This is it! Twenty sixteen - the year we pack up our home, say farewell to Farnham and jet off to SE Asia.
43 days, and counting. Blimey.
I've posted twice before (here and here) about our forthcoming adventure; today I thought I'd share with you how we've done it. The thought of travelling for any amount of time can be both exhilarating and terrifying - so many opportunities, things to see and do... but lots to consider before hand. As the new year begins, now is the perfect time to think about fulfilling those dreams you may have had to explore the world.
When discussing our plans with friends, so many people have said they wish they could pack everything up and do the same. As I said in my last post - if not now, when? Those with children, mortgages and the like may be more tied down than we are, but if you want to travel there may never be the 'perfect' time to do it. For us it was a case of we want to do it, that desire to travel hadn't been satisfied with holidays, and we knew once we'd bought a house we'd have roots that are harder to dig up.
You want to travel? Do it. I promise you it's not as idealistic or unattainable as you may think. Here are some of the things you may want to consider...
1. Where do you want to go?
This is obviously pretty important! Decide on which area of the world you want to visit (or all of it!) and do some research. Countries, cities... and don't just stick to what you know. Travel blogs are great for this, as well as sites like Lonely Planet and apps like Instagram and Pinterest. We knew we wanted to see more of SE Asia (more here) so I searched for blog posts, images, insider information etc. into individual countries. Instagram is great for bringing the dream to life - just search different locations and see what's going on there right now. I have to admit I've done that nearly every day for the past month... Palawan (Philippines) you're looking delicious!
2. Figure out a time-frame.
This is two fold. First, how long do you want to go away for? Yes I know, ideally forever! But realistically how long will work for you? My job played an important part in this decision; being a teacher I am governed by term dates, and although I was lucky enough to be given a sabbatical this still was an element we had to consider. It might be family, work, money or other commitments. Second, when do you want to go? This year? Next? Be sure to look into the climate of where you are visiting to ensure you'll get what you want out of your trip.
3. Work out your budget.
This can be tricky. We spoke to well-travelled friends, and then went into STA Travel and were given advice on how much we should expect to spend per month given what we want to do. We've budgeted £1000 a month each - this will vary depending on which country we're in (Cambodia for instance is much cheaper than some parts of Thailand) and takes into account the fact we don't want to completely slum it. Break this cost down per day and you'll have an idea what you can afford for accommodation, food, experiences and the like.
4. Be realistic, and work out a saving plan.
Are you going be able to afford to go for the time frame you had planned? We planned to save a minimum of £6000 each, as well as saving for pre-travel expenditure. Flights, vaccinations, backpacks, travel insurance, anti-malarials... you will need to pay for these in advance of travel so be sure to budget for this. This meant our saving goal was higher than just the £6k needed whilst we're away.
Once you know how much you need to save, you need to figure out how long it'll take you - and be realistic! This is probably the biggest hurdle for most wannabe-travellers. Obviously, it depends on your personal income and outgoings - work out how much you earn a month and how much you can therefore afford to save. Remember to account for rent, bills, living expenses, etc. And once more for clarity - be realistic! As my Mum said to me last year when we started saving, you can't live in misery for the entire period leading up to your trip, it just wont work. We've found this to be true; as much as it's an amazing goal, we still want to have a life. When you're cutting back on socialising for a trip 10 months away, it can be hard. We've both managed to save £500 (each) a month. It's tough but do-able! This will help give you a clearer time-frame for planning your trip.
5. Consider what you're leaving behind.
What are you going to do with all your belongings? Do you have a mortgage to pay? What about other expenses? For me, my car is a biggie. I'm paying monthly as I bought it on finance, and I'm not able to pause or stop this. You may need to factor this into your saving plan. We can't afford to put all our things into storage, so have had to find an alternative. Thanks, parents! Again, these may cost a lot of money and you'll need to factor this in to your plans. What about when you get back - where will you live? What about work? Get these in order (as much as you can) before you go and it should make your trip more enjoyable, and gives you time to put things in order. Snooze, I know. Worth it? I hope so!
6. Keep going.
Saving, researching, planning, dreaming...
Saving is tough, but with an amazing goal like travelling it eases the blow a little! For times when motivation is low, just picture yourself on that beach. As the months go by, step this upand start researching accommodation, specific areas you want to spend time in. Plan your route. Lo ok into transport. Book your flights. With each exciting moment, you'll be closer to the big trip.
This all sounds pretty intimidating, right? When you get the ball rolling I promise it becomes less stressful and more exciting. Is it worth it? I can't answer that yet, but I do know that I have no regrets. All the hard work, expense and planning is starting to come together and I can't wait!