You may have read about my travel plans for next year in a post I published last week - if not, do check it out by following the link - and after a lot of questions about how I am financing my trip and making my plans I though it was time for another post on the subject.
I am planning to head off early next year for an open-ended trip across South-East Asia (mainly Thailand, with some other stops thrown in) followed by Australia and New Zealand where I hope to work and extend my stay for as long as possible. One thing that I have been repeatedly asked is how I am preparing for this trip, and , well the quick answer is with two main things - a hell of a lot of READING and a hell of a lot of SAVING. Both equally important because you can have all the money in the world but without knowledge this is useless, and vice versa, you can have all the plans in the world but in the end you have to finance it somehow. At the moment I am delving into several guide books and guides for planning a gap year, along with multiple travel blogs and backpacker online guides to really make sure I have all the information I need.
Meanwhile, I am saving, and hard to make sure that I have the money I need and want put aside to keep me travelling for as long as possible before I need to find work - this is important to me because escaping working full time and education is one of the main reasons I am planning to leave. I have been working since I was 14 years old and in education since I was five, now I think it is time for me to have a break and see the world - to get some real education! So, I have been making cutbacks and changes to my lifestyle which, although tricky, will pay off massively next year when I am on a Thai beach sipping cocktails instead of serving the drinks.
Here are the first set of changes I have made, with more yet to come:
- The first one, as you may have read in a previous post, I have changed my phone contract. It might sound like nothing much, but before I was paying nearly £40 a month or a contract I barely used, when it came to the time for my upgrade, I ignored the texts and emails from O2 and instead kept my same handset (not wanting to get stuck into a two year contract) and changed to a SIM-only contract with a different network. It has cut me down to an £11 a month bill and will be saving me over £300 which will all go straight into the pot - plus I am free to cancel it at any time. (Savings rating - £££)
- I have had a huge sort out of all my clothes and reorganised my wardrobe which has shown me a whole collection of clothes that had been forced to the back and will now get a second chance to show the world what they've got. I am not letting myself buy any new clothes unless I can seriously justify the buy to my mum, or it is something that I can both wear now and when I head off on my travels. (Savings rating - ££££££)
- I have also forced myself to discover eBay and am starting to sell loads of old party dresses that I rarely wear any more. They look sad sitting in my wardrobe and deserve a good home - so I am flogging them all with plans to sell the rest as well. I will be moving on to books and DVDs soon after with plans of doing a few car boot sales in the summer to get rid of the rest. More space and more cash - score! (Savings rating - ££)
- Nights out are something I am happily sacrificing at the moment, the long, miserable winter nights are a time to be snuggled in bed, hibernating and watching rubbish TV. I am perfectly happy to comply and have turned down several nights out lately, or have volunteered to be the driver instead. Staying sober means I save even more pennies! I'd much rather a beer on the beach. It also means I really enjoy the nights out I do have. I am also trying to put away some money for summer festivals at the same time, when I would much rather be spending the dosh. (Savings rating - ££)
- I'm quite lucky that through my work at the newspaper and TFF that I get to score free tickets for reviews to festivals, theatre shows, live music events and more - I will be using my blagging skills to the best of my ability over the coming months when I do plan on heading out. Starting with tickets to the ballet next month. (Savings rating - ££)
- I had planned to start a new set of exercise classes in January/February to keep my routine fresh - starting with boxercise and possibly taking up spinning or something. Once I had decided on going away, I decided I didn't see the point in paying for classes as well as the gym when the money I saved could help pay for a hostel for up to a week. Instead, I got my personal trainer friend to re-jig my routine at the gym and started a fresh new workout with new goals for free! (Savings rating - £)
- Equipment-wise, I will be needing a good backpack and am hoping that my old Duke of Edinburgh one will suffice, saving me lots of cash, if it won't perhaps I can sell that one and put the money towards a new one. Also, for items like an iPad Mini and new camera that I have decided I need for my trip, I am hoping these will be birthday and Christmas gifts from family. (Savings rating - £££)
- One of my weaknesses for spending all those extra pennies I don't keep track of very well has got to be products - skincare, makeup, haircare and the rest. I can never resist a face pack or a mud mask, but these soon eat away at my bank account. Luckily, I was spoiled at Christmas with loads of lovely bath products and make-up so I see this as a saving - I will not have to stock up on any of these for several months. Considering how much I would usually spend, this should keep me a little extra cash for those boat trips. (Savings rating - ££)
- I will be looking at ways of saving money while still maintaining a fun lifestyle this summer - I refuse to give up the festivals as well as the summer holiday, but will find ways of doing them on a budget and spending little on food and drink. Combined with free tickets, this could give me a pretty cheap summer. (Savings rating - £££)
- I may also look at taking on extra work as a freelance copywriter or find other ways of earning extra cash - either through extra work or by speeding up my journalism training so that I get a pay rise. (Savings rating - ££)
- It's also pretty silly, but I'm entering competitions left, right and centre with the hopes of winning a lump sum or something I can sell to help raise more. Unpredictable I know, but every little helps! (Savings rating - £)
I'm always open to any other suggestions and would appreciate any help with finding other ways of saving money and earning a bit extra for my travels. Leave me a comment and tell me how you saved up enough to make your dream come true!