The first 12 months of our trip was a massive learning curve finanically for us. As much as we were loving the new journey we had worked so hard to achieve, I think we were enjoying it a little too much and it nearly ruined everything. It’s hard to say when everything started to crumble for us but I think it was around the 8 months mark. Because we lacked a basic plan we were totally oblivious as to how much travelling Australia was going to actually cost us.
These are the things I wish we knew before we left:
Set yourself a “realistic” travel time frame
We really savoured Queensland at the start of our trip and spent over 12 months travelling through this amazing state. But because we were travelling too slow we had spent most of our money before we had seen anything else. I can honestly say we did not have a travel time frame. We were completely “winging” it and we went too slowly and spent most of our money in the state we started in. This was a massive fail on our behalf.
The best advice we heard (after we made our mistake) was if you have a set time frame to get home then make sure you divide your travel time per state before you leave on your adventure.
For example: 12 month lap of Australia would be divided
⇒Western Australia – 15 weeks ⇒Northern Territory – 5 weeks ⇒Queensland – 7 weeks ⇒New South Wales – 6 weeks ⇒Victoria – 6 weeks ⇒Tasmania – 8 weeks ⇒South Australia – 5 weeks
This is just an example and you really need to work out how long you need in each state.
Another tip: if you are returning home after your trip then make sure you leave your “State” until last. Why you ask? Well if you do run out of time or money then you can always do your state another time.
Set yourself a realistic Budget
Did you know that most families say it cost them on average $1000+ a week to travel? At the time I thought that figure absolutely crazy and they must be over spending. I remember using Expedition Australia’s budget planner and tried really hard then to get my head around the fact that it was going to cost a lot more then what we had saved already. What I failed to do was set ourselves are realistic budget.
After setting your time frame then next step is to work out how much each State needs out of the savings you have. Some states will cost more then others. If you don’t have a starting budget then you might overspend in the first few weeks and it will affect the end of your trip.
Make sure you look at your savings as a whole rather then a week to week amount. For example $50,000 / 12 months = $4,166 per month. Also do your research and work out your most expensive state to travel and try to complete that first.
Always track your spending and savings
We knew we were really fantastic savers and money managers when we were living at home. I knew exactly when our bills were due and how much everything cost us. But before we left on our trip we were totally oblivious as to how much travelling really cost.
A lot of travellers budget for accomodation, fuel, food and touristy things but what they neglect to remember is the “other” bills. The yearly bills that cost a fortune like registrations of vehicles, health insurance, vehicle maintenance and christmas.
Try to be financially prepared for the unexpected
I really hate hearing of travelling families hitting the road and then something major happens like the motor blows up in their vehicle. It’s such an unfortunate expense and it can put a lot of pressure on a couple and the trip. Try to have a “unexpected kitty”, a back up account if something drastic was to happen.
For us our “unexpected” expenses hit us all at once at the end of our first year. This was the most stressful time for us in our whole trip. We were starting to get low on money and then our vehicle needed repairs. Then we found our daughter required surgery and straight after that my husband needed surgery as well. Then just like clock work our rental house needed some major repairs and it felt like our dream of travelling was completely finished!
But after the inital panic wore off we decided that we needed to make some smarter decisions and we got rid of our financial burden.
Reduce your expenses
We knew we couldn’t keep travelling the way we were and we made the decision that we needed to travel smarter. It would work better for us if we worked and then travelled. I can honestly say we are much smarter with our planning and spending. We also had a rental house that was costing us too much money to keep while we wanted to keep living the travelling dream. So we made the decision to sell it. It was the best decision we have made so far and has given us a lot of financial freedom.
My final advice
Be savy with your money! Enjoy the first few weeks of your trip afterall it’s the holiday you have been working hard for. But then sit-down and work out a realistic budget that you and your family can stick to. Most families on the road agree that it can cost up to $1000 + a week to travel. So make sure you set a budget and then keep checking it as it’s a lot more expensive to travel to Birdsville then to Townsville.
If you are only planning to travel using savings then split that savings up over your travel time period.