Wednesday, December 20, 2017 Holly 4 Comments

Aside from rent, I have no doubt that I spend the majority of my money on travel.

In 2014, after coming home from a summer school at a university in Strasbourg, I had met people from every stretch of the world; Lebanon, South Africa, Columbia... It's no surprise that the plethora of stories I had heard - Kruger Park in South Africa, the countryside of Columbia and the streets of Washington, had planted a seed in my mind and the idea of being able to physically see all of the places quickly became romantisised to me.

Later that summer, with the ideas of travelling to new countries fresh in my mind, I went for a drink with a mutual friend. Over pints of Guinness (yes my pint of choice then was Guinness - you can blame years of going to the pub with my Dad for that) we both mentioned that our friends had dropped out of travelling Europe. I think we both had the same amount of spontenaeity in our personalities, because a few days later we had a booked a month long trip to travel around Europe together.

Whilst the majority of people would think that spending a month travelling with someone you don't really know is crazy/odd/reckless (pick your choice of adjective), it's one of the best things I've ever done. I still laugh when I think about the accidental hungarian haircut, the dodgy croatian nightclubs and those German guys in Berlin. References which are completely contextless to you, but I promise are hilarious (stories for another time perhaps).

Fastforward 3 years and I've made countless trips to Europe, backpacked through Asia and have now hatched a semi-permanent home in Rio De Janeiro, spending my weekends travelling to new cities in Brazil. Lottery Winner? Money from parents? Heiress to Russian fortune? Living off plain rice and water? I hear you ask... Nope. The reality is far from riveting.

I am just really good at making my savings work hard for me.

So, here's my commandements for affording to travel the world. From a someone who still loves to be able to afford a few too many nights out and shop impulsively 😜

1) Travel commandment number 1: Tho shalt NEVER believe the first flight price they see.

Repeat after me: "The incognito tab is your friend."

I feel so bad for people who simply book the first flight price they see. Don't do it!! There's always a cheaper way. Always look on flight comparison sites like Skyscanner and use the first price you see as a bench mark. Following that, delete all of the cookies on your browser and open up a new incognito tab. From here, go back to SkyScanner and search for your flights across a wider bredth of dates (Sky Scanner has a month option). With this you can compare flight dates across a month without the price being hiked up because of your previous browsing history. The cost of my Bangkok flight halved when I followed these tips.

2) Commandment number 2: Thou shalt be flexible

If you want to save money you need to be flexible. Be flexible with dates, the modes of transport you're willing to take and the journey times. You can save a lot travelling mid week rather than at the weekend or taking a bus rather than a flight. Aaand even if do decide to take a flight bc the journey is longhall, take a  look at the non-direct options - you will likely save and may even be able to extend your stopover in a layover city for a few days (2 locations in the cost of one ticket!). Through doing this, my friend just spent a night in Miami on the way back from Rio to Denmark.

3) Commandment 3: Thou shalt use separate bank accounts and make one of them Monzo

If it is there, I will spend it.

Frustratingly, I have to baby myself and give myself spending money every week. When I was saving for South America, All of my wages would go directly into my saving account. I would take out a set amount of spending every week and credit it to my Monzo bank account/debit card. This way, I knew that I could spend the amount on my Monzo on whatever I wanted, whilst the rest of the money was for saving and rent.

P.s If you've not heard of Monzo, check them out. Their bank account tracks your spending realtime via an app and tells you which vendors/forms of entertainment you spend your money on. This way you can see how much nights out etc really total up to.

P.p.s It's also a great way to keep your savings safe whilst travelling.  I only ever top up my card by 30 pounds, so if someone steals it, I will just have to deal with wounded pride rather than a wounded bank account.

4) Commandment Numero 4: Thou shalt use night buses to travel

A night bus is a scary thought for some but honestly, it's fine. It's not comfortable - expect to have the person infront recline their seat so far back that they're basically laying on your lap. And then be trapped in an internal debate whether you recline yours equally as much and irritate the person behind you.

Buut it's cheap. I paid 100 reais to travel from Rio to São Paulo  (£22) and was able to sleep for the 6 hour journey.

I'd also recommend using hitch hiking app, Blabla Car. I've not used it yet myself (but intend to soon) but all of my friends swear by it. Just be cautious - only grab a ride with people who have Facebook connected to their profile and have reviews.

5) Commandment 5: Thou shalt avoid hotels and stay in hostels or use house swaps

A few years ago, the thought of sharing a dorm with strangers would have seemed totally gross and to be honest, a little unsafe. Today, I'm sharing a dorm with 8 guys and am nursing a hangover with free coffee from the hostel kitchen. We went out last night and are all exploring the city of São Paulo together today.

Staying in a  hostel is always the cheaper route and such a great way to meet people. I've never had a bad experience and would recommend to anyone... just be prepared to shower in flip flops and fear for your life if you have to climb down a top bunk ladder.

For the fearful, doing a house swap is a great way to gain free accommodation. I know someone who swaps their flat in the Netherlands with friends in Europe for cheap getaways. Super easy!

6) The 6th and Final Commandment: Want a longer trip? Thou shalt work abroad

Australia, Europe, South America, China... the opportunities are endless. Working abroad enables you the to exchange your skills and time, for an experience to really soak up a country's culture. I know people who teach, work in bars/hostels/farms or even do work remotely online (things like Web design).

So, for example, right now I work 3 or 4 days a week through teaching English. I have long weekends to explore Brazil and can finance a flat and a social life whilst doing so. It's perfect for people who want a more realistic experience of a country and not to be uprooted every few days like when you're back packing.

I'd also recommend volunteering abroad. When I volunteered in Greece, the volunteer apartment was something like 5 Euros a week.  A lot of projects also give free accomodation and food to volunteers too and you get to do something really great for other human beings 🙌💕

NB - I want to add a new recommendation for working abroad here; I've recently heard a lot about a site called World Packers. You sign up to the site and can work for hostels in exchange for food/accomodation. You can read more on their site here . I would definitely recommend for those who have a smaller budget and want to go away for a longer period of time!

OK, so they are my 6 commandments for affording to travel the world. Bottom line is that what you sacrifice in comfort, you gain in experiences and savings...

 If you have any tips, write them below - would love to hear!

Bye for now.
Holly x


  1. Great read Holly, loved it!! Xx

    1. So glad you liked it! Thank you for taking the time to read! Xxx

  2. I love this post. Very practical but inspiring - think bigger, travel more!

    1. Thank you!! I'm sure you have a few travel tips of your own I would love to hear! Xxx


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