Paid Job Abroad

Obviously, finding a paid job abroad 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 to work abroad for that long this may not be the solution for you.

 

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Is traveling without savings easy?

No traveling without savings is NOT easy, but it is also not impossible.

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.

 

How hard is it to travel without savings

 

Final Thoughts

Traveling without 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! That said this lifestyle of travel and work really isn’t for everyone. Maybe you just need to figure out how to travel more with a full-time job?

This post was proofread by Grammarly

 

Book your trip now

Are you ready to book your trip?  To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.

  • Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with. 
  • Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
  • Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
  • Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there. 
  • Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership! 
  • Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
  • RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals. 
  • Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
  • World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review. 
  • SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here
  • Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration. 
  • Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.

Claire Summers

Dancer, producer, traveller, photographer, cake maker, dog lover and knitter of Christmas scarfs.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  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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