The last time that we went it was a spur of the moment thing so we used whatever we had saved at that time. This time we have put a little more thought into it and have spent the last year saving and planning.
The thing that was the most important to us is to be debt free before travelling which for us meant paying the mortgage off in full. We appreciate that we are incredibly lucky to have achieved this, but Joey bought his 1 bedroom flat 12 years sago and we’d spent a couple of years making overpayments to reduce the debt. We are renting out the flat whilst we are away, but this is not to fund our trip, instead this is money that we will use when we return from travelling. When we returned last time we were broke and I had to rush into a temping position to get us some fast cash. When we get back next time we want to take our time finding the right jobs, so this money will be used for that purpose.
We set ourselves a target which we based on how long we wanted to travel for and what we expect our daily budget to be. We opted for a daily budget of £30 each, which will cover everything: food, accommodation, transport and sightseeing activities. We average this out over a month so each month we’ll be looking at spending no more than £1800, which we will keep track of on a budgeting app. Joey has a Nationwide Flex plus account which gives him a bank card that can withdraw cash abroad with no bank charges. I have an Halifax account and their Clarity credit card allows foreign transactions with no additional charges. We also both opened Starling bank accounts. Starling, along with Monzo and Revolut offer accounts with cards that don’t incur bank charges whilst withdrawing funds abroad. Monzo and Revolut both have a monthly limit of a couple of hundred pounds a month and as we saw above, that isn’t going to get your very far. On top of this Revolut’s accounts aren’t currently covered by the FSCS. Now I am by no means a financial expert, but I do know that you want your money to be covered by this. If the bank goes under then your money won’t be protected and in all likelihood you will lose it.
Starling is protected by the FSCS and the only limit it is has is that you can only withdraw up to £300 a day. Whilst we have yet to use the cards abroad we have been impressed with the service and app so far.
So how did we save? Well, we had a little luck on our side of starters, Joey secured a payrise by moving from being employed to contracting. This meant that whilst the work wasn’t as secure as previously the rewards were higher. We also saved what we would have paid on our mortgage each month, and other sums as soon as we were paid. We cut back on a few things (I did cry when I didn’t get a single birthday present) and Christmas presents were only travel related items (I was actually pretty excited to receive my new water bottle). We took our lunches into work and cut back on going out. The most important thing we did was just pile money into our savings as soon as we got paid, that way we couldn’t spend it! As interest rates were so low we invested our savings into Premium Bonds and we did have a few wins which helped to boost the funds. I set up three separate accounts as well which are separate to our daily budgets. One is for any flights that we may need to catch, another one is for visa costs and the other one is for ‘big travel activities’. We know that we want to hot air ballooning in Bagan, Myanmar and paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal and those activities cost a fair amount so now we have that saved separately. I have also kept in my account an amount of money that will cover any expenses in the UK (Netflix to keep us entertained on long journeys). We have decided to switch our phones to pay as go contracts before we leave so we are not paying for something that we won’t be using.
When you are on the road you don’t want to be carrying too much cash, but having places to stash your cash are essential. For onward journeys we had an ankle wallet to carry our cards and any large amount of cash. This was worn by one of us under our trousers. It can also be worn on your arm under a loose t-shirt. This time around we have a couple of other places to hide our cash, such as secret pockets in scarves. Otherwise Joey’s smelly socks are an excellent place as no one will want to go near those!