Rewind to the end of 2017, I found myself scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest, envious of all the young people able to travel and see the most beautiful places in the world. I decided, with the help of three friends and the film In love with Ibiza (2013) that in the June holidays of 2018, I would be jet setting across the world to the breathtakingly beautiful country of Croatia with 3 of my closest friends.
2 friends dropping out of the trip, visa delays and 6 months of planning later, I found myself boarding Qatar airlines with the cold of Cape Town behind me and the prospects of beautiful beaches and even more beautiful boys ahead. I saved for this entire trip while trying to live my very best life in Cape Town which was not easy. Have you ever said no to a Mont night?
I think the first and very most important aspect of planning an overseas trip is to actually PLAN it. My friends and I sat down together over wine and pizza, and each pitched how we wanted to spend our holiday. Since we were all turning 21, the main aim of the trip was to party, but we wanted to include as many touristy things as possible. We decided when we were going to leave and when we were coming home. We also decided where in Croatia we were going to stay and for how long in each city. We wanted to see as much of Croatia as possible, so we split up our stay into visiting 3 different cities for roughly 3 nights. It is important to figure out ‘how’ you are going to stay, whether it be Air BnB or Hotel service, these little details define your entire trip. It determines how much and for how long you need to save.
Getting a part-time job will help you reach your goals much faster than waiting for that yearly Birthday money from the family. Choose to work weekends or even night shifts, ensuring you are making the money you need to travel. Set yourself a weekly goal of the amount of money you need to save each week. I aimed for R500,00 a week plus my salary at the end of the month.
Quick note- I had been working for a year, prior to my trip.
Now that you are making money, it is important that you are SAVING IT! Now that you have that excess income do not go on weekend benders with food or booze, which will definitely hit your savings hard. Try and tell yourself once a week that hitting the clubs or grabbing dinner with the girls is enough. Try to curb those Caff cravings by never keeping more than R20 bucks on you for EMERGENCIES and pack in your own lunch for Uni. Maybe choose a day such as a Monday or Friday where you treat yourself to a Budget Roll or a Combo Baguette.
Now, the real hard work is spending more nights at home and avoiding overdoing it on date night with your significant other. My girlfriends and I chose to have braais at home or pizza and movie nights in. This is great for curbing that need to be social and ‘go out’. With your partner, try having a ‘monthly’ date night or try DIY date nights at home. Throw some blankets on the floor, build a fort and place a perfectly circular pizza in the middle of the blankets and your partner will no longer be complaining about sitting on the floor in the dark because you are trying to save money with electricity, but compliment your romantic efforts.
Time has a funny way of tricking you into thinking you have more time than you really do. So, if the holiday you planned is approaching and you are still under the amount you were meant to save, think of selling that old guitar you never learnt to play or that DVD player you no longer use. If you are looking for new clothes for your trip, try second-hand stores or markets. My friends tend to come home with black bags full of clothes and having only spent 100 bucks! Speaking of new purchases, try and think carefully before buying new items during your ‘saving time’. If it is clothing, think how often you are going to wear that item or if it is food, think about whether you need to eat that particular thing right now? Make a shopping list each time you leave the house to go shop. I promise you it helps to curb that sneaky hand of yours from grabbing that unnecessary Cosmopolitan magazine or the chocolate bars at the till.
Finally, the last aspect of planning and budgeting for your trip that people often neglect to inform you about are the hidden expenses you have no idea that you need to pay. Travel insurance, visa applications and photographs to name a few. All these things tend to add up.
Try and plan beforehand for these expensive things by doing intense research and saving a little extra money every month for the EMERGENCY fund. Another expense that you can curb is doing everything yourself. I planned an entire trip with one of my best friends in the space of 6 months, which includes visa appointments and getting my passport done. We chose to save money and not go through a travel agent, apart from booking our flights. Doing everything ourselves also helped with our understanding of the country which made it easier to adjust ourselves when we arrived in Croatia.
Look, not everyone’s experience is going to be the same, but it is possible to save and travel overseas while studying. It is just going to take time management and discipline from you. These are little ways to tighten your budget that people often don’t think of and tend to make a huge difference in your travel savings.
Happy Travelling x