Can you guess what the most common question we ever get asked is? Yep! “How do you afford world travel?”. I think people ask this expecting some mind-blowing answer, the secret to our riches and how they too can get rich. Well, guess what? We are not rich. Far from it. Far, far from it! What we are is clever and in-tune with our dreams!
We have been travelling overseas from Australia with kids for over 7 years, with the frequency and length of trips increasing steadily over the years. Our first trip was three weeks in France and England. After that it was a 5 week road trip across the USA. Since then we have toured the UK and Europe over several months, travelled Australia with a caravan for 6 months and most recently begun touring various parts of Asia.
There is one driving force behind all of this – desire. If you want something strongly enough you can, and will, make it happen! And travel is our dream, our desire and our life!
We have never had loads of money. We’ve never won the lottery, had a rich relative leave an inheritance or struck gold in a well-timed real estate purchase. We have done one thing, and done it well. We have saved! We’ve been clever with it, come up with little tricks and tactics to help us along the way, but inevitably it all comes down to one thing. Desire!
Have you ever seen those incredible stories on current affair shows revealing some amazing persons secrets behind their unbelievable money saving ways? ‘How one woman saved enough to pay off her mortgage in 4 years’ Yawn…… She was clever, she saved money. There. Story told. Next…… I know I’m being a bit blasé, but it really isn’t that amazingly incredible. Being able to afford world travel with kids just takes a bit of work and clever thinking!
So, I’m going to tell you some of the ways we save money and the tricks we use to afford world travel with kids.
I’m going to start with my number one tip because it is the most important, the most valuable and it applies to both saving to travel and travelling itself:
Never pay full price. For ANYTHING!
At home this applies to food, clothes and household goods mainly. Although I am gradually amassing some clever tips when it comes to bills and other expenses too. Supermarkets constantly have sales. Half price sales save me a fortune! For years I have gone through the weekly catalogues of the major supermarkets making a list of sale items. I then do my weekly shopping, visiting each supermarket specifically for their sale items. For items we regularly use I will get several weeks or months worth if they are half price. I also seek out clearance items. When home, we have a large freezer stocked with discounted items. I once bought $140 worth of meat for just $24 that was heavily reduced as it was getting near it’s best before date (which is always a couple of days early to be safe anyway). For clothing I love op-shops. Not only do you save a ridiculous amount of money, but you find some really unique and quality items. Besides, kids are only going to grow out of them in 5 seconds anyway. This goes for household items too. Most of our furniture is second-hand, bought online or from second-hand shops or garage sales. You really wouldn’t know it by looking at it though. Our family sized, near new refrigerator cost me $100 on Gumtree! Our TV was a factory second and works perfectly for around half the regular store price.
For travel – plane tickets, hotels, tours. Don’t ever pay full price! Airlines have sales regularly. I get email notifications from my favourites when they have sales on and I’m always looking on Skyscanner for any other sale fares. One of the best sales we have found is ‘Jetstar’s return for free’ which they seem to do a couple of times a year. We just booked return fares to Vietnam from Sydney for $1600 for the seven of us! You can book these well in advance too. Some of their most recent ‘return for free’ tickets were for as far away as March next year. I always look on hotelscombined.com for hotels. They compare all the top travel accommodation sites and come up with some incredible deals, sometimes of up to 80% off. And be intensive and clever with your search. We once found a hotel that was $253 for 2 nights but $254 for 3 nights! Then there’s Airbnb. We stayed in an incredible 3 bedroom apartment, 30 minutes from the centre of Paris, for $64 a night! Great for self catering too. Why eat out when you can shop like the locals and cook for yourself? Check out our post on what we ate when travelling the UK/Europe. Never pay full price for entry into attractions or tours either. There are a plethora of websites offering discounts for pretty much anywhere you can imagine. Groupon for Australia and Klook for Asia are good places to start. Basically if something costs money, you can find it for less somewhere, somehow. Even transport. Instead of taxis we use Uber and Grab (our latest amazing discovery). We could have hired a car on our UK/Europe trip for several thousands of dollars. Instead we bought one and sold it 3 months later, making a profit! Read our post Buying A Car To Travel The UK And Europe here.
Set a budget and stick to it.
Would you believe our current budget allows $280 a week for groceries for our family of 7? To many, this seems like not nearly enough. Especially with the cost of groceries in Australia. To me, it seems like too much. And it often is. Whatever money I save out of this amount goes straight in to our travel fund account. And don’t get me wrong, we eat well. I love cooking and our kids are always hungry. I just put the time and effort into shopping wisely.
This doesn’t just apply to food either. It’s for everything. Entertainment, bills and other expenses. We have a detailed budget spreadsheet which we regularly update. I find it so much easier to stick to a budget, and to save, if you can actually see it in front of your eyes. It’s like a game. A sport. Can I do it? Can I match it? Can I beat it? Watching those figures go up, knowing you’re getting closer to the end game, it’s exciting. Exhilarating. Rewarding!
How much useless, wasted ‘stuff’ do you have at home? You don’t need to answer that. I already know the answer! Gumtree, eBay, Facebook, trash and treasure markets – there are so many portals out there for selling unwanted and unused items and you’d be surprised just how much money you can make out of random ‘stuff’. Before one of our trips we did some trash and treasure markets, selling piles of old toys, appliances, clothing, homewares etc. Over 3 markets we made more than $600.
Peter even went to a local second hand market while we were in England to sell the camping gear we had been using before we headed home and he even managed to resell the car we had bought for our trip a few months earlier at a profit! You can also be clever and buy and resell. If you know how to spot a bargain at a market, online or in an op-shop, there’s the potential of making a pretty little profit. You know the saying – ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’!
Do you even know what this is? Entering (and hopefully winning) competitions! There are thousands out there just waiting to be entered and won. Be it from purchasing a particular product, filling out a form online or ringing a radio station, the ways of entering competitions are varied and very often, simple. You can win anything from toys, cash and household items to cars, holidays and even houses. While I’m yet to score a car or better yet, a house, over the years I have amassed a pretty impressive list of wins. Some of my prizes have included whitegoods, cash, holidays within Australia and my very best win – a caravan. Some things I have kept, but others I have sold and put the money into my travel fund. I will write a more detailed post on this soon and hopefully teach anyone who is keen to learn, just how to jump on the comping wagon!
This may sound contradictory to everything else I am suggesting but it’s really not. Especially as travel is quite a unique thing to ‘purchase’, in that you often can’t just produce a wad of cash that you’ve saved, hand it over and bam – you’re travelling. It takes months, even years for some (ie. people very unlike me who like to be organised and not just wing it…..) to plan and prepare for that dream trip. You could spend years saving and then when you finally have the cash saved, the flights/seasons/timing doesn’t work for another 6 months for you. This is where borrowing comes in. Rewind to 2007 – our very first trip with kids. We decided we wanted a trip and there was no way we could wait to save up. We were just too impatient. We put the whole trip on our credit cards and then afterwards, employed the same saving strategies I have listed above, to pay the debt. Saving in reverse really.
Honestly, I am so glad we did this. It was the starting point to realising our dream, and awesome enough to put that real fire in my belly, to focus on creating as many opportunities to travel as possible. In a crazy way, I enjoyed paying off the debt as the lesser it became, the closer I was getting to my next trip.
If you do choose to go down this road to kick-start your travel dreams, I’d recommend a personal loan over maxing out the credit cards. Credit cards generally have much higher interest rates compared to personal loans and there are some great personal loans out there these days. People’s Choice Credit Union is our top pick, with a range of personal loan options from $2000- $100,000 and being a credit union, they have very competitive interest rates. You can even calculate your weekly, fortnightly or monthly personal loan repayments with their personal loan calculator, to ensure you can afford a personal loan. Having the cash on hand/in the bank gives a bit more freedom than relying on a credit card too.
So there it is. Simple and effective tips on how to afford world travel with kids. Let me just add one thing in case you are thinking “Ahhh that’s all very well saying that, but I bet they make a load of money so it’s easy to save”. Well, no. We don’t! We really don’t. We never have. In fact, there have been times that we have really struggled financially. It’s just all about drive and determination and truly, if you want something badly enough – you will make it happen!
We have had many number of jobs and businesses over the years (and still do between travels). Gardening, insulation, hospitality, disability support, to name a few. None of these have brought in a remarkable amount, but enough to see us employ these strategies, and travel as much as we can. In recent years we have created this blog. It started as a means of documenting our travels for ourselves and for our friends and family. It has gradually turned into a valuable source of information, tips and stories for anyone interested in travel with kids (or without). Seeing it grow and actually begin to make us an income, fills me with pride and excitement. It’s quite surreal to see our dreams and our reality intertwining this way. We are working more and more towards making it our full time ‘job’ and hopefully before long, it will be!
I truly believe, whatever your job, income or situation, if you have a dream, something you love, you can and will make it happen! Believe in yourself and shoot for the stars!
Disclaimer: All information is genuine and was written based on our personal techniques and experiences. There are links within this post which we have received payment to include. This helps fund our travels and travel blogging endeavours but has no influence on the article.