travel on a budget: 4 ways to save money

Austin Ban

 

On my previous post in my On a Budget series I talked about the importance of planning and I promised a post about saving money. No matter how long and meticulously you plan it’ll all be pointless if you don’t commit so keep in mind that it’s all for a good cause. Here are 4 ways to set aside some extra money for your dream holiday.

1. Know your money

Before doing anything else, grab your bank statements and study it hard. Take note of exactly how much money you make and how much you expend each week and month. You need to know exactly where your earnings are going as it is so easy to lose track of small expenses. When I first left my parents house and moved to NZ, I used to carry a notebook with me every where and write down every single cent coming in and out of my account and wallet. I’d write down even coins I found on the sidewalk, it all added up! I only bought a TV a year after arriving in Wellington and by then I had a part-time minimum wage job but I knew exactly how many hours I had to work to pay for it. I guess I should do that again, now that my income has improved a bit I end up taking a few things for granted and overspending. Having a clear picture of your financial situation will allow you to determine what kind of sacrifices you’re willing to make.

2. Take inventory and sell the excess

Last October I moved house and for an entire year I lived quite nicely with several unopened boxes in my garage. Some of those things were personal belongings that I only keep for their sentimental value, but the rest was just useless stuff. Pretty and in good condition, but rendered useless over time for me. Maybe someone else would be interested in buying some of it? And there are so many ways of selling unwanted items: online auction websites like Trade Me will take a commission out of your sale but you can use Facebook groups instead. You can also create a nice ad and put it up common areas in your workplace or at your local supermarket. You can also organize a good old yard sale, put up flyers around your neighbourhood and spread the word. Be realistic about prices, prepare to bargain and save all your profit.

Jonas Nilsson Lee

3. Turn skills into services

What kind of hobbies do you have? Do you play any instruments or know any other language? What about turning that skill into a service you can offer for a fee? Create an ad on sites like Fiverr or Gigbucks and reach out to people. Alternatively, let your friends know of your intentions and offer to mow their lawn, baby-sit, pet-sit, give private lessons…. NZ is famous for its DIY mentality but not everyone has the luxury of time these days, so take advantage of that if you have lots of spare time on your hands. Do extra shifts at work or you can even go a step further and take up a second job. Got a spare room but don’t actually feel like taking up a flat mate? List it on Airbnb and host guests travelling to your location.

4. Cut down to the bare necessities

Ok, making more money can be quite challenging. What about spending less then? Make your meals ahead of time and instead of buying lunch, take it from home. Change your internet/mobile plans or provider for a cheaper option, switch power companies, take shorter showers, walk to work or carpool. Go a semester or even a whole year without buying any new clothes/shoes. Reduce the amount of nights out or define a budget for when you’re having drinks with friends and stick to it. Favour free activities over paid events. Grow your own vegetables, stock up on groceries on special, join loyalty programs so you can pay discounted prices, shop smart. Pay your bills on time and setup direct debt/online billing as most companies offer nice discounts when doing that. Exercise outdoors or at home instead of joining a gym. I always joke that you should shower at the gym if you’re paying for a membership just to get your money’s worth but we all know there’s some truth in that. Always carry a full, re-usable water bottle with you. Instead of buying books and magazines, borrow them from the nearest library. Don’t pay for cable, Netflix is coming to NZ early next year (if you’re with Slingshot, you can access it now). Put a strategy in place that works for you and always keep your end goal in sight.    

Sometimes we waste so much time creating excuses to justify why we can’t do something that we forget so many people actually just do them. I’ve done them, five years ago, out of necessity. Now I’m saving money because travelling is my priority but it takes discipline, commitment and creativity. What about you? What do you do when you need/want to save money? Feel free to leave a comment and share it with me.

(Photos by: 1. Austin Ban & 2. Jonas Nilsson Lee.)

my sunny weekend in auckland in 8 pictures

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view from Mission Bay during sunset on a warm Saturday evening

 

I always have a good time when I visit Auckland and unlike most Wellingtonians I would totally consider moving there some day. This weekend I was very busy attending The Blogcademy (the last one to be offered in New Zealand!), so I didn’t have much time to walk around the city like I usually do, but the few new places I got to meet were great and a post about my new favourite cafe is coming up soon. I had a wonderful time, sometimes a short holiday is just what you need to recharge.

Below are seven more photos showing the highlights of my weekend in Auckland.

 

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The Blogcademy workshop

 

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lunch at St Kevins Arcade

 

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Sky Tower from the corner of Queen St and Wellesley St

 

 

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fresh orange juice from Scullery Cafe on Karangahape Rd

 

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my prize for “most inciting post on Twitter” and my graduate certificate

 

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tiramisu ice cream on a deluxe chocolate cone from Giapo on Queen St

 

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coming back home to a sunny, but still chilly, Wellington

 

I also shared some other photos that you can check out on Instagram and a post about my experience as a blogcadette is on the way too.

5 steps to planning a trip on a budget

sylwiabartyzel

 

December seems very promising and exciting but it’s hard not to think ahead and daydream about the new year that’s fast approaching. I used to keep long lists of resolutions and goals but nowadays, I prefer to focus on a single word. The word I’ve chosen for 2015 is explore. I want to explore new ideas, different skills, new paths and possibilities. And, of course, new places. With that in mind, I put together a short list of 5 steps to planning a trip on a budget I hope you’ll find useful.

 

1. Define a purpose

Having a clear purpose is all about simplifying the decision making process as much as possible. Why book luxury accommodation if you’re just going to a concert? Why set aside so much money for shopping if you’re actually planning a romantic second honeymoon? Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to follow your guts. It’s your holiday and there’s nothing wrong with doing your own thing instead of joining thousands of others in the same old itineraries. If you know exactly what you want out of it, it’ll be a lot easier to decide on where to go, where to stay and what to do once you get there.

 

davide ragusa

 

2. Set a budget

A lot of people postpone travel plans because they think they’ll never have enough money to cover their dream holiday. Of course that amount will vary depending on life style, income, desired destination and the purpose given to the trip. But one thing won’t change: if you don’t have a set figure, you’ll never get there. It’s important to know how much you can put aside and commit to it. Also, divide that budget into categories like activities, emergencies and accommodation and assign each one a priority. You might reach your goal sooner than you think.

 

3. Save, save, save

It’s so easy to lose track of minor daily expenses but every dollar adds up! It’s basic math: if you buy a coffee every morning on your way to work for $3, in a week you’ll spend $15, and that same amount could be used to buy lunch in Lima or a museum ticket in Rome. So, which one do you prefer? In the long run, which one will bring you more joy?

There are basically two ways of saving money: making more and/or spending less. If you’re not feeling very creative, my next post will give you a few ideas on how to accomplish that, so keep an eye out! click here!

 

gabriel santiago

 

 

4. Do your homework

Research is key and Google is your best friend. Travel books are a good starting point but they become outdated fairly quickly. So research online, look up official websites as well as travel blogs and forums Make the most of all the information that’s readily available on the internet and use it to your advantage, but take it with a grain of salt. If you find one bad story about a place you really want to visit, don’t cross it off your list just yet. Bad experiences can be caused by all sorts of reasons and some of them are quite subjective. Take note of weather during certain times of the year, public holidays, big events, local cuisine and city areas. If going to another country, try to learn some basic phrases in the local language.

 

5. Bookings and other arrangements

It’s common knowledge that when it comes to flights, the early bird catches the worm and pays the best price. Although some recent studies suggest that perhaps too much in advance won’t guarantee the best bargain, aim for at least 3 months before the intended date. I always check prices on Webjet and then compare with deals available on each airline’s website. I also love Skyscanner as it has the option to set an alert and monitor price changes for you. Make sure you have enough time to arrange tourist visas and vaccination, if necessary, and don’t forget travel insurance.

 

At the moment my husband and I are planning a very special camping trip around the North Island later this month and I’m so excited to share all the details with you!

 

(Photos by: 1. Sylwia Bartyzel; 2. Davide Ragusa & 3. Gabriel Santiago.)

4. sharing is caring: interesting links and finds

limoeiro

 

This week’s lot of interesting links and finds from around the web:

The cast of the Avengers movie when they were young.

Maybe we should starting looking at our failures as a badge of honour.

Some people complain about driving an hour to go to work, imagine commuting from New Zealand to rural Iceland?

Of course it has been done before, but you should still go ahead.

A prank pulled by a German village for a good cause.

A group of 9-year olds share what they don’t like about being boys.

Lisa Simpson’s book club.

The internet can be awesome sometimes: Barbie’s ‘I Can Be a Computer Engineer’ picture book is fixed online.

A woman in the US opened a Cuddling Shop and got 10,000 customers in the first week.

On Instagram: Russian freelance designer and blogger Corina.

In Portuguese: 6 coisas que eu aprendi sobre medo, sonhos, sucesso e felicidade.

The last few days have been full on, I feel exhausted! Time to recharge and relax. Have a good weekend everyone! 🙂

(photo taken by Ivan in 2009 in Santa Catarina, Brazil.)

what i’m currently into

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Reading: The Happiness of Pursuit, by entrepreneur and blogger Chris Guillebeau. While visiting every country in the world, Chris came across a community online and offline that showed him the importance of having a quest and how that can bring you as much happiness as the end goal. It’s an easy and quick read, much like his own blog, but that makes you think and question several things in your own life.

Playing: Assassin’s Creed Unity on PS4. Set in Paris during the French Revolution, the game has a lot of new features and relies heavily on online and multiplaying modes, which I personally don’t enjoy so much. But the companion app, AC Nomads is fun and keeps me busy during my lunch breaks at work. Too soon to tell but I doubt this one will be as good as the ones with Ezio Auditore.

Watched: Nightcrawler, with Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a freelance cameraman chasing crime scenes and accidents. Oh, and he’s also a very motivated sociopath who talks like life is a continuous job interview. Haunting, and packed with embarrassing moments that cause laughter just because that’s slightly less awkward than silence, it shows how far someone can go when armed with a goal and a plan.

I’m also working on improving my pace and listening to Nerdist episodes everyday on my way to work. What about you? What’s keeping you busy or keeping you company to pass the time?

eateries: curbside cafe

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One of my favourite things to do on a Friday night after work is stopping by the Cuba St Night Market and having a taste of Wellington’s great food scene. With so many options, there’s always something new to try and a couple of weeks ago the chosen one was the Curbside Cafe.

The food truck craze hasn’t hit Welly that hard yet and Darcy (Curbside’s converted bedford camper) truly stands outs. Managed by couple Peter and Pene, the menu caught my eye when I spotted a Ron Swanson slider: venison and beef, streaky bacon, beer glazed caramelised onions with a maple syrup hickory bbq sauce. Who would let that pass?

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The demo sliders on display were a really clever touch, seeing live exactly what you’re gonna eat makes ordering so much easier! I also applaud their concise, 6 items menu. Short menus means the place is specialised in what they offer and that’s always a good sign.

 

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Everything was so tasty and packed with flavour! I tried the Ron Swanson, the Reuben and the Pork Belly sliders and recommend all three of them and at 3 for $10 they’re fairly priced. And service was quick which meant we weren’t late to our movie afterwards. I’ll definitely come back some time and try one of their coffees too!

 

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You can check Darcy’s next location on Curbside’s website and fanpage.

3. sharing is caring: interesting links and finds

This week I also have amazing news to share together with the interesting links bellow: I won a scholarship to the Blogcademy in Auckland next month! Here’s my entry if you’re haven’t seen it yet. I was checking my emails every 20 minutes last weekend and then when I woke up Monday morning, there it was, a lovely email titled “CONGRATS!“. I couldn’t be happier! Flights and accommodation are all sorted and the countdown has begun. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to attend the 2-day workshop and share all the details with you guys afterwards. 🙂

The human behind Humans of New York.

The recipe to maintaining a long term blog.

The Kate Bush story, a BBC documentary.

What Jenny’s learned about blog growth.

How to create more time for the life you want.

Nakasendo, an old road in Japan that connects Kyoto to Tokyo (via Rafael).

Benedict Cumberbatch reading a four-part poem.

Chris Riddell on the illustrations used in The Sleeper and the Spindle.

And in case you’ve missed, here’s my post about the book.

In Portuguese: Afinal, o que que é mérito?

(photo taken in 2008, at a vase factory in Beijing, China)