Cash. Dough. Bread. Pounds. Dollars. Euros.
I’ve decided to do a series of posts about common blockers that might stop someone from travelling and the first one is – money. It costs money to travel. Fact. Unless you’re one of those super savvy people who manage to blag things all the time, or find an ingenious way of getting what you want, like that dude who put a paperclip on eBay and then kept trading random things until he eventually got a house. But most people aren’t like that, so you’re going to need some cash.
I remember emailing my friend Caroline (I do have more than one friend, I promise) a couple of years ago. I wanted to travel, and I had my sights set on Brazil, but I had a huge blocker. Money. For some reason I had it in my head that I needed £10,000 to do it. TEN GRAND?!
Ridiculous, isn’t it? I mean, I still over estimate what I need money-wise and it stems from thinking its better to have too much than get stranded – I’ve been there, done that and it ain’t fun – but these days, I’m a lot more realistic. So, how much money do you need to go travelling? It’s a complicated question, based on a lot of things.
Are you doing a ‘big bang’ travel adventure? There’s the whole gap year thing which insinuates that you should get it out of your system in one go. Before or after uni, before you get a ‘real’ job and start making money, having babies etc etc. That’s all nice and dandy if you have that set up behind you where you can afford to go travelling before you’ve really earned a decent wage and saved for it. Maybe you’ve got family who can fund it or credit cards (just no), but either way, travelling for a year, across the world, will not come cheap. Flights alone will dent your pocket in a big way. Personally, as much as I’d love to globe trot for a year solid, I know that’s just not in my remit right now. I’m happy to go somewhere, come back, go somewhere, come back. Like a boomerang. That way, the cost can be spread and you can do things at a more leisurely pace.
Second of all, destinations. Australia, The States, Canada and western Europe will cost bucks. That’s pretty much a given. Africa, South-America (some parts anyway), Eastern Europe, some parts of Asia – they’ll cost less. This is where your personal preferences come into play, as well as what it is you want to get out of travelling. Invariably, the cheaper the place is, the harder the place is. No fluffy pillows to lay your head on, lack of sanitation, etc etc, but hey, you’ll live like a king. And how much do you need to live like a king? Can you stretch £3k to last 4 months? Yes, you can. I did. And I didn’t budget myself at all, really. Honestly, I could easily have taken half of that.
Activities. This is where a HUGE chunk of money will go (apart from booze). If you’re going to want to ride elephants, pet big cats, zipline through the jungle, go on safari, take cooking classes, take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, you better be prepared to pay for it. Personally? I don’t like most of the organised, targetted activities. I was, but then I looked into a lot of them and decided I didn’t like the ethics. So you want to ride an elephant? Good for you. Just be aware that the elephants you pay to ride on may not be treated in a humane way. After all, they weren’t made for you to sit on. Going to a decent sanctuary (and most worth their salt will allow you to get up close and personal, wash them etc without riding them) is just as good. And as for petting big cats? I think the Tinder thing of men posing with them hasn’t helped here. Most of them are heavily sedated in order for you to do so. All I’m saying is, do a little research and if you want to have these experiences, there are plenty of alternatives where you can get the same effect without the nastiness. It’ll still cost, at any rate.
Basically, there’s no easy answer to how much money you’d need, but I’d say whatever figure you’ve got in mind, halve it. Most of the time, we apply western/first world prices to things and that just simply doesn’t work (again, depends where you’re going). Be savvy. Eat local food instead of heading towards a McDonald’s, Starbucks or whatever (depending on where in the world you are). Organise things yourself or with your friends instead of going along with a tour operator (where safe and possible to do so). Learning to budget while you’re travelling, whether it’s in Cambodia or your girls holiday in Ibiza is a good life lesson. We all have to budget, unless you’re a millionaire.
You’re already living on less than you usually would – you’re not planning on carrying every single item you possess in your backpack, are you? So why not apply the same logic to your money?