The type of career break you choose will massively affect how much you need to save. Career breaks can be in the hundreds, up to tens of thousands of pounds. However much you need to save, these are my tips to help saving feel less of a burden. (These tips focus on saving to travel on a career break, but the tips can be used to save money for any type of career break you decide to choose).
1. Be realistic
If you have a limited salary, it may be better to save for a smaller trip or cheaper career break, so the saving is not as daunting. If you want to jump straight into an around the world trip for a year or learn to be a pilot for example, then you need to be realistic about how long it is going to take to save up for the trip, so you don't run out of money too quickly.
2. Do your research
Find destinations that are cheaper, where your money will go further. For example, two weeks exploring Thailand or Cambodia will cost you a lot less, than two weeks exploring Iceland or Japan, where travel, food and accommodation come at a premium. Using the same basis in point 1, if you want to travel to expensive destinations you need to factor this into your budget and be realistic.
3. Start a spreadsheet
Start tracking your spending, this is vital! You need to look at what you spend each month, what you have left and what you can cut out. Then keep a running total of what you are saving each month, against your goal, as this will give you the motivation to keep saving when you see your pot increasing each month.
4. Set your budget
This is very important, you have to have a goal to work towards, or else you will find it really hard to be dedicated to saving. Setting your budget really comes down to your individual trip, i.e., the destinations, duration and travel style. I would recommend doing some research to see an average of accommodation, travel and food to establish your daily budget. You can then times this by the number of days you are going away for. From experience, I would always add on a little extra to your daily budget and even if you don't spend all of your money, it's nice to have a contingency. Also, if you know you want to do activities like bungy jumping, white water rafting or glacier climbing, then you need to factor this in as well.
Once you have set your budget and you know how much you can save each month, then you can start to think about setting a date. One tip would be to set the date 2-3 months later than you think, just in case you have any unexpected expenses.
5. Open a separate bank account dedicated to travel
I opened a separate bank account which just had my travel pot in. I would move money from my current account to my dedicated travel account, the day I was paid. I knew how much money I needed for the necessities and I knew how much money I would move across to my travel account, at the start at the month. I think this really helps you cut down your spending, as if you only have £100 to last you until the end of the month, then you will think twice about your spending. There have been a few months, where I have had to transfer some money out of my travel account to my current account because I had run out of money, but I know that I would have still spent less, not having that money freely in my current account to spend. Your aim should be that the money in your travel account should only be spent on travel-related expenses and only touched if you really need to.
6. Cut out unnecessary spending/change of lifestyle
Obviously, rent, bills, petrol and food are vital so there is no movement there (unless you could move back in with the parents to cut down your living costs, live off pot noodles and get lifts everywhere). What else do you typically spend your money on, eating out, alcohol, clothes shopping, makeup, etc? Everything you are about to buy, stop for a moment and ask yourself, do I really need this? If I went shopping I would ask myself, "am I going to bring this travelling?" and if the answer was no, I would make do with what I had in my wardrobe. Things like your morning coffee, costing £2.50, may not seem that expensive, but over 5 mornings a week, that adds up to £12.50 a week, £50.00 a month or £650 a year!!! Do you really need that posh coffee, when your office has a kettle, milk and instant coffee?
If you are tempted to go out for dinner, when you know you will spend £20, compare this to what you could spend that money on when you are away. For example, with £20 in Cambodia, that would pay for a hostel, with dinner and drinks and some more. It's surprising how quickly you stop surging using this technique.
Another easy way to save some money is to take your lunch with you to work. Before I started saving, I would happily spend £3 on lunch. Making a packed lunch the night before saves a surprising amount of money and this extra dosh will quickly add up.
You will have to make sacrifices and you will have to get used to your friends calling you 'tight' but my response is usually, 'yes, I am tight because I am saving to travel the world.' You can't have your cake and eat it. For me, I would prefer to have tap water and save a few quid, even if I do look stingy, as I knew it would all be worth it when I got on that plane. It's lucky I like water.
7. Sell unwanted items
Have a walk around your house, you will be surprised what you could sell if you wanted to. CDs, clothes, DVDs, games consoles or even furniture, like they say, 'one mans trash, is another man's treasure'. There are loads of ways of you selling your unwanted rubbish. Head to the local car boot, or get yourself on eBay or Sphock and get rid of some of your unwanted crap and make a few pounds while you are at it. Think back to tip 6, even if you only made £20, that £20 will go a lot further in a lot of countries in South East Asia.
8. Stick to it
You will not meet your goal every month and that is fine, but if you do have a bad month, you have to get straight on track as soon as you can and keep going. My car decided to break down twice in two months and nearly £2,000 later, I felt like crying knowing how I could have spent that money while I was away, but that's life and the following month, I cut back even further and saved a bit more. I saved solidly for 2 years for my around the world trip and I'm not saying it is easy. It takes a lot of dedication, but if you want it, then you will stick to it. Just remember, it will all be worth it when you are sat on the beach, looking out to the crystal clear sea, with the sun shining on your back, with a coconut, cocktail or beer in hand.
Have you got any other helpful travel tips which you have used when saving for travelling?