How I Saved Enough Money for my Travel in Just Five Months

Saving money as a full time student can be really hard to achieve. Yet I managed to save over $3000 for my travel in less than five months on a minimum wage salary for my one month trip to Thailand.


It wasn’t easy. To be honest, if I didn’t have such a strong desire to travel I would have never made it.

Alright so let’s Break it Down

First I had to set myself a goal. According to some friends that went backpacking and online research $3500 seemed like a good amount to save and use as follow:

  • $1000 for the plane ticket.
  • $1500 for all my spending in Thailand.
  • $1000 for gear, insurance and so on.

Then I dissected my mandatory spending and my income:

  • My school tuition (~$1600 for the semester)
  • My books (~$500)
  • Public transit pass ($90 per month)
  • My phone bill ($60 per month)
  • Food (~$100 per month – I normally spend a lot more on food, but I reduced my spending greatly for my trip)
  • Unexpected spending ($100)

I didn’t note down my other spending because I knew that I had to get rid of it no matter what it was. 

Keep in mind that I am a full-time student and I work part-time at minimum wage. I still live with my parents therefore I don’t have any rent and I don’t have a car because most of my commute is in the down town area.

Now let’s break down my salary. I make about $10 per hour (after taxes) and I work 25 hours a week. I average $250 a week in income from my job.


It’s the 1st of January 2017 and I have about $1500 in my bank account and I am making $250 per week. My trip is in 24 weeks. Which means that I should make a total of 250 x 24 = $6000 + the $1500 I already had. So $7500. Now let’s subtract the mandatory expenses that I mentioned above:

$7500 – $1600 – $500 – ($90 x 5) – ($60 x 5) – ($100 x 5) – (5 x $100) = $3650

Alright, so I should have $3650 left which is more than what I was hoping to save. 

Okay so How do I Achieve that?

Well it’s simple to explain but harder to achieve. Your lifestyle will have to change slightly when you set out new goals. Here are the major changes I did.

  1. I reduced my leisure spending to almost $0 (probably the hardest part).
  2. I greatly reduced my food spending.
  3. I cancelled subscription based fees such as Netflix and PlayStation.
  4. I completely changed my shopping habits. The only things I bought since January were school related supplies or my travel gear (mainly my backpack).
  5. I looked for opportunities to make money on the side.

But even then, there are too many unexpected events that will cause you to spend a bit more. So I ended up finding opportunities to make extra money on the side (no not by selling drugs). I looked around my room and started finding things that I no longer needed or used and started selling them on eBay. I sold branded clothes, a camera (that I found at a thrift store for $2), some old video games and other items I found laying around.

Here’s a small list of things you can do to make a bit of extra income.

  1. Sell things you don’t need on eBay.
  2. If you own a car, sign up for Uber
  3. There are companies that pay you small amounts to test and review websites or apps. (Someone recommended me UserTesting. You can google it if you’re interested)
  4. You can look online for freelance work (it could be writing, design, editing and so on).

What did I End up Spending?

So far I have completed most of my pretravel expenses:

  • Plane ticket $1150
  • Backpack $250
  • Travel insurance $110
  • Packing cubes, rain cover and all other minor expenses $100

I went a bit above budget for my plain ticket, but I explained why in a previous blog. I also spent a lot less on my other expenses which leaves me with a higher budget for Thailand of approximately $1900. 

The Point is

I became frugal, in other words I learned to never act on impulse when it comes to purchasing anything and actually think before spending a specific amount on something. I also found creative ways and looked for opportunities to make a bit of extra money here and there so I can still have money to spend for outings with friends. 

Now this is an important lesson because I learned how to be really careful with my money and think before purchasing something. That will allow me to save up money more efficiently for future trips or investments.

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