Planning the big trip: Money

When you’re leaving the safety and security of the real world behind, how do you begin to plan ‘The Unknown.’

Anybody who has even thought about taking that career break, gap yah or long term adventure has felt that overwhelming feeling of

Where do I start?”

It can be a scary thing, especially if you have a very comfortable life where you are right now. But there is a reason your mind keeps wandering back to the idea of travel so you need to give it a fair shot. (Read my post on Keeping Motivated!)

Here are my tips for how to go about organising that trip of a lifetime. They are from my own experience as a very poor, very tired, very restless student so of course things vary. But if you need particular advice feel free to pop me an email or comment 🙂

Step 1: Plan your finances

This is a biggie which is why it’s my first stop for planning. It’s usually people’s biggest worry but its unavoidable unless you’ve got a giant trust fund behind you or generous family members/friends. In which case, feel free to move to Step 2.

The financial side to travelling can be split into three parts.

  1. Getting there
  2. Staying there
  3. Enjoying there

I will use two examples to illustrate my point.
First, my trip to Italy. I had a pair of itchy feet that needed scratching. I had about £200 in the bank from my last paycheck. I looked into working abroad, found a family to au pair for and booked my tickets. (Here’s my advice about becoming an au pair if that sounds like an attractive prospect)

I spent most of that £200 on last minute flights to Naples and the rest was emergency cash. I spent a month there, I saw the country, I learned a million things and I exhausted my travel bug for a couple of months at least.

  1. Getting there: shopping around for cheap flights. Quite simply, try and find a deal.
  2. Staying there: I didn’t turn up without a plan. I had an objective so that I wouldn’t waste money and trying to figure out my next step.
  3. Enjoying there: I budgeted my left over money and weekly wages into a daily allowance. If you go over, you have to sacrifice something.

If I can do six weeks in Italy on £200, you can do anything. It doesn’t take the spontaneity out of it! It just makes it less likely to fail.

My second scenario is the trip I’m about to take. I planned this one for a year. I had a goal in mind, just like before, but I knew this time it would cost a lot more. I saved for months, saying no to another night out and stopping my morning coffee, not filling my flat with crap but instead spending thriftily. I don’t need that rubbish anyway and when I’m sitting on Bondi in a few weeks I’m pretty sure I won’t give a hoot about whether I drank instant coffee or Costa’s finest every morning.

If you haven’t been travelling yet but you’ve been thinking about it for a while, let me just assure you, IT IS WORTH IT. Even though at times you want to cry, when you look back you will wet yourself laughing. I’m not kidding. I get grumpy and irritable very easily and even now when I think about that 16 odd hour coach journey all the way through Thailand with a stomach bug, I can’t help but laugh. It’s character building. You have to laugh at yourself. Life is great.

People will moan at you that you’ve become a social recluse. Offer to make them dinner or have an evening watching films or playing FIFA (the only boy-friendly thing I could think of) or just a beer/glass of wine. It’s much cheaper and you won’t feel like an awful friend. You are not missing out on the fun just because you didn’t go to that meal/film/night out. The pennies add up and suddenly you’ve bought a ticket to [INSERT DREAM DESTINATION HERE] Hurray!

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