Travelling abroad isn’t cheap. Add an unpaid internship to the mix and you’re really asking for a tight budget!
I’ll be abroad during the fall and return home for Christmas with (hopefully) many amazing stories and trinkets to share with friends and family.
But how do you save enough to live in London and travel to multiple countries when you aren’t getting paid?
Tip #1: Plan ahead and work as much as possible until you leave
I knew I wanted to go abroad almost one entire year ago. Since then I have been working mostly full-time in retail while volunteering on my days off to keep up with my work experience.
Working so much does get rough. When you work irregular shifts, it’s hard to sleep at the same time every night which can lead to painful mornings (though caffeine does help).
If you can push past the fatigue, you’re one step closer to funding your trip!
Tip #2: Do NOT spend money unless absolutely necessary
Rent & Food
I am lucky to not have to pay rent yet as I still live at home. I also don’t pay for food. In the past year I remember I bought one bag of chips, and aside from a few dinners with friends, that was it. This was hard!
Saying no to buying material items
Buying clothes, technology or other things you would love to have just isn’t in the cards right now. Ingraining this into your head is important, since believing you will one day be able to afford these things is comforting.
Use what you do have sparingly
So of course you have to buy toiletries like shampoo and soap—you may be frugal but you have to stay clean! However, I tended to bend the rules a little and really push the boundaries between cleanliness and downright slovenly mess.
I saved on my makeup. How? I didn’t wear any! I saved on shampoo and conditioner by going to the dollar store.
I had this rule going for a while that anything I bought had to be on sale. (This made for very long shopping trips.) Be cautious and you will save money.
Tip #3: Ask Parents or Relatives
Now this I did not do (see below) as I was adamant from the start that I would figure out a way to do this on my own without burdening my parents or relatives. Plus, it has been a great budgeting adventure! However, I have read travel fund stories of using birthday or Christmas money.
Tip #4: Loan or Line of Credit
Ask me one year ago what the difference between a loan and line of credit was and I couldn’t tell you! But now, with endless research and financial advisor meetings, I do.
Here is a basic description of the differences between loans and lines of credit. I went with a student line of credit, which for me, has a 4.2% interest rate.
It was a long process to get approved, and since I didn’t have a credit score since I had never used a credit card, I needed someone to co-sign my loan. This was hard for me at first to accept since I wanted to be 100% self-reliant.
Fortunately, one of my parents was able to co-sign for me, which means that they are also responsible should I miss any payments. If payments are missed, your credit score and your co-signer’s credit score can be affected.
Tip #5: Try not to feel bad for skipping social events
Movie at your place? See you there! Going out? Not so much.
It doesn’t feel great to turn down your friends when they bring up ideas to hang out. However, you can always offer an alternative that doesn’t cost any money and see what they say.
I did go out for a few special occasion dinners, but turned down other offers that I could not fit in the budget. Stay focussed on your trip! Fear Of Missing Out will pass.
Now this may be obvious, but you need to create a budget—for your time spent saving and time spent travelling. I went all out and made a business plan to show my parents when I told them my future plans. There may have been pie charts.
Find what is comfortable for you and get all your information in one space. I also used word documents to visualize the numbers; there are also budgeting apps available.
That’s it for now! Let me know if you have any questions about saving money or any tips of your own!