‘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 three years traveling extensively through Europe, Asia and Australia.

I’ve done and seen A LOT.

Vietnam

*10 minute read

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

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.

Despite the odd birthday or Christmas, I may receive £100 from my parents which I put towards my travels.

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.

Even paying for parking 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 big phone 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 any 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 do 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. I’m writing a post on easy hacks for long term travel here.

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 had to save 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.

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.

10 Responses

  1. Oana

    It is nice to meet you and I feel more confident after I read your article. You have a wonderful life and I am sure a wonderful soul. Congratulations for everything! Your story is inspiring for all of us. Keep up your good work and be grateful for everything! Regards! Fairytale Traveller – http://www.fairytaletraveller.com

    Reply
  2. Nicola Billows

    A wonderful, inspiring read. It’s wonderful what a positive mindset can achieve. Happy travelling!

    Reply
    • Leah Cole

      Oh wow, thank you for such kind feedback. You’re totally right. It’s all in the mind, everything is out there. Happy traveling to you also Nicola. Appreciate the comment! Leah x

      Reply
  3. Saint Facetious

    It’s a pretty good answer to that ever annoying question of “how do you afford it”. Work and budget. Easy. How do you afford anything in life you want?

    Reply
  4. Laura

    I actually loved this. I love the honesty and integrity and the fact you’re humble! Adventures look absolutely amazing! I can’t believe how affordable all these prices are!!!

    Reply
    • Leah Cole

      Thank you Laura! haha I get a lot of questions asking about money and it totally makes sense so I decided to be honest and tell everyone. Things can be so affordable, it’s all the mindset of what you’re after. Appreciate the comment Laura! Happy travels x

      Reply
  5. Fiia

    What a great post! An interesting topic and I love how honestly you write about it. I haven’t travelled anywhere as much as you have but I still get the same question about money all the time. It’s all about choices and prioritizing what you want in life 🙂

    Reply
    • Leah Cole

      Exactly Fiia! It’s priorities. Everyone just has different ones, and mine is to travel! Hopefully you have plenty of time in the future to travel to where you want. Happy travels and all the best!! Thanks again for the comment xx

      Reply
  6. Nasreen

    I like your philosphy of travelling… And you’re right about the fact it’s not all that expensive as it seems! It all depends on how you plan your trip and budget! I really enjoyed your post, very inspiring 🙂

    Reply
    • Leah Cole

      Thank you Nasreen. Appreciate the lovely comment! People pay for the convenience and ease of things and to be totally honest, so many things are a waste of money. Happy travels my dear! x

      Reply

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