I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while now. I’m pretty sure if I look through my drafts, I’ll find some unfinished version of it in there… and by “unfinished version”, I mean I probably write the title and one, possibly two sentences. Well, I finally decided it was high time to publish this. I’ll do my best not to draw this post out though, it’s probably important to note that how I pay for (/can afford to) travel has evolved so much over the course of this year.

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This year, as the blog has grown, Lloyd and I have been very fortunate to get invited to explore different places but for the longest time (and indeed long before the blog was created), I paid for my travels through my job.

I’m not one for counting countries visited. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I’ve just never felt quite right about it. You’ll probably struggle to find more than a couple of posts (if any) where I talk about the ‘number’ of countries I’ve visited but I have to make an exception in this post to set some context. See, before we started blogging, we’d been fortunate enough to visit just over 40 countries – all paid for out of our own pocket so I know all too well the concerns, struggles and juggling act that’s required to hold onto a job and try to travel the world on a budget.

I kinda wish I had something more special to tell you about how I funded my travels over the years but that’s the truth right there. Actually, I don’t wish I had something more special to tell you, I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve worked to pay a lot of my travels. I made the most of my weekends and holidays (we get on average in the UK about 5 weeks of holidays – almost 7 weeks if you count bank holidays), I constantly hunted for weekend bargains and always tried to be as flexible as possible.

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See, the thing is, this blog was born out of a love for travelling. We’d had so many brilliant travel experience over the years and wanted a place to share them with you. I can’t even say I knew back then how invaluable the blog was going to be to us, not just as an outlet for us to share our stories but as a source of new friends, an unbelievable source of travel inspiration from other travel-obsessed people out there (like you) and the creation of a network of friendly fellow travellers to trade stories and tips with. For instance, there have been so many times I’ve decided I have to visit a place after someone has sent us a picture, an email or even just a series of tweets we’ve exchanged. I’m immensely curious about the world and when you’re able to find someone who thinks like you i.e. your tribe, it’s absolutely brilliant!

It’s so lovely to be able to make personal connections on here. There have also been times where I’m having a weird day and all it takes is one kind comment on here to brighten up my day! If I knew how invaluable this community of traveller would have been, I think we would have started this blog ages ago! Just thought I had to let you know but I digress…

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Back to the point, there are two reasons why I felt I needed to write this post.

1.) Travelling and working full-time are not mutually exclusive: It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking travel is impossible if you work full-time. It doesn’t have to be. Some people already know this first-hand… and kudos to you if you do. Some others find it harder and I’m not gonna say it’s easy but I am going to say it’s very possible. It takes a lot of work for this to happen, of course, and you need to spend some time planning but I can tell you first hand that it’s very doable and achievable goal.

Case in point – The first time we went to Paris, we skipped out on fancy restaurants and instead ate picnics in the park and opted to get breakfast by popping into supermarkets the night before for breads, cheeses, meats…etc. Back then, we got up very early to catch the most economical flights available and skipped the lure of luxury hotels in Paris for budget/mid-range chains. The rationale was that it made more sense to save the money spent on fancy meals, good wine…etc and instead save it for another trip the following weekend. We saw Paris on a budget and prioritised travel over simple luxuries and as a result, the following weekend, we went to Brussels… and to Amsterdam the weekend after that. The next time we returned to Paris though, there was more room to splash out and so we did – lovely restaurants, fine wines, cocktails… the works. The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s important to plan according to your priorities, you might need to make small sacrifices to get what you want but as long as you’re making the right kind of sacrifices to get you the things that you want, you’ll not only feel truly happy about what you’re doing, you’ll also incredibly accomplished for making a plan of yours come to fruition.

2.) Play by your own rules: It’s important to realise that your situation is very different from other people’s. Some people have all the money and time in the world. Some people just don’t. Whichever case you find yourself in, make the most of it. Make your situation work best for you. Sounds obvious but lets face it, it’s ingrained in all of us to compare ourselves to one another – the problem with this is that we never see the full picture and as a result, there can be only two outcomes of this – we either end up feeling bad about the stuff that other people have and we don’t, or we end up feeling proud (bordering on the egotistical sometimes) about the things that we have and others don’t. Nether of these is right and neither is helpful to us in the long run… especially not when it comes to setting personal goals to travel the world. Do your own thing and dance to the beat of your own drum! 🙂

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I guess the fundamental point I’m trying to make is that my perspective on travel is very much built on the idea of making the most of what you’ve got. Even billionaires have limited amount of funds – it’s never infinite! Regardless of what that ‘limit’ in your bank account is, it’s important to a.) recognise your limit and subsequently b.) make the most that you can of the ‘limits’ you have. It won’t be the same as anyone else’s but you’ll have a much better time if you make a go at it than if you just give up without even trying!

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  • Well said! Happy New Year!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Tanja – We hope you have a great New Year too! x

  • LOVE this post guys!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Sophie. Hope all is going good with you? Hope you’re going to be in London soon.. it’d be great to have a catch-up!

      Lloyd & Yaya x

  • well said! I work full time but travel as much as I can. living in the US its much harder to travel international with the prices being so high and the time involved but im very much looking forward to London in a few weeks!! you guys definitely provide me with tons of inspirations daily! the italy on a ricksaw especially 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much for your kind comments Rachael! It means so much to hear that.

      If only prices in the US where as cheap as they are in Europe or Asia – it would make travel so much easier for everyone. You’re going to have an amazing time in London… it’s our home town and we love it (as you can sense, we’re biased) 😉

      Do let us know if you have any questions or need advice for while you’re here – we will help in any way we can.

      Have a great New Year!

      Lloyd & Yaya 🙂

  • Very beautiful written! I was very happy to read that you can work and explore the world (I feel that this is often oveerlooked, and people think that to travel you need to be a full time nomad. I think people will be inspired to know they can have it all!
    I also really appreciated that you highlighted passing over fancy restaurants, etc., and it afforded you future travel adventures. My boyfriend and I try to live this mantra while traveling and we’ve found that we don’t miss anything by not eating at or staying at the 5* spot. Hopefully one day we can take advantage of those luxuries, but right now that’s not the case and it hasn’t hurt our travels at all!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Kate. Exactly! I’m so glad you feel the same way too. Totally in agreement with you – plus I think learning about how to economise when you travel is actually a really good skill! We’ve saved so much money to spend on more travel with little easy steps to keep costs lower. Thanks so much for sharing – really means a great deal to hear you think the same way too! 🙂

      Yaya x

  • Zara

    Love this post. I work full-time but manage to travel somewhere new in Europe every month and have even done some huge trips to NYC, California and Africa last year. I am not rich! Nor do I have unlimited time. The key to my travelling is to prioritise it over everything else. So many people ask me how I afford to travel so much and say that they would love to be able to afford it as I do, but what I tell them is just that everyone can afford it if they want it badly enough. If you prioritise it above all other expenses it Is affordable.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so much Zara. Exactly! It’s all about choosing how to spend and how to save. Obviously there are a number of factors that change this but if you can afford to save a little each week and cut back on that takeaway coffee or magazine every other day… the world is your oyster! 🙂

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience Zara – it means a great deal that you took the time to share it, so thank you.