How to make money and budget for your dream RTW backpacking trip

Travel is my life, it’s what I live for, save for and dream about. The experience of meeting new people, immersing yourself in new cultures, and eating a great deal of food from all over the world, is all part of the adventure.

This year may nearly be over, so it’s the perfect time to start planning the backpacking trip you always dreamed about. You may still decide to jet off to the far flung countries of South America and experience dance classes, red wine and steak, go to the Greek islands for sun, sea and sand, or head east and check out everything South East Asia has to offer, including the amazing Thai food, temples and tuk tuks. 

But how do you make money for a trip like this?

But the reality is that travel costs money and for most travellers, this is not a limitless resource. Don’t despair, there is still time to save enough money to book an amazing Round the World (RTW) backpacking trip, or focus your attention on one region or country. Here is my guide to how to make money and then budget for your dream round the world backpacking trip…

How to make money budget backpacking trip

New data from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money has found that people who go travelling for extended periods are typically away for just under six months – an average of 169 days – challenging the notion of the gap year. According to the Office of National Statistics, during 2018 312,000 Britons went abroad for a period of 3-6 months, compared to 84,000 who went overseas for 6 months – 1 year.

Thailand, New Zealand and Mexico are proving the most popular long-haul destinations for travellers. Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money research shows the Thai Baht was its ninth most popular currency in 2018, followed by the New Zealand Dollar at number 10 and the Mexican Peso at number 12. The currency data also reflects travel trends as Mexico was the sixth most visited country in 2018. Thailand outranks every other nation in Asia when it comes to tourism spend and New Zealand was named as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2018.

So what are you waiting for?

Although you’re going to have to commit to your budget, it need not be as complicated as you imagine. It only requires planning, a bit of foresight and some motivation. Here’s how you can start saving money, keep saving money and then enjoy it all on that epic trip you’ve been dreaming of.

To stay motivated I would keep your goal in mind. Put a photo collage on your bedroom or kitchen wall, with photos of the places you want to travel to. You could even make it the background image on your phone, so that you are constantly reminded what it is you are working towards. It will keep you motivated on the hard days!


How to make money budget backpacking trip


  1. Make a budget

The first step in saving for your backpacking trip is planning for it. Before you even think about your savings, I would start by deciding where you want to go, how expensive travel in that country or region is, what type of accommodation you want to stay at, and what activities you want to do whilst you are there. Then make a spreadsheet which includes how you are going to save. At this stage I would imagine this could be a standard saving percentage of income from your job.

Once you know where you are going and for how long, you can start looking at how much money you need to save, based on what you will spend each day for food, travel, accommodation etc. Once you’ve worked out your basic daily living costs, you can then factor in ‘additional budget’ that can be considered as ‘luxuries’ for those bucket list experiences.

  1. Buy your travel money 

This is a tip for later down the line once you have saved every penny, and you are ready to depart on your round the world adventure, but it’s also incredibly important as it could save you £££ and earn you additional cash too.

It’s incredibly important to make sure you get some of your travel money before you head off on your trip, as you will get a much better exchange rate than doing it at the airport or when you arrive. And with Sainsbury’s Bank you can also get a better exchange rate if you are a Nectar Card holder and you can also earn Nectar points on the money you buy.

In addition to this there’s also: 0% commission on all foreign currency and you can buy your currency in a Sainsbury’s store or collect your online or phone order from any of over 260 travel money bureaux at no extra cost. Euros and US dollars can be collected next day, other currencies in 3 days. As well as getting cash out for my travels I have also used a cash passport before and I would recommend this for long-term travel so you aren’t carrying around lots of cash on you. I’d recommend the Sainsbury’s Bank Multi-currency Cash Passport™ Mastercard® which is available at all bureaux, and online for collection or home delivery.

  1. Buy items in bulk

Buying in bulk is not always the best option, but for the items you’re constantly using around the house, this is the best way to save some money. I would recommend buying the following items in bulk, as long as they are on offer or cheaper to do so: toilet paper, laundry detergent and shampoo/conditioner, household cleaning products and others.


READ MORE: Top 10 Money Saving Tips in Ibiza

How to make money budget backpacking trip


  1. Get paid for trips you were making anyway

Every time you take a trip, you could earn money. For example you could make money through delivery of parcels, through companies such as Nimber. It lets you pick up and drop off items that people want shipped to places already on your route. You can then double up with BlaBlaCar, which hooks passenger looking to travel somewhere with unused seats in cars going that way anyway – with people paying around £30 for a trip from London to Manchester.

  1. Cut out convenience and plan your meals 

Apparently if you cut out a coffee shop bought coffee every day for one year it will save you over £600. Now to me that’s a return flight to Thailand, so it’s worth cutting out convenience items in order to save more money. The same goes for snacking on the go, meals out and takeaways. Why not take your own homemade snacks to work, make a coffee when you arrive at work and then cook at home your own take on a Chicken Chow Mein. Go through your bank account and look for the places where you’re routinely spending just a couple of pounds every week and if you stop buying those convenience items you will see savings in no time.

  1. Plan your meals 

Meal planning can save you money and will also protect our environment, through lessening food waste. The average 4-person family spends about £500 a month on food, but with food prep and bulk cooking you could save £100 off that, according to the USDA. That’s a saving of £1200 a year on food alone.


READ MORE: Switzerland Itinerary: 15 places to visit in Zurich

How to make money budget backpacking trip


  1. Use assets to your advantage 

Whether you’ve got a house, car or driveway, you could rent out anything you own and make some money off of it. Could someone else use your car when you don’t, or what about your driveway? Parkonmydrive lets you rent out your driveway when you’re not using it, easycarclub lets you rent out your car when not using it and Airbnb lets you rent your home if you’re not using it. Or if you’ve got a beautiful house, that looks like it’s out of a magazine, why not rent it out to Fashion magazines for photoshoots.

  1. Start earning cashback on your purchases

Think about how you are making everyday purchases, for example using a credit card that earns points or rewards.


READ MORE: How I Afford to Travel the World (PS. You don’t need to be rich)

How to make money budget backpacking trip

  1. Sell your services 

If you have a skill, you may have a service that people will pay for. And the internet is a magical place, where you can connect with people who are after that skill. E.g. SEO support, social media management, copywriting, photography, videography, event management etc. And if you have a blog, get some ads on there and you could be making £100 per month.

  1. End all of your contracts

More than 20 million people are currently sitting out a contract on phone, broadband and TV bills – and it’s costing them hundreds extra every year. When a customer’s minimum contract ends, they are free to switch to a cheaper deal. However, many don’t, and they end up on rolling contracts instead. I once did this realised my phone provider had been charging me the same each month, even though my contract had ended, so I had paid £20 extra a month, than I needed to. The good news is that Ofgem is changing the rules to protect you!


OFFER FOR YOU: Customers who buy Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance by 4th September will receive £5 off when they spend at least £500 on Travel Money on or before 18th September.

How to make money budget backpacking trip

*This is a sponsored post with Sainsbury’s Bank but as always opinions are my own.


Other posts that may help you:

10 Hygge Things to do in Copenhagen

Ultimate Guide to 48 Hours in Malmö

A Guide to a Weekend in The Gili Islands

Gili Islands Accommodation: Backpacker Hostels to 5* Luxury

10 Things You Can Only Do in Australia


Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! 

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it for me with all your friends and family!

Sophie X

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