“You’ve bought a house now, guess that means you’re going to have to stop travelling”.
When Thom and I bought our house I think almost every single person we knew said that sentence to us at some point. Whether they were serious or joking or just trying to be funny, it was something I very quickly got sick of hearing. The idea that people thought we couldn’t continue travelling because we were now the owners of a house just baffled me. And it’s completely untrue. Yes, you might have to change a few different things to make sure you can do everything, but if it’s important enough to you, you can absolutely do both. Here’s how we make it work (warning, long personal post ahead).
Adulting is kind of a new concept that’s being bandied around lately. Revolving around the idea that even though you have already been considered a legal adult for a while (over the age of 18) you have now decided that you’re actually going to be an adult, you know, move out from your parents, pay mortgage or rent, buy your own furniture, cook your own meals, that kinda stuff. Starting a life in the “real world” can be scary and overwhelming, so it’s important that you make sure you don’t push away everything you love doing, like travelling. It’s all about prioritizing.
Decide what is the most important for your life plan
As we entered our early twenties we had some clear plans about what we wanted for our future. We wanted to buy our own house, we wanted to get married around 25 and of course, the biggest one for me was that I wanted to do all of this without having to stop travelling. I never wanted travelling to be considered a luxury that we could cut out to save money for something else, it was always a non-negotiable that had to be considered when making future plans. Obviously, all of these plans have the potential to include some pretty big price tags, so it’s all about prioritizing and figuring out what it most important to you.
Although it might not work for everyone, we made some future plans pretty far out. A couple of years ago we started putting some rough plans together for the coming years. As much as I would love to be spontaneous it can often lead to disorganization and not having clear goals, meaning things might get missed or left out, so I have found that even rough planning works the best for me. In the year 2014 we had three trips on the go, Thailand, USA and Africa. We decided to write 2014 off as a year to be selfish and enjoy our time travelling without sticking to a tiny budget and then after Africa we would start getting serious about saving for our house deposit.
Getting married at 25 put our wedding in the year 2017, so we decided that in 2015 we would focus on saving for our house deposit and in 2016 we would focus on saving for our wedding, all the while travelling in between. All of a sudden we had a rough guide for the next three to four years, so we always had something we were working towards and looking forward to. We agreed that 2015 would have to be a very light year for travel, no extended trips where we’re not getting paid, etc, so that we could make sure we kept our plans on track.
How could this work for you? Take some time out to think about what you would like to achieve or accomplish in the next couple of years in any aspect of your life. It is important to have goals that mean something to you and give you something to focus on and work towards. Of course, sometimes life gets in the way and plans can change, but it’s always a good idea to keep these goals in the back of your mind so you don’t loose track of yourself and what you want to achieve. For example, if you decide you would like to go on a solo adventure or a girls trip when you’re single and then meet a new boyfriend or girlfriend, make sure you don’t change all of your plans to suit them. Let them know that these plans are important to you and explore the ways you can do to adapt them to fit into your new life.
Consider your day to day activities and expenses
Before you even leave for your trip there are many ways you can change your lifestyle to accommodate for your travels. Obviously, since you have moved out you are going to be hit with many more expenses than you have ever had before. As these come with moving out of home they are something you would have expected and bargained for. In the weeks and months leading up to your trip really consider where every dollar of your money is going, and what is more important – that purchase or sightseeing/shopping/exploring when you’re on your trip. Thom and I save a lot of money by really analyzing the day to day way we live and what works and doesn’t work for us. For example, when we moved out of home we began doing a weekly food shop for all the groceries we would need during the week. However, because there was only two of us and we eat mainly fresh fruit, meat and vegetables we found that our food was going off and rotting before we even got a chance to get to it. Instead, we began doing quick shops every couple of days for the things we needed for immediate meals. Even though it can be more annoying with multiple trips to the supermarket, this quickly saved us a bit of money each week. We also cut down on going out to dinner and clubbing with friends, opting for coffee date catch ups and house gatherings instead. Every little bit really does make the biggest difference.
Make the most of any payments you get when you’re abroad
The biggest thing to remember about having a house while you’re travelling is that you still need to pay your mortgage and any other regular payments that are associated with it, for example house and contents insurance and gas and electricity bills. Our trip to Europe this year was the first time we had travelled since moving into our own house. I had just started a new job and wouldn’t be getting any annual leave payments while we were away, so we decided to use Thom’s annual leave payments for mortgage repayments and bills that were due while we were away. Therefore we needed to make sure we had enough savings to keep us afloat for our time in Europe and not rely on these payments. This worked out well for us because we always knew we had the money coming in to pay the next weeks repayments. Any money that we received from our jobs while we were away was only to be used for the house and we didn’t think about using it for anything else. It’s also important to remember that you will need to have money for mortgage repayments ready when you get home, especially if you don’t have enough leave pay to cover the entire duration of your trip. To make sure that you don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress make sure you don’t come home with absolutely no money.
Some standards might have to be compromised
If you have previously been travelling on a five star budget you might need to make some changes to be able to afford both options. A great way to start is by taking a good look at what you spend your money on overseas and where you can cut back without sacrificing anything about your experience. Starting with accommodation, looking into Airbnb options can often save you quite a bit of money rather than staying in a standard hotel without having to compromise the location of where you’re staying. Considering staying in areas that might be a little bit further away from the main city centre can dramatically reduce the price tag of the accommodation and most cities have great public transport systems in place, so you won’t even notice!
Take a good look at the things that make a difference to your experience
One of the best ways I save money when I’m travelling is to really think about what I want to spend my money on. Experiences and sightseeing are very important to me, while food is something I don’t enjoy spending my money on so that’s where I make my cuts. I order cheaper meals and generally never any alcohol to give me a little extra money to spend on tours and attractions. Since food is not something I enjoy, I don’t want to waste my money on expensive wines and premium meals when I could be spending it on beautiful views and cultural learning. Don’t miss out on the things you came to see, but take away from the things you won’t remember. You might always regret if you don’t get to the top of the Empire State Building, but you’re unlikely to remember the beers you had with your dinner the night before.
Be careful with your credit card
One of the best ways to stay on top of everything is to really be careful with how often you use your credit card. Consider what you’re using it for and if that purchase is really necessary. When you’re back home that designer handbag from New York might not seem so great if it has plunged you into further debt that you can’t see a way out of. When we were in Europe I didn’t go shopping at all, with the exception of purchasing one souvenir from each country. Not only did I save a tonne of money by not buying things I don’t need, but I also found that we had so much more time to spend exploring the country rather than being inside a shopping complex, which was a great unexpected bonus. It is also a great way to avoid coming home with a whole suitcase full of things that you will never wear or use at home.
Although it can be hard and might be a little bit of a struggle at the beginning, buying a house or moving out does not have to mean you stop travelling. Thom and I have very regular jobs and make a normal wage. We work super hard to be able to do what we want and we don’t take anything for granted. For a long time, especially when I was at university we were both working 6 days a week and well over the normal amount of hours. But it was what we wanted to do and it was definitely worth it. Of course our lifestyle might not be for everyone, but we save money by not going out all the time and choosing the experiences that are the most important to us. We are super excited to be getting married next year and we are planning our honeymoon at the moment. Travel is very important to me especially and it has given us some amazing experiences, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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