How to have the money for that backpacking trip

How to have the money for that backpacking trip.  Here I am in the Maasai Mara, on the border between Kenya and Tanzania.
Half in Kenya, half in Tanzania – literally sitting on the border in the Maasai Mara, Africa

“I admire your lifestyle,” some people tell me.

“I’d love to be free and travel the world, but you know how it is – I have to work, money has to come from somewhere.”

Sure thing, Jose.  But I was not born into a rich family, I don’t have a sugar daddy and I don’t beg on the streets (not yet at least).

Here’s how I did it in easy steps, so that you can go grab that dream of yours soon enough:

Get a job

I know, getting a job is the thing you feel like least when all you have on your mind is travel.  But hear me out.  You need that to start off your travels with a safety net.  You don’t want to leave with a very scarce bank account that ends up burned out within 2 months, sending you back where? Home to work.  Get that job and start saving.

The no-card system

“I just manage to get by with my salary, how can I save?” Block yourself from having access to all of your money.  Open a new bank account and do not link any bank card to it.  Once the paycheck comes in, set yourself an amount and transfer it into that account.  Live off whatever is left in your card account.  Make that money last.  Once you finish it, consider yourself broke.  Do not dig into that account unless it’s an emergency.

Golden tip #1

Open a new savings account and do not link any card to it.  Leave your monthly budget on the card account, once it’s finished, consider yourself broke.

Social life

Nature, walks, picnics and camping all come for free - enjoy the simple things in life
Nature, walks, picnics and camping all come for free – enjoy the simple things in life

This was the hardest of them all for me.  I’m a very social person.  I have friends from here and friends from there and ex colleagues from here and ex travel mates from there.  I love travelling and any money sacrifice is worth it for me, but I didn’t want to lose my social life for the sake of it or become a bum for that matter.


So I found these ways:

  • when I meet friends for drinks, I don’t offer rounds but when they offer me a drink, I just put up my glass and say I’m fine.  This way I know I can stick to my budget for the night.
  • when a big group is meeting for dinner and I know that the bill will be split in equal shares even though all I’ll eat is a Margherita Pizza and a beer, I tell my friends I’ll meet them later.  I have a beautifully cooked home made meal before I leave.  I join them on a full, happy stomach and enjoy that beer with them, and maybe even the coffee or dessert – ok, you got me, it’s the liquor I’m after.
  • When organizing meet ups with friends, suggest picnics or walks or going to a free event in the city, go watch a sunset. Many people tend to be lazy with ideas, so a restaurant and a bar are convenient. Be the one reminding your friends of the simple things in life.

A book costs less than a movie at the cinema and it entertains you for longer tooLive like a student

How did you manage with less money when you were a student? Think back on those days – what you used to eat, the free places you used to visit, parks, museums. There are plenty of things to do that do not include an entrance ticket.

Golden tip #2

Buy a book and carry it around for a week instead of going to watch the movie at a cinema, which costs more and entertains you only for a couple of hours. 

Buy less

Do you really need 3 pairs of boots for a winter season?

Buy one that can go with everything and only replace it once it tears. If you feel like having some new clothes to wear, organize a clothes swap with your friends.

Once you’ve saved up and have got yourself that ticket, see how you can manage your money as you go to extend your travelling days as much as possible in:

Chilling at my home in Nepal - Namaste Lodge, Pokhara.

How to make your travel money last


Go on, set yourself a target date and start making that dream a plan!

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