The two questions I often get about my current lifestyle are:
- How do you afford to travel all the time?
- You always seem to be travelling, do you ever work?
To put it into context, I’m an Australian living in London with my partner. We travel on average once a month outside of London. And I own a home in Australia.
Luck didn’t get me here. Below are 15 tips on how to afford regular travel, live overseas and own a home based on my own experiences:
- Book travel in advance – save money by booking ahead, especially for bank holidays and during peak times for your destination e.g. summer, festival. By January 2016 I’d booked almost 20 of my 25 day holiday allowance for 2016 so that we could start securing cheap flights, tours and accommodation!
- Travel outside peak times – we travelled to Faro in Portugal in January and whilst it was winter, we had a day of sun at the beach! Not quite swimming weather but we had zero competition for the best seat at the restaurant on the beachfront! Check out Skyscanner and search ‘London’ to ‘everywhere’ and select ‘cheapest month’ for cheap travel. You may even find an exciting new destination you’ve never heard of!
- Sometimes you only need the weekend – London is so close to Europe. The beauty is that you can enjoy a weekend in places likes Italy, France, Germany etc and it will look like you’re travelling all the time! While this is true, you’re just making the most of the weekend! And in fact you may not spend much more than if you’d stayed at home in London.
- Seek out tips from locals – there’s often cheaper places to eat with much better quality and atmosphere. Don’t fall into the tourist trap. This applies to things to see and do as well. In Barcelona, about a 10 minute bus ride from Catalunya Square, you can see a flamenco show at a much cheaper price with locals in comparison to a flamenco show on Las Ramblas (main street) with a bunch of other tourists
- Get your guide to barter for you – being a tourist puts a dollar sign on your head. You may also be out of practice if you’re used to paying what’s on the price tag. If your tour guide is willing to help you barter, or even do the bartering on their own, you can save some serious cash. If they won’t barter for you, ask them what a reasonable price is for the item. And wipe that big excited smile off your face. The salesman will charge you more because they know you REALLY want it. Example – Harry in Morocco. Two scarves and a shirt later, he was 300 dirhams poorer. Insert Tip 6. All three items remained in our final hotel in Morocco as we did not have space in our bags, nor would we have worn them ever again!
- Take your budget on holiday – it’s easy to get excited in a new place and spend all your money upfront. Work out a budget and stick to it, with a bit of give and take for the spontaneous moments. It helps if you have a buddy to keep you in check. Travel with carry on baggage if you can. And avoid dust-collecting souvenirs
- You need income – there’s a lot of people out there who seem to travel for a living and make ends meet. Unfortunately owning a home means more responsibility. I work in HR and don’t love my job every day but it brings in the money I need for this life changing experience!
- Treat your life like a business – if you wrote down all your expenses and looked at each one, where could you make savings? Is there a more competitive home loan rate? Could you get a better phone plan? Could you walk instead of catching public transport? Would a weekly / monthly / annual travel card save you money? Do you really need a hair cut every 6 weeks? Oh, and foils instead of a full tint means more time between hair appointments
- Cut out material waste – do you want to travel? Or own a beautiful Gucci handbag? I know the answer but that’s because I put travel first. In fact if you have anything of value, sell it on eBay and put it towards your travel fund! That’s what I did!
- Live in a share house – if you look hard enough, you can find a large and comfortable room in a share house with everything you need (cooking utensils, furniture, the lot) within Zone 2. We even currently have our own en-suite! Much cheaper rent than a place to ourselves and other people to share bills with
- Don’t own a car – even if you find a cheap car to buy, the costs for registration, petrol, potential damage, insurance and parking adds up. Do you really need it? I haven’t owned a car now for 3 years!
- Shop smarter – despite supermarket competition, for some reason even the same products can be much cheaper at some supermarkets. Make the effort to go to the ones that stock your products for less. Asda and Morrisons are our favourites
- Cook for yourself – the rent is expensive in London but the food is cheap. You can cook up a dinner for two for a few pounds. There are also lots of different lunch deals to take advantage of like the 3 pound meal deals at Sainsburys
- Research – if you do go out to a restaurant, it’s worth the few minutes on Google to see if your restaurant of choice has a deal going. Alternatively if your heart (or stomach) are not already set on a particular restaurant, you may find another restaurant nearby or the same type of cuisine with great reviews and price. We also use apps like Groupon to find activities and weekends away to save money. This is how we discovered the overnight husky camp! There’s even an app for a cocktail bar called Be At One for 2 for 1 cocktails once happy hour is over!
- Get ahead – it doesn’t happen overnight. I bought my home in 2008 and worked 7 days a week for years to get ahead. This now means I have the freedom to miss or reduce a payment as needed
If you have to choose, and you’re not ready to settle, travel! You can save up and buy a home later. You will soon forget your washing machine purchase but you will never forget your night sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert.