Once the travel bug’s bitten, the itchy feet never go away do they? We can be sensible and responsible for a while, finish study, save for things, have babies and settle down, but the need to travel creeps back in.
Money and time are always the biggest hurdles, but really the issue is about justifying our need to travel compared to other things. This is why I’ve long been a lover of the trip that helps you further your knowledge, saves you money or at least goes a long way to helping cover costs.
This means we can travel a lot more. However, if you’re serious about making it work financially it means travelling on a budget, with cheap flights and accommodation. However, the best adventures are always the ones where you have to think creatively. It’s where the really interesting stuff happens.
It’s funny because I don’t really like shopping, but I like shopping overseas or on holiday. For me, the boring task at home turns into an exciting adventure elsewhere, probably because everything is different and otherworldly. The items on the shopping list become like a treasure hunt.
Yes, you can shop online for things overseas, but sometimes the hidden costs of online shopping can make it futile, like the cheeky and creative exchange rates banks and websites seem to make up, credit card surcharges and delivery costs (ironically in researching this article I discovered a way to make online shopping cheaper, but I’ll get to that later).
Where to go
First step on the adventure is choosing a place that works with the kind of things you want to buy. Perhaps, the Night handcraft markets of Luang Prabang, Laos with locally made silk clothes and jewellery would serve you well. The hand woven cotton shirt with buttons the old lady stitched on for me at that Laotian street stall is one of my all time favourites.
Or would the achingly hip and vintage stores of Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa district and reduced cost of technological gizmos work better? If this is your thing, check out Design Cherry and Hello Sandwich for more info.
Fancy a bite of the Big Apple? Ooh, the Brooklyn flea markets of New York and a sneak into the Black Friday sales the Friday after Thanksgiving and Super Saturday sales, the last Saturday before Christmas could be a good excuse for heading over.
Or are the Ubud Art markets of Bali, combined with the designer discount outlets more your speed?
The second important step is to travel with only carry on luggage only for the flight over, because you’ll need all your luggage allowance on the way home.
Third step, write a list of who needs what.
Lastly, you’ll need to shop around and a cheeky little, ‘Is that your best price?’ always helps, even in shops. The Favado app is a great price comparison app if you’re shopping, buying flights or accommodation in the US.
Do you live in a holiday destination type place? Or is there a big event coming up in your city? Even if neither is the case people want to rent all sorts of places for all sorts of reasons. We’re thinking of trying this out while we duck off on our summer holidays.
The inspiration for us was chatting to a man who rents out his family’s home through a local holiday rental agency every school holiday for a couple of weeks at a time. Yes, it sounds like a hassle, but it pays the mortgage.
‘It’s taken a bit to get it to work,’ he said. ‘But the benefits have been huge and not just the money.’ The first time they moved out they took six trailer loads of stuff to the in-laws’ house for storage, but now they’re down to one trailer load to store. ‘We’ve got rid of so much we didn’t need and have had the most amazing holidays.’
When he runs out of work holidays, they find a campground or similar somewhere an hour or two from his work and he commutes. ‘It’s completely changed our lives, we spend so much more time with the kids and we’re paying for our mortgage at the same time.’
I’m not sure I could do it every holidays, but maybe it’s one of those things you just start doing and if it’s working you keep going. A few of our friends do this on a smaller scale through AirBnb. Do you think you could do it?
It may just be cheaper to learn a new hobby or skill overseas. You also have the advantage of doing an intensive course without the distractions of home. I’m thinking it would be fun to qualify as a yoga teacher in India, flamenco dance instructor in Buenos Ares, ski coach in New Zealand or scuba guide in Bali.
Guilliame Ancelin, a French baker and pastry chef (ex-Zumbo) and teacher at the Cordon Bleu school in Bangkok, says that their short courses are really popular. ‘Places book out as soon as the dates are announced.’ Probably because people can learn ‘baking, but also (and for some mostly!) enjoy the perks of Bangkok, shopping, sightseeing, dining, night life…’
Seriously, think about it. Even if you have kids, it might be possible. Perhaps, the family goes on holiday with you and while they head out for a day of adventures you go to school. The idea of covering the costs won’t stretch across the entire family, but… Hmm… chocolate making in Costa Rica. Okay, now I’m getting carried away, but I just want to plant the idea.
Is there something you’d love to learn?
Need dresses made, suits tailored, facials done, massages had, tans faked, hair cut and coloured? Thailand might be your ticket. To make this work takes a bit of research and planning.
When having clothes made and tailored, you’ll need to allow enough time, at least a few days, but ideally a week, for items to be made with an extra fitting. The dress I had made took four days, because there was a communication breakdown or two, so you might need to run to the tailor as soon as the plane lands on the tarmac. Also, you’ll definitely want to choose your own fabric, if not take your own.
For facials, massages and so forth, I like to ask some of the fancy places for referrals for treatments they don’t offer. Otherwise, here are some recommendations from The Luxury Travel blog.
If you are having hair coloured, ask your regular hairdresser to write down the mix you usually have with any instructions and give that to the overseas hairdresser. If you have sensitive skin and want to have facials, research the products used or ask for a spot test when booking to check for allergies.
Have you had treatments overseas? Do you have any wisdom you’d like to share in the comments below?
This one is a lot more individual and depends on your skill set. It also takes a bit of getting out there, talking to people and a fair bit of luck. My favourite version of this story is a friend of my dad’s who managed to swindle a gig reporting on the America’s Cup with no journalism experience.
Not everyone can talk themselves in (and probably out) of that sort of job, but there are all sorts of odd jobs. Do a Gumtree or Craigslist search in the destination you want to head to and see what’s on offer. If you’re planning on doing this overseas, you may need to chat to your accountant.
You will need to keep your wits about you and probably ask to be paid upfront or half and half and maybe the money won’t be great, but sometimes work that isn’t your normal work can teach you a lot about yourself and the lives of others.
Have you ever worked while holidaying? I’d love to hear what you did in the comments below.