I get a lot of questions about how I manage to travel internationally as often as I do and the simple answer is organisation, lots of planning and sacrifice. There is an easy way to plan for your travels and it has to start somewhere so here are some ways I plan for travelling:
The first thing to remember is to book as far in advance as possible. This is especially handy if you're going in high season or for special events. If you still need a passport - get that first.
Decide on where you want to go. This is a vital step as everything you do will follow from here. Wanting to travel is a great dream but knowing where and what you want to see will turn it into a goal to strive for.
Take a weekend to do some research. Find out what exactly is special about the place you're visiting, look at maps, locations, costs and write stuff down. (Lots of activities and tours are free) - TIP: Use incognito mode on your browser.
Decide on when you'd have the best time in that location (I generally prefer winter seasons BUT there's often more to see in summer months). This could also depend on your job and when you get time-off.
Now that you've got all the sights down and you know where they are, it's good to start looking hostels in the area of the majority of those sites. This will save HUGE amounts on transport costs if you can walk or catch the cheap public transport. If you're too old or prefer more comfort than a hostel, renting your own place is often better in Europe, for example, than staying at expensive hotels.
Make a shortlist of your favourite 3 or 4 places and decide on one.
Book it as soon as your budget makes it possible. - try Booking.com or Trivago for places that allow you to book without upfront payment or at least refundable bookings.
Then it's time to look at flights. If you're looking to save as much as possible you may be making a long and broken journey but flights are usually where I spend most of my money anyway so I try to have as few stops as possible, even if I have to pay a little extra. I also make sure to book return flights and refundable tickets - just in case.
Remember: when paying for your travels it's always best to make sure you cover your bills first, then accommodation, then flights and transport and lastly visas. In that order.
Now that your wallet is crying, it's time to get to work and make back all the money you just spent and then some for your spending money on your travels.
Saving every spare coin you can now is where the sacrifice part comes in. Some things to consider: Do you really need Starbucks or will ordinary tea/coffee from home do? Going out Friday night or spending time with your friends watching Netflix on the couch? Do you really need meat every day (for the meat eaters) or will 3 times a week help save you money for your extraordinary vacation? Get creative. Find fun ways to spend your time that don't cost you a lot of money. Time is valuable too.
About 3 months before you should apply for your visa, should one be required. (Every visa is different and you must do your homework for all the things you will need to get it).
One of the last things you'll need is money. About a month before (depending on the law) you should have enough spending money and it's time to convert it. Talk to your bank about cash passports or currency exchange.
Once you have all your documents, flight tickets, accommodation and activities confirmation as well as your cash. You're all set! All that's left is to be on time for your flight and enjoy your hard earn travels.
I hope this helps those of you who like the idea of travelling but never got around to it or thought you'd never be able to afford it. Remember the trick is to save up enough so that you can book it all well ahead and then whatever you earn back is spending money and plan everything in advance. I believe this method will motivate you to work for it too and keep things fun as you will know there's a big reward waiting at the end, all perfectly planned and ready - no more stress on holiday.
If you're wondering how I don't go broke on every trip I'll write how I save money while travelling soon so subscribe not to miss it!
Tell me your best travel planning tip in the comments - I'm always open to new ideas.