It’s a question I’m asked again and again. “How do you do it? How do you travel so much?” Usually delivered with an incredulous gaze.
I do travel a lot. I also work full time. I earn an average working person’s wage and have not been given swathes of money by a parent or any other benefactor. So, then, how do I do it? How do I travel so often?
There are three main factors which answer this question:
I don’t spend money on other things and choose to spend money on travelling instead.
I’ve addressed the first two points in the blog posts I’ve linked to above. In this post, I will address the third: what I don’t spend my money on so I can spend it on travel instead.
Here is what I don’t spend money on:
Neither Paul or I have a car. This frees up lots of money, on the car itself, insurance, petrol, etc. When we began to think of buying a flat a requirement for both of us was that wherever we bought was close to our workplaces in the city centre and everywhere else we wanted to go. Instead of driving we usually walk and occasionally use public transport (benefit of living in a fairly small city). When I walk past driveways I often see two cars parked in them and I wonder if these are the same people who question how I can afford to travel 🙂
Buying a flat close to our workplaces means we don’t have to spend a lot of money on public transport to get there and back. Our flat is just a 35 minute walk from our offices and we usually walk there and back, saving us a lot of money on public transport costs.
We live in a cheaper area
When we bought our first flat a few years ago we had to consider what area of Glasgow we wanted to live in. We had always rented in the desirable West End (albeit, in tiny flats in the least desirable parts of it) but when it came to buy the property prices were a lot more than we were willing to pay. We could have just about managed it but the result would have been a massive chunk of our salaries going to straight our monthly mortgages payments, leaving a lot less money to spend on other things such as travel. We knew we didn’t want this so instead we looked at cheaper areas of Glasgow such as the East End and South Side, the latter which we ended up buying in.
Sky TV, BT Sports, Virgin, whatever luxury channels there are, we don’t have any of them. It’s just Netflix for us.
We have no pets, which means no money spent on food, pet insurance, or any unexpected operations which can cost thousands of pounds.
At the moment we don’t have children which saves us all the money spent on having and raising kids. This seems to be a big factor from the comments I’ve read online under articles about people who have travelled or done impressive things. These comments tend to read along the lines of “Yes, it’s easy to do XYZ if you don’t have kids.” In the nicest way possible, I would like to remind those people that having kids (most of the time) is an active choice you make too.
The average UK wedding costs £27k. From married friends I have spoken to, it appears to be difficult to do even a budget wedding for under £10k. In the last four years Paul and I have travelled to Berlin, Tokyo, South Korea, Hamburg, Dresden, Lebanon, Greece, Marseille, London, Milan, Spain, Warsaw, Paris and Brazil and the combined total of it, all flights and accommodation, for both of us is less than 10k!
Restaurants, bars, clubs etc
I choose not to spend a lot of money going out. A restaurant meal is a treat, not a regular outing, and pub trips are intercepted with nights in the living room drinking wine. I do like going out, particularly to gigs, but I keep an eye on my spending and reign it in if it’s getting too much.
Same with clothes. I tend to buy staples, i.e. one pair of jeans, summer, jacket, winter, jacket, a few work dresses, a few jumpers and t shirts, and when one gets too tatty they are replaced. I don’t buy multiple purchases of things I don’t need. Everything I buy is from cheaper shops like H&M, New Look and ASOS and I will only spend over £25 on something if it’s a more expensive item like a winter coat or a formal dress for a wedding.
Paul and I don’t tend to own a lot of expensive luxury items. The only expensive items we own are our laptop, camera and phones. We bought those things because we use them every day and each purchase was researched and carefully considered to make sure we were getting the best deal (we don’t own Apple anything – it’s too expensive). And when we bought them they came with a twinge of guilt, even though we use them every day!
So, when you take a look at the things we don’t spend money on, this frees up a lot for travel.
Of course, there are privileges I enjoy which enable me to travel so often. I have my health. Both Paul are able to work and have full time jobs.
Also, I must make it clear; I hope this article does not come across as an attack on those who do choose to spend their money on restaurant meals, SKY TV with all the channels, two dogs and two cars, etc. Go ahead if that’s what you enjoy and prioritise. If you work for your money you should be able to spend as you wish guilt free.
I just want to make it clear that not spending my money on these things plays a huge role in how I am able to travel so often.