10.03.2016

How I Saved Enough Money To Travel



Are you one of those people who checks Facebook or Instagram and you see photos of your friends and wonder 'how the hell are you traveling AGAIN?' because that's literally my life. My friends and acquaintances and coworkers are always going somewhere and I've wondered how people can be that loaded. Here I am, 28 years old, and have never traveled anywhere outside of the continental U.S. To be honest, my excuse has always been that I was too poor to travel, but looking back on all the stupid crap I've bought over the years, I know damn well that money isn't the real factor. It's how you use your money. Anyone and I really mean ANYONE can travel the world, but it does take money and it takes some patience.

So, for the first time in my life, I will be traveling and going to London at the end of the month. I'm extremely excited to be sharing this post with you all, because I feel like a lot of people have been in my shoes and have always wanted to travel but felt like they were too broke to do it. I'm going to be extremely honest with you guys, this was--EASY to do. It just took a year to do it! So read on if you want to find out how I managed to save enough money for this trip.


THIS. RIGHT. HERE. This app is literally one of the sole reasons I was able to save up for this trip. I saved $1,300 which basically pays for every expense I need and more for my one week trip. So what is digit? Digit is an app that you link to your checking account and it saves money for you every month. Now, I know that sounds scary, and believe me I'm the most skeptical person ever and I didn't trust this thing at first, but it's actually had great reviews from very legit websites and it made sense. What the app does is it monitors the spending in your checking account and saves money every day accordingly. So if you have $100 in your checking balance, digit will squirrel away $0.50 or something small like that. If you have $1000 sitting in your checking balance, it will save a little more.

The idea is that you aren't really missing the amount of money being taken away, because you won't really notice it gone. That's what makes this app so genius. We all tend to have spending habits that are less than perfect, and sometimes it can be hard to really track all of your spending in a month, especially if you have a lot of unforeseen activities happening. So digit checks out and sees the money that is NOT being spent that month, and saves some chump change away each day without you noticing! This app is perfect for someone like me, who isn't very good with managing money and have a hard time being consistent with saving small amounts each month. There are even a lot of times where I tell myself "I have no money to save!" but believe me, you'd be surprised how much more you're spending when you absolutely do not need to. 



On top of using digit, I try my best (and by "best" I mean, when I remember to...) utilize the many budgeting apps out there. The one I use is called Spendee, and tbh, the only reason I chose this particular one over the hundreds of apps out there, is because the interface is graphically minimal and beautiful. I'm just being real here. Anyway, Spendee basically is a budgeting app (like Mint, which is another very popular one) that tracks your expenses every month. I'm going to be quite frank here and admit that I do not use this app every single day, as I SHOULD. I blame my extreme A.D.D..... but still, I do try to use it a few times a month, to get an overview of what I'm spending. A spending app is highly encouraged when you're planning on traveling, because you can create your own tabs for particular things, and each month you can include it in your spending report. For example, I had factored in $50 each month for traveling purposes as extra money. I wasn't always able to save up this $50 mind you because let's be real, sometimes I needed that $50 to make it through the month! But when I could, it was a nice way for me to save up some more money for the trip. You can also create specific tabs for specific credit cards. I had 3 credit card tabs on my Spendee report: One for my monthly grocery and gas spending, another for my misc payments + car insurance, and a third one for my travel credit card. 


Here's another reason why I'm able to travel this year. I planned this a year ago! 
Do some research on your destination and find out when flights are least expensive. Try to plan your vacation/trip around non-peak times. Although, in my case, London is always 'peak' times, but I chose October / November, because it's not AS busy as Winter, Summer or Spring time. Buying your ticket in advance also allows you to get pretty cheap tickets. You should also buy your hotel tickets ahead of time also. I was able to snag a prime location hotel that's smack dab in the middle of Westminster (where Big Ben and the London Eye is) for about $800 less than if I had waited just a couple of months more! Hostels are another option since they are much cheaper, or if you're lucky, know people who live there and bum off their couch. Ain't no shame! Offer to buy them food at least. 

So sometime last year, I was talking to some friends who lived in London and I told them how I've always wanted to travel there. Seriously, London has been on my Top 5 MUST-TRAVEL-TO-BEFORE-I-DIE-Destinations list since I was in high school. What attracts me most to London is the weather there. Coming from sunny Cali, everyone here is all about the sunshine 350 days a year. Me? I HATE IT. I've always been a cold/gloomy/overcast/rainy weather type of person and London seemed like a perfect place for someone like me. I could've chosen to travel somewhere else, like Japan or Korea, but I think for my first international travel, England seemed like a really perfect pick. For one, I knew people who lived there and two, everyone there speaks English. And because I am going on this trip alone, I felt a little nervous about traveling for the first time to a foreign country, so going to a place where there won't be a language barrier does help relieve some anxiety. I'm also terrified of long plane rides so....at least U.K. is only a 10 hour plane ride, as opposed to like 14+ for Asia. 


And finally, keep on thinking about your trip during the year. Seriously, for the entire year I've been planning, looking up places I want to go to and things I want to do, and thinking about what kind of photos I want to take, what cameras to take, and what foods to eat for this trip. I'm not even exaggerating, every single day I think about my trip because it's something I could look forward to. That's the beauty of planning a trip so far ahead also, you have something to look forward to CONSTANTLY. This year went by so fast for me and there were rarely days where I was sad/moody/angry for long. How could I be sad when I'd be traveling for the first time soon? Having something to look forward to not only sets your mood for the year, it makes you legit happier. I remember when I was thinking, 'man only 6 more months and I'm flying to London!' and now it's literally like 20-something odd days away. CRAZY YA'LL. ABSOLUTELY CRAZY.

Also, constantly thinking about your trip actually does help you not to spend money. I love spending money on stupid stuff....honestly...it's like if I don't get some retail therapy once in a while, I start to lose it. But throughout this year, I've actually been quite good with not splurging too much (I say this, as I just recently bought THIS THING...SMH.) and we're all human. It's not like I've been perfect with my money either, but it does HELP. There are times where I bought something and thought, 'wait...I could use this money to shop at Skinny Dip London! F*ck this' and I end up returning it (true story). So like I said, think about your trip and find out if there's any stores you'd love to visit while you're there. 

The reason I wanted to write this post so badly, was because I feel like I am always held back by lack of money. I've always felt this inferiority with other people who were able to take vacations twice a year and travel and that's something I've always wanted to do but felt it would never happen. One of the other BIG reasons I want to travel besides just to see the world, is to take photographs. Ya'll know I love my photography stuff and traveling the world will let me photograph so many new and beautiful things. I know it sounds silly, but one of the most exciting things about going on this trip, to me, is knowing I'll have so much to photograph. Follow your passion people. It'll take you anywhere you want to go.