Food for Thoughts

Our Secrets To Financing Our Travels

If we would have got a penny for every time someone asked us how we can afford our trips, we’d probably be able to travel twice as much. Are we millionaires? Do we have wealthy parents? Or are we running some kind of illegal, secret business which covers the expenses? You name it and we have probably heard it, all crazy non-rational explanations on how we can pay our lifestyle. Today, we’re going to open up to you and share our secrets.

No, we don’t have some kind of magic potion to grow money on trees. Our secret is hard work, determination and planning. You are probably thinking ‘I have worked hard all my life, this is bullshit.’  Then ask yourself whether you have ever put up a strategic plan where you have taken every small detail into account, stuck to it no matter what obstacles you have to go through, and kept working hard to realise it knowing it’s not going to be fun at all? You don’t have to answer it. We’re just here to share our story with you on how we exactly did all of the above, to reach certain milestones we can happily look back to.

In August 2012, after months of discussions and contemplating about what we want to do in our younger years, we finally decided that we wanted to get married in two years and start our honeymoon with an open-end ticket. Now, in August 2016, this plan brought us a beautiful wedding, one year of travelling from Europe all the way to the eastern corners of Asia and we still had enough budget to start a new life in one of the most expensive countries on earth, Australia. How much did this cost us exactly?

€40.000,00 That’s the number you wanted to hear. Of this amount, about €10k we put aside for our wedding. This, together with the very generous contribution from our parents and wedding gifts from family and friends, was enough to cover the wedding expenses. Meaning we had €30k left for our travels. How did we save up this amount as two broke-ass students, who had about €0,00 on our savings when we made this ridiculous plan?

We started with a very strict rule for the both of us. Each of us had to save up about €750,- a month, no matter what, from September 2012 onwards. This way we could save up: 24 months * €750 *  2 awesome people = €36.000,-, We tried saving up the remaining €4000 extra in the course of two years whenever we had the chance (higher payroll, tax refund, birthdays, etc.).  Now the real question comes, how did we manage to save up all of this?

First, you start by minimising your expenses to almost none. I decided to leave my student apartment and moved back to my parents’ house. Mursal was already living at her parents’ house. This way we could prevent having housing costs. This wasn’t easy at all. Because I was still studying in Amsterdam, I had to travel every day for about 4 hours door-to-door for two years on.
Next, we both cut back on any luxurious lifestyles. No more city trips, no more eating outside, no new phone, no new clothes, said goodbye to social activities, no more popcorn or drinks when going to the movies (this was probably the hardest of all since I love popcorn during movies). You have to save every penny you can. If we did do something fun, we only did it via some kind of coupon or whatever or it was budgeted long ahead. You’re walking in the city and you are thirsty or hungry? Man up, and spend your last bucks on the gift you have to buy for someone’s birthday the next day and eat at home. Oh, it’s your own birthday? Shamelessly ask for money. Without any further explanation, you might understand that this was a very, very frustrating process. But again, we had big plans and no pain, no gain right?

Next up was actually getting the money together. We mainly earned our money by working in the after hours with our side-jobs, since we were both full-time students. Mursal worked in an aged care home as a recreation assistant and I worked in retail stores as a sales rep. When I had to do a 6-months internship for my study, I immediately went after the one with the highest reimbursement. The extra euros we needed, we got through a student-loan. When I tell others about this amount of debt we have, they almost get a heart attack. But I was always very bluntly thinking in the following way about having a study loan: When I am old and grey, I will probably buy a car that is more expensive as the total amount of student debt I will generate by living my precious younger years to the fullest. With that loan, we financed part of our world trip, nobody is gonna take that away from us. So at the end, it will be damn worth it!

Next to all of this, we also had to buy lots of expensive gear. The most expensive were probably the Macbook laptops, Canon DSLR camera with lenses and the backpacks. These expenses weren’t even in the initial 40k budget. We had to get creative for this, meaning sell every damn thing we had, which we wouldn’t be needing during our trip. I had people coming over almost every week, selling the strangest and sometimes cheapest stuff. Every penny is a penny, so better damn sell it. At one point my mom got all depressed, thinking we were selling everything because we might never come back (which I made sure wasn’t the case). I just thought very simple; I am selling these worthless materials to buy awesome experiences.

Oh, and of course, there was also the wedding. Let’s just say that we brought a “Do-It-Yourself- Wedding” to a whole new level, meaning lots of stress and weight on our shoulders. We had to be creative again in every way possible to get as much with as little amount of resources. One moment I was ordering so much stuff online from overseas, the mailman knew my name and was screaming through the streets asking me not to leave the house before I would get my next badge of shipments. I am almost sure my neighbours got all kinds of suspicious ideas about me being a possible extremist plotting something evil. Anyway, we eventually got the wedding we wanted to have and were able not to touch the budgeted €30K for our trip.

Long story short, this wasn’t easy at all. First, it took lots of determination and creativity to get to the point we wanted to be. We endured lots of lesser periods where we had to say no for the zillionth time and miss out on good times with friends because it was just too expensive. My mom was complaining all the time that I looked like a vagabond (I’m so happy I could frame it like some kind of hipster look, while I was just really a guy out of money). Second, it brings lots of stress too; I remember three days before our wedding I heard I had failed for a class and had one day to redo an assignment otherwise I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time. At the same time, we had to make all kinds of appointments (visa, vaccinations, health insurance, etc.) to prepare for our trip. Eventually, after all the blood, sweat and tears we endured; on 5 September 2014, we were ready. Our backpacks were packed, €30k was shining on our bank accounts and we had booked our first flight. It was finally time to start our adventure. But don’t think it gets easier from then on. Our next challenge was to travel as long as possible with whatever we had. Some friends of mine spent €6000 as a couple travelling for 3 weeks. We travelled for 10 months, came back to Holland for 3 months and travelled back to Australia to start a new life. All with €30k for the both of us. How? I’ll tell you the secrets in our next blog 🙂

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Fadzy
    September 17, 2016 at 00:31

    Great post! Hope things are doing fine well for the both of you now.

    • Reply
      Farhang
      September 18, 2016 at 17:11

      Thanks Fadzy! Everything is fine here thanks. Both of us just started with new jobs, meaning we can stay here a bit longer. Hope everything is fine with you as wel!

  • Reply
    MN
    November 13, 2016 at 21:05

    Your post is very informational only sadly enough it would not work for me since I spend 1400 euro a month for my education. Still I liked the idea how you guys are putting it out there. You guys are a good Afghan-Dutch inspiration for me!

    • Reply
      Farhang
      January 12, 2017 at 21:04

      Thanks for your message. 1400 euro per month is a lot for education (at least outside for Europe). But who knows you might find a way after studies? All the best with it and great hearing you liked our story 🙂

  • Reply
    Couple a Wanderers
    November 23, 2016 at 16:35

    Great post! Love how you really explain everything. We try to do the same because people assume you have to be wealthy to travel, but they aren’t willing to make sacrifices for travel. Looking forward to reading more! -Couple a Wanderers

    • Reply
      Farhang
      January 12, 2017 at 21:05

      Hi there fellow Wanderers 🙂 Great hearing you liked the story and agree with it, people mostly forget that anything hard takes sacrifices.

  • Reply
    Martina
    November 30, 2016 at 04:59

    Love your post. People just don’t understand the sacrifices one makes to live their dream.

    • Reply
      Farhang
      January 12, 2017 at 21:06

      Hi Martina, nice hearing you liked the post and completely understood it’s purpose 🙂

  • Reply
    Dig
    January 5, 2017 at 10:38

    Omg, wish you guys all the best there is. It is not the roadtrip that is awesome but YOU guys.
    Seriously God bless your plans <3

    • Reply
      Farhang
      January 12, 2017 at 21:07

      That’s such a sweet message! Thx so much 😀 Wishing you also all the best with all your hopes and dreams.

  • Reply
    Siena
    January 8, 2017 at 12:47

    Great story thanks Farhang and Mursal for your inspiring blogs! And your travel videos are awesome!

    Keep them coming!

    • Reply
      Farhang
      January 12, 2017 at 21:08

      Hi Siena, thx for your message and so nice hearing your like our stories and our videos 😀 They cost some time and effort, but always nice to hear others appreciate them.

  • Reply
    Ty waith
    January 17, 2017 at 22:54

    What a great read! Oh how I wish ny younger years my eyes were more open to the big great world & its opportunities! Were started out travels 3 years into our marriage & reading this made me realise we can sacrifice a little bit more to get the bucket list ticked off! Thank you for your awesome words! If you ever visit the Gold coast let us know 🙂 Ez & Ty 🙂

  • Reply
    5 Travel Hacks to make you travel as much as possible with as little as possible - Awesome Worldtrip
    January 21, 2017 at 19:04

    […] those who read our last blog in which I explained how we saved up over €40k in two years, know it wasn’t an easy job doing it. I explained how we spent about €10k on our wedding […]

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    September 6, 2017 at 21:17

    I am reading this blog for 3rd or 4th time and every time I read this, there is this insane wave going through me. I cannot wait to start my own trip one day, soon!!!! I LOVE YOU GUYSSSS!!!!!!!!

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