When I tell somebody new about our travel plans I get asked at least one of two questions: “What are you doing about your job?” and “How are you going to afford this?”
The first answer is pretty straightforward: “I’m quitting.” I’ve written about this before. It’s scary – a big leap into the unknown, but it has to be done.
The second question is a little harder. Travelling, even on a shoestring, is an expensive business. I won’t bore you with a detailed breakdown of our trip budget, but just for reference, to travel for a year on £60 a day (£30 per person) would cost £21,900. Twenty-two grand. Where the hell do we plan on getting that kind of money? And how do we know that will be enough?
There are three pretty simple steps to this: plan, work and save. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? I’ll break it down a little further.
Planning is where any adventure starts. Naturalist John Muir once said that sometimes a man needs to “throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” This perfectly encapsulates the romantic notion of buying a one way ticket to some far off destination and going where the wind takes you. Unfortunately, if you want to make the most of your adventure in the modern world, you are going to need a bit more than bread and tea.
For me, planning has to be part of the adventure. There is certainly a balance to be struck between having a rigid itinerary and going with the flow, but it is obvious that if you don’t at least have an outline of a plan, you are going to miss stuff. Think of it like a General drawing up a battle plan. You would be mad to send your troops into combat without some tactics, but you can’t tell each soldier what to do in any given situation – you need to allow for flexibility to respond to the situation at hand.
Planning is also key to how you budget. You can set a budget then plan around it, or you can plan and then decide on a budget that you need. That’s entirely up to you. Just make sure you plan. If you find yourself in an airport on the phone to your parents asking them to send you some money for a flight home… you haven’t planned properly!
You’ve done your plan. Well done, I’m proud of you. Now to put it into action, unless you have a trust fund from daddy, you’re going to have to do some work.
Nobody likes work – well, I don’t. Luckily, herein lies the absolute beauty of having a fully formed travel plan. It doesn’t matter what your job is, you can go home at the end of the day knowing you have worked one day closer to doing something extraordinary. You might have waited a hundred tables, been bored to tears in meetings, been shouted at by an angry customer…but no matter how hard it may seem you can rest safe in the knowledge that it will all be worth it in the end. You also have the schadenfreude of knowing that in however many months’ time, your poor colleagues who don’t dream as big as you will still be waiting the same tables, daydreaming in the same meetings and being shouted at by the same angry customers, while you are on a beach having the time of your life.
Unless… you plan, work and then blast your money on E’s and Whizz. This last section is actually the hard bit. Assuming that you aren’t earning a fortune (why are you reading this if you are?), you are going to have to make some sacrifices along the way. We work two jobs and rent out the spare rooms in our house. I drive an old banger and take a hipflask on nights out. I turn down gig tickets and wear clothes until they have holes in them. I’m not asking for sympathy (although any donations are welcome), it’s just an unfortunate fact that if you have big plans and a not-so-big salary, you have to make a cut somewhere along the way. Patronising saving tips include making a spreadsheet to keep track of what goes in and what goes out, buying discount laundry detergent (it is literally the same) and remembering that it will all be worth it in the end!