People always ask us how we can afford to travel through 19 countries and counting in or van, and the truth is not as glamorous as you may think. We don’t earn a salary, we’re not one of those lucky people who have remote jobs and we don’t live off our own creativity and online content. Yet. For us, travelling is about a tight budget, a steady work/travel balance and making sacrifices.
Well, what’s the fun in that? You might ask. Well, it’s the simple equation that less money spent = more fuel in the tank. And more fuel in the tank = more adventures to be had.
For us, it’s about the concept of having just enough. Just enough food to eat, just enough clothes to wear, just enough to keep us going. We don’t need to splash out on new clothes or meals out or tickets to expensive attractions. Sometimes it’s through choice, but sometimes not spending €24 going to see the Delphi stadium is the difference between getting to our next destination or not.
It can be tough traveling on a budget, having to make sacrifices or choose carefully what you do. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. It pushes you to find new ways of doing things, to squeeze the most out of life. Sometimes you’ll end up discovering something even more incredible than what you set out to do in the first place, like choosing not to take a toll road can instead take you on a crazy journey through the most breathtaking snowy mountains you’ve ever seen. Or choosing a meal cooked on hot coals under the stars over a meal out at a restaurant can make for an unforgettable memory.
The basic element of the road trip itself is what excites us the most- everything else is a just a bonus.
Vanlife on a budget teaches you ingenuity, perseverance, and above all patience. You start learning to use up every little bit of food you’ve got, to be aware of how much water you’re using day to day, to appreciate the value of experiences over material things. As long as we’ve got our cameras, some diesel in the tank and the clothes on our backs we’re prepared for any adventure.
But vanlife can be challenging sometimes; often it’s about adapting to the situation, learning on your feet, fixing stuff when it breaks or sorting it out when things go wrong. You just have to remember that you don’t live in a house, you live in a tin can with wheels and an engine, and things are going to be a little more difficult.
Some people might say we’re lucky to be able to do what we do, but luck doesn’t really come into it. We work hard for 6 months of the year, working hectic 50 hour weeks back in the UK, scrimping and saving every penny. We’re lucky in that our jobs are seasonal and this allows us to travel in the winter, but it puts us right at the bottom of the income ladder. We work casual jobs for minimum wage because it’s what gives us the freedom to explore.
Once we’re far away from the UK, driving down some bumpy dirt track into the mountains to park up under the stars for the night, none of that seems to matter. When we’re washing our hair in a river on the Greek coast, cooking up food on a fire in the hinterlands of Romania, or soaking in a thermal spa surrounded by the snow-capped Albanian mountains, suddenly traveling on a budget doesn’t seem so bad.