7 tips to save for your dream trip around the world

Apr 17 2019, 9:38 pm

Corey van der Laan took the biggest gamble of his life and resigned from his Senior Manager position to embark on a 400+ day trip around the world. Follow his adventures on YouTube and Instagram as he encounters new people, places, and food along his journey.

In March of 2018 – for what must have been the hundredth time – I thought to myself, “I wish I could leave everything behind and travel the world.” The only difference was, this time, I realized not only did I want to leave, I could.

Six months earlier, my life had been in a very different place. I was well established in my hometown of Calgary and my responsibilities had always trumped my wanderlust. But a great opportunity came my way, and I decided to uproot my life to live in Vancouver.

I ended up loving the new city – but I found it hard to make friends. I liked my new job but suffered from imposter syndrome. These uneasy feelings were the tipping point for me, and I decided that I could and should finally live my life in whatever way I wanted. The only challenges to overcome were financial, and I started to build a savings plan that would ensure I could make my dream a reality.

With my plans in place, I thought of little else but travel for the next year, found myself smashing my targets and putting myself in a position that would allow me to resign if I still wanted to.

I did.

My heart was already on this adventure and there was this crazy idea that I couldn’t get out of my head: I wanted to embark on a Contiki Odyssey, across six continents, 50 countries, 200 cities, and 20 Contiki trips in 400 days. That kind of experience doesn’t come around very often, and so I resigned from my job, started to sell my things, and began to squeeze whatever remained into my backpack.

I also purchased a camera, posted some videos, and gained 130 new YouTube subscribers. That number isn’t that impressive. Yet. But if this last year has taught me anything, it’s that I can be incredibly patient when I’m working towards something greater than myself.

I learned a lot, and while I realize everyone has different aspirations when it comes to travelling, I did want to share some of the main things that helped me achieve my dream, in the hopes it might help others accomplish their own travel goals and free themselves from their conventional lifestyles.

Research destinations that speak to YOU

 

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The first step for a big adventure is to figure out where you want to go and for how long. If the longest you’ve ever been away from home is one week, don’t feel pressured to overextend yourself too much — start with a trip just long enough to push yourself out of your comfort zone. And be advised that budgeting for three months in South East Asia is going to be cheaper than one month in Australia. It’s also very important to prepare and learn about the cultures, food, weather, and costs before you commit to your adventure. 

Be creative with your vision

 

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I spent months pouring over maps of the world, travel brochures, and arranging my trip like a jigsaw puzzle. With no rules or restrictions, it felt overwhelming at times to have so much planning freedom. It wasn’t until the end of 2018 that the Contiki Odyssey concept came together and I started the serious research stage. With a wedding in Germany in June, I decided to start my trip in Europe and slowly make my way East, finishing in the Americas. Your vision might be slightly different than mine – make sure you build a journey that excites you, and you alone.

Develop a realistic budget

 

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I had one year to achieve my savings target, but it was an aggressive plan that won’t work for everyone. Build a plan that is specific to you and your goals and give yourself enough time to be successful. It could take you three months to save up or three years — it all depends on how much you can save and how much you’ll need. A good rule of thumb is that you’ll need between $100 to $150 per day depending on where you want to travel (refer to “Do your research”). Also, keep in mind that you can survive on a lot less if you’re staying in hostels but will need a lot more saved if you want to live in luxury.

Save it and forget it

 

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People tend to spend within their means, and the more money they make, the more they spend. I found it super helpful to reduce my spending money by adding 25% of my pay directly into my savings account. I effectively lived off 75% of my salary for the entire year and was fortunate that my employer’s payroll system could manage this for me.

Otherwise, most banks allow you to set up automatic transfers so that you can move your money at regular intervals. Over time, the money really starts to add up and you’ll be glad you started today and not six months from now! However, don’t over-extend yourself and be sure to speak with a financial advisor if you have concerns.

You can’t take it with you

 

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For the entire year, I lived by a key rule that would maximize my savings by minimizing my expenses. This rule dictated that all purchases needed to have a place in my backpack or else I couldn’t buy it. This also pushed me to sell or donate my belongings as the year came to a close. Fortunately, this has taught me to be much more cautious with my spending and will help me stick with my budget while on the road as well.

Make money abroad by developing skills at home

 

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I’m a novice photographer and videographer, but the ability to chronicle my journey is a critical part of my plans. But not for the money. I’m excited to share my journey with others, knowing that few people will experience this kind of adventure for themselves. And one day – years from now – I can also look back on my journey and relive it once again.

For those who do want to make money while travelling, there are tons of options available. Obtain TEFL certification and teach English as a second language, apply for a working visa in a country you’ve always wanted to visit, earn a bartender license that will let you work virtually anywhere, or become a “digital nomad” and work remotely on your own schedule. You don’t need as much money as you think once you no longer have housing or car payments to worry about!

Take advantage of travel rewards cards

 

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There are a ton of great online resources that will help you identify which travel rewards card is the right fit for you, but the basic concept behind rewards cards is that you can earn points which can be redeemed for things like future travel (such as flights, hotels, or cruises). The amount earned is small (0.5% to 2.5% for most cards) but with patience, your points will continue to grow, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the rewards can add up.

There are other perks too that will help with your travels, such as the card I have which grants me access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world. These lounges treat me to free food, beverages, Wi-Fi, and even showers. If you’re able to pay your monthly credit card balance in full, then rewards cards are a smart way to build travel savings with very little effort.

So, there you have it, my biggest tips to making those huge travel dreams a reality. If you’re on a similar journey, feel free to get in touch to share your experience, and join my quest to live a life with #NoRegrets.

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