6 months to go, my budget woe(s)

Six months to go until I leave the UK to do… something… somewhere… Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Where am I going?

At this point I have bought a ticket to Bangkok in June and planned a tour of the Red Centre in Australia in October. Everything else is up for grabs. I'm hoping to stay in South East Asia until October, then head to Australia, then New Zealand and see how much money I have left.

I am VERY aware of the weather. British Summer Time means Monsoon Season for most of South East Asia. I know that I am going to steer well clear of the Philippines and their Typhoon Season, that I need to go to Cambodia sooner rather than later, that Thailand and Vietnam are still okay during their wet seasons and that Indonesia is completely different and supposed to have great weather for the whole time I’m out. I organise stuff for a living so it’s very tempting to plan my entire trip, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to “live in the moment” and “stay places as long as I “need to.”” It’s going to be all spiritual and spontaneous and stuff, you just wait.

Money!

Louise Delphine Caroline Therese Comerford was an incredible woman, she was born in the South of France in 1926. The Italian side of her family attempted to kidnap her when she was four. She travelled on a boat from France to England through the U-boat infested Straits of Gibraltar during World War Two. In 1944 the British Army would not accept her application, because of her Italian mother, so she joined the Free French instead. She was taken out to dinner by Charles De Gaulle. She was also my Nana.

Nana passed away a few years ago. The above is the tip of a Nana shaped iceberg of stories, but I couldn’t just say ‘a relative left me some money and now I’m going travelling’. Nana left me some money, £5k to be exact, it went into my housing deposit fund and now it’s coming back out and I’m going travelling. I feel like Nana would approve, and probably worry quite a lot, but all she wanted was for her family to be happy. I think about her every day and feel like she’s with me as I plan the incredible adventure she has made possible.

Touching tributes aside, I will also be saving like crazy for the next six months. I will pay my 2017-2018 tax before I leave the country, six months earlier than I normally would (ouch) but hopefully I’ll still have an extra grand or so to go into the travel pot.

Flights

Flights are a big cost, but I know how many I am likely to take, can make an educated guess at how much they’ll be...

London to Bangkok- £320 (I saved some money on here, there’ll be a blog about this)

*Possibly* Bangkok to Sri Lanka, round trip - £250

*Probably* Kuala Lumpur to Sydney – I’ve found flights for £130 in October… it’s SO CHEAP for an eight hour flight that I’m tempted to buy it now and make it work.

Sydney to Ayers Rock, round trip - £322ish I should really book that soon, and I should look at it as £160 each way and I should stop thinking ‘Oh my god Australia is so expensive! How is that the most expensive thing I’ve done so far?! Stupid, beautiful, massive, expensive, interesting country that I really want to see more of!’

*Probably* Sydney to Auckland – So, I’ve found a flight for £127 in late October 2018, BUT I won’t book this one until close to the time I want to travel, probably around the time my friend Kate tells me to bugger off. However if I booked the flight for a fortnight’s time it’s still only £250. So I’ll budget £300 for that.

And then… if I’m out of money I’ll probably come back.

Auckland to London- That’s an entire day in the air, probably more! Anyway, if I booked a fortnight in advance, at this time of year, which it is likely to be, the average price is £715. So let’s say £800 set aside for actually getting home.

Flights budget- £2,122

I just worked that out for the first time. That’s quite a lot isn’t it? If I go to Sri Lanka my outgoings will be next to nothing, (I'll write a blog about that), so that £250 can come out of my accommodation and food budget… even so.. £2k on flights… okay! Good to know.

Budget

With that in mind I’m going to stop my ‘But South East Asia’s really cheap right?’ train of thought and do some actual maths.

Most of the blogs out there suggest $35 a day for a solo traveller. I can recommend Goats on the Road, which had a brilliant article, it broke down the expected daily budget by country. 

$35 a day is $1050 a month or £780 once converted to GBP.

So… I have enough to travel for three months.

Okay then.

I’ll add another cheeky month in there because of my Sri Lanka plans. But still I have a problem. My money gets me to expensive, expensive Australia and then that’s it. And beautiful, expensive, picturesque, expensive New Zealand will be so tantalisingly close!

I’m not going to decimate my savings, I’m not going to decimate my savings (she says, rocking backwards and forwards) so I need to make my money go further. Or I need to save more. Or I need to earn more? Six months to go... CLIFFHANGER!!!!

What's my motivation? Or 'My Life as a Lost Girl'


An Actor is told by a director to move a chair.

The Actor asks, ‘But what’s my motivation? Why would I move that chair?’

The Director responds, ‘You are rearranging the room as a metaphor for your inner turmoil.’

The Actor nods and moves the chair.

The Director turns to the Stage Manager and whispers, ‘I just need that chair there for the next scene.’

The Stage Manager nods because she already knows.

That story has very little to do with the rest of my blog, I just enjoyed writing it, sorry.

It does, however, sum up pretty succinctly what it’s like as a Stage Manager in a rehearsal room, maybe when I’m writing about my life in the theatre you can give that another read.

I’m in my early thirties and I’m about to put my life on hold, and eat into my savings, by going travelling. Why? What’s my motivation? I feel self-indulgent writing a blog post purely about what’s going on in my head, but, maybe if you’re in a similar place it’ll help. If not, skip to the travel planning.

My motivation is threefold; career, home and love.

Career

Right now I’m on a train, the engine runs on offers of amazing jobs, one after another are consumed, powering me through years of my life. Every now and again I pass a station.

‘Alight here for academia’ a cheery voice announces.

I can’t. The engine can’t be stopped.

‘Next station Writer.’

I’d like to stop here, I’d like to live here actually, but I only have the time for the odd weekend trip.

‘Alight here for a job where you don’t work every evening and weekend and you can go to life events like your friends weddings…’

Not a chance. I’ve just fed a 6 month tour to my engine.

‘You have reached your final destination.’

I know, “whinge whinge whinge” I’m lucky to have a job I love, but I have made sacrifices for it. It has consumed almost every other aspect of my life. See, there they go, social events, love-life and occasionally my mental health all sacrificed to the hungry god of theatre.  

So, Career is motivation number one. Maybe I need to do something else with my life, or maybe giving my life to theatre is the right decision, the main thing here is I am claiming that decision and I want to take my time to make it. 

Home

Me two years ago: ‘I have a new life plan! I’m going to move to Hastings!’

Me a year ago: ‘I have a new life plan! I’m going to move to Cardiff!’

Me four months ago: ‘Bristol’s nice isn’t it? Hi Bristol Old Vic, here’s my CV.’

Me two months ago: ‘I have a new life plan! I’m going to move to Edinburgh!’

I probably don’t need to explain much more about motivation number two. I live in London, I don’t really want to but that’s where I can get the best jobs.

It’s the London paradox- I live in London because I can earn enough money to buy property anywhere but in London.

I’d like to own my home and have saved up enough for a deposit (I know, I know, let’s see how long THAT lasts) but I have no idea where I want to live, mostly because I don’t know what I want to do…

A little part of me thinks that I might not come back to Britain for a while. It’s my country and I do love it, but fuck the Tories, fuck austerity and fuck fucking Brexit, I’m off on an adventure.

Love

Love is all you need eh?

Not me! I’ve been busy!

It’s hard to date when you work in theatre, you mostly rely on meeting people at work. That’s happened a few times for me, it did not end well…

It’s hard to date in London. People are busy, people say things like ‘Oh I can’t go out on a school night and I’ve got plans for weekends for the next three months.’ Or they say ‘Want to go out tonight?’ and you respond ‘Are you mental? It’s a school night.’

But not holiday Helen! No! Holiday Helen is open to love, although it’s not her priority because she’s having a wonderful time making friends and exploring new places. Holiday Helen never looks for love and apparently that makes her way more attractive than Regular Helen. I really enjoy being Holiday Helen. We’re going to have a great time in 2018.  

So, motivation three, I am single, I don’t have a child, but if I do want one that’ll have to happen within the next few years. THE TIME IS NOW! This is my window. I’m not expecting to meet Mr Right as I wander round South East Asia, but stranger things have happened.

Also, in a Frozen-esque twist, one of the my great loves, is my friend Kate who returned to Australia at the start of the year. I don't like not seeing her, so I'm going to fix that and visit her and her family during her holidays.

And number four…

In conclusion, because you always have to have a conclusion, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life and if I continue without change I’ll end up a sixty year old bitter spinster, living in a house share in North London, who ran out of patience with actors way before her menopause.

And to conclude my conclusion with my most compelling argument-

Why put your life on hold to travel? I'm not. Travel may not solve all my problems, it may not answer all my questions, but it's going to be on hell of an adventure.