Long-term travel: how are we doing it?

When you tell people you are going on a Round The World trip usual responses include: “I’m so jealous, I wish I could do that!” and “If only I could afford such a trip!”.

Credit: Grant Cochrane

People assume you’ve got masses of savings or your parents must be paying for it. The truth is, myself and my boyfriend Daryl have funded our trip 100% from our own hard-earned cash – and neither of us had a penny saved before we began planning our travels!

In total our savings pot contains about £24,000 between us, which we have accrued over about two years. This may sound a daunting amount of money; however, with a bit of discipline and a few lifestyle changes it is achievable. Besides, I’m not very good with money management so if I can do it, anyone can!

Here’s how we did it:

  • We moved to cheaper accommodation. Firstly, we moved from our beautiful apartment to a cheaper one as soon as we could. We stayed in the cheaper place for six months before cutting accommodation costs completely and moving into my Dad’s house for the last nine months before departure. Although it’s not always been easy living in someone else’s house, it has been totally worth it for the amount of money we have saved. Plus, moving away from most of our friends gives us very few opportunities to go to the pub and on nights out, saving us yet more money!
  • We worked our bums off. Daryl in particular has put in some insane hours at work – as well as being ‘on call’ most evenings and weekends. The extra cash picked up through overtime and call-outs has all gone straight in the savings pot. It’s definitely been a slog at times – but knowing we get a year off afterwards eases the pain somewhat.
  • We had zero social life. Moving back down to the East Midlands where I grew up not only saved us rental costs but subsequently our social life took a real nosedive. None of our friends live around there and to be honest the small market town in which we resided is not exactly party central. Yes, it’s been boring. I must admit to feeling pretty depressed on a Saturday night when I had no option but to watch the X Factor for entertainment. There are some plus points to going out less, though – I’ve had far fewer hangovers and can now get tipsy on a lot less wine than previously required!
  • We never went shopping. I mean it – never. Anything I’ve bought for the past year (the handful of things) have all been items I can take travelling. And in case you didn’t already know, travel clothing is not fashionable. I have found it pretty difficult not being able to go clothes shopping for so long, and Daryl will probably have to physically restrain me from buying mountains of tat in the first few countries we visit!
  • I sold my possessions. eBay is a fantastic thing. I went through loads of my old stuff that had been hidden in my mum’s attic for years and sold as much as possible online. I love the thought of my things going to a new home and it’s also really therapeutic to have a good old clearout every so often. Anything that didn’t sell was donated to charity shops.
  • We got rid of our cars. Selling my beloved old Polo was hard, but it didn’t make sense to leave it sitting off the road for a year as it probably would have been knackered by the time I came back. The money I made from the sale was a great boost to my savings. Plus, I no longer had to pay for insurance or petrol.

That’s pretty much how we managed to save what we needed for our trip. We didn’t have our parents’ credit cards, we didn’t have anything saved beforehand and we are both on modest salaries.

Incidentally, we could have saved even more but there is one area of spending that we couldn’t give up: our weekly food bill. What with us having no social life for the past year we needed some nice meals and bottles of wine to keep us sane!

I’d love to hear how others have saved for a RTW trip and if they have any tips to add.

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