How to Save Money to Travel
I often get asked how I’m able to travel so much. Working at a non-profit coupled with the high cost of Bay Area living doesn’t seem like it makes for an ideal situation. That’s where creativity and goal-setting come in.
When I started my last job, I knew that travel would continue to be my priority, despite the 9-5 lifestyle. From the moment I got my first paycheck, I created habits that encouraged me to think strategically about where and how I spend my money.
1) Use Public Transportation
We live in a moment where it’s insanely convenient to call a Lyft or Uber to get to your next destination. I limit my app-based rides and instead utilize public transportation. Living in Oakland while working in San Francisco, I quickly learned about Casual Carpool – an organic ride-sharing platform that has been around since before I was born. For $1, I hop in a neighbor’s car in the East Bay and get driven into San Francisco, less than five blocks from my office. On the way home, I utilize the AC Transbay buses or BART.
2) Go to the Library
I read all the time. Like, on average, one book per week. If I were to buy every book that I read, I wouldn’t have enough money to do anything else. Or enough place to store them all. So, I am a proud owner of three library cards – Palo Alto, Berkeley, and Oakland. When I like the book enough to purchase it, I wait a few months and find a used copy at a local bookstore.
3) Bring Your Lunch to Work
I’m not a great cook. I hate cooking and meal prepping and cleaning my dishes. But, with the average cost of lunch in San Francisco being $13 (I made up that number, but it sounds right) you have to learn the importance of bringing your lunch to work. It’s amazing how much money you save if you give yourself an hour each week to head to Trader Joe’s and buy lunch supplies.
4) Travel Strategically
Never turn down a free trip. Work sent me to Israel twice, and on my second venture I was smart enough to extend my trip for a week to go to Cyprus. With roundtrip tickets from Tel Aviv to Larnaca under $100, it would have been a shame to just come straight home instead. I'm off to Berlin with Germany Close Up, which is a ten-day organized trip subsidized by the European Recovery Program (ERP). Another opportunity was spending four days in Cancun with my dad, after he won a trip through his work.
5) Work an extra job
In my free time, I babysit using UrbanSitter. In certain parts of the Bay Area, you can make $20-$25 an hour babysitting. And, since you are often paid in cash, it's actually more than that :) I try and babysit one night per month and put that extra money directly in my savings account.
6) Make Travel a Priority
If it's important enough to you to travel, you will find a way to do it. The world map above my bed serves as a daily reminder of how much I love exploring. Once your mind is made up, nothing should be able to stop you.