Greetings from Africa! Somewhere right now, I’m trying to snap a photo of a lion without being eaten. In the meantime, this week I want to share stories of readers who used my tips and advice to realize their travel dreams. If you’ve been thinking about traveling for a while, let these reader stories inspire you and show you that the advice here can work for anyone!
Finishing off the week of reader stories, we head across the pond to England and meet Trish, a 35 year old teacher. Not happy with her life in England, she sold everything she owned, gave herself a budget of 10,000 GBP ($16,000 USD), and set off traveling the world with only her backpack to her name.
Nomadic Matt: Tell me about yourself.
Trish: I originally come from Ipswich, a small town in East Anglia about an hour’s drive from London. I have been travelling now for about 5 months through Australia and Asia. I was living a typical London life. I had a lovely job teaching gorgeous 5-year-olds in a respected private school in East London. I got paid well and rented a modern 2-bed apartment 10 minutes walk from work. I tried to settle for 5 years but I rarely had money left at the end of the month and so the dream of more travelling became more and more distant. Life was good…just not GREAT. So after much procrastination, I decided to sell my house, give up my job and sell all my possessions at car boot sales. I gave myself a budget of 10,000 pounds. After 5 months of travelling, I still have nearly a third of my original budget left. I’m now travelling in Thailand and my backpack is all I have to my name.
Did you plan any specific trip or just wanted to travel?
I just knew I wanted something different from life but I had no clear idea about the type of trip I was planning. I love learning about different cultures and so I looked into countries I had always dreamed of visiting. I looked into buying a round-the-world ticket but the cost and the enormity of the research and planning scared me. I got bogged down by the minute details and then it became too big a task so I decided to start with Australasia. I had been invited to visit an Australian friend and her family in Queensland so I decided to book a return flight to Brisbane and then stop off on the way back in Singapore and work my way up through Asia. I also knew I wanted to travel differently than the normal backpacker once I got into Asia by doing some couch surfing, volunteering and house sitting so that I could get a feel for the country I was visiting.
How did you research your trip?
Firstly, I wanted to know what you had packed and the sorts of items that would be handy to carry around. Then I became interested in how you budgeted for your trips. My budget didn’t seem that big until I started to look into ways in which you could travel for cheaper. I researched how I could use www.helpx.net to volunteer my labour in return for a bed and food. As a teacher, there are many opportunities across the world for someone like me to teach English so I thought I could make my money stretch that way. I liked reading your stories about what you’d learnt whilst travelling. They inspired me to write about my own feelings.
Were you afraid before you went on your trip?
I was afraid and excited at the same time. It took me a long time to actually just book the flight and make it real! Once I did that, life got hectic and I had “to do” lists coming out my ears! I think this is because I decided to go the whole way and detach myself from my old life. It wasn’t just about travelling for a few months or taking a sabbatical and returning to my life. It was about starting over and having a different view about being a permanent traveller. Through your website, I recognised you as someone who had made a success of travelling indefinitely. I wanted to be able to do the same. I have lots of ideas about how to but I haven’t actually had enough time to put plans into action as I’ve been travelling and doing stuff every day since I started in August!
How did you save for your trip?
I sold my house and belongings so that I was debt free. I’m using that money for travelling. I put a budget aside for my travelling and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
What about life on the road has surprised you the most?
Lots of things! I’ve found you can live with a lot less clothes/things than you thought you could. You always make friends and meet people wherever you are. You rarely, if ever, feel lonely because of all the people around. Lastly, the goodness and kindness of the people in the country in which you’re travelling. Never underestimate the power of a smile and hand gestures! Everyone has been really friendly and helpful.
With such limited funds, how do you stay on budget when you travel?
I always research accommodation and compare prices. I usually use hostel sites as well; I look on Tripadvisor to compare reviews and ratings. I work out how much I’m willing to pay for a room, bed and comfort. So far, this approach has not let me down and I’ve stayed in some really lovely and affordable places. I try to choose places with free WIFI, a common area and good security for my stuff. The same goes for food. I find out where the best street/market food is and watch to see where the locals go. I hardly ever eat in restaurants now as they are three times the amount you pay for freshly cooked local food. I don’t drink very much but if I do go out for a drink, I usually stick to local beer as it’s the cheapest.
What one thing that you thought would be a challenge has turned out not to be?
I wondered how I would cope if things go wrong whilst travelling to different destinations and I can’t speak the language, e.g. the bus breaks down or the train doesn’t come. I have learned that I CAN cope and it’s not the end of the world. Everything turns out alright in the end and there is always someone who wants to help. I also thought I’d be lonely but I haven’t been at all. There’s always someone going your way.
What advice would you have for people who want to going away but might not think they can?
DO IT! I have had more awe-inspiring moments in the last few months than I have had in my entire life because of the decision I made to travel! Let go of all the excuses: money, time, job, people’s limiting beliefs and narrow-minded views, etc. You get to do what you want, when you want, with no compromises.