In college, I was able to self-finance two separate 3-month solo-backpacking trips through hard budgeting and finding part-time internships to squeeze into my senior schedule.
I knew I wanted to do a second summer-long backpacking trip about a year prior to my departure and slowly put aside money into a separate savings account for the majority of that time. Around December 2016, I came up with an interesting concept to help encourage myself to put more money towards my trip. This hatched the idea of the Travel Motivation Jar.
I took an old wide-mouth Mason jar and started cutting some photos out of old travel magazines and a few Pinterest quotes and laid them out into a collage of my own travel dream destinations. With some masking tape, I sealed it to the front of the mason jar as my dedicated savings jar for travel.
For four months leading up to my summer backpacking trip, I put money in the jar for the following reasons on a weekly basis:
- Unused Weekly Budget - I gave myself $200/week to spend on gas, food, entertainment, etc. Everyone is different, so look at the average you spend a week and add a little more for entertainment/unforeseen expenses. Every Sunday I counted up every purchase on my credit card statement and subtracted that from my budget. Anything left over went into the jar. Some weeks, I was able to add $50, other weeks I went over my budget.
- Selling Things I Don't Use - This went hand-in-hand with my attempt to grow into a minimalistic lifestyle by taking things I never use which cluttered my room and throwing them into a box to sell on OfferUp, Craigslist or donate to Goodwill. Some things I sold include 2 backpacks, 2 guitars, and a box of books.
- Odd Jobs - I made the decision to buy my first professional camera, a used Canon 5D Mark III, which made a major cut into my backpacking funds. While I am very satisfied with my decision and have been growing immensely as a photographer over the past few months, I setback my savings goal. I started doing portrait photography after my 8-hour days at my internship which was a burn-out but I net a couple extra hundred dollars this way and put every dollar from my gigs into the jar.
With all this savings came many life decisions with money consumption in mind. Some of these decisions included:
- Living at Home - living at home my senior year of college (Because I spent 3 days a week camping in Utah anyways!)
- Junker Cars - driving a $1,800 junker Ford Focus that broke down promptly once a month (but took me 50,000 miles in a year and a half!)
- Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwiches - Every day for lunch in between classes or at my cubicle of my internship I would eat PBJs and trail mix, followed by pasta and marinara sauce every night for dinner
- Sleep - But who needs that anyways?
At the end, I had saved over $10,000 in cash during my senior year of college to use towards my second and final solo-backpacking trip through Asia, Nepal and New Zealand.