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How to Save for Travel with Mindful Spending

I like to play a game. Whenever I see an article pertaining to be that groundbreaking advice we all desire on ‘how to save money to travel’, I like to check if they’ve recommended I ‘don’t buy coffee at a coffee shop’. Oh they have? Fuh-ucking revolutionary. I celebrate my successful prediction with a coffee, from a coffee shop. And enjoy every drop of that overpriced elixir.

Saving money for travel

The problem is, saving money to travel isn’t as simple or straight forward as cutting back on your expensive lifestyle. These advice articles suggest that you have one in the first place – that I have a fancy enough lifestyle to make buying coffee from a coffee shop a financial problem for me. As a digital nomad I now drink as shed load of coffee – for the Wi-Fi, coffee shops are my office – but honestly, I don’t think I even liked coffee until I was 27ish. I never ‘went for coffee’ as a university student and as a teenager, there wasn’t a coffee shop to be seen in my village. So HOW would I have saved that money before hey?

Learning to mindfully spend

I think, if you want that coffee, you have it – if it really means that much to you. To save money for travel, or anything in fact, it’s all about mindful spending. Things like coffee, or taxis, or clothes, or shop lunch over home lunch, can be habitual. You’re not even thinking about what you’re doing when you hand over that cheeky fiver. It’s just a fiver hey? But that could go a long way elsewhere, especially when those cheeky fivers add up to a brazen 50.

Mindful spending

I spend a lot on travel, obviously, but to be able to do that I don’t buy many things. Like, I don’t have housey keepsakes, or  even own anything worth over £50 that isn’t a laptop, sunglasses or a camera. One of my friends has a ton of possessions in her house, and a car, and spends loads on hair stuff and make up, and then she asks me how I afford so much travel. Priorities my friend.

Saving money to travel

I have to be super mindful about spending. I spend on food and drink – the taste makes me happy, it’s satisfying in my belly, it’s even a necessity, and then it’s gone. Whereas whenever I buy any-thing, I either have to carry it round with me in my luggage or it goes in those few boxes in my parents’ loft. Do I really want anything that much? To be honest, the answer is usually no.

Saving money to travel isn’t necessarily about depriving yourself of things that genuinely make you happy – chilling in a coffee shop, drinking with friends, meals with your partner, a new top for a night out – but reassessing what genuinely makes you happy and what’s just a filler or a habit. Once you’ve separated the two you know exactly what you can save on and what you can splurge.

Saving money for travel

Mindful spending while travelling

Mindful spending – thinking about whether you really, really want to hand over that hard earned cash for what you’re about to buy – is a good lesson to learn for your travels too. The less you feel you need whatever it is your mindful spending mentality deems ‘junk’ in your life then you’ll have more money as you travel, meaning you can go further for longer.

If you learn to be happy with less – cooking your own meals, walking or cycling places rather than paying for tubes and taxis, or just really loving the possessions you have rather than buying something because it’s cheap – you will naturally save money on what you don’t need and consciously invest in things you genuinely want.

Will buying this make my life any better?

Ask yourself how you’ll feel if you buy the item or experience, during, and after. If there’s any negativity, don’t bother. This way you’ll really get to learn what’s important to you and what you, as an individual, like to invest your money in, rather than what any external influence has subconsciously pressured you into.

  • Going out with friends – depends who they are, but usually.
  • A drink – yes, just have a beer and make it last.
  • A tenth drink – no

Mindful spending

Mindful spending

I could tell you to stop going out, work your ass off, don’t buy clothes, eat out of supermarket rubbish bins and become a coupon queen – all good advice, for some, but that’s going to make you pretty miserable. And in my opinion, misery is a false economy. At some point you’re going to bust out that credit card to treat yourself, because you deserve it. And your savings goals are ruined.

Invest in mindful spending, just ask yourself…

Do I really want to buy this?

Is it going to make my life any better?

Will I even remember I wanted it tomorrow?

You’ll have your answer, and most likely, a few extra quid to spend on your travels. Let me know how you get on!

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Saturday 12th of March 2016

Great advice! My boyfriend and I were having this conversation earlier in the week as we eat dinner overlooking the chaos of the souks in Marrakech. Because we're so focused on saving money to travel, we weren't really interested buying any of the beautiful trinkets -- plus, we'd have to carry them and suitcase space is limited at best. Mindful spending is definitely one way to make the most of your trip (by spending your dollars on what you enjoy most) and to help create even more memories by having more opportunities for adventure.


Sunday 20th of March 2016

Definitely! It's all about photos and memories :)

Linzi Clark

Thursday 10th of March 2016

Love this advice! I'm saving money on lunches by experimenting with recipes at home and bringing the results to work for cheap and easy home-made lunches. In London, you can easily save £100.00 minimum a month doing this............that equals two mini breaks or one long-haul seven day stay somewhere!


Friday 11th of March 2016

I tried that but ended up buying something from the shop anyway so didn't work for me. I tended to just buy all the stuff I would for at home but keep it in the fridge at work and assemble. There are some amazing looking work lunches on Pinterest – not sure if anyone can actually ever be bothered to make them, but they look good!


Tuesday 8th of March 2016

Great article! I rarely 'go out for coffee' at home but I certainly do everywhere I travel. Mainly because...Wi-Fi (also enabling later lurking outside window), people watching (most places let you hang around as long as you want, reorientation without hassle, and cafe staff are a good source of info if it's not super busy -atms, what IS that protest about, is it safe around here, where's good in the evening etc. More often than not they also remember you if you return too.

Excellent point about that 10th drink btw, must remember that.


Wednesday 9th of March 2016

Yeah I’m always on the WiFi in one coffee shop or another. I’ve never really asked for travel advice from the staff but you make a good point! Ha, yes!


Tuesday 8th of March 2016

Fantastic article and points you mentioned apply to many situations (my friends always ask but how can you afford to buy a house?? Um..because I don't spend all my cash at the hair salon or going to bars 5 nights a week! PRIORITISE!). The coffee point was a wake up for me personally through, as I finally took stock of the little "add ons" and realised my coffee shop habit was costing nearly 1.5k a year- which is fairly ludacrous considering I also had an expensive coffee maker. That gave me the mindset change to adjust and save for experiences and spurred me on to 3 weeks travelling in Asia. In the end it took living out of a suitcase and emigrating to realise stuff is just stuff and only the most sentimental and important items made it with me. 80% of my possessions went to charity shops and I wish I hadn't wasted time and money buying them in the first place.


Wednesday 9th of March 2016

Glad you enjoyed the article Jen. That is an impressive amount of coffee in a year, I can’t imagine I even spend that much! Yeah when you look at all your stuff with a different eye and think what that money could translate into in a different time and place you start to realise how pointless a lot of it is. Recycle, upcycle, or just don’t buy it!

Elizabeth @ Rosalilium

Monday 7th of March 2016

Agreed! I am all about the mindful spending and even consider myself rather thrifty. BUT I will splash out on the things that matter to me. Overall I tend to prioritise experiences over things but at the moment I am enjoying buying myself a nice big over-priced coffee or a super pretty dress, because they make me happy!


Wednesday 9th of March 2016

Definitely! That’s what I mean – if it makes you that happy you should do it. I’ve just bought a new lens for my camera, because I knew it would actually make my blog better, which makes my life better, so I went for it. If you really want it then you should have it, if you can afford it, it’s mindless spending that we need to think about!