How I paid for my Australian adventure

For the next couple of weeks my posts will cover my trip to Australia. Before I start posting them, I want to share how I paid for it. I think that the glamorous side of travelling is emphasized a lot in the social media and not the financial side. I think only a small group of people are fortunate enough to be in a situation where they don’t have to think about money and can jet-set where ever when ever. I consider myself to be fortunate, but I am not that fortunate.

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This is a story of blood, sweat and tears. Doing this wasn’t easy, but I had to do these things to be able to afford the trip.

Travelling is expensive. I pay for my own trips. I have a job that pays ok, but I find it a somewhat struggle to save from my salary. I have a house account that I save for each month but after paying the bills I have to live frugally.

I got the news of  my friend’s engagement  around March 2016. I started saving immediately. I had to take a two and a half week leave of absence from work that my boss graciously granted me. So now I had to save for my flat, pay the usual bills with less income, save for the trip and try to fill in gap that the unpaid leave would leave on my budget.

From mid-August onwards I was on full buying strike. I wasn’t allowed to buy anything useless. Luckily, I had bought my niece’s, nephews’ and god-daughter’s Christmas presents on sale already in January. I only had to buy presents for the rest of my family that in the end ruined my budget even though I tried to be sensible.

I cut down my grocery budget by buying and eating less. I only went to the store once a week with a list of all the foods that I was going to eat along the week. I didn’t buy any treats but baked them instead.

Luckily, tax returns came in late November and I used them to boost my travel budget.

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Now I had two things to save for from the same paycheck. I quickly realised I had to increase my income. I filled applications for temp agencies and got jobs working at bars in the evening and the weekends. In December I took a night temp job working for the post. This meant lack of sleep, but it added another 1500€ to my travel budget.

I cancelled my Netflix and HBO Nordic accounts and only borrowed DVDs from the library and re-watched my own DVD (I rewatched Lost and Doctor Who).

I cancelled my travel trips for the summer and only went to Pärnu, Tallinn, St Petersburg and London.

I used all my customer points (Finnair, Plus, Pins and others) to make my life easier and cheaper.. I bought discount train tickets.

I booked everything in advance. As soon as I had booked my flights I reserved my hostels. I made sure that either breakfast was included or they had a kitchen to use. I bought my snacks in advance from the big supermarkets and some days I lived on instant porridge, rice crackers, peanut butter rolls and apples. Luckily, I have friends in Australia so I managed to get a place to sleep for free in Sydney and Melbourne (and a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends). I stayed at YHA hostels mostly as I get a discount being a member. I bought a Greyhound bus pass from Melbourne to Cairns and managed to save in accommodation as I slept 4 nights on the bus. I used hotels.com to book the rest of my accomodation as you get a “free” night after booking ten nights.

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As soon as I knew where I would be on certain dates, I booked the trips, tours and activities.

All in all I worked more, had less free time, saw my family and friends less and a lot of the times I thought about spending a bit more or buying something nice. Every time I thought about how much it would suck not to be able to do something nice and cool in Australia. It was not all bad, as I met nice people at work and made new friends.

So yeah. That is how I managed to pay for my trip to Australia.

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