How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all!

Myself on the cricket field at one of my best friend's wedding on the Isle of Wight. Celebrate!
Myself on the cricket field at one of my best friend’s wedding on the Isle of Wight. Celebrate!

It’s 2015 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 10 counties. 10 countries!

However did I do that?

My husband - The Music Producer and I, in Milan, Italy.
My husband – The Music Producer and I, in Milan, Italy.

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!

Fixing bikes. As boys do!
Fixing bikes. As boys do!

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 job as a corporate inter-cultural life coach, educational English language trainer and teacher in Berlin, 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. Absolutely, just like you.

Finding slugs! Boy Scouts of America (even though we're British!)
Finding slugs! Boy Scouts of America (even though we’re British!)

And yet.

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 Bangkok. I wanted to take that train to Poland. OMG. I was so broke at the beginning of last year but I was desperate to go to London, so I took a long-distance-inter-country-coach-bus, to England.

From Berlin.

Take the train or take the bus!
Take the train or take the bus!

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!

On the city-kart in Leba, Poland before the chain and seat broke off!
On the city-kart in Leba, Poland before the chain and seat broke off!

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! I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared. Completely! I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the names (thankfully I remembered where I first saw it. In the New York Times!), 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!

Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.
Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.

Nope!

Those days were fun, but they’re over.

Absolutely.

I think!!

In short, I’m enormously happy to go to hostels and we went to quite a few last year, but we paid that little bit extra for a private room (since my child is a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We also went 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!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" in a typical Thai kitchen restaurant in Bangkok. © Bangkok Vanguards.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” in a typical Thai kitchen restaurant in Bangkok. ©Bangkok Vanguards.

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.

Properly!

Bread & Butter: You're young. Go crazy!
Bread & Butter: You’re young. Go crazy!

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.

Yes, creative.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" having fun in Bangkok.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.
  • My son is 12 years old which means I can’t travel in the low season. Just like you.

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, planned the places that we wanted to go and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles. Yes, castles. And the most we paid for our 300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-river was €52.00 per day. For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us LOL!

We started planning in 2011.

In 2014, we went to four (4) destinations outside Europe where we live. We went to Thailand, Indonesia, Qatar, and Korea. We started planning it in 2012.

Morris Dancing. After you. No. After you! © Arthur Cornwell
Morris Dancing. After you. No. After you!
© Arthur Cornwell

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 days. Many get more! If you start your holidays on Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’ve got the weekends too. When I went to India, I went for 4 weeks 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 2014) you can just take the Monday and Tuesday off and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 9 days off but 2 official holidays.

Boom!!

Skiing in the Czech Republic.
Skiing in the Czech Republic.

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!

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!

Under the waterfall in Yosemite, USA.
Under the waterfall in Yosemite, USA.
  • We’re comfortable. We’re middle-class. Just like you.

What do I do?

We save, budget and plan how much we can reasonably spend.

It took us 2 years and so our budget in Asia was €100 per day. We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150.00 flying around in Asia itself each rather than taking the rickety all night train, and we spent between €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Thailand and €70 per night for a complete house in Bali! We were there for a month.

Book ahead.

Far ahead!

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 B&B’s, pensions, and small or “budget” hotels.

Yes, even Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York, are advocates for Berlin fashion, but between you and me, Prince Harry is more of a Berlin fit LOL! @breadandbutter.
Yes, even Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York, are advocates for Berlin fashion, but between you and me, Prince Harry is more of a Berlin fit LOL!
@breadandbutter.

If you’ve got the cash. Go for it. Plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!

Cool Britannia!
Cool Britannia!
  • We keep our eyes open and go on various mailing lists. Just like you.

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.

Or you could sing for your supper in Poland!
Or you could sing for your supper in Poland!
  • Be creative with flexibility! 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.

Or not.

Don’t choose. Go where you want to go.

Enjoying the swimming pool at Alam Shanti in Ubud, Bali.
Enjoying the swimming pool at Alam Shanti in Ubud, Bali.

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. 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.

Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
  • Don’t forget to ask. We love a bargain. Just like you.

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, “elderly” 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.

A love for chocolate. What else could it be? @ eat-the-world.
A love for chocolate. What else could it be?
@ eat-the-world.

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…..Where am I going in 2015?

Drum roll pleeeeease!

Travel plans this year are:

Holland

The Czech Republic

Turkey.
Turkey.

Turkey

Bulgaria

Spain - Here we come!
Spain – Here we come!

Spain for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference).

Finland

Estonia

Latvia

Lithuania

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.

Bread & Butter: Young & Urban.
Bread & Butter: Young & Urban.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so next week you can read what happened to me on my solo weekend in Amsterdam…!

It’s January. Well, hello there!

On January 15th, I will be watching the new Grand Show at the Friedrichstadt-Palast: THE WYLD.

The “British Shorts” Short Film Festival will take place between January 15th and January 19th. You can find more info about it on facebook or on their website.

More National Theatre Live productions can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as:

  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson on: 22.01.15.On January 29th, I will be at the Wintergarten Varieté where illusion replaces reality – for their latest production THE MAGICAL MYSTERY SHOW otherwise known as “The Show of the Magician.

If you’re a blogger and you’re in town, then come and meet us at the Berlin Travel Massive January MeetUp on January 21st.

Berlin Fashion Week is coming up and will take place between January 19th and January 23rd, 2015. Save the Date!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, then what are you waiting for?

January is going to be thrilling!

Watch this space!

Inspiring Street Art in Berlin.
Inspiring Street Art in Berlin.

What do you choose to do with your holiday/vacation time? Where are you going in 2015?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

79 thoughts on “How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all!

  1. Some great advice Victoria! And thanks for the plug! I’m planning to travel around Germany a little more in the coming months – I can’t wait! Just waiting for some blue skies 😉

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  2. Its all about the planning ahead and just going for it! Plus, you do live in a part of the world where its much easier to quickly visit other countries. Over here in the states it takes a lot more time and planning. But we are hitting Europe this year!

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      1. Not at all Epithode. Thailand & Taiwan sound perfectly awesome as they’re such great countries. It’s always best to start with where you’re comfortable going. It’s not a race LOL! And when you’re ready for Europe, you’ll have an excellent time I’m sure. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh yay! Loving this post!
    I will also be going to Latvia then Lithuania for one week (during my daughter’s break in Feb)..I’m a single mum so I am trying now to coincide my travels with her breaks especially after she complained about being left behind when I went to Asia..(she’s 7)
    She has another break in April so I will be at TBEX Spain then..Im still planning the rest of the year, but I will definitely visit Kenya this year during the summer and probably look around East Africa then..
    Yay for all the fellow travelers, we need to encourage each other as many friends (of mine) think Im wasting money and time traveling…they are not so encouraging..sigh..

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    1. Thank you africanagirl! You’re going to Latvia and Lithuania too. So cool. The region is going to be a hotspot in the future LOL! East Afica sounds amazing. I’ve only been to Kenya and it was only for a few hours….!
      Kids are enormously flexible. Take your daughter with you if you can. The younger they are, the easier it is. I’ve been travelling with my son since he was 6 weeks old, now he’s 12. He’s become demanding. Needing a “proper” bed ‘cos he’s tall, lots of fresh and avilable food, and WIFI! Yay for travellers. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sigh, Europe is SO much easier to get around. Though I suppose I could head to Montreal or Mexico with a bit of ease. You have such a wonderful travel life – it’s so great to read about. And you’re right, it’s all in the planning!

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    1. Awwwww thank you Jenna! It’s true. Europe is easier to move around but Canada and Montreal are just a flight or a drive away from our American cousins! And I must say that you haven’t done too badly for yourself either as a professional-motor-car-racing babe. I mean, whooooooooo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s like 6-7 hours’ drive from me, and I want to get there some day (perhaps for a Formula One race!) but for now, it’s not in the funding.

        My racing is amateur, but it’s my passion, so it’s what I end up doing ALL the time 😉

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      2. I totally understand Jenna. Put it on your “top goal” list and you’ll make it. 🙂 I’ve only been to Monaco once and I only spent one night there but I was awfully impressed. I made it count, and then dressed up and went to the casino with my Canadian girlfriends. Glaaaaamour all around!
        Honestly, amateur racing or not, car racing is hot and so are you! You’re also a high achiever. Don’t choose! Take your time. I’m sure that you can have it all. 🙂

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  5. It’s a whole different ball game when you are in the States as said above. You guys are so lucky , you could be in another country in less than an hour, but determination will accomplish a whole bunch. Besides, it would totally suck if everyone traveled..Happy trails in 2015, sounds like you are going to be one globe trotting mama!!! 🙂

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    1. Thank you kemkem! It’s so true, but that is why I put options in for our American cousins. Yes, Europe is on the other side of the world; Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and places like Hawaii and Alaska, aren’t. They’re right there close by or just a neighbouring American state. Why not? Live a little! I know that you’re a globetrotting mama too, so you’re not included LOL!
      2015 is going to be wow!

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  6. I am so excited to read your blog through all this year! Lots of European destinations, where I’ve either been or want to go – so I cant wait to exchange impressions and ideas.

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    1. Thank you Anna! I can’t wait either as many of these destinations are totally new and some like Spain, Holland, and the Czech Republic, are old favourites! I’m very interested in checking out the Baltic States as you did such incredible reviews when you went there last year. I would be interested in where you stayed though as I know you’re a classy girl and we probably have similar taste…. 🙂 Would you be willing to share on some of the places where you laid your pretty little head. 🙂 🙂

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      1. Well, in Riga I stayed with Linda, so that ship has sailed much closer to you!
        In Tallinn I booked City Hotel Tallinn by Unique Hotels – with my own bath and everything, right outside of the city castle walls and a 5 min walk to a city center. Right next to it is the slightly fancier version, that’s a proper hotel and all. It was decent, if all you’re gonna do it crash there for the night 🙂

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      2. I know! Silly Linda! I don’t know why she couldn’t have left Riga after I had visited. I mean, how selfish. 🙂 :)! I even said that I “might” come and she was like noooooooooo. Tokyo is pretty nice at this time of year!!!
        Anyway, I’ll check out the hotel and see what gives. Thanks babe. 🙂

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  7. Great post – I totally agree! Travel is so much simpler than many people think; it doesn’t have to cost much and it doesn’t matter whether it’s for a couple of days, weeks or for a whole year. I saved up money to travel while working in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world – when that money ran out I got a job in Vietnam. I wish more people realised just how possible travel really is.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Amy! That’s exactly what I tell people. Save up! When I lived in London, I saved up enough money to travel for a year and the rest kept me going for 10 years! It’s all gone now though. Sigh! But I had a brill time and enjoyed spending every penny of it as it came from my hard-earned-when-I-was-single-and-worked-god-knows-how-many-hours-but-awfully-good money LOL!

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  8. Well said and the suggestions you give are spot on! I am so impressed that you plan for so long ahead! I want to be more like that. I have some big trips I want to do this year (maybe the next) and now that we are staying in Asia it takes a little more money and planning.
    I can’t wait to read all your posts this year whether you are traveling or at home. 🙂

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  9. This is such a great post. I’m living by this motto at the moment and making sure I get to lots of places in China this year. I don’t mind taking buses and trains or staying in hostels. I just want to travel and that should be what it’s all about!

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  10. In Europe we’re actually really privileged with so much annual leave. My friend in Japan had 3 days of annual leave last year. Not much time to travel:) Where will your next trip be?

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  11. awesome, I love your spirit! I love how people work around whatever they have to get something they really want, in this case, to travel. I’ve heard too many whining about how people think they can’t travel and stop at envying others who do. Oh by the way, I love Ubud! Did you have a walk on the rice fields?

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    1. Thank you so much Vira! You’re so kind. 🙂
      Tell me about it. Travelling is not as difficult as people think if only they put their mind to it. If they want to.
      I too love Bali and Ubud. It’s one of my favourite places and I would love to go there all the time if I could, but you know how it is…LOL! Oh yes, we not only went walking and cycling in the rice fields, our house was actually in it! And security had to protect the houses as monkeys just climb over the wall as if they own the place. And actually, they do LOL!

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      1. LOL.. yeah I once had a monkey ‘tresspassed’ into the villa I was staying in Ungasan (south of Bali), looking for some fruit on the table! I kinda panicked but nothing happened, my friend just shooed it away.
        You should come back to Indonesia sometimes and explore more of other islands. Yeah I know it’s really far away, but the archipelago is waiting patiently 🙂

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