The First Steps
The time comes in every persons' life when they must step out of their comfort zone. Some do it for hours, others weeks, and some for months; we definitely fall into the latter. For the past year and half we have been planning a round the world trip (often referred to as RTW) and we would like to take you through our preparations, if you can hold back the jealousy. The first change is one in the head, mentally preparing yourself to make a big change to your lifestyle. The second is putting those thoughts into action and make small day to day changes that will add up to a bigger whole, the big trip abroad.
Day To Day Saving
The first step is a formality; unless you have a job that allows for freedom and travel, or you have significant savings, you'll need to board the good ship money saving. Our aim was to save £1k each for every month of travel, hoping to travel for 9 months, we'll let you do the maths. We made a number of changes to our lives knowing that any money saved in the UK would go really far abroad. Firstly, we stopped getting weekly takeaways, cut meat from our weekday diets and limited out goings at the weekend, especially those hours in the pub. This wasn't actually as hard as it sounds but self restraint and, without sounding like a politician, sticking to the long term plan are qualities you will need to build for big savings. We would also argue that we are in a healthier place from the reduction in beer, MSG and meat!
Another money saving tactic was to rent out our spare room, which allowed us to save £600 a month. We appreciate that this is a luxury, to have an extra room, but renters could move in with a couple or into a larger rented house with other renters to soak up some extra coins.
With some hard graft and year and a half of time, we have been able to save most of the money. But little did we know that there would be some surprise expenses for RTW travel, let us elaborate. The first large, and important, outgoing cost was travel insurance. Depending what activities you intend to do your insurance can be costly. Ali was very thorough, comparing and contrasting four different policies. Some cheaper some more expensive and ultimately it all depends on the type of trip you plan to have. Our main interests are trekking and camping which don't carry many risks. With the only issue being the height we might trek at. Travel Nomads did the best cover that was inclusive of all the activities you might do from cross country treks, up to a height of 2km above sea water. The price for Nomads medium package was around £900 for both of us. Sainsbury's did a similar deal for £450 but we were concerned they might not have the experience to deal with the potential issues of RTW travel. Opting instead for the experienced hand of the Nomads.
Another surprise cost was the cash needed for Jabs and Malaria tablets. We have travelled a fair bit over recent years and so didn't need many of the free NHS jabs; typhoid, HEP A & B, Tetnus and Polio. Others need to be paid for and they don't come cheap. We needed three jabs for Rabies at £40 each, two jabs of Japanese Encephalitis at £90 each, two of Tick Born Encephalitis at £65 each and finally anti-malarial drugs, which ranges depending on the type you use. Malarone, which has the least side effects, works out at £105 per person per month! So as a couple would cost £630 for just 3 months of protection. It is obviously worth it considering the risks of Malaria, but a huge expense. A slightly cheaper alternative is something called Generic Malarone which is basically an un-branded Malarone and works out to be £88 per person per month. You can research into your medical needs here. If you planning your trip now get to the travel clinic at least three months before travel to give you time to arrange the jabs, many of them are administered over several months. We used Nomad Travel for our jabs, different to our insurance company.
Our plan is to use as little air travel as possible; preferring to journey by trains and road. As we are starting in Europe, it makes sense to use Interrail tickets as they allow unlimited train travel across a calendar month. Better still, if you book in January you can get a 15% discount, which is considerable if there's two of you. Current prices are £441 pp for 22 days or £569 for month, for adults. Check out interrail here and watch out for any reductions.
Another very useful website is Rome to Rio, which allows for accessible cheap road based routes found anywhere in the world. Really easy to use with several travel options and local pricing; a road travellers' best friend. If you are planning on travelling by plane we'd also recommend checking out Hopper, which tells you when to purchase flights. The app gives you a notification when a watched flight has reduced in price. It turns out those sneaky airlines randomly put their prices down for a few days every week, deals a plenty!
Travelling itself is about shedding the importance of objects and seizing what each day brings. That said, some equipment can make life easier or, indeed, cheaper. We are taking lightweight pots, pans, gas and hob, not to mention plastic sporks! We are hoping to cook our own food as much as possible, using local ingredients and some ingenuity to make our savings go as far as possible. Clearly the weight we carry will be a bit of a burden but hopefully it will be worth it. The inspiration came from meeting a chef in Patagonia who prepared amazing food using only dried ingredients, leaving mushrooms and chickspeas soaking in water as he and his partner went out walking, ready to be cooked that evening, sir chef we salute you!
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