How To Get The Money To Go Travelling In Your 30s

By Laura @ IWMLB Project | Other Stuff

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Apr 04

*Scrolls through other people’s beautiful awe-inspiring travel photos on Instagram for the millionth time. Sighs and trudges back to work for another day being ground down by corporate office nonsense*

Is this you?

If you’ve always dreamt of travelling, why wouldn’t you go now?? If you know you need a major life or career change, travelling in your 30s is the best way to give you the headspace to think about what you want to do next.

It’s amazing how much clarity you get when sitting on a rock watching the sunrise somewhere! 

This is my second post about travelling, you can have a read of the first one about quitting your job and travelling in your 30s as well.

I went travelling both in my 20s and 30s and it was the best thing I ever did.

Taking The First Step

Okay, so before we dive into working out how long you want to go for and how much money you’ll need, we need to talk about the real first step.

The real first step is making the decision, right now, that you are going to go travelling.

Come hell or high water, whatever obstacle gets thrown in your way, you are getting on that damn plane.

Go on, say it out loud. “I’m going to finally do it. I’m not getting any younger and the time is NOW“.

Okay good, now that’s decided, on to the practical stuff.

How Much Money?

Clearly, you are going to need money. How much you need will depend on where you go, whether you are going to travel on a budget or not, and how long you are going for.

How Much Does Travelling Cost?

It depends where you go. Travelling on a shoestring through South-East Asia is very different from living the high life in Australia.

There are a few different ways you can calculate your estimated costs:

1. You can have a look in the Lonely Planet travel guides for a guide to costs (for a money saving tip, rather than buying the full book, you can pay to download chapters from the Lonely Planet website if you don’t need the whole book).

2. Use a budget travel calculator like Budget Your Trip to get a rough idea of how much you will need.

3. Read this great article from My Funky Travel which lists daily backpacking costs for 90 countries around the world. World Budget Travel Table – Backpacking Costs in Different Countries*

*Just bear in mind that these costs are based on very basic shoestring travel. Think dorm rooms and street food and no expensive scuba diving. If you like your creature comforts or love a bit of adrenalin, you will need to increase these costs, they are a good starting point though.

Make a list of all the countries you want to go for, how many weeks or months per country and an estimated cost per country. Then add it all up for your total budget while travelling.

Additional Costs

Then you will need to add flights, insurance, visa costs, vaccination costs and any backpacking equipment you don’t have. (You will probably find friends have backpacks you can borrow rather than shelling out loads for a new one.)

Finally, add on a buffer for emergencies and also a contingency fund for when you get home.

Important!! If you have quit your job you will need money to live on while finding a new job (unless you do skype interviews while you are still away).


As well as working out how much money you will need to travel, I would highly recommend paying off any credit card debts or car loans before you go (or selling the car??).

Although this will mean it takes you longer to save, you won’t be paying interest on anything you don’t use while you are away and it also gives you an incentive to pay them off!

Travelling in your 30s

Panama City Baby!

Saving Money


Okay, so now you have all your travel costs written down, debts to be paid off and money for when you arrive home. You have a concrete figure of how much you need to save. 

Now you just need to work out how to save it.

You will need to get out your bank statements, or log onto your online bank account and work out exactly where your money is going.

I would recommend totalling everything into categories like the ones I use. Then go through each category and see if you can save money.

Google is your friend here. I’ve put a few tips under each category but there are so many ways to save money, you could really go to town on it!

  • Move to somewhere cheaper
  • Rent a spare room out (check with your landlord first)
  • Change mortgage deal if you are on a standard variable rate (if you are going to rent out your place while you are away, make sure your lender allows this)
  • Meal plan to reduce food waste (this is the most effective I believe)
  • Eat less meat
  • Buy unbranded product
  • Cut down on takeaways
Eating Out
  • Err don’t eat out? Ha
  • Invite friends for dinner instead
  • Use discount vouchers
  • Find free activities in your city
  • Reduce nights out painting the town red (if that’s how you roll, I’m too old for that now!)
  • You’re about to have one long massive holiday so this one is self-explanatory
  • Backpacks don’t fit a large amount so you really don’t need anything new. If you are backpacking, your clothes will get wrecked anyway from all the washing (or you’ll leave most of them on a washing line in Fiji like I did – whoops).
  • If getting the bus or walking can save you money before you go then it is well worth it.
  • Cancel any unused (or seldom used) gym memberships
  • Don’t buy expensive makeup. If you are going anywhere hot and tan easily, the shades you buy now will be wrong very quickly.
  • You can’t take ’em with ya so don’t bother buying them. You can use your local library to feed your reading habit.
Mobile Phone
  • No need for an upgrade before you go. And if you can reduce your plan then even better. You can find WIFI in most places while you are away and can make free calls on Whatsapp or Skype to your loved ones back home.
  • Shop around for a better deal (depending on how long it will take you to save if you can do it in a few months then probably not worth it as most deals as for 12+ month contracts.
Car payments/maintenance
  • If you have whacking great car payments, that is travel money down the drain. Could you sell your car and use public transport where you live? Or get a cheaper car?

There are loads of other ways to save money. Just tackle each category one at a time and I think you’ll be surprised at how much you can save.

Travelling in your 30s

Drinking coffee from the plantation in Salento, Colombia

There were two things that helped me the most when I was saving to travel:

  1. Writing down (or entering into a budget spreadsheet) exactly how much I spent and on what. I did this every week so I was really focused on spending only on what was absolutely necessary and saving the rest.
  2. Weighing up the cost of what I wanted to buy now, vs what it would buy when travelling. For example, one glass of wine for £6 would buy me 4 pad thais in Thailand. I’ll take the pad thai thanks!

Once you know how much you can save, I would recommend transferring this each month into a separate savings account, although interest rates are total pants at the moment, try and get the best savings rate you can.

You will want a flexible savings account which will allow you to withdraw the money as and when you need it. For example, you will need to pay for flights and visas earlier on so need to have access to your travel fund to do this.

In the UK, you can use Money Saving Expert to find the best savings accounts which will give you access to your money when you need it.

But how long will it take you to save it?

You can work out how long it will take you with the following formula:

Travel Fund/Average savings per month = Number of months of saving

For example:

If you need to save £10,000 (made up number) and can save £1000 a month, you’ll have the money in 10 months.

Travelling in your 30s

On the trek to the Lost City in Colombia. (Not entirely sure what I am pointing at here)

Making Money

Making Money Before You Go

If you want to boost your travel fund even faster, you could look at ways to make more money before you go.

The quickest win would be to sell unwanted clutter on eBay. It’s not like you are going to need 90% of your stuff while you are travelling anyway so now is a good time to clear out anything you no longer like or need.

Old clothes, shoes, books, you would be amazed at what people will pay money for.

If you haven’t sold on eBay before and want some advice, this article from Money Saving Expert has some amazing tips and tricks.

How To Sell on eBay & Second-Hand Selling Tips

You could look at taking on a second job, tutoring, dog sitting or anything else to make some extra cash.

Be honest with yourself though and don’t kill yourself trying to earn extra money. If you have the time and energy to do more than your usual day job, then do it.

Otherwise just working on reducing your expenses instead. If you can reduce the biggies like living expenses, groceries or entertainment, you’ll be well on your way.

Making Money On The Road

This is probably the point where most blog posts slip in their ‘start a blog!’ spiel (to earn their affiliate commission from their blog hosting platform obvs).

‘Set up your blog in 5 minutes and make ten trillion squids a month!’

Bollocks. Starting and running a blog is bloody hard work.

If you love writing, fiddling about with websites and digital marketing, go for it. It will take a long time to get enough traffic to make money but if you are dedicated to it and put the effort it, it could work for you.

There are much easier ways, however.

Working Holiday Visas

If you are lucky enough to still be 30 or under (or perhaps 35 in some cases), you can get work travel visas to a number of countries.

This is what I did in Australia and it allowed me to stay there for a year and work while I travelled.

You could do some random job as I did (5-minute neck and shoulder massages in Sydney Domestic Airport) or your standard bar type job.

Here is an amazing post from Global Goose about all the countries which offer work travel visas and to whom.

Which Countries Offer Working Holiday Visas?

“Noooooo, I’m over 30!!!”

Okay, fear not, there are some other options.

Below is a great post, again from Global Goose (I really like her site) about options for the over 30s. She talks about things like teaching English, crewing a boat or volunteering.

Not all of her options will earn you money but it depends on what you want to do.

Too Old for a Working Holiday Visa? Travel Opportunities For All Ages

I went the volunteer route with Raleigh International which was a 3-month project in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

I was the logistics manager, in charge of organising food drops to trekking groups or driving 4×4 up dry riverbeds to reach remote villages.

It was pretty crazy at times but quite possibly one of the most life-changing things I have done.

Travelling in your 30s

This is where I slept for 3 weeks in a Costa Rican National Park with Raleigh International.


Another way to make money while you travel is doing tasks or projects you can complete remotely. 

If you are a writer, software developer or have any kind of job that could be done remotely for others, you could create profiles on Upwork or Fiverr and pick up projects here and there.

I actually interviewed a freelance copywriter/editor who moved to Portugal and works remotely for US companies, you can listen to the interview here.

Of course, you may decide that you don’t want to work at all while you are away, and that is totally cool too!

And finally,

You will never regret going travelling, you just need to work out the practicalities so that you have a concrete plan.

Once you have a plan, you just need to execute it. And then before you know it, you’ll be clutching your passport in your hand, ready for the most awesome adventure of your life!

If you want some more tips and advice on travel, you can sign up for my mailing list and then just reply to one of my emails. I always respond to emails and am happy to help you plan your trip!

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About the Author

Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)