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Money Guide for Travelers from Developing Countries: Why You Must Have a Separate Travel Fund Bank Account

Otherwise Known: How Not to Feeling Guilty for Spending for Your Trip

Over coffee and dessert, Ellen (I mentioned her in my “What’s Wrong with ‘Leave Everything behind and Travel the World”) said that she feels guilty everytime she travels. She considers traveling a personal pursuit, a selfishness that she must curb down or deprive herself of.

I am pretty much aware of her financial status. She often consulted me especially when financial concern meets travel confusion. I am her sinister, bitchy, loud ate in the city. She would ask me: should I book this flight? Is it too expensive? Should I extend my stay? How much should I allot for this trip?

She is an assistant professor; she is well-paid. But she is also the main provider of her family. I asked her about her bank accounts. She said she only has one. This must be the reason behind her guilt.

Now, if you plan to travel it is important to have a separate travel bank account.

I am proud to say that 99% of my trips, here and abroad, are self-funded. No sponsorships and all. On top of that, I sent two of my brothers to college—a common story among us ordinary Filipinos. Yet I managed to save because I am actually looking forward to my own old age with books, cats, and a garden (a partner and kids are negotiable and optional). Yes, I do not see myself traveling restlessly till my bones ache. I am looking forward to staying put and anchoring in one place. And, yes, I value and respect hard work.

And if you want to know more about my ways, you might want to read farther.

Novices in Laos

Novices in Laos

Aligning your bank accounts and their purposes

So, how many functioning bank accounts do I have? Aside from having a day job in the same university Ellen is teaching, a big chunk of my monthly income streams from my freelancing stint.

I have five functioning bank accounts and two active credit cards.

Landbank 1 is for all Manila Bulletin-related writing gig. My salary from Bisaya, Manila Bulletin newspaper (have stopped writing for them for a while), and Cruising: Going Places (actively writing) goes through here. This account also serves as my emergency fund. So yes, I do not touch the money saved here. It is very important to have an emergency fund. Again, from a standpoint of a traveler, it is important to think about your money and  to build your emergency fund. Yes, sadly, most Filipinos do not have an emergency fund.

Landbank 2 is where my teaching salary gets in. As I have mentioned before [READ: A Traveler’s Honest Talk on Money], my salary covers all the daily expenses I have in Cebu: my nook’s rent, food allowance, occasional dinner with friends, and credit card payment. My midyear bonus and 13th month pay are allotted for my Sunlife annual premium, which is Php30, 000.000

Metrobank 1 is where my Sun.Star honorarium gets in. It is not much. I write for Sun.Star not for money. The essays are meant for a book of travel essays I am working on. (Crossing fingers!) This is my emergency fund 1.5.

Metrobank 2 is my long-term travel fund. My Interaksyon, Rappler, and Cebu Pacific’s Waytogo salaries are here. I also authorize AXA [oh, yes, I’m proud to say that I have two VULs: Sunlife and AXA] to deduct a certain amount every month. This account is also connected to my Paypal account as well—the well of my travel fund. Any BWAB-related sponsored posts go through Paypal, and I periodically transfer them to my Metrobank. This is my main source for my upcoming year-long trip with Tobi. [ READ: My anxieties of leaving my comfortable life in Cebu for the monster called love. ??]

Luang Prabang night market

Luang Prabang, Laos. Walking around the night market.

Unionbank is my travel fund for my trips in the Philippines. I deposit my tutorial salary and speakership honorarium here as well. Oh, yes, I am paid to talk about travel, social media, and creative writing. [Hire me!?] Especially, on how these three connect. It is also my Paypal backup account in case there is a problem with my Metrobank account. It is the official bank account of Yanni’s Quaint Accent, a little online shop my sisters and I started two months ago. [We have a lot of travel-themed quaintness out there! Do drop by and browse through] For any family-related projects, say improving our kitchen or having the walls painted, I get the budget from here. I never deny it that I am from a relatively poor family.

How to Start a Travel Fund Account

Perhaps in your mind right now, “but I do not have four jobs like you do.” And I do understand that. Let us start with simple and important questions.

1. How much do you earn in a month?
2. How much goes to yourself and how much goes to your family?
3. What kind of lifestyle do you keep?
4. How much do you spend in a day?

Mt. Bromo Indonesia

Mt. Bromo, Indonesia. The amazing view is the reward of the early morning hike.

Realigning Your Priorities

Once you have the answers to these questions, it might be easier to realign your priorities.

1. If you are earning more than Php 18000 a month and you are not the breadwinner, it should be easier to build your travel fund. Say, authorize your bank to automatically deposit 1/4 of your salary to your travel bank account.

Again, from a standpoint of a traveler, it is important to think about your money and to build your emergency fund. 

2. A talk with the family is needed here. In my case, I already told my parents that I would not shoulder our youngest’s college education so I could travel for a year. But I should pat my own back: I already handled my two younger brothers’ college education without me getting pregnant along the way. 😛 So how about you? Are you the breadwinner in the family? Talk to them. And if you are like Ellen who feels guilty for her trips, the more reason you have to come up with a separate travel fund account, so you would not feel guilty everytime you travel. [READ: Poor but want to travel. There is one important thing you must do.]

3. If you party like crazy, love spending for your friends, eat out, and taxi all the time. You might want to cut back some of these whims and channel all these to your travel fund.

4. Cook your own food, if you have the time. Cut back on your Cappuccino or what-have-you. Ride the jeepney. Time management and financial management work hand in hand. So alongside your financial plans, manage your time well.

The advantages of keeping a separate travel fund bank account

  1. Your travel plans would adjust according to your savings in your travel bank account. Not the other way around.
  2. Imagine coming back from your trip and you would not worry how to fund the coming days because your regular bank account has not been used while you are traveling.
  3. Putting all your money in one account creates the illusion that you can spend all of it! So diversify.
  4. Less chances of loaning money from your friends.
  5. You learn to adjust and compartmentalize your finances.
  6. No guilt. You saved for that dream trip.
  7. You would debunk the myth that travelers are lousy at handling money.
  8. Financial literacy is a handsome knowledge.

Do you have other concerns about travel+money? Let’s talk in the comment section.


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Jona | Backpacking with a Book

Hi, I'm Jona! I write stories and poetry and take a lot of photos, which I'm too lazy to upload. If you want to receive some photos that I don't share here on the blog, please leave your email here. I'm crazy about cats too. Feel free to browse through BWAB, and I would love it if you say hi! For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com For more stories about BWAB, check here. Connect with us through

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2 Comments

  1. Teesh says:

    I have four functioning accounts.

    1 – for household & I’m also putting my brother through university so his tuition fee and allowance comes from there.
    2 – is where my salary goes, and also where my “everyday” money is stored (commute to work, dates with the bf, etc). So I transfer the money to the rest of the accounts.
    3 – is my travel fund. Also the account I use when I need to get visas. I only ever source money into this account when I have an upcoming trip and rearrange my priorities (say I booked a trip 3 months from now, the next 3 months I won’t buy new shoes/clothes/etc).
    4 – is my retirement/savings/emergency fund goes. I have a fixed amount that goes into it, and under no circumstances do I touch it.

    I just got preapproved credit card, and I’m hesitant to use it because I have a lot of family members that got into debts they couldn’t get out of. 🙁

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