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The cost of living?

Posted by daveb on August 6th, 2007

I’ve had a bit of a mental crisis recently about the cost of travelling Britain as we appear to be haemorrhaging money everywhere we go. Of course, I knew that Britain would be one of the more costly countries to tour — I just hadn’t realised just how costly.

I used to live and work in London. Here, I thought nothing of spending six pounds for lunch and ten pounds for the main course of an evening meal. I really believed that these were just “London prices” — they are not. Forgive me if I come across as arrogant here: Unlike when I was a humble student, for the last eight years I have seldom checked my bank account balance at the cashpoint before withdrawing twenty quid for food/beer/cigarettes/whatever. Save one or two times when I hit an unauthorised overdraft, I’ve always had the confidence that there were enough coins in the piggy bank to meet my needs. Now I don’t have an income, the game has changed. I’m having to be much more aware of what’s in my wallet. I’ve been running a cash-book from day one of this trip for two reasons. Firstly, out of interest for myself and others (I’ll publish my findings once I’ve got some more data). Secondly, and more importantly, because I really need to re-learn how to budget effectively.

So far, I have this to tell you: When all expenditure comes out of your wallet, and not direct-debited out of your bank account, you really notice how expensive things actually are.

In fact, on the tourist routes–which are tourist routes for good reason–prices are often more expensive than London. This, I had not expected.

Worse still, the things that I had paid by direct debit also have started to seem expensive now they have been moved to a pay-as-you-go model. Examples include accommodation (thus far ranging between £22-40 per night for us both), food-out and food-in (£2-12 per person, per meal), laundry with drying (£6 for one load — and, no, we couldn’t dry out clothes anywhere as it was raining again!).

Worst of all though: I went to a pub the other night to upload some blog entries through their Wifi internet and bought a bottle of beer. £3.10. That’s more than my local in London!

No doubt, we’ve got a lot to learn to become a bit more budget travel-savvy. We would definitely welcome some budget traveller’s tips in the comments section!

Comments

Comment from Chloe
Time: August 6, 2007, 4:39 pm

There are all sorts of ways of ‘budgeting’ whilst travelling… and it’s just that it’s quite difficult in countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand!
Having done quite a bit of travelling (mainly outside of the UK though), there’s a few things I think are worth mentioning…

Biggest cost: accommodation. B&B’s are very nice (well… can be!) – however they are pricier than Youth or Independent Hostels! Get yourself a hostelling card (for discounts for YHA… will Christine’s discount still apply? Could email you the details if you need them) and find out which ones have double (or twin) rooms. Or camping. If you have a tent, fine, if not, it’s probably worth the investment (then add in good sleeping bags (don’t stint on this), karimat/air mattress (v cheap in tescos at the moment… 2 singles are good, then with one sheet over both!), camping stove (can’t remember if you have one…).
You won’t be able to camp on farms at the moment what with the Foot’n’Mouth restrictions though.
If you’re staying for a number of nights – see if there may be a discount (or ask what you could do to get yourself a discount?!)

Laundry: don’t wear as much (ie less variety, not less amount!), and do a bit of washing every other day. If it’s dry, wash something (and don’t leave pants and socks longer than 3 days!). I know that can be hard in the UK (especially with the recent weather!). Buy some biodegradable wash and wash clothes in sinks at camp sites or hostels – and do so frequently.. and in very small batches. Have seen people use their car aerials to dry towels… but if there’s dust on the road…or if it falls off… (yuck!!!). Have a long bit of string/washing line to hang stuff from – have seen a good elasticated one that is twisted, so doesn’t need pegs or clips. Any kind of breeze will be good for it.
When travelling, we’ve tended to slim our wardrobe to:
3x (4x if plenty of space!) t-shirts/pants/socks
2x fleece (one heavy, one light)
waterproof
jacket of some sort (pref one with pockets!)
2x trousers (pref one with zip-off to shorts option).
Sarong (depends on country though!) great for a 2nd towel option too.
(Me: add in 2 crop tops/bras… however since I don’t know your tastes, maybe that could/should be in the general list ;o) , and maybe a wrap-around skirt of some sort?)

If it rains, unless really cold, then wear shorts – easier to dry!

Over the years we’ve ended up with rather a lot of Rohan stuff… and barely ever had to buy replacements either they’ve all worn so well. If you pass a place called “Street” in Somerset (nearish Glastonbury) in a few weeks time – it has a discounted ‘village’ area – with cheap stuff like this!
But you don’t want to be spending “more” money?!!!

Food: farm shops, tesco’s and make your own as much as possible! Muesli is definitely a better option than bread for breakfast, or porridge (if you have the cutlery with you!). Get french stick/ciabatta and cheese/hummous etc from local supermarket for lunch (ie make your own lunch… so much cheaper). Dinner… well if you have a stove, then you have to get creative! How many things can you cook on 1 trangia stove…!? Seem to remember there was a cooking book for students on a budget that included a chapter on one pan meals….
Or if in a hostel, there’s frequently some shared items/herbs/cookware around, and you could even travel around with fridgable items etc.
When we were in New Zealand we used to make fruit crumbles at least once a week at a variety of hostels and stun the other backpackers!!! (So easy too!)

Other options:
Find more friends and gate crash. Get fed, accomodation and laundry for free.

How’s that for starters!
(Lots more I’m sure, but my computer is needing to be charged up, so must go & re-connect it!)
Chloe

Comment from Sista
Time: August 7, 2007, 11:09 am

UK can be horribly expensive – and this is coming from someone who used to promote domestic tourism!

Bar coming out to Abu Dhabi and having me feed you/ taking our 50p taxis everywhere, may I suggest the following:

1) Stop drinking beer
2) Stop wearing underwear
3) Sleep in the car
4) Mug the occasional old lady (although suspect she may be able to run faster than you)
5) Ferret in dustbins for thrown-away food (seriously, BBC World did a feature on this trend last night)
6) Dance naked in the rain (you seem to have having so much of it) when the need to get clean overhwlems

Remember, cold supermarket-own-brand baked beans are good for you, li’ bro.

Bar that, ether grin and bear it – or do some fruit picking to supplement the old income.

Sx

Comment from Mark
Time: August 7, 2007, 11:30 am

Get cooking on that trangia; the trusty ‘Campfire Cookbook’…

http://tinyurl.com/2xzmn5

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