how to save more for travel

It’s easy to get into the mindset that traveling or not is simply a matter of willpower until you consider that nearly 50% of people around the world make less than $950 annually. Living on an income greatly less than the North American or Western European median reduces your travel opportunities but doesn’t eliminate them. While a large majority of those people living below the global GDP average simply will never be able to travel, chances are if you’re reading this there are a few ways to earn more toward your jet-setting goals.

Mindset First – Probability Not Impossibility

Adidas isn’t completely right when it says impossible is nothing but according to quantum physics, nothing is impossible. Everything that can be conceived is a matter of probability in the universe. The chances of you falling through your chair because the atoms in your butt align perfectly with the space between the atoms in your chair is possible – but it might take sitting for 30 billion years to experience it. (And probably another 30 billion to convince your best friends it ever happened.)

So while I’m not rich (but certainly very fortunate) I am a hacker – a mindset whose first rule is that nothing is absolute. Think in probabilities. Now you’re ready to improve your odds.

Cut Budgets From The Easy End

Spending less is a lot easier than making more money, especially if you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. CNET has 3 good Android apps to show you how much you’re saving by doing so (iOS versions as well) and apps like previously mentioned getupp (iOS) or EasyMoney (Android) can help recruit your friends online for support.

Supplement Your Income In A Stronger Currency

Of course any income is good income but even better when its in a strong international currency, especially if you want to travel internationally. There are a number of simple ways you can add a few dollars here and there to your existing income but converting your time into money.

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euro coins

Do Online Odd Jobs – Lifehacker has a good list of ways to make spare money doing online tasks but two I’d like to especially point out are Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Worker (MTurk) and User Testing.

  • Be A Mechanical Turk  – MTurk lets you offer up your time to do any number of online tasks computers aren’t so good at.
  • Website Reviews – User Testing pays $10 for every website you critique for clients. Jobs are sent to you based on demographics.

You can also find several travel-related online jobs at the Travelllll Job board, Jobs Abroad Bulletin, or write city guides for UnAnchor. A few other good spots to actively search for freelance jobs are:

  • eLance – A good resource where you can market your skills and turn them into jobs actively.
  • Guru – A site similar to eLance (thanks for the tip Brad!)
  • LinkedIn – I’ve never had much fondness or use for LinkedIn but Ad-Lib Traveler suggests it’s a good place to look for non-technical work (e.g. marketing) especially.

Also, Craigslist, whose digital streets are a bit more difficult to navigate for online work could be where you find some suitable local work to help inject your income with a dose of more.

painting statueImprove Your Proficiency At Highly Sought Skills

Languages – both human and computer are valuable commodities that can help you both connect with the wider travel community and earn you some extra cash. Fortunately language learners and speakers make a perfect symbiont; while computer geeks love to give away free information. Teach yourself for free and you may be able to charge others sooner than you think. Here are some resources to beef up a variety of skill sets:

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Aside from those online courses you can also attend Lifehacker’s Night School which, like everything else mentioned, is free and online.

Monetize Miles And Forge Relationships

Although these are often restricted by country or region, sifting through Contest Blogger once a week might reveal a few entries worth looking at. (I too occasionally send people places.) You can also enter frequent flyer mileage giveaways and hop on prior mentioned MilePoint to trade help (e.g. translation) for miles.

Not all travel hacking is online, getting in touch with your local travel and tourism organizations may not directly impact your wallet but can put you in touch with people who can indirectly provide help down the line. Don’t underestimate the power of an expanded social network and begin reaching out locally.

Money Isn’t Everything, Not Even For People Who Have More Of It

Obviously most of the advice in this post relies on you having a laptop or at the minimum access to one. As Mina points out, there are other obstacles to travel (e.g. visas) for many around the world and certainly a base level of income is required for relatively expensive recreation activities; aka. travel. But if you happen to be a member of the lucky group who has a good possibility of making some of your travel dreams come true, adjusting the ends of your given budget will get you that much closer.