Top budgeting tips on how to afford and plan your big trip

The ultimate dream for most travellers is to be able to afford to travel all around the world, one country at a time, without a worry in the world. Does this dream seem far off for you? Do you think you’ll never be able to afford it? Do you even have a clue where to start? It all seems quite daunting when you think about it doesn’t it?

That’s why we asked someone that has done it herself and managed to travel the world on less money than you would think… and is still travelling now, YEARS later! We pass you over to one of our regular bloggers here at Workaway, Sarah, who is spilling all her top tips, secrets, and hacks to allow you to travel the world on a budget:


“It is better to regret the things you’ve done than the ones you haven’t.”

First of all, I want to tell you, you are about to embark on the BEST THING you’ve ever done. I cannot quite explain what an amazing feeling it is to travel. I am somewhat jealous of you, as I wish I could relive those nerves you are feeling and the way it makes you feel when they melt away. There is nothing quite like overcoming your fears and watching your life unfold in a beautiful way.

“ You have to learn to live within your means and realise what is a necessity and what isn’t.”

People always asked me if it was easy to save for travelling, and the real answer is no. It wasn’t easy until I realised I was doing it all wrong. I was trying to save up while still living the same lifestyle. Once I started to compare everything I was spending to something I could be doing in another country it all started to come together. When I went to buy a $4 coffee, I’d tell myself that was a night’s stay in a hostel in Ecuador. When I went to buy a $50 dress I reminded myself that was a day’s scuba diving and meals in Asia. It soon became a lot clearer in my head and my saving got a lot easier. I've also got some pretty sneaky techniques of still saving as I spent, such as signing up to loyalty schemes, getting an Air Miles credit card, and even investing in a premium bond!

Related blog post: How to travel cheap -- 23 TOP money saving tips for budget travellers

solo-woman-traveller tropical paradise

“Planning a round-the-world trip isn’t something you just wake up one morning and have it sorted”

Sorry about that guys, but the harsh reality is that you need to do some serious planning. I’m not talking about what you’re going to be doing in each country or where you are going to be staying every night, but more about what is going on in the background. Think credit cards, rent, bills and commitments. These are the things you really don’t want to be thinking about when you are jumping into waterfalls and swinging on hammocks so make sure they are sorted before you go.

Here’s a list of things you need to remember before you can even book that ticket:

  • Direct debits; will there be enough money in your account to cover those each month?
  • Will your bank allow you to withdraw money abroad? What are the fees?
  • Tax/ National Insurance/ student loans; do you need to let them know you will be away from the country?
  • Is your online banking set up? Can you book flights/ accommodation online while you are abroad?
  • Will your credit card minimum payments be settled? Consider setting up a direct debit for this.

“Budgeting only works if you want it to.”

So you have a figure saved up (just to put some perspective on it I had £5000 for 9 months in Latin America) now you have to divide that up by how many days you are planning/estimating to be away. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have an exact timescale – in that instance start by dividing it into quarters, 3 months at a time. Now you should have a daily figure. Add a little bit on top of that and try and stick to it. Some days you will spend over, some less, but also always have your monthly figure in mind. Really it is as simple as this; if you want to keep travelling, you will keep to that budget. It is all down to your own determination and commitment. I kept to my budget because I knew I never wanted travelling to end.

canyon road trip travel cheap

“ If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”

I can’t stress this enough. I ended up in hospital twice on my first stint travelling – don’t worry it was just minor things (damn parasites) but I would have had to pack my bags and gone straight home if I hadn’t had travel insurance. It cost me £100 for 6 months and those two hospital visits would have set me back over £2000. You do the maths! Just keep in mind that when chosing your policy don’t just go for the cheapest one you see – make sure it is the right one for you and it covers you for what you need.

“One of the best things you can do while travelling is to give back.”

woman traveller smiles teaching kids english

This is where Workaway came in for me, and quite frankly, it changed the way I travelled while allowing me to travel slower and longer. By volunteering through Workaway I got to see the countries I was in through the eyes of locals. I got to learn languages and skills while making new friends, all while living and eating for free. There was one month in Ecuador I only spent $50USD (and that was on beer haha). Really, this is one of my biggest secrets as to how I spent so little for so long, and a major inspiration for me to continue travelling to this day (5 years and counting 🙂 ).

Related blog post: How to travel cheap while on the road

“What’s meant to be will be.”

Ok, so I know most people’s concerns are “what if I run out of money?”, and of course, I asked myself the same question, before I went, and just about most weeks during. But I never did. Because I lived within my means, and I couldn’t let myself run out could I? If you are worried about running out of money, then do what I did and volunteer through Workaway to cover food and accommodation. And how about picking up some digital nomad gigs, or getting a job abroad? I also did that. From an English Teacher to a Divemaster and just about everything in between… If you are determined to keep yourself on the road, you will.

“One travels the world in search of what they need and return home to find it.”

I initially went home after a one year stint of travelling. I lasted all of a few weeks. But I had to go home to realise this was what I actually wanted to do. That I actually preferred a life of constant adventure, eye-opening moments, and living on each cent, than the comfortable life I would have had if I went back into working a 9-5 job. Don’t be ‘hating’ on going home. Go home, see how it makes you feel. You may return and feel like you have fulfilled your dreams of travelling and reflect on the best moments of your life. I think you HAVE to go home to really know what you are looking for.

But our biggest piece of advice when planning a round the world trip? Enjoy every moment. Enjoy researching countries, reading travel blogs, looking at instagram photos. Enjoy that plane ride, that layover, that hotel that didn’t look like the pictures. Enjoy the new friends, the laughs, the tears, the heartbreak. Really feel every single moment. We can guarantee it will be the best time of your life.

Related blog post: How you'll never travel the same way again after Workaway

airport luggage female traveller lifestyle

Happy travels, nomads!

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About Sarah

Sarah helps with the Workaway blog. She left her secure job and daily routine in the UK 5 years ago to pursue a life of volunteering and travel. Throughout her work as a freelance writer and scuba ins... show more...

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