Facts & Figures: January Travel Budget Breakdown

Travel with Soul-Medmenham, England Adventures. Facts & Figures: January Travel Budget

Key to my travel budget breakdowns:
For accommodation, I’m housesitting so may not have a housing cost. If I pay, I may do a combination of hotel points and cash, or I use Airbnb. Accommodation can easily be your largest expense whether at home or on the road.  
Transportation includes buses, flights, gas for the odd car I may have access to, and in Asia, I’ve rented a motorbike before.
Groceries-I’m a vegetarian, so obvs no meat purchases are included. I’m mostly plant based, often buy protein powder, and sometimes buy meat alternatives. I also try to lay off the carbs. I pretty much buy the same stuff where possible. I also seek out budget grocers and farmer’s markets from country to country.
Miscellaneous is anything I have to go to a separate or specialty shop for, like hair or skincare products.
Business expenses are whatever I pay monthly for this site. I prepaid for much of it before I left the States.
Cash-I’m still actively using a points earning credit card where possible, but in some cases cash is needed to buy food or transportation usually.


January Figures


Eating Out
Business Expenses
Grant Total January Expenses
Running Total for the Year
This is all in ‘Merican dollars. January had 31 days so my total of $420.27 breaks down to $13.56 per day.

I spent all of 2015 tracking every dollar I spent and saving all the other dollars. I could have saved more. Because you can (usually) always do more. I had a few vacations in there. I also paid a hefty price for an online course. So I wasn’t crazy extreme, but still managed to save $13,500. **Check back for how I was able to save.**

January Facts

This is a monster post to lay some ground. Get you a piece of cake and a drink and enjoy. 

I needed to leave Atlanta. Yesterday. I’d been working to pay the bills, and pursuing noble (to me) projects touching on music and music technology to keep my mind from rotting. It was creative work I really loved. And I didn’t think the work was making a difference. A critical connection was missing from the idea and the manifestation. So I thought, why fight to stay here and do this work when you really just want to travel. All of my insideness defied being sat down in someone’s American city, pretending that I belonged on someone’s clock, in someone’s clique, not being a hoodrat, but entertaining hoodrat things. I’ve never really “belonged” anywhere. But I have had my fair share of “Why am I different from everyone I know,” thoughts as I continued to be who I am. And as I continued to do what I felt called to do. Which often makes me steer clear of social situations that call for conformity. I did my best to nurture real (to me) connections while not sacrificing myself. Cause, self-love. And self-acceptance. So when I made the decision to leave the States after a beautiful trip to Washington D.C. fall of 2014, nothing could stop me. And nothing did. I full force focused on leaving. I was very intentional about it. I obsessively read travel and money blogs. I’m a planner (like, in life) and was equipping myself with options and optimization.
The decision to leave is the more interesting part of the journey for me. There’s this energy shift. An excitement. Relief at having made a decision and nurturing your courage to see the thing through. This is the work that intrigues me the most. Then of course there’s the proverbial selling everything (I miss my bed and books the most), quitting my job, and boarding the plane. It’s this part of the journey that makes most people’s mouths water. The classic hero’s journey. “I started from humble beginnings, but look at me now!!” I’m all about celebrating wins big and small. But I don’t learn much from, “It was really hard for a while, and while life’s not perfect, I’m living a more authentic life.” Life is messy. I want to know how you practice cleaning yours up. It’s the middle part that I’m reluctant to call struggle, but choose to call confusion and a headless, strong-willed flinging yourself into an idea. The privilege of exploring what moves us. My decision to leave took a lot of self-reflection and self-acceptance. I had to admit that I wanted this travel experience and try to translate this burning desire to those I loved. I still don’t think any of them get it. But I had to be ok with that too. I understood myself and it became a matter of, do I live my life for others’ approval, or do my thing? I get it. Some people are super close to family. A significant other. An animal. A house. A city. I get it. Truly. I found this idea to be stronger than existing relationships and material comforts: I don’t think we were put on earth to make ourselves small for the sake of comfort, of the known. And just as you choose to go, you can choose to come back. Yes things may be different. If you have an eye on growth in your life, things being different will only help to propel you forward. Like I said, life is messy. It may uncomfortable and some parts may be (very) difficult, but through it all, you grow closer to yourself and you learn just how resilient you are. What do you learn living in a slightly off-putting bubble? What do you learn from harsher situations that you choose to stay in because you’re afraid of change? If you believe in a higher force than yourself, acting on decisions that live in your heart only strengthens your faith that your desire was planted in you so that you can do something about them. Not wither inside and die because you fear what you don’t know. You got this. I promise.

Anywho, I spent New Years Eve in the sky. I hadn’t planned on being in London January 1st. Well I had, but then I’d started planning for Vietnam via a short stint in Japan, because, winter. Some travel according to the weather so they don’t have to carry as much junk. I was shooting for that. I was flying on a Delta buddy pass (Thanks Matt!!). But the Buddy Pass gods blocked my plan. Long story short, I couldn’t board the flight any of the four or five times I went to the airport for their one flight a day to Japan before and after Christmas. As Providence would have it, London, my original choice, was wide open. First class was so sweet. But as I walked through London Heathrow’s Immigration, it was Very Bitter.

Travel with Soul-Medmenham, England Adventures. Facts & Figures: January Travel Budget
Only flying into London has garnered the wrath of every being that’s ever existed. They ask you everything as though anyone would want to set up shop in such a raggedy country. Not that it’s actually raggedy, because tea. And clotted cream. And of course other nice things. So that’s not how I really feel, but if Immigration is asking, that’s exactly how I feel. The first and (spoiler alert) the second time I flew into Heathrow, it was a nasty, nasty experience speaking to England’s finest. Prepare for your entry. If you have a return or onward flight that’ll shut the agent up, though not legally needed whatsoever. You’re the defendant, and it’s your job to prove a couple of things:
  1. They want to make sure you have “enough” money to be in their country.
  2. They want to make sure you’re not going to try and stay in their pristine country and live off of their benefits and become a burden on society.
  3. They also want to make sure you’re not coming to work illegally.

As long as you reassure them of those main things, you’re fine. Bank statements and all that rigamarole isn’t mandated documentation. And honestly, they don’t know if you’re lying. You can fudge the details as much as you like, and they’ve no way to check on those facts, like what company you work for, bank balance, how long you intend to stay, and so forth. Fun Travel Fact: Americans can legally stay for 6 months. If your story is consistent, you’ve got nothing to worry about. So yeah. Don’t say you weren’t warned. In all fairness, I hear America can be the same. So. There you go. Guess it runs in the fam.

I landed drunk and had to flip open the laptop and use the airport wifi to find my first night’s accommodation. I’d joined Trustedhousesitters.com earlier in the year, thinking I could get a few housesits and reviews from the site under my belt and use the membership at some point during my travels. I couldn’t land a housesit in the States, and Some Point, came sooner than later. After getting my bearings for a few days at two different hotels and a hostel, I was able to apply for some housesits and ended up with a couple of Skype interviews. The second one panned out nicely. It was for three (rambunctious) labs outside of London for two months. So my overall accommodation expenses weren’t too shabby considering I was ill prepared. I had a hoodie and solid winter jacket, but wasn’t quite as prepared for the winter. But what’s a bit of cold weather when you’re living your dreams?

So that’s a bit of the backstory.

Travel with Soul-Medmenham, England Adventures. Facts & Figures: January Travel Budget Travel with Soul-Medmenham, England Adventures. Facts & Figures: January Travel BudgetTravel with Soul-Medmenham, England Adventures. Facts & Figures: January Travel Budget Travel with Soul-Medmenham, England Adventures. Facts & Figures: January Travel Budget

What Kind of Traveler Are You?

It’s beneficial to know what kind of traveler you are because it literally affects how you travel. You want groovy experiences, not to be stretched in a non-character building (if that’s a thing) way out of your comfort zone. I’m willing to do certain things to stay on the road and do the work I’m passionate about. For me that means traveling slowly, using accommodation options where I have my own kitchen since I cook often, and getting the most value out of my money and points. Also, making travel easy on myself for my sanity. For example, I’d often book a hotel using points the night before a flight that offered an airport shuttle to reduce travel day hassle. I’m also not the best tourist, so don’t spend much money on attractions. I pretty much just talk to people when I feel like it. I’m satisfied being somewhere else and having random conversations. I see what I want to see when I want to see it. I’m pretty self-contained. It’s the company of like-minded people I relish in. But you have to know what’s right for you. Maybe long-term travel sounds sexy, but your personality doesn’t lend itself to the lifestyle. Or you’re into long-term travel as long as you’re able to pay for all the modern comforts. Don’t bullshit yourself here. If you’re into selfies in front of the tourist attractions and going back to your mid-range priced hotel, that’s beautiful. Do that. If you’re trying to make it work in a 20 bed hostel and find yourself miserable because you’re afraid to spend money on the things you really love, that’s not a good look. Investing a bit of time to understand how you can enjoy more of what you love is a great look for you. The whole point of this life and travel thing is that you dig it. So, do what you dig.

Here’s how I kept my travel budget at less than $14/day in England.

Expenses: I keep track of EVERYTHING in real time so I know if I’m on budget or not. My travel budget is my key to the freedom I seek. I can’t tell you how much I love a good spreadsheet. Lucky for you. Get an idea of what I spend and how you could possibly spend like moi. I’d originally forecasted $30/day, or around $900/month just to have an arbitrary ballpark figure to work with. I had no idea what the cost of living would be for all of the different places I would end up going. There are plenty of websites that list costs and of course there’s xe.com that shows what your money’s worth in another currency, but it’s still very abstract since every day life and expenses are a very personal thing. **Spoiler alert** I often spent less than half of that ($450) per month and saw that this travel train doesn’t have to stop any time soon. Having a finite amount of funds to travel can be scary, but I find that the more I look at the actual numbers instead of carpe diem’ing it, the clearer I am about my spending habits and how to manage them for the long term. For me, the more I know, the more liberated I am to live. Knowing I have room to splurge or living simply to enjoy more of what I like.

Groceries/Eating Out: I’m a vegetarian and in some food cultures, prefer my own cuisine to what’s poppin locally. I cook often and use farmer’s markets and budget grocers where available. London had a chain store called Lidl that I’d shop at. Sainsbury’s also has a great selection for my needs. I loved how reasonably priced the groceries were. I had some delicious food in London.

Money: I racked up as many credit card points as possible six months before leaving the states. I would have started earlier, but that’s what my situation allowed. I even completed a fun promotion run by IHG where I filled out index cards as manual entries to win points. Points earned from the credit cards were redeemed for transportation and accommodation. Cash was used for what couldn’t be bought with a card. Some buses outside of London you have to pay with cash, or later I figured out how to download an app (the home country app store struggle) that allowed me to use my card to pay.

Accommodation: I used partial points at both hotels I stayed at.  At the hostel I put my Trusted Housesitters membership to use and started applying for housesits. The site is dope. They continually upgrade their technology and it’s easy to put your parameters in for the type of sit you’re looking for. Don’t love animals, those sits exist, though there may be fewer. Only want metro areas, that’s available too, though city folk usually don’t usually vacation for very long. More on housesitting later!

In case you’re “not an animal person”, for me it was about an exchange. You spend something one way or the way. Some choices cost less than others, but most everything bears a responsibility and commitment. I chose to take care of people’s homes and/or pets in exchange for accommodation, over using money (sometimes tied up in a deposit in a foreign currency) in exchange for accommodation. I’m also fairly health conscious and like moving my body. Having a dog to walk once or twice a day keeps you active and is a great way to get to know your new neighborhood. Entire apartments are more expensive on Airbnb, and range in price depending on the popularity of the city. I don’t much like sharing with strangers, so hostels, or rooms on Airbnb were more uncomfortable to me than house/pet sitting.

Extra Credit

Travel tip: Plan lightly. I had made plans for Japan, including buying a flight from Osaka to Ho Chi Minh. The transportation for this month is that flight. I had to eat it since it was a nonrefundable fare and my credit card wasn’t hearin’ that noise.

Adventure time:

There’s a day trip to Oxford that the homeowner’s in-laws treated me to. There I happened upon a Stag Do and had some celebratory drinks with some drunk Englishmen. There were a couple of puppy mishaps-stolen food, lost dogs here and there, and a sick pup taken to the vet on a bus.

You made it to the bottom. You look marvelous by the way.

Please. Ask me questions. Any questions. I don’t do well with astrology, and maybe legal concerns. But, sure, run it by me anyway.

[sgmb id=”1″]

but marinating and taking action are the cat’s pajamas. Join this curated collective today for special inbox goodness. You’re worth it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *