Probably the single most asked question I’ve had since starting out in January, and I always have the same answer. I worked hard. I gave myself a goal and I worked *hard* towards it. Sitting in the library in 4th year knowing it would all be over soon just wasn’t enough. I needed something to look forward to. Something bigger than a certificate at the end.
So on one of my lunchtime meltdowns wandering around Edinburgh questioning what the hell I was doing putting myself through it all, I saw a sign advertising flights to Peru to hike Machu Picchu. And since I was a student still (one of the only perks at that point…) I was getting a discount on flights with my student card. So I sat down in front of a gal called Kristie and before I knew it I was booking flights left right and centre – fully flexible so I could change my mind on dates and destinations – and all that I needed was £50 deposit to hold the price. So I did it. I paid her £50 and took out travel insurance to cover me if anything was to go wrong and I had to cancel altogether. But I knew unless I had a leg hanging off, I was getting on that plane. All that was left to do was graduate…and start saving money.
This was October 2016. By July 2017 I had managed to pay off all of my flights using leftover birthday money & picking up random shifts between classes. Once I graduated I moved home to spend time with my family and save money on rent. Edinburgh is beautiful and I can’t wait to move back, but paying £600+ a month was silly, I could barely break even some months and that’s was a lot of money to go towards my travels that I was paying to just be in one place. So I moved home.
I got a job working in a call centre in my hometown, nice & easy, it was commission based – and I was bloody good at it. Within 6 months I’d managed to make double what I thought I’d be able to in that time. So I handed in my notice and got the ball rolling. Confirming my flights with the airline I had a date set, finally. The 6th January 2018 became my goal. The date to look forward to. I just had to stay sensible and not blow my hard earned cash away over the festivities, and I tell you, it wasn’t easy.
You see when people ask me “how can you afford it”. I can only think in my head “because I wanted it”. I wanted it so bad I did anything to make it. I worked double time. Over time. Holidays. It really didn’t matter, it’s not like I had many plans to be cancelling. I had other uses for my money than spending it in a pub on a Saturday night, along with the makeup, outfits and shoes to go with it. Cos god forbid we repeat an outfit in a town that sees everything…
I worked. I slept. I worked out (when I had the energy – 12 hour shifts really KILL) I hung out with pals – but it didn’t mean I had to be spending money all the time. You can have fun, and it can be free.
Like when I’m out here, doing all this. It doesn’t mean I’m spending money every day. Travelling America for example should have been the biggest chunk out of my budget, but because I’d met and stayed good friends with a lot of people from my year abroad, I found myself reconnecting, and subsequently crashing with them whenever and wherever possible. On air beds, couches, floors, whatever. I could literally sleep on the edge of a knife now, so if it’s warm and I can curl up? I’m sorted.
From being a student and from doing this I’ve learned how to live off very little. Not because I have to but because I’ve learned I really don’t need that much to get by. In places where I don’t know any one my only expenses are my accomodation, food & optional activities and prices of course vary depending on where I am. In south east Asia you can expect to pay £3 a night for a 6 bed dorm. Australia you’re looking at £19 for the same thing, same with New Zealand. America apparently doesn’t really DO hostels. And in truth I only had to stay in a hostel in Miami. The rest of the time I was with friends, family, or sleeping in a tent on top of my zebra wagon. So there’s plenty of ways to SAVE money while travelling, you just have to be smart about it. And I’d put a bet on that my pals at home are chomping through more money a month than I am, just living in one place. It’s not a matter of “how can you afford it”. You just have to want it.
You just have to want it enough to skip that night out, or walk past clothes shops without going in, just because. Your morning coffee is made by your granny and put in a travel cup, not bought at the cafe in your work. Life for me doesn’t revolve around stuff. I like stuff. I like gifts and the feeling that someone has thought about you enough to buy you something you really love. But it’s not the epitome of my happiness.
Standing on top of a mountain looking at a valley 16000ft deep, is. Diving to the bottom of the Fiji ocean and fist bumping turtles, is. Jumping out a plane at 15000ft, maybe isn’t at the top of my list of things to do again straight away… but being on this journey through the world, learning, tasting, experiencing new cultures, meeting new people. Living, is.
I afforded it because I didn’t want to do anything else. It’s not for everyone. And if it’s not, that’s ok too. Smaller trips can be budgeted for in the exact same way though, you just have to believe in yourself that you can do it, and want it enough to prove that you can.
But if I can do it, and I am doing it.
Then I bet you any money in the world that you can too.