One Year Travelling; Our Best Bits & Budget
On the 2nd May we celebrated one year travelling around the world and living full-time on the road! ONE WHOLE YEAR since we first heaved our way-too-huge backpacks on our backs and frantically waved goodbye to our family at Heathrow. We had no idea what to expect then taking that final step through security; how our life would turn out, where we would travel to and if we would even like travelling together? But, one year later we can safely say there’s not one thing we regret and taking that step to travel again is the best damn decision we ever made! Gone are the days where we sat at home feeling grey and miserable (just like the London weather) and wondering what we were doing with ourselves and now are the days where we’re feeling healthy, fresh and inspired. What could be better than that?
We’ve travelled a lot since that day at Heathrow to places both familiar and new, we’ve experienced new cultures and a whole new way of living, we’ve met a lot of people and undoubtedly learnt very much about ourselves yet we still can’t quite believe it’s been a whole year! A year at home always feels so long and so drawn out; waiting for the winter days to end, living for summer if you’re lucky enough to actually get one and waiting for every weekend like it was Christmas. But, life on the road is so different; you’re lucky if you even know what day it is let alone waiting for the weekend. I guess compared to life in London everyday is like a weekend on the road – filled with new experiences and the opportunity to do something which challenges you. And, whilst by no means am I going to say that full-time travel is like a constant holiday (despite what many people think!) it is nice to have filled a year with incredible moments, memories, new adventures and experiences as opposed to months all merging into one without having much to say for themselves. One year travelling has gone quickly but when we look back and reminisce it’s also amazing at how much we’ve packed in to 12 months and just how much we’ve learnt and changed along the way. When time flies you must be doing something right…!
Countries we’ve visited so far;
So, you might be thinking; you’ve been travelling for a whole year and only been to six countries? Well, erm yes! We like to travel slow and travel slow is exactly what we’ve done. Having both travelled before we knew that this time around we could be more picky about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. We didn’t want to go to places and travel through them at lightening speed just to tick them off of a bucket list. Instead we wanted to travel more deeply; spending longer in each place to really get to know it, to get the chance to meet local people, eat the best local food and find out about what was going on in that community. And, we have to say that travelling slow has been the best decision we made! Not only has it given us time to learn so much about each place we’ve been to; learning some of the language and volunteering where we could but its also given us time to create The Spindrifters and write all about the experiences we’ve had!
One year travelling in a quick fact round-up;
Places stayed in (can’t call them cities as some have just been so tiny!); 89
Number of visitors; 10
Best Beaches; Kapas (Malaysia), Marakolliya (Sri Lanka), Mantanani (Borneo)
Best Dishes; Roti Cobra (Borneo), Pho & Banh Mi (Vietnam) but India wins with its Masala Dosa’s, Thalis. Channa Masala, Malai Kofta, Chole Bathura…we could go on but you get the point!
Best Beer; LaRue (Vietnam), closely followed by Bintang (Indonesia)
Our Favourite Travel Moment;
This is SO hard to choose as inevitably we have had so many incredible moments (poor us, we know!) But, we’ve racked our brains and can really only narrow this down to our top five moments so here they are in no particular order;
– Sunrise at the Taj Mahal
– Arriving on Mantanani Island for the first time
– Sitting on the beach on Mantanani looking at the Milky Way & watching the luminescent plankton in the sea
– Climbing Kawah Ijen at sunrise and witnessing the blue flames
– Eating dinner and sharing stories with families in the slum of Mumbai due to their overwhelming kindness and spirit
– (An extra cheeky one for Charlotte would be diving Barracuda Point dive site in Sipadan, Borneo!)
Our Worst Travel Moment;
Again, there has to be two here as we just cant choose between them but both are from our time in India. Oh travelling in India, you really don’t appreciate just how big it is until you are trying to get from one end to the other in a day! Our fist worst travel moment was when we travelled the length of India from Jaipur to Goa in two days flat and ended up spending one very uncomfortable night sleeping amongst the rats and cockroaches on the floor of Mumbai’s very busy train station…enough said. The second just has to be our train ride from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur; it wasn’t the longest by any means at a mere five hours but it was the HOTTEST we have ever been in our lives. Picture 48 degrees, a train with no air-con, only two working fans – it was like being roasted in a literal oven and to make matters work I (Charlotte) had an awful migraine. Safe to say we were very happy to get to Jodhpur and an air-con room! All in all our travel experiences really haven’t been that bad and these parts always make for a good story in the end and are what make travel so rewarding…or that’s what we try to tell ourselves!
The Budgeting Bit;
When we left London we didn’t really have any kind of plan of where we would go after our initial stop in Kuala Lumpur or how long we’d be gone for other than we wanted to combine travelling with volunteering and try to make our money last as long as possible! And well, we’re doing pretty well! A year in and I (Charlotte) have spent less than I did in 8 months of travelling last time – probably thanks to Josh’s incredible budgeting skills and not going out boozing every night – we’ve volunteered for a total of 13 weeks (with 4 more weeks to come in Sri Lanka) and although we are heading home for a short period in July we still, in reality, have enough to keep travelling for another 8-10 months. I know, we can’t believe it either!
We do budget tightly, living on £10-£15 a day each depending on country, but we never miss out on anything we truly want to do! We love eating local food so this is often very cheap anyway and by cutting out the numerous coffees or cokes and habits from home that you don’t really need it’s easy to live cheaply day to day. And so by saving money here we have more to spend on those once in a lifetime things like diving in Borneo, paragliding in India and biking in Vietnam! We pick and choose the things we want to do but having both travelled before we are more aware of the fact that you don’t have to do every single thing in every single place just because it’s here and that’s what the guide books and everyone else tells you you should do. We’ve been in Asia for a year and we really don’t want to see any more caves or tiny dribbling waterfalls…only if they are really something special! We’ve learned to let go of FOMO (fear of missing out for those of you not down with abbreviations!) and just do the things we want to do! This not only takes of the pressure of fitting a huge itinerary into a few days in a place but makes things cheaper too!
We often get asked about how we saved to travel for a year; how much we saved, how much we spend and how on earth are we STILL travelling! So, as follows is a brief insight into what we have spent in each country we have visited and how much we budgeted per day in each place! We wish it was more in depth but, well, we kept forgetting to update our spreadsheet…!
Malaysia – 6 weeks – £15 a day each – Total Spent; £550 each
Indonesia – 2 months – £15 a day each – Total Spent; £1148 each
Borneo – 3 months – £10 a day each – Total Spent; £1106 – Josh & £1627 – Charlotte (extra diving costs)
Vietnam – 1 month – £15 a day each – Total Spent; £436 each
India – 6 months – £10 a day each – Total Spent; £1822 each
Sri Lanka – 1 month – £15 a day each – Total Spent; £535 each
As you can see, in some places we stuck to the budget and in others we went slightly over – usually where there was special occasions such as Christmas where we, of course, treated ourselves for the day! The main thing we have learnt is to spend money on the things that matter, the experiences, the special days and special events as in the end this is what you will remember! There is always going to be things that you want to do outside of the budget, like diving, which means you will spend more but these things just cant be missed due to a ‘budget’ or else whats the point in travelling!? Plus for us, we made up these costs through our time spent volunteering.
We volunteered for a total of 13 weeks in the course of the year and this has had a double use for us; it allows us to stay in a place longer to get involved in the community but also to save money and extend our travels. Here is how much we spent during the course of each volunteer stint to give you an idea of what can be saved and how this can then be spread out onto your remaining days!
Mantanani, Borneo – 5 weeks volunteering – Total Spent; £20
Kuching, Borneo – 10 days volunteering – Total Spent; £75
India – 7 weeks volunteering – Total Spent; £160
So there you have it, travelling for a whole year really doesn’t have have to be ridiculously expensive. We have spent roughly £6000 each which, had we been at home, would easily have been spent in 3-4 months. Looking at it that way really puts it into perspective!
Aside from becoming awesome at travelling in an affordable way there are so many things we have learnt from travelling full time;
The 9-5 career life is society’s trick – no-one is forcing you to do it, you don’t owe your life to working in a monotonous job just because “society” says you have to, who are you making happy? Time to get out there and shake up the “norm”!
You can live with whatever you can carry on your back – after living out of a backpack for over a year, its clear that you really can survive with the minimum and whilst having all those material things can be nice, its not necessary and there’s far better things to spend your money on!
We are total beach bums – after spending time in cities, deserts and mountains we always came back to missing being by the beach. There’s really nothing quite like having the sun, sea, salt and sand right on your doorstep; it’s our haven!
We’re not the only ones out there – when you leave home and choose to do something completely different to those in your immediate circle its easy to assume that there aren’t many other couples doing the same thing. But, as soon as you hit the road you realise this isn’t the case. There are so many awesome people doing exactly what we are and living the dream! It’s so nice to meet these people, share stories and know that you’re not the only ones.
You can do anything you put your mind to – people often tell us we are “lucky” to be doing what we are doing. Well, they’re wrong. We aren’t lucky we just put our mind to what we wanted to do, worked very hard to save and took the leap. We also work hard on the road on our volunteer projects and on our blog creating more and more opportunities along the way. So, listen up – if you’re reading this and thinking that it could never be possible for you to travel then that’s just not the case…you really can do anything you put your mind to!
That’s our first year round-up! Our plan for the next year is currently a little vague other than the following;
14th June; Fly to Bali for a month
13th July; Fly home to London to see all our lovely friends and family
October; Hope to move to New Zealand for a year
Very vague, but that’s the way we like it and that’s the beauty of travel; it can be spontaneous and we just drift along wherever the wind takes us!
Here’s to the next fantastic year…keep following along for the ride!!
C & J x