13 ways to save money for backpacking in Asia

by Amanda/Backpacking Tips Asia
(Oslo, Norway)

So you've decided to take that big trip to Asia ;-)

In order to save the right amount of money, the first thing you need to know is how much you have to save.

You should start saving money at least six months before departure, but this depends on the size of your planned budget and how much you're able to save each month.

Let's say you need to save $7000. Your departure to Asia is on November 1, 2013. If you start saving money from November 2012, you need to save $585 each month. If you start saving 6 months before departure, you have to save $1167 each month.

A one-year schedule sounds much more doable, realistic and you minimize the chance of losing motivation along the way. You need to live a little as well.

How to organize the savings?
A good way is to create a 2nd bank account where you transfer a certain amount each month. If the money is 'locked' away in a 2nd account, this makes temptation of using those money less.

How to cut down on expenses:
Cutting down on expenses sounds like a drag, but it's necessary for us normal people who don't have high-paying jobs. It starts with simple things like making your own dinner instead of eating out the whole time.

  1. If you're huge on the coffee, like I am, I would recommend to invest in a thermal coffee mug and make enough coffee to last one day. I drink at least 2-3 cups each day and many other people drink more than this.

    Let's do a calculation:
    Average price for coffee at a coffee shop: $3
    $3 x 3 cups a day = $9
    $9 x 20 working/school days per month = $180 on coffee per month
    $180 x 12 = $ 2160 on coffee for 12 months

    If you make your own coffee for a year, you save $2160. If your planned budget is $7000, you've already saved almost 1/3 of that amount. YEAH!

    You can adjust this calculation to your needs. To make this coffee-saving plan work over time, let's say you make your own coffee 4 days a week, and buy coffee the 5th day. It's a good way to keep your motivation up.

  2. Bring your own lunch to work or school.

    Lunch at the cafeteria: $7 per day
    $7 x 20 working days = $140 per month

    Making your own lunch (lasts for one week):
    Bread (1-2) = $4 x 2 = $8
    Cheese, ham, vegetables = $10
    = $18 per week for lunch

    $18 x 4 weeks = $72

  3. Make dinner at home and use coupons for grocery shopping. The hardest part about coupons is that I forget to use them. If you find a good coupon deal, use it. Store them in your wallet, so whenever you open your wallet to pay for something at the grocery store, you actually remember to use the coupon.

    Dinner at restaurant: $15 x 4 days = $60
    $60 x 4 weeks = $240 per month
    $240 x 12 = $2880 for a year

  4. Partying? You can save money on drinks by buying a bottle of wine at the store, drink it at home and then go out for a drink. Instead of buying 5 cocktails at a night club, you can have a bottle of wine at home and one drink out.

  5. Rent a movie rather than hitting the cinema. Or you can borrow movies from friends or family.

  6. Walk or take the public transportation to work/school, instead of using your car. By doing this, you're saving a lot of money on gas expenses.

  7. Physical training for a backpacking trip is crucial. You can save money on exercise by dropping the gym. If you can't live without the gym like I do, this option might be hard to complete.

    But if you can manage without, there are ways of exercising - for free. You can jog or take long walks outside, do some exercises at home or go mountain hiking. You can even do some aerobic or dancing at home; you have these aerobic programs like Turbojam or Zumba which you can access online, or buy the DVD.

    $50 per month for gym membership
    $50 x 12 = $600 saved

  8. If you're not picky about wearing used clothes, you can save some money at 2nd hand shops. You need a new dress for dine-out? Why not borrow from a friend?

    If you need a new table, cups or whatever, thrift stores might be your money-saving option!

  9. Borrow books at the library instead of buying new books.

  10. Buying new gear for backpacking is expensive. It might be your only backpacking trip - ever. So, you should borrow backpacking gear from friends or family members who have gone backpacking before. You can borrow a backpack, sleeping bag, trekking shoes or whatever. Saves you tons of money!

  11. Instead of buying travel guide books, you can print out relevant info from the internet.

  12. Cut down on your mobile and/or internet expenses: If you have subscription for high-speed internet, reduce it to medium-speed. In most cases, making a call is more expensive than sending a SMS/text message. Use more SMS or email more often.

  13. Reduce your power and water usage. Remember to switch off the lights when you're not using the bedroom, the bathroom or whatever. Take shorter showers or while showering; turn off the water while you're shampooing your hair.


Posted: Oct 22, 2012

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