If you’re wondering how I get to travel so much, and how I have travelled so much, then I’ve summed it all up here. No holds barred.
As you may have noticed, I travel a lot.
I’ve done some strange jobs in my time to make money for travelling. From pretending I was a student at Sheffield University so I could address envelopes to their students, to packing RiceBoy Combos, to serving Jedward sweets at the Jingle Ball in London. When you need money for travelling you take it where you can get it right?
If you follow me regularly you might wonder how on earth I’ve paid for it all. According to one or two Twitter trolls, and a few comment trolls, I’m obviously from a rich family with mummy and daddy paying for me to swan around the world using this blog as a facade.
Or maybe I robbed a bank? Or maybe I’ve got a sugar daddy? Or maybe… just maybe, I’ve worked hard for every passport stamp I’ve got.
Here’s a quick run down of what I’ve done to afford every single trip in my repertoire.
– no photos, sadly 🙂
Sunnyside Holiday Camp in Newquay – paper round, Avon lady and pub work.
– definitely not showing you those ones…
Girls Trips to Kos, Kavos, Ibiza and with my high school bezza to the USA for two weeks – working at Boots every weekend and Bank Holiday for three years.
Two years at USA Summer Camps – at university I worked at Boots, Topshop, letter stuffing, data entry, a pub and as a CCUSA rep (second year), and you get paid for being at camp too.
Australia – credit card, oops.
Spain for a summer – at journalism college I worked at a pub part time, and barely went out.
Ibiza – got a random taxback, didn’t know I was getting it and booked a flight the next week #rocknroll, probably one of the coolest things I’ve done.
Malta, Morocco, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ibiza (again) – from working on UK magazines as a Sub Editor.
Four-month trip round Europe – came back with £6k on a credit card, oops, again.
Vietnam, Qatar, Scotland, Porto, Norway – from working at HostelBookers.com as a Content Editor and then gapyear.com as a Content and Social Media Manager.
Porto, again – work trip from my awesome job at HostelBookers.com.
Prague, Cuba, Vancouver, New York, Toronto, New Zealand, Australia – work trips from my even more awesome job at gapyear.com.
Gambia, South Africa, Israel, Phuket, Montreal, California, Florida, Florida Keys, Saint Lucia, St Kitts, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Italy, Russia, Scotland, France – press trips from working on this blog.
Sharm el Sheikh, Amsterdam, Zanzibar, Nairobi, Cuba – competition wins.
Almost two years of living nomadically (going to over 20 countries) – freelance writing, blog sponsorship, or for more information check out these two posts.
Do my parents give me money?
Dude, I’m 31. I may live the life of a big kid but my finances are all mine.
My parents paid for me to go on holiday in the UK every year as a child, a trip to Euro Disney when my grandpa died, to go to Turkey for a week with school in Year 10, and a trip to Iceland when I was 28 with my Grandma’s inheritance. For all of which I’m very grateful.
They have not paid for any other trip.
All my other travels have been done on either minimum wage work, or a hardworking journalist’s salary living in London.
Until the blog came along that is…
Travel isn’t just for rich people or only worth doing long term, any length of time spent experiencing other cultures can only improve yours. For many people, if you put your mind to it, you can afford it.
Top tips to go on more holidays
1. Enter competitions
For the first few months of 2012 I entered a lot of travel competitions. I wanted to travel, but I didn’t have the money to pay for it. In February I managed to prove the rule of three and won trips to Amsterdam, Sharm el Sheikh and Zanzibar within 28 days of each other. I know this is a long shot, but if I can do it, so can you.
Latin: “omne trium perfectum” (everything that comes in threes is perfect)
This is (usually) free and you can yield top results. Don’t always go for the big prizes though as these will be the most competitive. You could win small and often and sell on the products in less significant competitions. Entering travel-related giveaways can also save you money on your travels by actually using the prizes. As you may know, I’ve had some success at this, although I wouldn’t have dreamt of selling my winnings on.
2. Be a savvy traveller
When you’re actually abroad you need to spend your money wisely. There are always ways around full price entrance fees, transport choices and accommodation options.
You need to be careful of the ‘screw it I’m on holiday’ mentality too, or else you’ll spend loads of money and then associate ‘travel’ with ‘expensive’ forever more.
Eat cheap, on the street, on the beach or in the park if the weather’s right. You know what restaurants look like, but do you know what Oslo’s Vigeland Sculpture Park looks like, for example?
Look up the free things to do wherever you go. You’ll save a fortune.
3. Shop around
This is key to being able to afford as many holidays as me. My family is going to Iceland in January to *fingers crossed* see the Northern Lights: we looked at package deals, but they just didn’t seem right. My brother and I have spent about 10 hours each (probably more) looking around different companies to build our own bespoke trip and have managed to build the same Iceland adventure, but saving around £250pp. It also means we have the freedom to do it our way.
Use sites like skyscanner.net and booking.com to compare your flights and accommodation. You can find out more about travelling on the cheap, if you click through.
4. Monitor sales and top sites
Folk may moan about them, but in my eyes Ryanair are providing an excellent service to help people travel cheaply. Once you know about budget flight and accommodation providers, keep an eye on them to see if they have sales where you can save even more.
Ryanair often have ‘no taxes’ flights and you can get to Porto, Copenhagen, Stockholm and the like for around £30. Cheap!
5. Get an amazing job in travel
It’s a toughie, but they do exist. My recent business trips to Vancouver, Toronto and New York were through the new Content and Social Media job I got in October. Working at Flight Centre also means I can get money off personal flights too. Get an awesome job in travel and you’ll get a lot of perks, trust me.
For the 18 months I worked at HostelBookers I don’t think I ever paid for accommodation. Having a blog can also help you to get discounts, or sometimes even free press trips, but be prepared to work on it, hard!
6. Sell your stuff
We all know to put stuff on eBay, but if you can’t be bothered with the upload just go back to the old school and have a boot sale instead. This used to be the highlight of my month when mum, dad and me would take to the fields and set up our wares. It’s a quick and fun way to get rid of stuff that wouldn’t necessarily make much on eBay and just aren’t worth the posting fees, like clothes and CDs. Unfortunately I don’t have anything left to sell, but my laptop – and that’s not going anywhere.
7. Freelance on the side
Websites like freelancer.com or peopleperhour.com have one-off freelance jobs you can bid for. It depends on your industry whether they’re any good though. As a writer/editor I managed to get around £180 for two jobs on peopleperhour.com, but I found that as the weeks went on it was far too competitive to ‘win’ the jobs. The people who did win them were getting paid peanuts for their troubles. When I factored in the amount of time it took to put together my bids and email people, I decided it wasn’t worth it. Give it a go though – you might have more success than me.