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The honest truth on how I afford to travel

‘But, how do you afford it?’

A question I get at the start of every conversation regarding my travels.

I’ve been on the road for a while. I’m 22 and spent the last four years traveling extensively through Europe, Asia and Australia.

I’ve done and seen A LOT.

 

 

*10 minute read

Forever on the move, exploring new destinations, living a fulfilling and exciting life.

I have no plans, no end date, no expectations. Just me, my rucksack and my camera ready to take on the big wide world.

Guess what, I’m not stopping anytime soon.

Tokyo

There are many assumptions about my lifestyle. We all assume.

This has to cost right? Of course it does.

I will start with one thing.

I do not have any secret travel funds. I do not get paid to travel. I have no unique qualifications, no hidden help. I’ve not won any money, nor have I received an amount of money or any other financial help for whatever reason.

I finance my trips myself.

I want to travel. I want it badly, so… I make it happen.

If you are so determined to do something, 9 times out of 10. You can.

I have a lot less money than you think. A lot less.

There is a difference between happiness and having money. Some of the happiest people I have ever met have the lowest amount of money yet the ones with hundreds and thousands of pounds sitting in their bank, are the loneliest and miserable.

Traveling made me realise it’s not about how many fancy drinks I can have sitting on the beach, or how nice of a hotel I can find. Nor is it about finding the best restaurant in all of Indonesia and shopping whenever I want. That isn’t what travel is about.

It’s about finding the happiness in simple things, feeling grateful for the life we have. To create enjoyment from meeting people, seeing new things. I find experiences I love without breaking the bank.

I’m happy and surviving on sometimes the bare minimal. I have to make choices on what will enable me to travel. To create a life that right now, I am satisfied with.

Me: Food, Accommodation, Transport, Experiences.

People at home: Bills. Rent. Petrol. Tax. Transport. Insurance. Phone contracts. Memberships. Food. Shopping. Going out. Clothes.

Imagine if I turned it back around…

‘How do you afford to get your nails done every week, that must cost heaps’

‘How are you affording those new trainers, did your parents help?’

‘You must be loaded going out for drinks every weekend’

‘Where do you get all the money for all those new clothes every week?’

‘Having the latest iPhone will have cost a bomb’

‘You got a new car, but how an earth can you pay for that’

 

Once you escape paying for things you don’t actually need, you realise how much it amounts up too.

Where I am from, parking your car in the city for the day can cost £10. That’s 3 nights in a hostel in Thailand.

No one questions things like buying clothes, going out for drinks, getting your hair done and simply paying for contracts.

Money

I left home with £4,000 ( $7000 AUS) on 26th November 2015. Getting on a flight from Manchester to Bangkok on my own. I had worked hard. Prioritized saving and worked three jobs.

Bangkok 2015

I had a flight into Australia for whenever I was ready and that was it.

It’s now 3rd July 2017 and I’m still going.

Osaka 2017

I’m writing this while sitting in Osaka, Japan in a funky coffee shop feeling grateful for my experiences.  Going through the ridiculous amounts of photos I’ve been taking over the last couple of weeks experiencing the crazy Japanese lifestyle and exploring one of the most unique destinations I have ever been too. I’m happy, healthy and completely satisfied with my life.

Indonesia

Read more on my first year traveling the world solo by clicking HERE

I have not been in the same place for longer than 3 months since I was 18. I have a constant desire to explore.

The honest truth

If you really want to travel, you’ll make it work.

Let’s quit the bullsh*t.

I hear never-ending excuses to why people don’t travel.

People have secure jobs, mortgages and rent to pay. Commitments they feel obliged to follow.

I knew for a while I needed to travel the world, so from early on, I made the decisions to not overly involve myself within things that would stop me leaving – From jobs to relationships, contracts to commitments. I was careful with what I got overly involved in.

It’s not possible for everyone and I understand commitments need to be made, however, I am talking about how I afford to travel. If you are looking to head off on a long term adventure, have a think about what you can break away from.

Working

Like everyone else, I work for my money. Working at certain points of my time in Australia, where the hourly rate is double as to what I was earning in England. I saved my money I earned on the farm in Queensland and when I popped home for Christmas, I was working some crazy hours back at the cocktail bar.

Again, it’s getting the balance. I have never had a life where it’s only been focused on work and saving money. Work to live, don’t live to work.

Living basically

Despite a rich life with the experiences I have, the people I meet and the things I do. I live basically.

This was my home while I was living in Pai for a few weeks. £2 a night. This was luxury living as I was used to large shared dorms.

and this was my view….

When I travel, I often get little privacy, choose the cheapest accommodation which depending on where I am in the world, it could be anywhere between £1-£20.

I RARELY shop. I make use of what I have.

I’ve had the same pair of shoes for years and when I eventually really needed to buy some, I got fake converse from a Bangkok market and I love them.

God knows how many times I have worn the same outfit.

I almost never get taxi’s. Don’t have uber, use public transport everywhere or simply walk.

I barely drink alcohol.

I don’t overspend on things I don’t need.

Use my toiletries carefully, barely wear makeup so don’t need to repurchase anything.

I have no phone contract and had the same old mobile device for years.

If I do buy any clothes, for example when I arrived in Melbourne during winter, I went to the charity shop and spent $20 on jumpers.

It’s getting the balance.

£3.3o for a delicious iced mocha and vegetable toastie in the middle of Pai, North Thailand.

I spend my money on experiences.

On things I need to survive and get me to new destinations, and I am happy with that.

15,000 Indonesian rupiah for my boat over to Lombok

That’s less then £1 / $2 AUS (The same price as a packet of Oreos)

It’s not always easy or convenient, but that’s what traveling is really about. Making it work.

Finding the cheap & cheerful.

I spend time exploring new cities and towns with my camera. I spend quality time with people simply hanging out on the beach or playing cards. Things that don’t cost just to ‘do’.

Convenience.

People pay for convenience. Taxi’s to save the hassle.

Eating out instead of cooking. Paying for someone to take us places, show us things instead of finding out for yourself.

People pay for things we want, rather than what we need.

I have definitely spent my money on some really stupid sh*t in the past.

We pay for a life we feel we deserve filled with unnessacary and over priced things.

We pay for ease.

I sacrifice certain things to enable me to travel.

Walked an hour with my rucksack to save on a few pounds, slept in rooms with no air con and no fans in horrible humidity as it’s the cheapest option.

I normally eat street food, avoid any type of tour our travel agency as it’s always things I can do myself, for a lot less money. I’ve slept in dorms with over 20 people, people I dont know. Use a bathroom that the entire hostel uses’.

Like mentioned, I get little privacy, but as it’s the cheapest option, I can’t complain.

I’ve couch surfed, volunteered and hitchhiked just to save a little bit of money. All this saving adds up, and it’s all part of the travel fun.

Flights

Flying is the most expensive part of our travels. Once I am over in a country or continent, I can easily get around by cheap buses, night buses or affordable domestic flights.

I find the cheapest flights and transport, even if it takes double as long.

People want a flight that works around them and if you’re short on time then this limits the options. Some have a limited time to travel however I will take a longer route and take minimal baggage in order to save money.

Sometimes, I don’t overly have a destintion in mind, just look for the cheapest flights on Skyscanner on the cheapest dates.

There are perks of having no plans. I can work around prices.

I still need things to be convenient occasionally. I have booked my own room, payed too much for a cab just to get me somewhere and paid for the internet when I could have gone without.

Again, it’s getting the balance.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

I treated myself to a Christmas starbucks and a tuk-tuk to the airport when I headed home for Christmas. I had payed for my flight home and back to Australia with the money I had made from working on the banana farm in Queensland. I deffo deserved this coffee.

Taking risks:

I booked my flight to Japan while I had $700AUS / £500 in my account during my East Coast trip in Australia. I was waiting for my tax rebait to come through and just had to hope I would get it back in time.

I made it to Japan.

I booked my flight leaving Australia into Indonesia with less then $300 / £200 in my bank.

I made it to Indonesia.

I left Asia and entered Australia to start my working holiday with $200AUS/ £120 to my name.

Byron Bay, Australia

I completed my full first year in Australia.

I got on a flight to Singapore with less than $400AUS / £250.

I had a blast in Singapore on my last few days in Asia

Some people could say I was stupid, I don’t have any major back up’s or savings.

I’m lucky to have friends & family to bail me incase of a serious emergency or get me home if I really needed too. I am lucky to have a family to head back to for when I get home. For that, I am grateful as many people don’t.

I had to trust it all worked out. I had to make it work.

Costs

This meal I shared on the idylic beach on Gili Air, Indonesia cost 150,000 rupiah. That’s £8.

This private beach bungalow directly on the beach cost 300,000 rupiah, which I shared with a friend. 150,000 each is £8.00 (Which was our treat for our last few days together)

My bike rental in Kampot, Cambodia for 24 hours cost £2.50 (Insurance included)

This yummy latte in a coffee shop cost £1 in Cambodia

This scuba dive on the paradise island in Malaysia cost £20

This incredible day cost me nothing

This meal in St. Kilda, Melbourne cost £2.50 / £1.70

My cat cafe experience in Bangkok cost me £4. That’s with coffee and cake included.

My motorbike taxi over over to Khao San Road across the capital city cost me 50p. Less than $1AUS

So many things are cheaper than people think.

Things are free. Yes, free.

Sunsets on the beach with my new furry friend – FREE

Wondering Brisbane – FREE

Checking out the street out in Penang, Malaysia – FREE

Meeting the wild wallabies on Magnetic Island – FREE

Checking out the views over Tokyo – FREE

Exploring Melbourne – FREE

Discovering abandoned Bokor City up in Cambodia – FREE

Meeting the locals and exploring the rice fields in Hoi An, Vietnam – FREE

Blog work

I received a few tours while I was in Australia in return for some blog work. This included a $500 AUS skydive over Mission Beach, Australia.. for free.

A Whitsundays tour on an amazing catamaran boat sailing over two nights which would have cost me $400AUS, a few surf classes and other bits and bobs. I guess hard work does pay off.

Whitsundays, Australia 

 I’m happy with fewer things. Less convenience, basic living. Experiences over belongings.

It enables me to travel and that is the richest I can feel.

8 easy ways of saving money while traveling

Cash. It seems to be the ultimatum between traveling or not. ‘I can’t afford it.’ Most people I know can afford to travel. The real truth is, it’s all about priorities. For those who are going for it.. I decided to write up some of my tips on saving money while traveling. 1. Every penny […]

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The truth about safety for South East Asia backpackers

South East Asia is becoming one of the worlds most popular backpacking destinations. It’s no longer an Asian mystery and thousands of backpackers are making their way over every week.

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Filled with magnificant countries offering some of the most epic traveling experiences.

12998711_10153392355252751_6065878301530118079_nRoute 1095 through North Thailand. 40 degrees. Sunset. Reaching 150km/ph. Magical Vibes.

Easy to travel with lots going on, relatively cheap, great weather, magical places and thousands of places to visit, it’s no suprise everyones escaping over here.

I’m repeatedly asked about my safety over here, as a female, as a solo traveler and in general.

Another stunning and huge water fall on Koh Samui today! Deserved a good swim after climbing and hiking up through the jungle! So worth it #kohsamui #travel #canon #thailand #waterfall

Thailand is the perfect place for new backpackers to start and the surrounding countries have endless reasons to visit.

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I’ve been backpacking South East Asia the last 6 months and encounted with hundreds of backpackers from all the world. They all share their stories, experiences, memories and advice.

What do you do when it rains driving through the jungle. Smoke at a treehouse!

Like anything, travel comes with risks. It comes with more abnormal dangers and unfortunately there has been some terrible accidents.

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Some are quickly published across social media, explaining the awful stories with devastating effects.

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Its gives us a quick idea and traces of worry for those back at home and those on the road backpacking.

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I wanted to explain a little more, as a young solo backpacker on the safety of travel in South East Asia.

Asia is a pretty safe place. In fact, I feel safer in most places here then I do walking about in London.

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Going solo, people imagine walking along secluded beaches and roads completley on your own out of reach with the rest of the world.

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Walking 2 miles on a secluded beach with no wifi, signal or much sign of anything. A few beach huts, one cafe and a pier.

Ok, I have had a few wierd lonely walks looking for accomodation and long walks down beaches and jungles with no signal. However, there is somone almost always around. Even if the language barrier is difficult, there are others around if needed.

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The truth is, you’re not in any more danger then at home. The biggest difference is the help you well get and the comforts you want. There may be a language barrier and things may not be as accesible.

You can’t just come ask your mum to pick you up. You’re not 5 minutes from your mates house.

Evening boat to Ko Samui after a hectic day! Everyone inside so the deck to myself. Cloudy, overcast, warm and windy

Numerous people tell me that when they travel they grow up. Being able to look after yourself is key wherever you in the world, there will always be people to help but being in these different circumstances really does show you how important your health and safety really is.

Like anywhere in the world, accidents will happen, no country is immune from terrorist attacks and there are evil and dangerous people everywhere.

South East Asia is filled with magical places, crazy and friendly locals and of course different laws then we may be used to.

With the leading religion being Buddhist. It’s actually a pretty chilled out destination.

The countries have some terrible history and frightning stories in the past,

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but where we are today,  it couldn’t be more safer to travel.

Security has stepped up, the access for communication and information across the globe has improved massively over the last ten years, not to mention social media backpacking communities, forums, websites,  personal pages and blogs sharing experiences, tips and advice.

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It’s 2017, we are no longer in the stone ages. South East Asia may hold some of the poorest countries and villages, the most remote tropical destinations

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but all in all, they’re pretty up to date.

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Places like Thailand are becoming so connected with the rest of the world making anything accessible including great health care. It can offer great places for anyone homesick. Easy 24 hour internet, with hundreds of amazing western comforts.

After an insane day we call it a night. Feeling pretty tired and leaving Rasta bar we talk about craving a good hot chocolate! We drive past a place near my hostel I've seen in the day that is a coffee shop designed as a living room. It's 1am. Mocha ordered, TV on. Doors closed and we are having a movie, cake and coffee lock in. Just what I needed! #coffee #movienight #midnight #adventure #thailand

Normality
In South East Asia what they call normal, for westerners, is absolutely bonkers.

I’ve seen full buildings held up by bamboo. I’ve seen families of 5 riding with no helmets on motorbikes.

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Not to mention the countless young children driving motobikes, dozens of cows wondering the streets and unhygeinic street stalls.

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Traveling is supposed to take you out of your comfort zone, experience crazy things and visit magical places.

Canyon at sunset #pai #thailand #travel

If we really want to see the world, we have to take things to that extra level. If it wasn’t worth doing, then the countless of hundreds and thousands of backpackers all over the world wouldnt be packing their bags and leaving on long term trips all over the world.

Jungle #kohphangan #jungleparty #thailand #hostelworld

Jungle party #kohphangan

If the dangers have to increase to feel this alive and free. To experience the magical and incredible memories I now have. If it’s the only way to learn the lessons I have and am learning, then I will take any risk I have too and I know I am not the only one.

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When accidents happen out, we sometimes hear before the news, even before social media has shared it and the news have published the story.

As backpackers, travelers and globe trotters, we are a community. A community of young and old all over the world. There is no forms or racism, sexism, homophobia.

Anyone and everyone can and should travel.IMG_1107First night on Khao San.

When news articles and stories about accidents not only in Asia, but all over the world, we all mourn.

1455142470610Despite maybe never connecting with the people, we know the places they’ve been, the hostels they stayed in. We can relate to their journeys like my family can relate to other parents with children traveling all over the world.

We are a long way from home and things are not the same.

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I have friends and family worrying about me all the time, and in a way they have every right too. I’m on my own in some of the poorest and hectic countries, I’m on crazy journeys, meeting all sorts of people and taking risks everday.

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Mine are just a little different then to the ones at home!

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We don’t hear about the thousand and thousands of tourists making it home every year. The countless people leaving on one way flights and making it back to friends and family.

imagesSo the dangers?

Food.

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The hygeine standards in South East Asia can be pretty poor. The busy roads are filled with stalls selling fresh meat, open fresh fruit and tons of other things. Compared to the standards for us westerners, it’s very different.

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Local can food can be the best and cheapest place to eat. I have eaten all over South East Asia at endless street stalls, local business, random markets and top resturants. In the 5 months I’ve been over here, i’ve had one or two brief little bugs for 48 hours. Make sure you always keep yourself hydryted as it can get exstremly hot and humid here.

Ease your way into the traditional food and ice. Drink bottled water and maybe sometimes avoid the meat, never the less, South East Asia has some of the most amazing food!

Robbery.

South East Asia has some of the poorest parts of the world. Most people are harmless but it’s definatley been known that stuff can be easily taken if not careful.

I have been lucky so far with most my belongings but I have heard of many stories in regards things being stolen. Most places have lockers and safety box’s plus  everyones in the same boat. In parts of Cambodia it’s known for passing bikes to snatch and all over Thailand the tuk tuk’s will remind you to hold onto your stuff.

Always keep an eye on your stuff, try and keep things locked up where possible and don’t go out at night with your passport. No one needs ID out here. If things do get stolen report everything to the police, block your cards and let your insurance know whats happened.

Motorbikes.

Motorbikes/scooters/mopeds are by far the most used and convenient mode of transport all over South East Asia.

They are easy to rent, pretty cheap to buy and make life a lot easier. Most locals have been riding since young teenagers and most rodes are designed for bikes to get through.

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I’m a huge lover for motorbikes and try and rent one where possible but even then however try have an idea of the roads and always wear a helmet. Check out the bike first and for those driving for the first time, at least get some idea of how to drive the bike.

Booze & Drugs.

I’ve found most backpacking accidents have been when drinking. We all like to have fun and I’ve had my fair share of drunken nights out all over the world but just remember you’re not in the comfort of your own country.

The laws of drug use is slightly different all over never the less they are not tolerated. Okay, it’s easy to get all over South East  Asia at cheaper prices then back at home. Truthfully, there are hundreds of backpackers all over doing it. Just be careful who you buy it off and who is about. It’s worth being that extra cautious. Locals are known to work with the police when selling and you don’t always know who to trust.

Travel Insurance

This may get a little intense but it’s got to be said. We all need it. Our health and safety is the most valuable thing we have and it’s easily taken for granted.

Many of us never even need to go over the insurance details or ever need to take action.

If the worst case scenario was to ever happen, who is left with the problems?  Who is left with the finanical side of things, the emotional side. The planning as to what to do now and to how they will cope. Not you.

Life can be a really cruel place, but if you seek to travel and explore the rest of the world. Just remember who is left with the broken pieces if things went wrong. For the sake of £50. Purchase and priority proper travel insurance. For everyones sake.

Police.

They all have different roles in each country and can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. The truth is, they’re doing there job. Luckily, in some way, money is easily used instead of proper punishment. The cops can be payed off, or a hefty fine will do. For those budget backpackers, this isn’t convinent never the less it sure is a better option then going to prison.

Anywhere you visit in the world comes with risks and dangers. South East Asia is no different.

inspirational-travel-quoteso What if?

I’ve met people caught with drugs, bashed up from a road accident.  I’ve met backpackers beaten up from locals, others having stuff stolen. So what if?

Like mentioned, many officers and buisness’ can be payed off with a certain amount of cash. They can ask up to 20/30,000 baht (Around £400) for catching you with weed. If any road accidents happen, especially with a local, then can ask for around £2,000. Trust me, I have had friends pay this. I hear lots of stories from experiances and it’s not all a fun one.

My safety travel tips

  • Have a backup if you loose your bank card. Don’t leave no spare acess to money.
  • It’s worth being extra bit cautious.
  • Always have some kind of map or app on your phone so you know where you are. I am always using maps.me. Click here to get the app. However don’t always rely on technology. Carry a map with you if possible. Hostels and buisness’ are always providing free city maps.
  • Have money at home or family prepared to help you a flight somewhere or for any emergency.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Always have some currency on you, including going through borders.
  • If you buy drugs, try and use your common sense on who’s dodgy or not. Make sure to check out the laws as all over South East Asia they have different policies from fines – death sentance.
  • Take any notes for any long term prescription drugs, make sure you get the right jabs and tablets and it may be worth knowing your blood type.
  • Try to avoid carrying around too much cash with you.
  • Have someone know what journeys your making when moving cities or countries. I always let people know when i’m flying or catching a long bus.
  • Take a photo of your accomdation or take their card when going out at night. After a few drinks it’s easy to forget the way back or even where your staying.
  • Have a spare copy of your passport. I always leave one back at home and try and keep a spare copy with my stuff.

Click here for all Emergency numbers all over the world!