Being a solo female traveller in Colombia

Flipping through the pages of a guide book in 2006 was enough incentive for me to buckle down and save for my first trip abroad. I was 21 and wanted to throw a backpack over my shoulders, walk down unknown streets and marvel at the wonders of unfamiliar territory. Working part-time at a cafe and studying full-time at university, it seemed my hopes of overseas travel were distant and I grew impatient as I made skim lattes and double-shot espressos during the day and studied for exams in the evening. It took me a good year to save up what I thought was enough money to get me through a year of overseas travel. I knuckled down and really put all my effort into saving. It wasn’t fun, but it’s a necessary means to a pretty fantastic end. If you’re looking to pack up your bags and head overseas, then here are some of my tips to get the cash in your account as quick as possible.

1. Become a party pooper

It’s going to be tough, I know, but instead of heading out every weekend and spending money on booze and take-away food, change up your plans and put that money away into a savings account instead. Just think about all the booze and parties you can spend your money on once you touch down somewhere else.

2. Prepare your own meals

It’s time for the daily coffee run. It might make the day just that little bit more bearable, sure, but instead of spending a few bucks here and there every day on things like coffee and lunch, make an effort and prepare something instead. Get other workmates involved, too, by organising a bring-a-plate situation at work every month and swap your daily cafe coffee for a self-brewed tea.

3. Sell your car

I didn’t have a car when before I went away, hell, I’ve just bought my first car and I’m 29. Owning a car just seemed like an unnecessary expense. Instead of paying for petrol, I’d be putting my money away so I could travel by air, rail, bus and rickshaw through France, Japan, Italy and Thailand.

4. Make like a minimalist

Before moving to Colombia, I got a whole lot more serious about saving money and preparing for my travels abroad and I sold, gave away, donated and tossed out anything that no longer served me and my travel plans. I held a garage sale in my living room, I sold items on EBay and made donations to charity. And at the end of it all, I was pretty surprised by the amount I had saved through selling items I hadn’t used in years.

5. Buy your flights as early as possible

I made the most of my savings by buying my tickets pretty much as soon as I’d made up my mind to go and had enough money behind me to do so. The earlier you buy your ticket, the better deal you’re likely to get. There are plenty of travel apps available that can give travellers some great deals when it comes to flights, too. Click here for a bunch of apps which are sure to help.

6. Move in with friends or family

If the opportunity is there, move in to a friend or family member’s home. It’s all about how much money you can save at this point. If you own your own home, then think about renting it out while you’re away, too.

7. Avoid putting anything into storage

If you can, leave large or sentimental items with friends and family and avoid putting things into storage; they’re just going to cause unwanted costs down the line. After a few months away you’re probably not going to remember what’s in there anyway.

8. Arrange how you’re going to access your money while you’re away

What a damn shame it would be to head overseas with all your hard-earned money, only to see it dwindle away because of bank and transaction fees. Will you be using traveller’s cheques, using your own card or will you be opening a bank account when you settle yourself in your country of choice? Do your research to make the most of your savings.

9. Get a second job

I can make a mean lemon potato salad and know just enough Greek to get by thanks to the second part-time job working in a Greek restaurant I took before heading overseas. Don’t discount taking up a second job on the weekends or evenings to help fund your trip abroad. The skills you develop during this time might just help you land a job while you’re away.

Do you have any more tips for people looking to save up to travel the world? Let us know.