Three Tips For Saving For Travel on a Minimum Wage

Yes, you CAN do it!

It’s not all about how much you can save each week, it’s a matter of how you go about delegating it each payday.

World travel has been a major goal of mine, but not too long ago I felt like I would be able to achieve it. Working an average thirty hours a week at $19.10 an hour, there wasn’t much room to put away for savings, and what I could put away seemed to be sapped up by some bill or expense sooner or later. It was proving impossible to save a large chunk of money toward my goal, and not only this, I was also developing feelings of unworthiness toward world travel. I was starting to think that because I didn’t have a job that paid very well, that I didn’t deserve to travel the world. But I simply couldn’t accept that. I had to make it work. I couldn’t live with myself otherwise.

Through talking with a few friends about their travel experiences, I began to realise that I could look at my savings plan in a whole different way. Around the same time I was thinking seriously about a trip to Ireland to research for my first crime novel. I had made a list of all the elements of the trip, from accommodation to transport to food, and while this helped me to work out how much the trip would cost, it also presented an opportunity for a savings checklist.

I started out by getting a quote for my flights, and ended up paying just short of $1,500 return to Dublin with Etihad Airways. I used a travel agent, and put my flights on lay-by for just $100. I paid a little off each fortnight, and was not restricted to a specific amount, just whatever I could afford. Sometimes it was $50, sometimes $100, sometimes only $20. I would advise to book flights as early as possible so you give yourself plenty of time to pay them off.
Alongside this, I also tried to put aside a little into my savings account for my trip expenses and spending money. It took me six months to pay off my flights, just in time for the cut off date (the condition of putting the flights on lay-by was that I had paid them off two months prior to my departure date).

Here is a breakdown of my list of expenses/savings targets:

  • Flights
  • Accommodation (broken down to each location for multi-stop trips)
  • Airport Transfers
  • Daily Costs (transport/food/activities)
  • Spending Money

I then broke those expenses down to days where I could, e.g. accommodation and daily expenses. For example, I planned to stay in Dublin for three days, so I wrote the list this way:

  • Dublin Accommodation: $215 ($43 per night x 3)

Each fortnight I took out my list and looked at what I could afford to put money toward. If I put money toward the above expense, sometimes I’d put aside only $43, or sometimes $86, or even the whole amount if I could afford it (rarely). Alongside the listed expense, I would keep a tally of how many times I’d contributed to that listed item, and take great delight in crossing the item out when it was completed!

Part of the frustration of trying to save earlier was that my money would disappear into an expense or bill sooner or later. In my savings plan, where I could, I paid off an expense for the trip along the way. For example, if I had put enough money aside for my three-day stay in Dublin, I would then book that accommodation straight away, so as to secure not only the accommodation but the money I needed for it.

So in summary, here are my three tips for saving for international travel on a minimum wage:

  • Lay-by flights where possible
  • Break down your costs into a list
  • Break the list down again into daily expenses where possible


Travel is NOT just for the ‘lucky few’. You CAN make it happen, no matter what stage of life you are at, and no matter what your circumstances! It’s just about how you go about your savings plan!

To read more about my recent book research trip to Ireland, click HERE

To read the first chapter of my Irish crime novel for FREE, click HERE

To learn more about my other books, click HERE 


Day Three in Kinvara: Dunguaire Castle

My third day in Kinvara I actually followed the right road out of town. On the way I stopped by the local Garda station, on a quiet street alongside the Merriman Hotel.


Continuing on my way, I turned down a narrow laneway beside St Joseph’s National School, which led me on a lovely little wander along a quiet backstreet down to the water’s edge. There, I found a bench to sit down and soak in the rugged beauty that unfolded before me.



Walking alongside the bay I reached the pier I stopped to take a few snaps of some of the boats.

And found one that I would have loved to have taken home!!

The Fairy Queen- It was for sale too!

I then continued the walk along the road out of town toward Dunguaire Castle.


Dunguaire Castle (Irish Dún Guaire) is a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway. The name derives from the Dun (a medieval fort) of King Guaire, the legendary king of Connacht. The castle’s 75-foot (23 m) tower and its defensive wall have been restored. The grounds inside the fort are open to tourists during the summer, but there was a dirt track around the outside of the fort that was still accessible.




The following two days in Kinvarra were fairly uneventful and not really worthy of their own blog posts, so I’ll briefly summarize them here. I walked back through the village to the houses down by the pier that I had scouted out for use as locations in my novel, and basically tried to make a solid decision on which ones I would use, and if I needed to go and inspect them again. I also inspected the site of Seamount College, a secondary school here in the village which had previously been a boarding school run by nuns. I caught up on my blogging and visited some lovely little cafes, one in particular called the Gentian Cafe, which was the only place in the village I had been able to find a chai latte! I’ve had some lovely meals at the local restautants and generally enjoyed the ambiance of the small village.

I’m spending my last day staying with my AirBnB host in Kinvara back in Galway city. I’ve just met with Dave, a member of the Galway Traveller Movement, an independent Traveller organisation established by Travellers and non Travellers in Galway. Dave has been able to give me a great insight into the Traveller community and the challenges they have faced over the past many years. The Galway Traveller Movement’s ultimate aim is to achieve equality and self determination for the Traveller community in Galway city and county. The Traveller community has recently been recognised as an ethnic group here in Ireland, with it’s own culture and language. However I have been very sad to learn that this group is still very widely discriminated against by the councils, law enforcement and the general community. Applying community work and human rights based approaches GTM plans to dedicate its resources to enabling the Traveller Community to be part of a movement that challenges structural inequality.

I have now completed most of my research and am up to date with my blog. Tomorrow I am sailing off to Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands, for three days. I am hoping to  use this time to relax after a busy few weeks of research and traveling around, and actually start to do some writing!




Day One In Kinvara: St. Patrick’s Day!

My first day in Kinvara was St Patrick’s Day, and this small village’s celebrations suited my tastes just nicely. The national holiday fell on a Friday, and there was to be a parade held in the main street at 1pm. It couldn’t have been a more Irish day; gale-force winds and cold misty rain, the worst weather I had experienced since I’d arrived. However, this did not stop the parishioners of Kinvara coming out to celebrate their national day.


Crowds gathering along Main Street in preparation for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

As 1pm approached, the people gathered along the sides of Main Street in their green, white and orange colours, sporting wigs, costume beards and funny hats. The little boy standing beside me was struggling to keep his small flag in tact as the wind blew, whipping it right off the plastic handle at one point. Finally, the show began a little past 1pm. I was horrified when I went to turn my camera on to see that I had left the battery in the charger at home! I pulled out my old iPhone 4 as a backup but with my luck it died on the spot, even though the battery still had 80% power and had been charging all morning. I conceded to saving the moments of the parade to my own memory, however halfway through the parade I sprinted back to my AirBnB accommodation five minutes up the road to retrieve the camera battery, and was back down at the Main Street in time to catch the last half of the procession.

From the top of the hill, the procession appeared, and traveled down to the bottom of the hill towards the pier. Farmers wearing over-sized green and white felt leprechaun hats had decorated their tractors with green, orange and white balloons. A musical band of children and adults alike demonstrated their multitasking skills as they walked along playing their instruments, including the saxophone, clarinet, fiddle and accordion.


The local junior football team skillfully kicked their soccer balls along, and one little boy lost control of his and went running down the street after it. There was also a very cute little Garda officer marching along!



The parade was over within fifteen minutes, and luckily for me I was able to snap some pictures of some of the floats and vehicles I had missed when I’d made the dash back to the house as they made a loop around the block. I headed down to the pier to see if there were any markets at the end point of the parade, but there were none. There had, however, been a cake stall halfway down the street, that my AirBnb host Sharon had contributed to. I had to get myself a green cupcake for St. Paddy’s Day!



I chose to have my lunch at the Pier Head Café overlooking Kinvara Bay. I had eaten here the night before when I had arrived in Kinvara. The restaurant was packed full, but I managed to find a spot right at the end of the bar close to the fireplace. As I feasted away on my bowl of creamy seafood chowder and fresh brown bread, I watched the Dublin vs Clare hurling final being broadcast on the TV behind the bar, trying to observe and learn the rules. Hurling is a game similar to hockey, in that it is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick. It is Europe’s oldest field game, brought to Ireland by the Celts at the end of the last ice age.


The weather being as wild as it was, I made for home after lunch, and spent the afternoon catching up on my blogging. I was still so full that night that a small container of cold pasta salad from the small supermarket up the street was satisfying enough for me! And then it was into bed ready for my first day of serious exploring.