An 8 step plan for running out of travel money

Click here to send me a tweet if running out of money on your trip is something you worry about!

I’m pretty sure my twitter feed will now be swamped (if you can be bothered to click and send). If we were all sitting together in a room, your hands would now be up.

We worry about running out of money on our travels because we know it spells the end of our adventure and freedom.

You can’t travel without it. You can’t really do much without it. So yes it matters.

The fear that your hopes and dreams will disappear like a mirage in the desert keeps you tossing and turning in a pile of sweat each night.

Just last week, I was tossing.

Travel in Australia ain’t cheap and a lightning bolt of realisation hit me that perhaps we were spending a little too much. The fear is nauseating and causes hyperventilation.

The road ahead is etched in detail so sharp you feel the razor’s edge.

Long plane flight. Shoulders drooped. Tail wagging between your legs. They were right. Now you have to go back to that job you hate. Utter defeat. Humiliation. Depression.

The dreaded What Ifs

The fear brings the thoughts a swirlin’ around in your mind.

What if I don’t have enough money? What if the money runs out really quickly? What if something unexpected comes up and we’re stuck with no money?

What if all I end up doing is scrimping and saving and I don’t enjoy myself? What if the debt collectors come knocking while I’m gone?

What if? What if? What if?

What if you just stopped worrying? What if you stopped trying to predict and control the future? What if you just focus on what you know to be true now?

What if you just made a plan using that present information? What if you look back to see how you’ve been supported before?

What if you just trusted?

Leap and be caught

I had a conversation with Tim Reid the other day on his podcast, The Small Business Big Marketing Show. I knew I was in the right place when he said he embraced a bit of the woo woo too.

His thoughts: I’ve come to learn that there really is universal support out there. When you do take those leaps (the ones that most frighten you) doors just magically start opening to support you.

I agreed wholeheartedly with him.

My proof comes from it always happening to me in my life AND being a witness to it for so many people.

It really does come down to TRUST.

We also agreed that trust is not an easy thing to do. Especially when you’re planning on doing something like pack up your whole life to go chase mind-blowing sunsets and lions in the savannah.

It’s easy to worry and fret that your world is going to fall apart if you step towards a new uncertain life. It is going to shake up because all change brings chaos. But, think of it as a falling together, rather than falling apart. You have to trust in the empowering side to the change.

To trust, you have to let go of all control.

Look Mum, no hands!

Remember how hard finding that balance on your bike was, but once you found it wasn’t it one sweet ride?

Which scenario are you backing yourself for?

You absolutely could run out of money. But, then again you might not.

Why don’t you put your energy and thought into the second scenario? Why back yourself to fail?

Because if you don’t back yourself to succeed, who will?

Here’s what I know to be true.

If you do run out of money, you’re smart enough to deal with it at the time. You’ll find a solution. If the travel is what your heart aches for, and if in doing it you become a better person and leave a deeper footprint, then the solution will more than likely find you.

Appease your mind with my 8-step plan

That’s the woo out of the way.

Now let’s get down to logic and plans – the food your mind likes and it’s a beast that must be tamed. If you don’t, your future scenario is always going to be the doom and gloom one.

So let’s control it and create a prevention plan.

Here’s what to do if you’re scared of running out of money on your travels:

1. Research diligently all your costs for your trip

Research the cost of your travel – food, accommodation, transport and tours for the length of time you are going for. Google is your friend. Now you’re 80%. prepared.

If you’ll be following the working holiday strategy, then do it for the period of time you’ll travel before you start work. (Be sure to read this guide on things you need to know before moving overseas)

2. Add in an emergency buffer

You’re worried about unexpected problems arising? Great. Add in an emergency buffer when budgeting for your travels.

Guess what? Things always will pop up. There you go, now that fear has been answered, make a plan for it.

3. Add in a dream buffer

What if you arrive at the Great Barrier Reef, but don’t have the money to go scuba diving? It’s been your dream since you first saw Nemo, and it’s one of the reasons you decided to travel in the first place.

Great. You know your purpose for travelling.

It is about the everyday journey, but it’s also about those bucket list moments.

Put money aside for your bucket list experiences. Don’t touch it for your every day travels. It will be far too easy, when lost in the joy of enjoying a few whisky buckets on a Thai beach, to just spend that money you’d planned for your bucket lists.

So put it in an account that you can’t get access to until it’s time to do those adventures.

Exploring the Great Barrier Reef
Exploring the Great Barrier Reef

4. List your income

How much money do you need? (Clue: travel expenses + emergency buffer + dream buffer)

Where is your money coming from? Do you need to work extra hours or a second job in the lead up to your travels? How can you create more money?

Stack the odds in your favour and make this a priority before you setting out on your adventure.

Craig and I always worked extra jobs, extra hours, boarded out rooms in our house, or sold things.

TIP: If you follow the working holiday strategy, like we have for 16 years, then you never need as much money to start your travels with. (Work as you go and continually fill the cup!)

5. How can you earn money on the road?

Make a list of all the things you could possibly do to make money while you’re travelling. Now you’re ass is covered if you do run out of money.

If your dream is a digital lifestyle – i.e a business that you control, don’t stress yourself out and kill your dreams by thinking you can only make it work with the money your business makes.

What’s your purpose? To travel or to earn money online.

If the travel is the priority, and it means to stay travelling you may have to work a job on the road then do it.

Here are the jobs we’ve had working around the world. I even chipped barnacles off pearl shells in the tail end of a cyclone just so I could get the money to travel more.

I turned up in London with the real problem of having no money. It was something I never worried about happening before I left home. I was just focused on the dream.

But guess what? I had an infected foot and drank too much arak in Indonesia. The money disappeared quick and I was in trouble.

Real power comes when you’re present. There’s nowhere to go but towards a solution.

I started working in a bar in Liverpool St only a week after my arrival. The money started flowing until I could find a teaching job when school returned from summer break.

I arrived in Dublin with even less money a couple of years later. I hit the pavement and that afternoon had work in the Temple Bar district earning good money. (Best. Fun. Ever)

On our current road trip, I’ve seen people selling home-made jewellery from their vans and stopping to work as cleaners and farm hands in lodges and properties. A friend earned some extra cash travelling by giving haircuts to other travellers in the caravan parks. You could teach yoga or meditation or personal training, offer babysitting services, or car tune ups. (Read more 20 jobs to work and travel Australia)

Think of all those people travelling who no longer have access to those things you get in a permanent settled life. How can you supply them with what they need and make a bit of cash on the side?

There are so many ways to make money on the road and keep those travel dreams alive.

6. How can you save money on the road?

From couchsurfing to cooking your own food, and self-guided tours there are hundreds of ways you can save money on the road.

The more you save, the longer you travel. So get creative. Embrace things like house-sitting and travelling countries by bike (all the crazies say I).

7. What’s your worst case scenario?

This is the most important part of the fear-busting plan.

You must know and accept your worst case scenario.

Then you can tell your mind,

“It’s okay buddy. If worst comes to worst, I’ll just do this. And I’m okay with that. If it means, I’ve taken the risk, made the leap and quite possibly had the most amazing experience of my life, then I’m okay with maybe having to cut it short and return home. I won’t feel bad about myself, It’s just one of those things. And I’ll return bigger and better and stronger.”

The truth is, you’ll regret more the things you didn’t try than those you did and failed at.

Those monumental mistakes (or lessons rather) you’ll never regret. Because you’ll know, you gave it a go. You chose to live large. And so what if you had a speed bump?

You chased the dreams, you took the gigantic leap. That’s more than most and deserves celebrating.

It’s so rare for me to meet someone who has ever regretted travelling, even if they did run out of money. It’s so rare for me to meet someone whose life has not been greatly improved because they did travel – whether they ran out of money or not.

The risk is worth it.

The rewards are massive and if your greatest fears come true – if you do run out of money, then it’s cool, you’re okay with returning home to work at the checkouts at Woolies (or local supermarket for you).

That’s my worst case scenario and I’m okay with it. It used to be teaching, but I burnt my teaching licence when I could no longer cope with that worst case scenario.

8. How have you been supported before?

This was a strategy I just plucked out of thin air when I was worried about running out of money planning for our Aussie road trip, this time last year.

I’d followed the above steps, but my mind kept rushing out into that unpredictable future with doubt and dire warnings.

Doing this activity finally appeased it and my decision to go was backed with confidence at last.

How has the Universe supported me before?

I thought of all the times I had leapt into the great unknown. The leaps made to chase the dreams that kept me awake at night, not the ones off rocks.

I was never dropped.

I came close and sure the money sometimes took a vacation, but the travels never stopped. Not for 16 years. The support for your dreams is monumental if you just trust enough to let go and jump.

Worrying just steals the joy from your present moment.

Put those plans in place to cushion a possible fall, but just let go and leap.

little girl jumping into the ocean

Check out these amazing tips from our Facebook community when I was freaking out last year. Totes awesome!

Our travel story on the podcast

  1. Episode 1: Solo Travel and Working Abroad before we met
  2. Episode 2: Our 5 year honeymoon living and traveling the world
  3. Episode 3: The Dark times and Birth of the girls and travel blog
  4. Episode 4: Embracing Family Travel and our 18 month Australian road trip
  5. Episode 5: Getting a green card and traveling the US (our dream realized)

How do you cope with the fear of running out of money on your travels? How did you recover if it did happen?

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