Trying to Travel the World with My Change Jar

Trying to Travel the World with My Change Jar

Trying to Travel the World with My Change Jar | brokeGIRLrich

I really love my change jar and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

A lot of the little things in life that I enjoy are attached to that jar – but with no strings. Change jar money has always been “extra” money to me. It exists outside of my budget, because there’s no way of really knowing when it’ll be full. It’s a happy little container of Starbucks, movie tickets, and take out dinners.

About every other month or so, I wind up with a full jar and take it in to TD Bank (another one of the very few perks of banking with them) and dump it into the coin counter. Not gonna lie, I’m nearly 30 and I still love playing the guessing game. And winning a keychain sometimes.

I also love that I often think it will be less than it winds up being – I’m always pleasantly surprised when the total amount pops up on the screen.

So why has this been on my mind so much lately? I’ve been thinking more about my life goals and even my New Year’s resolution to cross two items off of my bucket list and I keep coming back to my “dream trip.”

My dream trip is my dad and me on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. A.) Because we don’t do a whole lot together and B.) He actually speaks Russian.

Also, my whole crazy desire for adventure definitely comes from him and not my mom. I suspect if I handed him the tickets to this trip, he wouldn’t say no.

Trans-Siberian Railroad Itinerary

Trans-Siberian Railroad Itinerary

I thought about this a few years ago when I was working for the cruise line with a lot of disposable income and no debt (so clearly before I went back to grad school). I calculated a rough number of the cost of the trip and realized it was not going to be an easy task getting there.

Time: 25 Days

  • One Way Flight from New Jersey St. Petersburg: $1,500
  • 2 Nights Hotel in St. Petersburg: $100
  • 1 Tran-Siberian Railroad Ticket (w/ food and some tours): $3,500
  • 3 Nights Hotel in Beijing: $75
  • 2 Night Hotel in Xi’an: $25
  • Roundtrip Flight: Beijing to Xi’an: $400
  • One Way Flight from Beijing to New Jersey: $1,200
  • Russian Visa: $270
  • Chinese Visa: $130
  • Food: $250
  • Spending Money: $250
  • Grand Total: Roughly $7,700

Per Person.

Granted, I could cut things out of this trip – we could skip everything related to Beijing and just go home at the end of the train run, but how on earth could we do that if we just made it to China for the first time?? And I really want to see the Terra Cotta Warriors, so that’s an additional $425 for the flight and hotel to see them.

On the flip side, when would we go back to China? We probably won’t. I’m saying “seize the day” with this trip. YOLO and all that. I’m taking a picture with some clay Warriors.

How cool is that? The answer is super cool.

How cool is that? The answer is super cool.

If this trip ever happens. I don’t know about you, but to me, $15,400 is nothing to sneeze at. And all on a single, month long trip.

But I really, really, really want to go. So I’ve started to think about it in terms of my change jar too.

This trip would only be: 61,600 quarters or 154,000 dimes or 308,000 nickels or 1,540,000 pennies.

1,540,000 PENNIES


I’m never going to ride that train.

Then again… there are a few things I’ve learned from this last year in the personal finance blogosphere.

#1 – I’m not paying for those flights. If I’m serious about this trip, I am reward card churning all 3 of those flights. And yes, I know that’s A LOT of miles. And a lot of purchases. So good thing I’m planning on saving up for 10ish years. At any rate, I’m not paying for all the flights. That’s for sure.

#2 – Also, since I’m planning to save up for 10ish years, that also makes it a mere $1,540 a year I need to save. That’s pretty do-able. That’s $128.34 a month. A lot – but lot’s of people pay that much for their cell phone or cable a month. I don’t.

Furthermore, if we subtract the flights, then it becomes $9,200 I’m saving. Which is only $920 a year and $76.67 a month.

This trip is suddenly becoming attainable.

#3 – If I average $30 every 3 months in the change jar, that brings me up to $120 a year. Over 10 years that’s $1,200 with no extra work from me. That means that I only need to work at saving up $8,000. Which is $800 a year and $66.67 a month.

$66.67 and a decade of patience could buy me my dream trip. And the gift of a lifetime for my dad. $133.34 could buy it in half a decade.

Lake Baikal near Irkutsk

Lake Baikal, near Irkutsk. How gorgeous is that spot?

The point of this, other than to let me fantasize a little about how cool I think a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad would will be, is to point out that huge, insurmountable tasks can pretty much all be accomplished with a good plan, some time and a little creative thinking – I could easily add 10 more points about how to get to that goal quicker, I just focused on a few real easy ones.

So what’s your dream vacation? How long would it take your change jar to get you there?

33 thoughts on “Trying to Travel the World with My Change Jar

  1. Oh my gosh the clay warriors look so cool! I had never even heard of that before I read this. I think your plan sounds awesome- but I hope that the cost of all of these things doesn’t rise over the next ten years, cuz it would be a disappointment to do all that saving and then find out you STILL don’t have enough. But I think it sounds like a fabulous goal- good luck!
    Dee @ Color Me Frugal recently posted…Weekly Money Roundup #26My Profile

    • Yeah. I first looked it up about 5 years ago and actually the price of the railroad ticket is holding pretty steady. I’m hoping if I factor in about 3% a year for the other stuff, that’ll help.

  2. WOW, that’s some ambition, go for it. I love how you did the change breakdown lol. I love to travel but since moving to Canada I haven’t done much if any at all. It’s so much cheaper to travel from the UK than from Canada. I used to travel at least 4 times a year but not to resorts. I wanted to see the world not just sand and water.
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted…How to make money fast without going crazyMy Profile

    • I know! I couldn’t believe how cheap it was to get to mainland Europe from England when I lived there. If I had not been a broke college student, I totally would’ve traveled somewhere every month. As it was, I had to make do with a spring break holiday to Amsterdam and Brussels and a few weekend trips around England.

  3. Interesting post, indeed! That’s awesome you’re planning a special trip like this.

    A few questions!:

    What are you doing with the change you deposit? Are you investing it and then making the withdrawal before the trip or are you keeping it pretty liquid?

    And I’d also love to see you write about paying for the flights using rewards points! That could make a killer series!

    Ah, once again I’ve made a ton of comments in one and it’ll probably be a pain for you to reply. Hopefully not. I’ll go with ‘hopefully not’.

    Anywho, thanks for writing this post! It’s great!!!
    Will – First Quarter Finance recently posted…How to Enjoy Saving Money!My Profile

    • You have totally thought about more questions than I have! I suppose opening a bank account just for this trip makes sense. Since I was looking for a new one for my emergency savings account, maybe I’ll just open two now.

      • Ooooh make sure and get a signup bonus with your new account! Even easier than churning CC’s! I wrote a post about it on my blog with a link to most of the banks offering promo’s. I believe the site is I made $150 with one account I was gonna open anyway.

        Ah, the temptation would be great to invest at least part of the money though…
        Will, First Quarter Finance recently posted…How to Enjoy Saving Money!My Profile

  4. I love that you are planning to do this! We just found that we can make our dream trip to Australia happen with the miles we’ve accumulated by using our credit card as our debit card.

    Trips like this are exciting! And while expensive when you look at the total, I truly believe that this is what life is all about – experiences. It just all depends what type of experience you want.

    Having read your blog for such a short time, I can already bet that you’ve never regretted a trip you’ve always wanted to do.

    It’s kind of like working out. You’ll never regret it if you do, but always regret it if you don’t. ;-)

    Happy planning and saving!
    Carrie @ Season It Already! recently posted…It’s Really Happening!My Profile

    • I agree! I think it will be money well spent. And with such a long lead time, there’s lots of opportunities to look at ways to save as well. My dad has actually stayed in hostels with me before, so I know I can check out lower level accommodations, I would just rather over budget than be surprised later.

  5. My goal is to travel fairly extensively within the next couple of years. After that, we want to have children and I don’t want to feel as if I missed out on travel because I had kids too soon! I am using hopefully a lot of rewards points, but also savings to do so. That’s a lot of change you’ll have to save up for a lot of time, but it would be awesome to get there from change!
    Daisy @ Add Vodka recently posted…Tired of Buying TiresMy Profile

    • I know right? I think it’ll take a little more than change. I’ve been really lucky to travel a lot through my 20’s and I can honestly say I’ve never regretted a penny spent on traveling. I actually regret deciding not to go a few times!

    • Thailand is totally on my bucket list. My cousin actually went without me about a year ago when I couldn’t get off work! I was pretty irritated with her. I hear the toughest part is getting there. Everything is actually very affordable other than the flights.

  6. That is a lot of pennies. Great post, it so cool that you want to travel to these places. You will have to blog about every moment when you do go. I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams , starts on Fridays :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.
    Shanice recently posted…DIY Wedding Feature – Framed Wedding DateMy Profile

  7. Your dream vacation and dream plan sound so amazing! And I can actually see it happening – maybe not right away but at the right time. Well, if you could spend money for something then better spend it to something really memorable right? Here’s to hoping your plan will materialize! You inspire me! :)

  8. Lets see:

    – Thirty two years old.
    – Never traveled far outside the Maritimes of Canada.
    – No kids.
    – Single.

    The status quo by this age is to be married and have kids. As much as I would like to find a nice lady and provide awesome grandkids for my parents, I’m liking the idea of finding an awesome lady to travel the world with and do all the cool things I was too much a wuss to do in my twenties.

  9. I have to admit I have a similar dream with my piggy bank. I knew there is no way for me to afford to travel to my No. 1 dream destination (money-wise and time-wise) before I finish my education, so on my first day I went and bought the biggest can-piggy bank I could find. It is sealed so in order to open it, I would have to destroy it. I promised myself that I will put in only 1 and 2 euros coins for five years. At least 2 euros per week although I try to put more whenever I can. So one more year and I will have enough money for a round trip plane fare to Bali and a month worth rent of a small studio. It will practically be like winning a lottery. Or at least that is the way I imagine it. :)

  10. Pingback: Competitive eater and Mum of four devours two 72-ounce steak dinners in 15 minutes: PF Friday grab a brew #74 - Canadian Budget Binder

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