The big dream of becoming a cabin crew has come true! You joined one of the major airlines.

The first couple of months were tough, but now you finally started to fly and it’s going great. You are enjoying this new lifestyle to the max: the hotels, the good food from the local five star restaurants, the destinations, the shopping etc. It’s all a joy ride.

However, most of us leave home and go work far away from friends and family because we (also) want to save money. We live the dream of travelling the world, but we also plan a warm home return, where we want to buy a house and settle down. Easier said than done…

Rich people stay rich by living like they are broke. Poor people stay poor by living like they are rich.


The cost of living in cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha is very, very high. Luxurious restaurants and spas, overpriced bars and impressive shopping malls, they all lure you in and you end up living an endless, expensive vacation.

The good news is the sooner you make some changes, the sooner you can achieve some long-term financial goals. In order to protect your budget and start saving, here is the first step, an easy to follow list with helpful tips:

  1. Makeup choices. There will always be alternatives for your recurring expenses, so be creative and flexible. For example, try to invest in the most important things like a good foundation and moisturiser but compromise a little when it comes to eye shadow, brow liner or blush. Some drugstore brands are just as good as luxury brands and the price difference is huge. Also, don’t go overboard with your make up and perfume stash. The best thing to do is to train yourself to buy something new only when you run out of the old stock.

2. Groceries

It took me a while to learn how to minimise food waste. On days off I used to buy way too many fruits, veggies and dairy and ended up throwing away half of it. Monitor your consumption and if you don’t have a lot of days off at base, buy only a small quantity of fresh products and rely on long life food. Keep in mind that you can freeze individual portions of meat, veggies, fruits and even bread.

3. Going out and eating out

For me, this was the number one cause of budget damage. I enjoy a lot going out with friends to try a new restaurant, to have a drink or to go dancing. In order to save some cash, the secret is to limit yourself to a decent number of meal courses, drinks and parties. Try a different dish every time you go out, not all at once. Or even better, get everybody in your friends’ group to order something different, so you can all share.

4. Pampering sessions

The image of a cabin crew should be impeccable. Neat hair, beautiful skin and perfect nails. We all love those oil massage sessions, body scrubs, professional face treatments and hair styling. But the best beauty saloons in the Middle East are very expensive. Try to accommodate your beauty routine according to your roster. Indonesia, Thailand, China, Vietnam are famous for their attractive offers and competitive prices. And the best thing is that crew usually get discounts in these places.

5. Furniture and house appliances

Cabin crew are very adaptable and they excel at finding solutions for any problem that may arise. But I must say, a few of my colleagues really surprised me when they bought furniture and house appliances. You most probably live in company provided accommodation, so you have all the necessary things. So why would you spend extra money for more furniture and less imperative things? If you have an iron, why also buy a steamer? Water dispensers, food processors, kitchen robots, extra cupboards…they all seem like a waste of money to me. You’ll not spend that much time at home to make great use of it and you won’t be able to take all these things with you when you leave. Invest smartly in practical things: a microwave, some shelves and a coffee machine to name a few…

6. Shopping

Cabin crew lifestyle is full of privileges. One of them is obviously the possibility to go shopping all over the world. A lot of people nowadays have problems in setting a limit though. There are so many interesting things readily available for purchasing, that it becomes very difficult to say No when you have the money. But do you really need 30 tshirts? 5 wallets? 10 perfumes? 20 pairs of shoes? Learn how to create a versatile wardrobe. Have a few high quality basics, not a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. Don’t buy on impulse or just because it is on sale. Make a list. Stick to it! Also, don’t let your friends pressure you into buying just because they can’t control themselves.

7. The bucket list

Everybody has a bucket list nowadays, cabin crew in particular. But we also have the extraordinary opportunity to fulfil it faster and easier. Maybe you want to skydive, swim with the dolphins, experience a weekend at Atlantis Dubai, take a helicopter ride or rent a Lamborghini…good for you! We should all chase our dreams and build great memories, they last a lifetime! But keep in mind that if these bucket list items become hobbies, you might seriously endanger your savings or even upcoming salaries.

8. Ground Transportation

A lot of people move to a new place without knowing exactly for how long. Most cabin crew are young and just take life experiences one at a time. The majority of cabin crew that move to the Middle East are not sure for how long they will stay. In this case, the best option is to travel by taxi. On the other hand, if you are certain you will try to stay for as long as possible, it would be cost-effective to buy a second hand car. Petrol is very cheap and you will have great independence to move around whenever you feel like it. Still not sure what to do? Rent a car for a month and see how it suits you. Personally, I prefer to sit in the back and catch up on my reading or emails.

These tips helped me a lot during my busy rosters and are still very useful today. It took a while to master these tips and I had to learn the hard way, nobody gave me any useful advice in the beginning. I’m sure some of them are easy to follow and don’t require great efforts. If you can’t apply them all, compensate. Find your balance. The most important thing after all is to be happy with your choices.

To sum it up, I would just like to mention here my one big exception to this plan. The part when I travel the world and go sight seeing or experiencing different cultures. I never stay in my hotel room if there are interesting attractions to see. Go out and explore the world! And remember… the best things in life are free!