Saving For Travel

Taking one year off to travel needs lot of planning and discipline. As soon as we decided to travel, we went on budget mode and started saving as much as we could.

saving for travel

Here are some quick win tips we followed for saving for travel –

  • We ditch that morning coffee from a cafe. Instead Manish made his at home while I rotated between nescafe coffee and milo at work.
  • We stopped buying cafe brekky every morning. Making eggs, toast or oats porridge for brekky at home doesn’t take much time. I am not an early riser, so I bought instant oats mix and bread for work. Otherwise, you can also make smoothies with yogurt / milk, fruits and nuts in the morning or the night before.
  • Lunches aren’t cheap in Australia, I was usually spending at least $10 per day. I started getting lunch from home and rotated the menu so I won’t get bored.
  • Avoid taking taxis where possible. The public transport is cheap and available. We started to plan your trips so we can avoid paying high taxi fares, this included late night bus from city after a night out.
  • We started planning our week’s food schedule and hitting the local supermarket. We cooked a larger portion for dinner so we could pack it for lunch the next day. If you aren’t into daily cooking, you can use the weekend to plan and prepare your brekky and lunch for the week.
  • We reviewed our phone bill, internet and TV plan to identify any cost efficiencies. Downgrading mobile plan or unsubscribing a channel we hardly watched resulted in recurring savings.
  • We reviewed our gym, swimming pool and club membership that we weren’t using regularly. We cancelled some of them and started use public facilities where possible. Most suburbs have parks with basic gym facility and track for runs.
  • Tried to make full use of Cheap Tuesdays. We planned our date nights on tuesdays so we could still enjoy movies and dinner.
  • We started renting movies from Hyotts kiosk and making popcorn at home :)
  • Avoided massive parties or drinking sessions. Alcohol is cheaper at retail stores than at restaurants, bars or clubs. We started picking BYO restaurant so we could still enjoy a glass of wine without hurting our wallet.
  • We tapped onto loyalty programmes such as Qantas Frequent Flyer, Everday Rewards and used Citibank Credit Card. We planned our grocery shopping very week which helped us earn savings on our bill and simultaneously gain points. We can now pay for part of our Roumd The World flight tickets with accumulated points.

Saving for travel does not mean you need to give up your lifestyle and stay home. It means you need to be tactical about your expenses. Start by reviewing your past month bank statements and start identifying areas where you can potentially save. Be disciplined and continously remind yourself why you are doing it. Traveling is a great motivation.

Round The World Research

As stated previously, our interests lay in visiting the Indian subcontinent, Europe, South America and potentially South Africa. As we began doing research into the subject, we realised that the distances and seasons made it an impossibility to do it all!

Having lived in India, we knew that most of India is off-limits between July and September. On the other hand, this is the perfect and the most expensive time to be in Europe. In addition, Chile and Argentina have winter at the same time as Australia so May to August would not be the best time to visit those countries especially Patagonia which the southern part of both these countries.

South Africa drew the shortest straw first. To be able to get to South Africa at the perfect times to see the wildlife would require crossing the entire African continent from Europe and India while it will be a long flight over the Atlantic. We decided to leave it for another time!

During this time, we also listed the festivals around the world we would like to see. Some of these included Holi in India, Carnival in Rio, La Tomatina in Spain, Running of the bulls in Spain and Tomorrowland in Belgium. Not surprisingly, these festivals are not at the same time of the year and it can be a significant cost to get accommodation and visit these festivals.

After considering the destinations, festivals and our situation as an Indian couple, we decided to take a sabbatical and travel for a year. This allowed us enough time in each region and experience the culture. The rough plan then was Europe for 3 months in the Summer, Indian subcontinent for 3-4 months in the autumn/winter and South America for 5 months.

The next challenge was to decide which direction to take. Living in Sydney, we could fly east to Chile or Argentina and work our way through South America then fly to Europe and India. However, we would need to then start in January, finish South America by may or june and then head into European summer. The budget and a new job simply did not allow this option.

Therefore, we decided to save up for a year and travel straight to Europe then India and from there to Brazil. We left the plan at this for many months and began researching into the details of each place except South America which would be last.

If you are planning a round the world trip, it is important to have a rough idea of the areas you want to visit, the duration of the journey and when you can afford to leave. This is a good starting point for the duration in each place and tickets. In the next post, I will highlight our research into RTW flights v Individual tickets.

Travel Planning

We spent about 2-3 months doing research and discussing our travel preparation list items so we could come get on with the high level travel planning.

Places To Visit

Manish has always wanted to explore the Spanish culture and doing Capoeira means a visit to Brazil is must. While I have always been keen to backpack in Europe and see the wildlife in South Africa. And considering both of us left India at early age, we haven’t seen much of that land too. Our itinerary outline was drafted –

Indian Sub-continent – we considered including Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar as well.

Europe – though we agreed we will not be visiting Eastern Europe.

South Africa – we were considering safari and exploring Johannesburg.

South America – we agreed while we are in Brazil, it makes sense to visit the neighboring countries as well.

Travel Duration

Being Indians we are well aware of the society pressures – marriage, house, car, babies, etc. We are mentally prepared for it but we agreed we need to spend quality time together and do what we have always wanted to do.

Very quickly we decided to spend one year of our life traveling. Once this holiday ends, we will be ready to jump into the married couple lifestyle and I’m sure we won’t have any complains.

Overall Budget

We took a while to finalise the budget for our travel. There are so many unknowns and things to consider. Ultimately we used the following process –

  1. Looked at our existing bank balance
  2. Considering the exchange rate across the places we want to visit, we allocated high level budget for each section of our travel
  3. We kept aside a budget for travel prepping and flights
  4. As Manish part owns the house with his parents, we had to consider mortgage payment for the house as well
  5. We also decided to save an amount for our post travel expenses

Once we had the above outline sorted, we managed to create an excel sheet to track how much we already had saved while how far we were from total amount. This turned the saving mode on. More to come about how we saved.


We work so we can do more of what we like and we knew this trip will be expensive. We explored tons of options in this space.

We started by reviewing our current jobs and whether there was any scope working full-time offsite. Very quickly we realised it wasn’t a feasible option at all. We then started looking into other ways we could make money or barter for accommodation / meals. Some ideas that were explored were: waiting tables, working at cafes, bars, restaurants, resorts, picking fruits, volunteering, freelancing for digital space, house sitting, farm support, etc. As our itinerary wasn’t finalised we decided to park these options and review them at a later stage.

Our immediate next step was to plan when we can quit our existing full-time jobs. As I work in the digital advertising space, I know contractors get paid lot more. So I decided to quit by early 2015 so I have about 4 months to work as a contractor and save more. In the meantime, Manish had just started his new job 5 months ago so he decided to stay and gain more experience.

Informing Our Parents

Our plan to quit lined up very well with informing two sets of our parents about our travel plans. We basically told them – “we are quitting our jobs and going traveling for a year”. It was a tough conversation which lasted a week and we got hit by a lot of questions. Luckily we had discussed all the if’s and but’s and we manage to put them to ease :)

In summary, please allow yourself plenty of time for travel planning and ironing out details. This is just the start, there is lots more to do. See our next post about RTW Research.

Travel Preparation List

Sometime in May 2014 we decided we were going to take a long holiday the following year.  We had always wanted to do it. Now we were finally married and had to decide what we wanted to do with our life.

Scratch MapWe got talking about places we want to visit and what we want to carry with us. We also bought a map to start scratching places we have visited together. Being a project manager, I quickly realised we need to plan a lot and it needs to happen in an effective way.

We decided to take baby steps by breaking down our conversations to topics. We created a list of things we need to consider as our starting point. As we discussed each topic, we made decisions that helped us outline our travel plans.

Travel preparation list

  1. Continents we want to cover
  2. Duration of our travel
  3. Travel budget
  4. Consider savings for post travel
  5. What type of traveling do we want to do
  6. Our existing jobs
  7. Inform our parents – yes, we had to consider this and be very tactical about it!

Once we agreed on the above items, we broke down our next set of tasks to smaller tangible actions.

Read more about working on above list, travel research, packing and saving.

Let us know what you think about the list.