It’s a dream that many people have – to step away from their everyday lives and travel to the places they’ve always wanted to see.
Work and family life can often get in the way but according to a recent Experian survey, travelling is the one thing that most people dream of doing. Indeed, 45.9 per cent of people questioned said they would go travelling if there was nothing to stop them.
Some of the reasons that people gave for not being able to indulge their wanderlust included a lack of finance, motivation, knowledge and confidence. After all, travelling costs a fair bit of money and can take a considerable amount of time and effort to organise.
But is it really as complicated as you think and could you actually be stopping yourself from fulfilling your travelling dream, just because you think making it happen might be too difficult?
Here are a few things to think about that could make that dream become reality.
It might not be as expensive as you think. Everyone who wants to travel has different budgets and expectations, be it driving across America in a campervan, travelling the world with a backpack and sleeping in hostels, or never resorting to less than a three-star hotel. But everyone can cut costs. For example:
- Look at how you travel. Is it cheaper to go by bus or coach than it is by train or plane – and is it cheaper to buy tickets in advance or from certain websites, such as trainline.com in the UK? Dig around. “When I travelled to Australia, I booked my internal flights nine months before I flew,” says Nick Kirby, 46. “A flight that cost me $99 would have cost me $300 had I booked it a month before travelling.”
- Think of where you stay. The internet is a wonderful thing and you can search out a whole host of places to stay – from hostels to top hotels – before you travel. If you’re happy to travel without set plans, you can search out accommodation when you arrive in at your destination by talking to fellow travellers or visiting travel forums. If you prefer more certainty, you can always book a hotel through websites such as booking.com. Doing it this way means you can often cancel your reservation free of charge if your plans change or you find something cheaper nearer the time.
- Watch where you eat. You needn’t spend all your time in restaurants or fast food joints. Supermarkets in many locations provide a cheaper option. And if you’re staying in self-catering accommodation, such as a studio apartment, cooking for yourself will always save you money. Street food can be delicious as well as cheap – even if you don’t always know what you’re eating! Siobhan Morton-Roberts travelled to Australia and Thailand with a friend for 11 months in her late 20s. She says: “We always looked for bargains in supermarkets to get the best deals and we were based near a market so we always visited it towards the end of the day to make sure we got good deals as they were getting rid of stuff.”
It’s all in the budgeting. Travel, accommodation and essential expenses such as food are going to be your main outgoings, so take the time to find out how much you’re going to need for the time you’re away. Then add in how much you think you’ll need for extras such as going out, buying gifts and emergencies. It’s possible that the final figure might not be as high as you expected, which would be great news.
Rachel Creane, 35, is in the final month of an 18-month journey with her partner, Alex, which has seen them visit 31 countries, including far-flung destinations such as Turkmenistan and Colombia. “It took six months to plan the whole trip, but it was definitely necessary,” she says. “The preparations are a full-time job in the months preceding the trip. There are things you might not think about, such as the cost of visas – usually an arm and a leg. We budgeted €20,000 for the trip for two of us and saved a lot of money, as well as crowdfunding some of the trip.”
If you don’t think you’re going to be able to put enough money aside, then go back over your options and rethink some things. Could you find cheaper accommodation or means of travel, or reduce your spending budget?
Alternatively, you could look at cutting some of your outgoings before you travel and clearing some debts. This can free up money to finance your plans. Don’t throw in the towel at the first hurdle!
And don’t forget that you may still have some outgoings to meet while you’re away – such as a mortgage, insurance policies and so on – so make sure you factor these in.
Can you make money while you’re away? This might not have entered your mind, but if you were planning on staying in one place for some time, would you be able to pick up some work? What skills do you have that you might be able to use? Check what permits are required or what kind of work you might be able to do. Jessie Bock, from Brisbane, travelled to Europe for three years with her partner when she was in her 20s. “We worked in pubs while we were travelling. Quite often, they came with live-in accommodation and food included, so while the money wasn’t great we didn’t have those expenses and could see places during our time off,” she says.
Alternatively, how about renting out your own property while you’re away. It means that the mortgage (or at least part of it) will get paid.
Give yourself time and be flexible. Going away for a certain length of time requires careful planning. But as well as giving yourself enough time to put a comprehensive plan together, you need to be flexible. “If you’re going away for a longer period of time, you need to keep a close eye on your budget,” says Rachel. “Certain things may happen – you may decide to stay longer in some places than others, or have to change plans because a volcano erupts and all transport in a region is cancelled. Or you may find that some places are more expensive than you thought.”
What about your job at home? Understandably, one of the things that may stop people living out their travelling dream is the thought of giving up their job. But some people put this hurdle in their way without realising that there might not actually be a hurdle there in the first place. Siobhan says: “I worked for An Post (the Irish equivalent of the Royal Mail). As I had been there for several years they kept my job open for me, which was great, as I knew I had instant money when I got back. I was planning the trip for a year so I was able to give my employer plenty of notice. I have no doubt that if you’re a top performer, your employer will at the very least give some thought to helping you out.”
Rachel, on the other hand, just took the plunge. “We both quit our jobs before leaving,”she says. “We both wanted to do something a bit different so it seemed like a good time to take a break.”
As much as a large number of people might dream of travelling to places far and wide, we accept that there might be practical things that get in your way, such as having children and limited school holidays (a time at which it is more expensive to travel). But sometimes the dream is more attainable that you realise, and only thing that is stopping you is yourself!