A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
It’s 2017 and it’s January. At the beginning of every new year, it’s the norm to think about what you did last year and what you’re going to do this year.
Last year, I travelled to 10 counties. 10 countries!
However did I do that?
I’m not a multi-millionaire. Neither is my husband!
I didn’t win the lottery.
I didn’t quit my job.
I didn’t change my lifestyle.
I didn’t throw my one and only child into boarding school.
I didn’t re-locate to a warmer (cheaper) climate.
I didn’t sell my stuff!
So how did I do it?
Well, if you look at my About Me page, you will see that I am married, I have a son, and I have a job as a School Vice – Principal / Social Media Manager in Berlin, as well as this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!
What I mean to say is that I live a normal life. Just like you.
I’m married, in a relationship with someone, or have been single. Just like you.
I have family responsibilities. Just like you.
I have a full-time job. Just like you.
And by god. I have a daily budget. Absolutely, just like you.
There was something that I did differently that might have been slightly the opposite of you.
I wanted to travel to more destinations last year, and I did.
I wanted to get on that plane and go to the Philippines. I wanted to visit a Chinese-speaking country. I wanted to give Spain another chance, so we went to other parts of Spain. In fact, we loved the region so much, that we added a week to Portugal as well! I wanted to take that train to Switzerland, so we did. OMG! “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I were spending money over the summer, as if it were going out of fashion, so we decided to invest in sandwiches, salad and cake whilst travelling to Luxembourg. We sort of missed our transport in Denmark, and had to buy a new ticket in Copenhagen. Again!
We were desperate to travel through the peak season of the summer holidays, so we used all the summer weekends!
We took the long-distance-inter-country-night-train.
I’m totally mad! But I did it anyway LOL!
The point I’m making is that you don’t have to do anything drastic if you want to afford a life of travel.
You don’t have to choose between having it all and having nothing at all, and you definitely don’t have to quit your lifestyle!
I’m living proof of that.
Oh yes, I’ve done my GAP year, and my backpacking era. I’ve slept in a casino, I’ve been in a hostel where not 1 but 2 complete strangers, were sleeping on my €2 /$3 per night bed! I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared. Completely! I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the name of our 5-star historical hotel. (thankfully, I remembered where I first saw it. In the New York Times)! I had an awful time in Barcelona, had two flight delays and ended up having to spend the complete night at the airport as my final destination was two (2) hours away, and there was no transport that could take me there!
Heck! I even missed my flight to Qatar and had to go to Korea instead!
I’ve adjusted my travelling style over time according to my circumstances, who I’m travelling with, my budget, and my mood!
And let me tell you. I’m not 20 anymore so those fleapit hostels, motels, cheap-I-don’t-wanna-know-who-slept-here-previously are definitely now gone!
Yes, I’m going to keep an eye on my hard-working money, but no, I’m no longer going to be sharing a room with 20 people, 10 people or even 5 other people!
Those days were fun, but they’re over.
In short, I’m enormously happy to go to hostels and we went to quite a few last year, but we paid that little bit extra for two (2) private rooms (since our child is a teenager and a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We also went to fancy hotel resorts and even slept in an antiquated classical castle, on the German seaside!
So, how can you have it all?
If you’re under 25 years old, you don’t need it all, and that’s the darn truth!
Book your hostel with free cancellation. Here!
Get yourself a backpack, work for a couple of months in a local shop, pub, or business. Take a gap year before university or after university, in the summer, in the winter, or whatever, and whenever, have about €1,000 / $1,000 or £1,000 at the initial stage. and you’re good to go!
I’m not talking about an around-the-world trip here or flight costs, just the old let’s-see-how-far-this-money-will-take me scenario. Grab an old car, grab a few friends, and off you go. If you’re in Europe, stay on the continent and do a road trip. Ditto the Americas. But my goodness, the USA is good for the greatest roadtrip of your life. If you’re in Asia, you’re gonna have a thrilling great time.
And when it’s over, it’s over!
You come back, buckle down, save up, and then do it again.
Now for those of you over 25 years old with jobs, families, responsibilities, and crossroads in front of you, do what I do.
I live life to the full, I work hard at my office and on my blog, and I get creative.
What do I do?
I book ahead. Far ahead!
In 2012, we went on a 3 week trip to Tuscany. In August!
I know. I know. I forgot it was going to be boiling. Don’t judge me!
Anyway, I took out a map, planned the places that we wanted to go and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles. Yes, castles. And the most we paid for our 300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-river was €52.00 per day. For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us LOL!
We started planning in 2011.
In 2014, we went to four (4) destinations outside Europe where we live. We went to Thailand, Indonesia, Qatar, and Korea. We started planning it in 2012.
In 2015, we went to the Baltic regions of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. Actually, we took a ferry to Helsinki, but still! Anyway, we took a bus-coach. The journey took us 26 hours, and we were knackered and exhausted, but we didn’t die!
We started planning it in 2014.
In 2016, I went back to Asia, but our family trips were firmly based in Europe. Brexit or not! We went to Spain, Portgual, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and other parts of Germany.
Again, planning started in 2015, and all were in consideration of the school holidays!
So book your hotel sooner rather than later. Right here!
And how did I do this?
Over Easter and May Day weekend. And depending on the year, if the public holiday is in the middle of the week (like Xmas 2015) you can just take the Monday and Tuesday off and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 9 days off but 2 official holidays.
If you live in Europe, everywhere is so close. Poland is 1.5 hours away from Berlin. Denmark about 4-5 hours. By car.
England is 1.5 hours away by plane. France, Greece, and Italy, are about 2-3 hours. Spain, Turkey, Portugal, Morocco, and Egypt about 3-4 hours.
By train, the sky is the European limit. As for coaches or buses, we travelled all the way from Finland for all of €50, and we didn’t die!
In short, distance isn’t an issue.
You can fly, take the car, train, bus, sail, or even cycle! Europe is great for the bicycle. If cash is short, camping is available all over Europe, as well as bunkhouses, hostels and couchsurfing for absolutely free!
if you’re nervous about couchsurfing, you can book your hotel here!
What do I do?
We save, budget and plan how much we can reasonably spend.
It took us 2 years to save for our Asia trip, and so our budget in Asia was €100 per day. We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150.00 flying around in Asia itself each rather than taking the rickety all night train, and we spent between €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Thailand and €70 per night for a complete house in Bali! We were there for a month.
And as for Poland, I paid €26 per night for the lovely floor-heated-free-WIFI-on-the Baltic-Sea double room!
If the budget is “reasonable” then use B&B’s, pensions, and small or budget hotels.
If you’ve got the cash. Go for it. Plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!
So go ahead and register with airlines and transport corporations that you like, and as many as you like.
Register with hotel and hostel brands that you like. They always have special deals and discount offers for their members. I once flew to Krakow with EasyJet for free! And why? Because I was on their mailing list and it was a new destination.
If you’re travelling miles apart, book ahead and take a plane.
It’s generally not worth travel hacking within Europe as flights are so cheap, and destinations are short.
If money is an issue, there are plenty of no-frills, low budgets airlines available to you such as EasyJet and the like. If you book ahead, fares can be as little as €4.99, sometimes less!
You can also go by boat and sail away onto the sea which is exactly what we did when we went to Finland!
In many cases, trains are cheaper than planes if you book ahead, and certainly in Germany, children under 15 years old are completely and utterly free! We travelled to Budapest from Berlin which was a thirteen (13) hour train journey and it only cost €69.00 for myself and my boy. First class!
For train travel all around the world check out the website of The Man in Seat Sixty-One . . . or Deutsche Bahn.
But remember, if you’re using the Deutsche Bahn website, change the location to Germany and use the English word for Deutschland which is Germany! NOT the UK/Ireland one! And then change the language to English!
Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible. If you’re looking for an adventure. Use skycanner and go for “anywhere” within your budget and then go on the airline’s own website.
It pays to be a little flexible if you can. You don’t have to limit yourself. You don’t even have to make up your mind. Use your home-base as a starting point and then go for “anywhere” and just keep trying out different destinations until you’re happy with it, or the location is within your budget.
Go to Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe.
Go to South America instead of North America.
Go to Wales instead of England.
Don’t choose. Go where you want to go.
If you live in North America, I know that it’s more complicated. However, if you’ve worked hard, don’t feel guilty. TAKE your holidays and USE them for your own pleasure. Don’t paint the porch. The porch can wait.
Go to that place that you’ve always wanted to go to. Do the road trip. Fly to Argentina.
If you feel more comfortable staying in North America, then stay in North America. North America is an amazing destination and so beautiful. I’m not here to guilt trip you. It’s your holiday.
If you feel more comfortable, going on a package tour. Go for it.
If you feel more comfortable travelling with the whole family. It’s your call.
Ask for discounts. Ask for a bigger room. Ask for an included breakfast. Ask for WiFi. Ask for an extra bed. Ask for free parking. Ask about children prices, student prices, “elderly” prices, corporate prices, even regional or local prices. If you’re from “there” let them know. You never know. If you don’t ask, they can’t help you, or reduce the prices.
Ask, and ask again.
As far as international relations is concerned, last year was a disaster so I’m taking part in bringing the world together as part of a Pledge to Travel campaign.
I’m going to #ExploreMore2017. You should too.
It doesn’t matter if it’s “only” 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 days. Just know that you can afford to travel. You can have it all.
And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…..Where am I going in 2017?
Drum roll pleeeeease!
Travel plans this year are:
I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure. I live in Germany which many consider to be an expensive Western nation.
I can afford a life of travel and a comfortable Berlin lifestyle.
I choose to have it all.
This article is not sponsored, and the thrilling countries that I’m going to visit in 2017, are my very own!
It’s January. Well, hello there!
I’ll be making an announcement this month that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!
The British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017
Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th – 20th January, 2017. Save the Date!
At the beginning of January, I’ll be going to Holland, and at the end of it, I’ll be skiing in my favourite place, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, in the Czech Republic!
If you’re not in Berlin in January, you’re missing out!
January is going to be spectacular!
Watch this space!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
See you in Berlin.
Nice tips! people always cite cost as a reason for not traveling, but with proper planning, it can be done. Even truer if you are in Europe where the low budget airlines help a lot. In the U.S, one can travel by car and see wonderful sites. Unless you have a crap load of kids, it can be done too as you show. Of course, we are talking first world countries here! 🙂
Thanks so much KemKem! Honestly, I don’t think cost should be a factor at all when it comes to travelling, as we all know how much we spend “at home” on quality wine, going out with our friends, clothes, pets (our two cats cost a fortune), toys, useless items, and generally, keeping up appearances with our peers! I think in many cases it’s the “why” that’s causing more of an issue than anything else.
Why should I go to a strange place and face discomfort, when I could stay at home, speak my own language, meet people on my level, and if I don’t like them, simply go home! It’s far more difficult to do if you’re in India, and you don’t like it! 😉
And yes, my posts do tend to “speak” to those from wealthier countries although judging from the enquiries I get about visiting Poland and Germany, many readers from “developing nations” read my blog too! 🙂
You certainly make travel work for you! Some of the things you do I would not at this point in life, but you have to do what makes best sense for you. Even if some of it sounds crazy! Here’s to more travel in 2017!
Thanks very much Phil!
Yep! I’m a crazy girl when it comes to travel, but it just seems to work and I have the calmness and patience of Job when things go wrong. You should have seen me 20 years ago, I was distinctly worse, as I now have husband and son to consider which lead me to being more cautious lol! 🙂
Cheers to more travel in 2017! Where are you going?
Not sure yet. In between jobs now. London for sure.
‘Sounds like the beginning of a plan…! If you need any help with London, or any destination that I’ve been to. You can check it here. Just holler! Whatever you choose, you and your lady are going to have such a wonderful time! 🙂
I really love this post, girl because when I was living in the Netherlands, I did the same thing. I used every single weekend to travel across the country and I even managed to go abroad and have 3 big trips to Asia planned. At that time, I was also working full-time like you’re now, I was in a relationship and I didn’t have t sell my stuff to afford it. I’m a big saver and I don’t spend much money on parties, alcohol and shopping 🙂
Thanks very much Agness! Exactly! My motto is mart travelling and that you don’t even need to leave your comforts if you don’t want to. Just use the time that you have. That we all have. To travel. If that is your dream. And of course, while you’re still young, with good qualifications, a sprinkle of common sense, and no dependents, then one should use this most precious time to travel as far and as wide as possible.
And when the kids or a life partner comes along. It’s the easiest thing in the world to simply take them with you! People fear that it’s difficult and complicated, but it really isn’t. 🙂 🙂
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