Someone asked me “How can you afford to travel so much?” It’s not the first time I got that question. People must think I’m a millionaire. So I figured I might use that as a blog topic today. Doesn’t really fit in an e-mail anyway. :)
I think that many people forget that traveling is not as expensive today as it was maybe ten years ago. And small changes in your everyday life, make all the difference. Gigs and travel – those are my greatest passions in life and I do whatever it takes to make it happen. I think many people can, they just don’t know it. Unless you’re unemployed, a student, or have a low salary, you can travel – even if it’s just shorter trips.
Let’s take a few examples. I’ll have to assume Swedish conditions when listing these examples, but you can of course use it as a sample guide and translate it into you own currency and your country’s prices.
Assume that a roundtrip ticket Copenhagen-London costs around 1500 SEK. It depends of course on when you travel, what airline, and how long you’re going to be away, but just as a basic example.
Then say you’re a smoker and you smoke a pack of Marlboro a day. A pack of Marlboro costs, on average, around 50 SEK.
If you quit smoking, you’ll be saving 1500 SEK a month. Oh, what do you know, That equals a roundtrip ticket to London.
Cut the smoke for two months and you’ve got 3000 SEK in your hand right there. You could be traveling anywhere in the world within a few months, just for quitting smoking. Trade something that you’re blowing straight out in the air, for memories that last forever.
Or say you go out for lunch every day. Depending on the restaurant and where in Sweden you go for lunch, that’s going to cost you at least 50 SEK – each time. That’s 350 SEK a week, take that times four, and in four weeks you will have spent 1400 SEK. That’s pretty much a roundtrip ticket to London or Germany (from Denmark) as well.
Make your own lunchbox and save money!
Lots of people love to have “a few beers”. It’s cheaper in most countries than it is in Sweden, but a beer, if you go to a club, it will cost you around 50 SEK. Most people don’t just have ONE beer. Say you go out “for a beer” every week, and you drink a modest amount of 3 beers, that’s 150 x 4… Equals at least 1800 SEK for something that you just went straight to the toilet and pissed out a few minutes later.
[Change the name of it to “Travel fund” – and you’re all set to go!]
Or – the last example, assume you want to go to a club for a night out. The rock club KB here in Malmo starts charging you 40 SEK for hanging your jacket in the wardrobe (they make you do it, saying it’s for “safety reasons”). Then you go for a few beers or maybe a few glasses of wine. Assume you have 3 or 4 glasses of that – let’s call it the civilized type of night out.
Then, before you go home, you want to go for that “drunk fast food” and get a burger or a kebab, and lastly, you finish the evening by taking a cab home. Well, unless you live within crawling distance.
THAT evening is going to cost you 40x240x50x100=430 SEK and that’s the CHEAP version! The more wine, beer, and hangover-food you add to it, the closer you are to a flight ticket if you party at home or not party at all.
If you go out partying once a week for a month, that’s 1720 SEK, if you go out twice a week, that’s 3440 SEK!
That equals a roundtrip ticket to NEW YORK from Copenhagen!
I measure everything in flight tickets. I’ve been needing a new couch for years actually. But every time I go looking for one, I stop because a couch will cost be maybe 4000 SEK, if it’s a cheap IKEA version- and that is a ticket to the States, pretty much. Next thing you know, some band or artist will announce tour dates and the couch can wait!
Back in 1999 I even SOLD a few pieces of furniture to afford a trip to the UK to see Whitesnake. I don’t care much about “things”. I don’t buy gadgets, I don’t need to impress people with a fancy home or the latest huge movie-theater style flat-smartTV… I don’t buy the latest fashion, I even stopped driving just to save money on gas and car insurance. I take the bus or the train, works just fine.
If I can’t afford a trip and I REALLY want to go, I look around the house for stuff to sell online. There’s always something that you haven’t used for ages that somebody would be willing to pay for. A few sales like that and there you go.
I think a lot of it has to do with priorities. It’s quite common that people buy “stuff”, as we live in a consumption society, and they don’t think much about how much they’re actually spending.
[Do you want to watch that spectacular sunset on TV, or actually go there and experience it for yourself? :-) ]
Everything you save on is a step closer to that flight ticket or that gig. I’ve had a bunch of expenses the past few months, which means that the food budget is down to zero. I grab whatever I can find in the freezer or the pantry and get creative with it.
There are sites online where you can fill out what ingredients you’ve got (or want to use) and it will give you a number of recipes that includes that. Fast, easy, and cheap.
Sometimes I’ve had oatmeal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s cheap, lasts for ages, keeps you full for hours and it’s nutritious. And you can vary it. Milk, cinnamon, jam, berries, fruit… costs pretty much nothing.
Frozen veggies can be used in a creamy soup – just add a stock cube, bring to a boil and use the hand mixer for a soup that you can eat for days.
Basically, I can live on almost nothing, choose not to buy things, or fix things, just to be able to travel.
Plus, there are a million ways to save on travel and hotels as well. After all these years, I know a few tricks that are of great help, and I’ve shared them in this blog before. I’ve already redeemed 3 flight tickets this year for my frequent flyer miles. And that’s only because I use SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) credit card that gives me 20 points for every 100 SEK I shop for.
So, grocery shopping, or getting creative (use the card when buying something for friends, then they can just pay you back in cash) quickly adds up to a ticket. And you’re just doing what you would be doing anyway. A smart way of collecting miles.
If I know that there’s a gig this summer in Italy for instance, I will buy a single ticket this month and the return ticket with my next salary. And the hotel can usually be paid when you arrive, so there’s plenty of time to save up for that. You barely notice the expense when you spread it out over a period of time.
If you have a regular job, not too many necessary expenses (loans to pay back, kids or whatever) you should be able to travel with a bit of planning and effort.
I know, however, that many people are definitely not in a position to do anything other than survive, because of a tough financial situation, so I’m not saying that it’s a piece of cake or that everybody can do this. I’m just saying that if you have the right conditions and you make a few changes here and there, you’re all set.
Over a period of time, those small things will equal a ticket to ride. :)