I plan on seeing the whole world and writing about my experiences. Being an 18 year old student, it's pretty hard to afford that. I'll be sharing tips on how to travel on the cheap and enjoy every minute of it!
Matthew and I have come up with a pretty ambitious goal. The reasoning behind it being that you need to aim for the moon, and if you fall you’ll land on the stars…or something like that. But we are certain that we will land on the moon, because we do have the ambition and the motivation for it. Unfortunately not the money, but lets just hope that comes later.
The plan is as follows:
1. Buy a van
2. Renovate it into a Dog walking van
3. Renovate it into a burger van
4. Renovate it into a hashtag van life van, and live in it while we travel around Europe and Asia.
The point we are stumbling on is the first one. Unfortunately, vans are pretty pricey. We have set up a savings plan and are aiming to have a semi-decent used van by Summer 2019. The goal is a big one, a Mercedes Sprinter, with the big bad long body. once we get that, we strip it down so that the inside is just the basic shell of the van.
Together we will construct a timer frame which will hold around 6 dog cages, and a shelf for storing old towels, leads, treats for us, treats for the dogs….etc. Then we go exploring, with some dogs, up Northern Scotland. We will climb Munros and take them to the coastal beaches that we love about Scotland. And we will get paid by the owners. This isn’t the biggest money maker, but we would already be out walking and exploring Scotland, so why not get paid to take some dogs with us.
Then from September onward when we go back to uni, we will dedicate a bit of time each month to stripping the van back to its original shell. After that we will turn it into something similar to a burger van – except less burgers and more fun summer food. More on that when we actually think more about it, Anyway that’s for Summer of 2020, so a long time away.
We would be keen on getting a permit for various locations around the UK, and again travelling around as we make money. Serving burgers or smoothies or whatever else we can think of.
The following summer is where it gets fun. We want to spend a year renovating the van into a van that we can live out of. Fit with a double bed, a toilet, kitchen sink, cooker and every other one of your home comforts. This will be summer of 2021, we graduate in May and will then be freeeeee to go wherever and do whatever without being tied to deadlines and scary attendance emails.
Our goal is to travel around all of Europe and Asia, picking up work on odd jobs along the way to keep the trip funded.
I know me and Matthew, and I know we can make it work. for the next 6 months, not a lot will be happening, its just a saving game. As soon as we buy the van however, let the fun begin!
This is a very brief account of how we actually planned it…for a more in depth and helpful post about planning an interrailing trip, bear with me. I’ll be posting one in a few days with hints and tips on everything interrail. Hopefully it will be much more organised than this as well!
With an Interrail pass you can travel around pretty much all of Europe. You can jump on a train whenever you want and disappear off into the next country, without having to pay a single extra penny. It’s liberating. However, ensuring your entire trip syncs up is a different story.
Firstly, I chose the type of ticket I wanted. There are a few different types and the one that me and my friends chose was was 7 days of travel over a 30 day period. This was on a deal when we bought it so was £230 instead of £300 for under 27s. Once we had chosen this it was a case of organising what countries we actually wanted to visit.
We made a priority list, and it consisted of all 30 countries that the ticket lets you visit. The top ten got arranged and rearranged countless times until it was whittled down to 8 bordering countries: Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic.
We were keen on booking accommodation in advance this made the trip a lot cheaper than it could of been but it did somewhat restrict us while we were travelling. We spoke to people who were arriving in a country not knowing how long they were staying for or where their next destination was. Although it seemed stressful, we were envious as we had such a strict plan to stick to.
We booked a few night trains, which saved money and gave us a lot of extra time in each country. Because we only had 10 days to see the 7 countries, travelling during the night was a big appeal to us. We reserved beds on 3 different night trains, and reserved seats for early morning trains to our other countries. We discovered that actually reserving seats wasn’t very important, as most early morning trains were quiet anyway.
When reserving your trains it is so important to check where the station is and make sure the times and locations are actually suitable. When booking an early morning train, we had to make sure the public transport from our hotel to the train station was starting early enough that day.
We also discovered it’s good to check what other stations your train goes to/comes from. We left St Lucia station in Venice for a train to Venice Main Station. Then discovered once we got on our train from the Main Station to Vienna, that we could have got on the stop earlier at St Lucia. Although extra train rides don’t cost any extra money, we could have spent more time in St Lucia, the main part of Venice.
Currency-wise, it might be wise to go to countries which all use the euro. This is something we never thought about until after we used 5 different currencies over the course of our journey. Getting a travel card is a good way to keep all the money safe and sorted, but most standard cards wont store all the currencies you need. We still had to take out cash for the Hungarian Forints and Czech crowns. The forints ended up getting stolen 5 seconds after we took them out the ATM in Budapest train station…but more on that in another post.
As for packing, we wrote out a very specific packing list for our trip. You end up carrying your bag about a lot, and it becomes heavier with every step. But if you pack too little, you will be wearing the same sweaty tshirt for a week straight. There isn’t always time or energy left at the end of the day to do a washing.
I’ll go more into detail in my next interrailing post, where I’ll write up exactly what we packed for the 10 days, how we kept our various currencies, how we organised all the paperwork from tickets and reservations to hotel bookings and how we survived 10 hours in a cramped, 6 bed tiny train couchette.
Anything in particular you’d like to know? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer in my next post. Thanks 🙂
This is just a quick blog to say – I am going to properly (yes, properly) get into blogging now. Now that I’ve put it out there, I need to do it. That’s how it works, right?
I have so many ideas – and so many fears – for this blog but I just desperately want it to pick up and go somewhere. Even if that somewhere is actually only to my boyfriend’s computer screen (Hi, Matthew) then I’ll still be happy. Because in the process I’ll gain writing experience, time to reflect, and something to look back on later on in my life.
I want to write about planning and going on all of our holidays – tips and hints and stories and photos from all around the world. From Europe to Australia, and America to Africa, we are hardly short on travelling experience. We are also planning on buying a van and converting it into a million different things. Yep, a million. Seriously, you should see our Van Plan notebook.
On top of this we are full time students with 2 part time jobs each and we own a lovely Bengal kitten, Luna. So our life together is full of amazing stories worth blogging about. And ranting about; studying and working so often is not fun.
Anyway, although I will be writing this blog selfishly for me, it will be so magical if someone reading it actually takes an interest in our busy, adventurous, wonderful life. Here’s to the blog, who knows where it might take us!
Let me know your thoughts if there is anything you’d like me to write about 🙂
When booking Australia I wasn’t very sensible – I booked the flights less than two months in advance and chose to go over the Christmas and New Year period, which also happens to be their summer. This is why I spent £1300 on return flights to Brisbane. However, you can do it a LOT cheaper than that, saving yourself around £500. Sky scanner is a great place to start, you can check the cheapest cities to land and the cheapest dates to travel. Generally, their flight prices are pretty awesome as well.
Around Australia, public transport is pretty great. In Brisbane you can get a GoCard. It costs $10 but you get that money back when you return it. You can top up however much you’d like and you can just tap on and off when you’re on the busses, ferries, trains – everything! They’re super easy and it’s cheaper to pay for a trip with that than to buy single or return tickets.
Sydney has a similar system called an Opal Card. You don’t need to pay to get this but there is a minimum top-up amount of $10 the first time you get it. After this, you can put on how much or how little as you want and again, use it for any public transport.
I found hiring a car was a pretty cheap and convenient way to get around. Especially in Brisbane, there is not a lot to do right there but if you travel an hour north to the Sunshine coast or an hour south to the Gold coast, there’s loads to do! I’m not sure how well public transport runs to these places but hiring a car worked really well so worth have a look at.
I know plenty of people doing the entire coast get a Greyhound Bus pass. This is a bus that takes you up or down or along the entirety of Australia, it’s quite expensive but you can decide at any time to get on and continue your journey or get off and stay for however long you want when you stop. Worth having a look into.
No matter where in the world, hostels are always the cheapest way. In Cairns,
we stayed in the lovely YHA Cairns Central hostel and got it for around £20 a night. It was a 10-minute walk to the beach and about 15 minutes to walk to the harbour that the boats leave from to get to The Great Barrier Reef. They organise all tours and activities so you can book a trip to the rainforest or cape tribulation and be picked up and dropped off at the reception.
In Sydney we managed a hostel for a similar price. This one was Nate’s Place and wasn’t as nice – honestly, I probably wouldn’t stay again. However the location was amazing, especially considering the cost. We were a 15 minute walk to Darling harbour, Sydney Opera House, The Tower Bridge, Sydney’s royal botanic gardens…all the good stuff. We got the bus straight to Coogee beach and straight back from Bondi beach. So if you’re going to be out the hostel all day and don’t mind where you sleep at night, this is a great option.
On the last night in Sydney we chose to book a hotel. We got one on Lastminute.com a couple nights beforehand and paid £50 each for a double room in a 5* hotel. Hyatt Regency Sydney was right next to Darling Harbour, the zoo and the aquarium. If you have some spending money left over on your final night then go ahead and treat yourself!
Food and drink
Sydney has been rated the 2nd most expensive city in the world. I certainly didn’t find it to be expensive as I was buying food in Grocery shops and cooking it in hostel kitchens. Things like fruit vegetables and nuts all come cheaply and can be beaten with most meals. Both our hostels came with breakfast which is a great way to save money as well. As well as this we bought things like eggs and breakfast biscuits as well as wraps and fillings and managed to make a wide variety of cheap meals. Also taking advantage of the free food shelves in hostels is a great place to start! If you’re booking a day tour then make sure they provide lunch – most do but some at an extra cost. If it costs more then you can weigh up the price. Is it cheaper to bring your own things in your bag or would you rather their hot meal for a little more money?
It’s all about planning in advance, if there’s a famous restaurant you want to try, the budget in for that days before. Go to the shops with a list so you know exactly what you’re making in the hostel so you don’t but things that will end up in the bin.
There are various websites online where you can get discounts from the RRP on trips all over the world. Groupon got us 50% off of the Brisbane Wheel and Experience Oz and NZ got us a fair whack deducted from shark diving. It’s all about looking around.
There are also lots of free or cheap things you can do which are just as good as expensive experiences. Brisbane has Eat Street Northshore where you pay $2.50 entry and can see live music, open-air films and eat street food to your heart’s content. Sydney has some great coastal walks like Coogee to Bondi, Manly to Spit or even just going to see the Opera house and Tower Bridge is free. Cairns has a lovely esplanade that you can hire bikes and cycle along and around or you can chill at their chlorinated beach pool and take in the great views.
Head over to my first post to learn a little more about the blog or leave comments with ideas about where you want me to write about next…Or have you got any cheap travel tips for Australia or else where? Leave them in the comments!
I’m jumping right into the deep end with blogging – I’ve never even tried it before. Recently I’ve had a lot of experiences where it seems to be ‘calling out to me’, so I figured, why not do it? I went straight for a self-hosted site, I’ll be paying to keep my spot there every month. I’m hoping this means I’ll get started a lot quicker and at some point, if I dream hard enough, maybe I’ll even get a little money from it.
The blog is going to be mostly orientated around travel to begin with. After a looong time, when I have regular readers, I’ll maybe expand and write about some different but just as interesting things. This blog post in particular is a bit more personal than the rest will be, since I’m just getting started. With that in mind, here’s a bit about me:
I’m Karys, I’m 18 and I’m a full-time Linguistics student at Edinburgh University in Scotland. When I was younger, an annual family holiday was a standard thing. We went to places like Greece, the Canary Islands or we would take our caravan to a small town up by Dundee. These all ignited my passion for travel. Maybe it was because I loved family time so much, and it had to be heightened in a small 5 meter squared box that we called home for the week. Subconsciously I probably started linking travelling with happiness and family. Orrr maybe it was just because being on holiday is SO much better than being at home. Anyway, these aren’t the important trips!
When I was 12 I started funding my own trips to compete in Tae Kwon Do competitions over the UK. My first one was the World Cup in Brighton, a big city down the very south of England. I started baking cakes and selling them around my neighbour’s doors, this is how I ended up funding all my trips until I got a job at 16! Between 12 and 14 I paid for myself to go all over the UK and Ireland, and at 15 I paid for my first big trip.
My school put on a week-long trip to New York and Washington DC and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and ran. Thankfully, my mum believed that I could raise the £1500 required in the 9 months that was given….and she was right. Where there’s a will there’s a way! 15 year old me set off on this trip of a lifetime and now, 2 and a half years later, I’m going back!
In between then and now I’ve funded a 4 week long £4000 trip To Ecuador, South America. I’ve also visited Amsterdam, Cape Verde (an Island off the west coast of Africa), Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the east coast of Australia. Me and my boyfriend Matthew also backpacked around Wales for a week, went up north to camp in Inverness and drove all the way to the Isle of Skye (at 4 in the morning), went down south for a week in London and camped in the Lake district for a couple of nights.
Next week me and Matthew are heading off to NYC and the following week we head back to Denmark, exactly a year from the last time we visited!
So long story short; I’ve seen some of the world, and in the future I plan on seeing a lot more. This blog is going to be a way to document my experience, and I’ll include hints and tips if I ever discover any! Head over to my first official blog post where I talk about my recent experience in Australia.
If you have any ideas or questions or comments, please do let me know in the comment section. When I figure it all out, I’ll be reading through and taking them on board!