A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
It’s 2020 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 8 countries.
8 wonderful 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 corporate job in an IT / Engineering company, 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.
Just like you.
And yet …
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 Georgia. I wanted to take that train to Ukraine.
OMG! I was so broke at the beginning of last year because we had been to India the year before; but I was desperate to go to Norway, so I took the cheapest airline in the world – Ryanair – to Oslo.
Ha! Ha! Ha!
It was crazy, and I vowed never to do it again.
But guess what?
I’m going to the TBEX bloggers’ conference in March AND I’m flying with Ryanair.
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!
Don’t even ask!!
I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared!
I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the name!
Thankfully I remembered where I first saw it.
In the New York Times!
p.s. It was the Royal Victoria Hotel. In Pisa!
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 was travelling with, 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!
Nope. I’m done!
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 in the last couple of years, but we paid that little bit extra for a private room (since my child is a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We’ve also been to fancy hotel resorts and even rented a whole house for two weeks in Bali!
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!
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. If you’re in Asia, you’re gonna have a thrilling great time.
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, pinned the places that we wanted to go to, and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles.
And the most we paid for our Royal Victoria – 300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-riverside was €52.00 per day! For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us!!
We started planning in 2011.
In 2014, we went to four (4) destinations outside Europe where we live. We went to Thailand, Qatar, Indonesia, 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, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and other parts of Germany.
We started planning it in 2015.
In 2017, all our of family trips were in Europe, regardless of the countless terror acts throughout the continent. We went to expensive Sweden, Austria and England, dependable Holland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, as well as new and exotic parts of Eastern Europe – Croatia and Slovenia.
We started planning it in 2016.
In 2018, we went to new destination Romania, romantic Belgium, Eastern European staples – the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia, expensive Sweden, very dependable Germany, and even managed to squeeze in the exotic land of India!
We started planning it in 2017.
In 2019, all our of family trips were in Europe. We went to new destinations Greece and Norway, expensive France, Italy and England, cheap Poland, as well as new and exotic parts of Eastern Europe / Central Asia – Georgia and Ukraine.
Again, planning started in 2018, and all were in consideration of the school holidays!
So book your hotel sooner, rather than later.
If you live in Europe, you get a minimum of 24 holidays per year, and between 11-15 public holidays on top of that. That makes 35 – 39 days!
Many get more!
If you start your holidays on Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’ve got the weekends too. When I first went to India, I spent thirty (30) days out there, but on paper, I actually went for 17 working days or 2.5 weeks!
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 2018), you can just take the Thursday and Friday off, and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 11 days off, (including weekends), but using just 2 days booked off your holiday space!
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. Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece are about 2 hours. Turkey, Morocco, Egypt about 3-4 hours.
By train, the sky is the European limit. As for coaches or buses, Linda from Expat Eye on Germany travelled all the way from Latvia (not far from Russia) for all of €50!
We did it for even less!
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!
Or book your hostel or apartment, right here!
What do we do?
We save, budget, and plan how much we can reasonably spend.
It took us 2 years and so our budget for 2 adults and 1 child in Asia was €100 per day.
We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150 flying around in both Thailand and Bali, rather than taking the notoriously dangerous rickety all night train, and we only spent €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Chiang Mai – Thailand, and €70 per night for a complete house in Ubud – 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 book apartments. If not, book B&B’s, or guesthouses, pensions, small or “budget” hotels!
p.s If you’re booking hotels, houses and apartments, use this link to save 20% or more, between 5th January and 31st March 2021!
If you’ve got the cash. Go for it.
There are plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!
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.
We have school and jobs. Just like you.
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.
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.
Or 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, senior citizen / retiree 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.
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 2020?
Drum roll pleeease!
Travel plans this year are:
And of course, Germany! Ho! Ho! Ho!
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 delightful countries that I plan to visit in 2020, all my very own!
I’ll be at the British Shorts Film Festival taking place between 16th – 22nd January. If you’re an aspiring film-maker submission is free of charge, so hurry!
If you’re not in Berlin in January, pull your socks up!
January is going to be excellent!
See you soon!
Watch this space!
Please note that The British Berliner is a participant in affiliate programmes designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by advertising and linking to World Nomads Travel Insurance & Booking.com.
In short, there are two affiliate link companies connected to this post!
Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
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!
So what are you waiting for?
Thanks a million!
See you in Berlin.
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Hi Victoria, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Listen learned is not to restrict myself and plan my trips ahead.
Living in London means I can access Europe in a short space of time.
As for Ryan air, I think it’s time to give them a go.
Thanks so much Bola!
Living on the continent is a most beautiful thing. Don’t worry if you can’t plan too far ahead, go anyway! 😀
Sounds possible ✈
If you need help, I offer a consultancy here!
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