Before I launch into this post properly, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who read this post and left such positive, supportive comments. It was just the best feeling and left me feeling really glad that I’d shared so openly. Being honest is a really core value for me, but it’s easy to gloss over the more challenging parts of life. Online, we all want to share what’s great, and that’s not a bad thing. Celebration is important. But what I’ve learnt is that by being open about when things are less than great, not only do you get support – which is a lovely thing in itself – you get a ‘me too‘ response. A feeling of collective exhalation; I’m not the only one who struggles, there are other people like me. And a bit of empathy and kindness goes a very long way. So, thank you.
One of the things that I’ve always been excited about is travel. Historically, and with a few notable exceptions (shoes, mostly) if I was ever going to use my credit card, it would be to pay for flights and adventures. However times have changed and the credit card is in the financial deep-freeze. It’s time for a re-think.
With my new grown-up financial plan in place – and ticking away nicely this month – I’ve been thinking about how to continue meeting my financial goals whilst still travelling and having adventures.
I’ve come to a few conclusions:
Do it for free or super-cheaply.
Keep things really simple. Camp. Stay with friends. Take my own food on trips away. Cycle, walk, share transport. Find hostels, student accommodation or AirBNB places that are really cheap. Try Couchsurfing. And if I’m really lucky, have opportunities to experience things for free, either perhaps through a blogging opportunity (wishful thinking) or winning a competition. It’s not so far-fetched; I won two tickets and camping passes to The Good Life Experience this year.
One of the biggest costs of travel is getting there, so exploring places on my doorstep is a great way to have adventures and get to know my home county better. Not all adventures have to be long distance or for big chunks of time. I’ve talked before about the microadventure and now’s a perfect time to consider taking some more … assuming the weather doesn’t get horrific soon, anyway. (This year is flying by, isn’t it?) So expect to see more Yorkshire travel posts coming up.
Sell my stuff.
This was my first plan. At the start of this year, before everything changed, I committed to a short trip to Amsterdam and I haven’t want to back out and let my friend down. Plus – I want to go to Amsterdam! But how to do it without upsetting my financial plan?
I was reminded of one of my all time favourite TED talks, by Adam Baker in which he encourages us to sell our stuff, pay our debts and follow our dreams. Despite trying to be more minimalist, when I moved, I still had plenty of stuff that I no longer needed. I’ve been selling stuff on Ebay for a while, but this time I went along a more traditional route, the good old-fashioned car boot sale. I loaded up everything; bathroom scales, DVDs, pictures, books, clothes, kitchen stuff, even a pair of Tom Ford for Gucci heels (proof that shoes used to be a spending weakness, right there!) into the back of my little Micra, and with the help of my boyfriend, sold the lot. It made enough money to pay for my flights to Amsterdam. Not bad for a morning’s work.
A few of you will be thinking that a better thing to do with the money would be to add it to my credit card payments instead of jetting off abroad. And that’s a fair argument. But, here’s the absolute truth. Spending every last penny I have on repaying debt, sticking to an incredibly tiny budget that allowed no room for living, would fail. It would fail because the sheer rigidity would, at some point or other, force me to crack. I just don’t want to leave myself open to self-sabotage like that. This way enables me to have both. Plus, waiting until I’ve paid my debts off to travel means waiting a really long time. Too long – life is short and I’m not prepared to assume that I’ll have the finances or indeed the good health to wait to see more of the world when I retire.
Selling a few things to pay for a flight isn’t quite in the same league as Adam Baker. But it’s a step in the right direction.
Watch Adam Baker’s TED talk here.