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Real cost of Travel - do you need to be loaded ?
'We must be loaded to travel so much’ was what Sean Monkreif said on Newstalk national Irish radio as they discussed The Kid Trotter project. Whereas I listen to Sean quite a bit and know exactly his sense of humour and the manner in which he said it I take the opportunity to deal with the subject on the blog…. as we prepare to depart for a year of world family travel.
I think the type of travel Sean may have been referring ( you can listen to it here ) to can indeed be very expensive. High season binge travel is a concept that we have become accustomed to in our society. we work for 95% of the year and then binge out on 2 weeks in the sun/ski/whatever… and because it is ‘our’ special two weeks we treat ourselves..and spend accordingly... before we head back to the daily grind… and save up for next year.
There was a very interesting article that i read a few months ago by David Cain, a backpacker gone back to ‘normal’ 9-5 working life. Some of his reflections on life are very interesting. Basically he ponders upon his new 'normal' life and how society is setup. Working so much and bombarded by modern day marketing society creates needs, has him spend his money on often useless 'stuff', have less free time and generally be unhappier, despite his increasing bank account balance and accumulation of modern technology !
Despite companies and systems getting alot more efficient over the past few decades the pressures on peoples time has not been alleviated.. quite the opposite. "Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work."
You may think that it is a hippie’s view of society but i must admit there are several truths in his well thought out text
The culture of the eight-hour workday is big business’ most powerful tool for keeping people in this same dissatisfied state where the answer to every problem is to buy something.
( Read David Cain's article here called thought provokingly "Your lifestyle has already been designed" )
And therefore we come back to the question of travel… if you can in any way remove yourself from the ‘rat race’ or at least take a break from it, pressures on your time decrease and with that the necessity to treat yourself and buy into crafted ‘experiences' that are often over priced…
There are hundreds of case studies of people, couples, or even whole families that have or are still travelling the world having epic lifestyles in beautiful places because they choose to take a break from it all and spend time together as they discover different cultures … but you may say that wow thats only for the rich .. you need to be loaded to travel the world …as Sean Mncrieff on Newstalk alluded to … this is FALSE
One french family bought a sail boat and sailed the world for a year with 3 sons. When they got back a year later and sold the boat their year away cost them less than their rent back in Paris…. think about it …
This family had 365 days of together time in amazing destinations for ALOT less than life in france would have cost
So how do you travel the world without it costing you a fortune. Here is a non exhaustive list from our experiences.
Choose cheap countries
This goes without saying that Asia is alot more affordable than the USA. If you choose your countries well then you can live very cheaply for a long time. A week in disney florida would equate to about a month in certain countries in Asia.
Stay with locals
...and not big expensive hotels or chains will double the mileage of your budget…
Aside from the cost implications local b&bs can be alot warmer than a hotel. We have all heard of airbnb at this stage - It allows you to get a very nice apartment for the price of a hostel (if sharing with friends or family) or to have a real local experience by renting a room with locals.
Off season travel
This has so many advantages like budget rooms, less time in lines, cheaper flights … This really is a no brainer if you want to extend your foreign travel. Obviously shoulder season is best as you may not want to visit destinations when the weather is very bad.
If you do not have time, because you have to rush back to work, then you may have to take internal flights to save time, but it ends up costing alot more money. On the other hand . Last year i was on my way back from a race in Chile and needed to get to Buneos Aires to fly home. Instead of taking an expensive internal flight a look a luxury sleeper bus - equipped with my laptop for work, a few podcasts and a good book.. it was actually very productive time on the bus as opposed to 24 hours of ‘lost time’.
If you own your own abode then you can swap your home (and perhaps car) with people in different countries. It is an ideal strategy for ‘expensive’ countries like the US, europe and canada. This is an excellent solution on many levels even aside from the main one which is free accommodation…
If you both have kids you can be sure that their house will be much better adapted for your kids than any hotel. You will often mix with the owners/neighbours and get great advise on what to see and do. We had this experience with 2 canadian families
As we take off for a year of world travel we will be trying our best to put a number of these (and other top secret) tactics into good use to lower our bill….