How I saved $22K & spent it in an hour


Its odd gauging reactions to how much you spend on travel and adventure activities. To some people, they are as enthused as you are and are blown away such an adventure exists let alone that I went and did it. Others are confused, only focusing on the dollars instead of the experience or possibility showing a bit of self-reflection and jealousy. It’s part of the reason why I didn’t advertise my trip too much and don’t talk too much about it afterwards.  I’m more than content with my memories.

I am often asked how I saved for such an activity. Most travelers would take that cash and take off for a full year of travel. You can travel off $22K easily for a year. However, I also run in to people who just have that one big adventure. Something they’ve always dreamed of doing. Well you can do it. Here is a list of how I saved up for my MIG-29 flight.

#1 – I’m not fully nomadic

Most sites preach perpetual travel, which is amazing! If that’s where your heart is, follow it! I work full-time and worked my way in to a position that gives me the financial backing and flexibility to travel. I worked two jobs to help pay off all my debts and put away extra cash in a travel fund.

#2 – Increase income before being frugal

Most tips will have you cut all your expenses down to the minimum and reduce your discretionary spending. That’s the step I would take after finding a second income source. A night/weekend job, is ideal, consulting, or starting a small side business is another option. Increasing your income usually takes up more of your time. This is the best way to cut down on discretionary spending. Once the second income is locked in then cut back on what you don’t need. It will be much easier. Also, the second job doesn’t have to be permanent. Remember what the end goal is.

#3 – Personal finance and an emergency fund

First, pick a bank that does not have any fees. In Canada, that’s PC Financial. With your extra income, opened three (or more) saving accounts. One for emergencies, one for short term travel and the other for long term travel. From your second income, put your first four-five pay checks in to the emergency fund first. (This is needed for #4) The second income doesn’t exist. Use it exclusively to fund your travels. Don’t touch it until you’re booking your flight. I mean it, don’t!

#4 – Discipline and focus

Sticking with the program is where most people slip up. Agreeing to lunch out, that extra beer or noticing you’re not in the latest fashion can cause unwanted spending and guilt. That’s good, you should feel guilty, use it as motivation to get back on track. If you do find yourself in need of a few extra dollars take it from the emergency fund. Also try to put some cash back if you do dip in to it.

#5 – Keep the end goal in mind, you will achieve it.

Keep researching the places you want to visit or adventure you want to do. Even if it’s something insane (trek the north pole?) or to just buy a ticket anywhere then let your feet point in a direction to go. Research cities, local culture and food to try, make up an itinerary, then make another one. Read more blogs about the place. Sit down at your local chapters or barns & noble and read the lonely planet book. Learn some of the language. You can and will realize your dream. I did.

In conclusion, I had been saving for four years for the MIG ride, however the amount didn’t really start to climb until the last year and a half when I paid off my debts. Do these steps in order. Number two will be difficult at first but the reward will be worth it. I hope you’ve enjoyed these money saving travel tips that worked for me. Oh yeah, how did I spend it? Check it out. What’s your big dream?

28 Responses to How I saved $22K & spent it in an hour

  1. As someone who gets criticism for blogging I spent over $50 a day in the Philippines, I think you’re brave to publish the numbers 🙂 Kudos to you — for having a dream, for making it happen, and for telling us about it!

    Alex January 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm Reply
    • Thank you! I don’t understand the criticism. Being frugal when you travel means you spend on value not try to do everything on the cheap.

      Shaun January 10, 2014 at 7:13 am Reply
      • Yes to this! We had plenty of $30 days in SE Asia (this is in NZD for two people) but overall our average cost was about $80 for two, because we splurged when we wanted to and we moved faster than most long term travelers. I hate when people get judgey about what we spent.

        NZ Muse January 27, 2014 at 4:38 pm Reply
        • Me too. It’s like an invisible competition… I have no need to try and 1+up anyone… unless it’s on google+

          Shaun January 27, 2014 at 4:48 pm Reply
  2. Shaun, You da man. I’m SO proud of you and all you’ve accomplished! I didn’t realize you had so many Hansen genes in you. Love ya babe, Mom-Mom

    Barbara Bindrim January 11, 2014 at 10:59 am Reply
    • Thanks Mom-mom! You’re the best!

      Shaun January 13, 2014 at 9:30 am Reply
  3. That is about the cost of a really nice bmw touring bike. Just saying

    Ron January 12, 2014 at 10:22 am Reply
    • Haha, I know man. Maybe that will be next!

      Shaun January 13, 2014 at 9:31 am Reply
  4. Good for you mate. Aim high: what can I say?

    Victoria January 16, 2014 at 4:17 pm Reply
    • Thanks! Aiming high is easy. Trying to stay focused is the hard part!

      Shaun January 17, 2014 at 7:33 am Reply
  5. Wow, I’m quiet impressed! I love to do it as well, but when I think about just a flight and whole year of travelling I think I still would go for a year! 🙂

    Marysia @ My Travel Affairs January 22, 2014 at 6:19 am Reply
    • hahaha yeah I know but this was a dream come true a full year of travel is next!

      Shaun January 24, 2014 at 10:42 am Reply
  6. This is pretty awesome. Love that you’re sharing all this with us too! A bit of a twist on the usual travel blogger’s story, ha.

    Silvia January 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm Reply
    • Great comment, thank you! I hope to keep a twist in all my posts.

      Shaun January 24, 2014 at 10:43 am Reply
  7. To me, it’s always the experiences that are worth the money. I’m happy to change my lifestyle to save up and, even while I’m travelling, I’ll stay in cheap places and eat cheap food, because at the end of the day, it’s the incredible experiences that will stand out in my memory above everything else. Good on you for making your dreams a reality!

    Arianwen January 25, 2014 at 1:20 am Reply
    • Thank you! I am the exact same way!

      Shaun January 27, 2014 at 9:11 am Reply
  8. Wow that’s awesome. Amazing to see such dedication, congratulations that must have been, well, out of this world! haha. Thanks for the article, peace and love 🙂

    jessie January 27, 2014 at 11:10 am Reply
    • Thank you! It was a great feeling of accomplishment on top of the already surreal feelings of the flight.

      Shaun January 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm Reply
  9. Great budget tips Shaun!
    I am currently saving up for my next big trip to the US and boy it has been challenging. But I find that after seeing I’m on track after each month I get a great kick out of it.

    Saving is hard but boy is it worth it

    Happy Travels,


    Jamie @ The Inspired Globetrotter February 17, 2014 at 8:43 pm Reply
    • Thanks Jamie! The effect will snowball and only get better as you get closer to your goal. Keep up the hard work!

      Shaun February 17, 2014 at 9:01 pm Reply
  10. Great tips Shaun. The discipline seems to be what trips up a lot of people too, that’s such a key point. Also finding the right savings account really helps, I’m not sure what it’s like in the US but in the UK the savings account rates are pathetic, so you need to think a bit more about where to put your money and it can work out better for you.

    We have kept our travel costs fairly low for most countries but we realised early on that if you just try to spend as little as possible then you probably are not having that much fun as you’re worrying too much about budget, when you relax the budget a bit you have much better memories to look back on; like “Remember that incredible skydive over Golden Bay!?” rather than “remember that dodgy street-side, manky and cold-but-really-cheap dinner?”

    Andrew July 10, 2014 at 9:50 am Reply
  11. Sorry, just realised you’re from Canada! I still don’t know what savings rates are like there either… 🙂

    Andrew July 10, 2014 at 9:52 am Reply
    • Hey Andrew! The rates in Canada are horrible right now as well, like everywhere else. If you’re only putting cash away for a year or two you’re not going to make much without taking a bigger risk on the investment, even short-term bonds won’t give you that much back. You are more than correct about having a loose budget but the extra income with also help with being frugal. Most people define frugal not as being cheap, but as knowing the value for what you’re exchanging the money for. A frugal person knows that skydiving over Golden Bay is worth it! 🙂

      Thanks for the comment man!

      Shaun July 11, 2014 at 9:19 am Reply
  12. It’s all about personal preference, right? Personally, I would never stay in a hostel at 32 (at 22, that was a different story) and think little of spending $200 a night for a nice hotel room, while many travel bloggers balk at $20 a night for a bed in a dorm room. Then again, like you, I’m not a full-time nomad and would much rather spend more on less frequent trips than exist off of traveling full time on a dime.

    Camels & Chocolate May 31, 2015 at 2:05 pm Reply
    • Great quote Kristin, “traveling full time on a dime” But like you, that just isn’t my reality. While I would like some extended travel, perpetually traveling isn’t in the cards anymore. I also love my motorcycle too much.

      Shaun June 18, 2015 at 9:41 am Reply
  13. Great budget tips! You’re right, SO often people will just tell you to cut spending and expenses entirely while you’re saving for a trip. But finding a side hustle and increasing your income is really one of the smartest ways to save up.

    Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine August 17, 2015 at 7:34 pm Reply
  14. A refreshing article! I too am a bit tired of the whole saving by reducing day to day living. Yes, do that too of course, but an extra income stream is so sensible. Nothing like saving and realising the dream! Well done you!

    Jane April 26, 2016 at 9:34 pm Reply
    • Thank you Jane! The only thing left is to save up and do it again!

      Shaun September 6, 2016 at 7:54 am Reply

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