Sometimes I really wonder how people afford all their travel and lately I feel like I’m seeing a lot more people on the travel blogs I follow taking press trip after press trip. Now I have nothing against all this free travel, you’ve worked hard enough to earn it why not make the most of it. Still something doesn’t sit right with me, I first started reading these blogs because they made travel sound affordable and if I saved I too could have that life. Now I’ve almost given up hope on that because those same people are taking press trip after press trip and living a life that isn’t achievable by most. So today I wanted to keep it real and share with you all the jobs I’ve had to afford the travel I have done. (rant over about free travel which feels unattainable)
I took my first solo travel adventure back in 2010, way before I started this blog. I headed off to South Africa on a 5 week volunteering adventure. The flights and volunteering cost me around £2000 plus on top of that I needed spending money. Now I only booked this trip three months before the start date so I didn’t have much time to save. During the year before the trip I had spent time doing a year zero at uni but made money by being a:
Domino’s Pizza Delivery Girl
As the only girl on the team delivering I found the tips were awesome and my little car was pretty good on fuel so my £1 a journey went pretty far. On top of this job I was lucky enough to have some savings i’d put away as a kid and used that for the bulk of my volunteer payment. Still I wasn’t satisfied with going all the way to South Africa and having to say no to things because I didn’t have the money. Instead with three months to go I started working full time as a:
Bar Tender and Waitress in a pub
I was on a mere £6 an hour and the tips weren’t great so I offered to work all the hours they would offer me but I also returned to a seasonal job I had, had previously:
Bar Tender at the Racecourse
Being the summer there were plenty of race meets going on and I did very well to fit the two jobs around each other. I would often work six day weeks or 12 hour days but I had my goal in sight and it kept me going! I headed off to South Africa with plenty of money in my bank account and the chance to do everything they offered, which happened to be a lot.
I returned back to the same bar tender job at the same pub but this time I had been promoted to a:
Still I was itching to travel and had barely been home a month when I applied for Camp America. Christmas came and offered all the hours under the sun, so I took them and worked as hard as ever but when January rolled around my hours started to slow and I decided I needed to do something.
I took a second job as a Bar Tender/Waitress/Kitchen Hand
For five months my average day would start at 10 till 3 and then 5.30 till 1am or 10-5 and 6-11 normally seven days a week. I was on a mission to earn every penny I could. It helped I lived with my parents, spent no money on food or drink (because I worked in a bar and always had ‘free’ drinks saved up). Month six of this craziness rolled around and I took on:
Another job back at the Racecourse being a Bar Supervisor
Those last six weeks were the hardest, I was working every hour I could, saving every penny I could. The day I took off for camp couldn’t come soon enough. I spent the summer working as a:
Camp Counsellor in America
Yep, even my time in the States was paying me, not very much per hour but every little helped for my travelling America fund and to yet again be able to say yes to everything, including an awesome helicopter ride over Manhattan. Coming back from America was a little shock to the system but it was also the start of my constant moving around and love for travel. I headed up to Edinburgh to be with the boy and ended up with several jobs:
I was a carer for a lady who had just had an operation
I would walk her dog, drive her around, do the cleaning and ironing. It was very weird but paid very well. Still that didn’t last long and soon I found myself:
Bar tending in a Whisky bar with no knowledge of Whisky
Most of the time I made everything up, I honestly had no clue about whisky but each customer wanted recommendations, luckily they were all tourists and also knew nothing. Needless to say I hated the job, I was bored of being a bar tender and wanted a change. So I got a new job:
Which for those of you who don’t know is like being an au pair but without living there. I looked after twins and a little girl and it was hard work! I soon started to find the benefits of being a nanny with my pay being £7.50 an hour and more and more hours being offer as I became better at my job. I loved looking after children and was gutted when I found myself moving to London and leaving this family.
Nannying in London
Getting a job in London nannying was a whole didn’t story: it was competitive, I didn’t have a huge amount of experience and I didn’t know London very well. Luckily I found myself a job quickly with the best American family. My pay suddenly increased to £10 (there are some perks to London) and they paid for my travel to and from work too. It was perfect but when we booked to go to Australia on a working holiday visa I decided I needed more hours! So I asked around the families I knew from this job and ended up being:
An English tutor for a little Indian girl
She was very behind for her age and I even had to try and potty train here but the extra money was welcomed – until I lost half of my pay one day but that is a whole different story. My full time job ended before I left London so I picked up the hours with:
Temp Nanny Work in London
It was still well paid but I was paying for my travel now and often I would work for families I didn’t like so instead I started:
Selling London 2012 merchandise on Ebay
The boy had being working in the media centre and got his hands on all sorts of exclusive media packs and goodies that I sold on ebay and ended up making over £400 in just a few weeks. In the last few weeks of living in the UK before the move to Australia I sold belongings and furniture to. The rewards came as soon as we landed in Oz, with six weeks of travelling and not really worrying about money. That was until we couldn’t find a job in Melbourne during our first week of being there. We panicked, hated the city and left to go:
Picking oranges in South Australia
Thinking we would make a lot of money from the experience it seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately it wasn’t well paid, it was the middle of the summer and the worst season they had seen in years – still it was all an experience. We did manage to afford a week in Adelaide and a road trip along the Great Ocean Road before we gave Melbourne a second chance. This time I got a job on the SECOND day in the city:
Bar tending and waitressing in Melbourne
The great thing about bar work in Australia is even minimum wage is high and the tips are incredible – if you are good at your job, as you keep your own tips. I was offered so many hours with this job I didn’t have to go looking for a second job for once. I worked 40-60 hours a week with different pay brackets per a day so for instance on a Sunday I would earn $24 per hour!! I afforded my New Zealand and South East Asia travel purely from this job. We landed back in the UK and headed straight for Glasgow. The job market was hard and despite signing up with all the nannying agencies I could find it was hard getting a job, I secured a few hours with a:
Part time job nannying
But by now you must have guessed that wasn’t enough for me so I got another job working as a:
Cafe Assistant (Christmas Temp)
Knowing that job would end at Christmas I managed to line up more work for the new year and ended up with:
Three nannying jobs
At the same time. They weren’t as well paid as London but at £8 an hour I couldn’t really complain. It all fitted together perfect that was until I lost one of those jobs. I really struggled to fill the gap as it was only one day a week and so I ended up working some:
Nanny agency shifts
These turned out to be badly organised and even worse paid. I started to get really frustrated but by this point I was over working in hospitality. I had worked in bars for years and years – even more years than I’ve just written about, I wasn’t a teenager anymore and I had no big trip to save for. Then you know what happened? I got a new job, in a restaurant…
Being the door host for an Italian Restaurant
It wasn’t well paid but the tips were amazing so I stayed and thats where we are today.
I have two nannying jobs and I work in an Italian Restaurant. My hours average around 55 a week and I mostly work six days out of seven.
Why do I do all this? So I can afford all the travel I want to do!
I have mostly had bar jobs but I’ve also worked in a chippy, done various uni temp jobs (flyering was probably the most soul-killing job) and been a student ambassador. Admittedly, my travels this year has mostly been funded by my overdraft which I’m now paying for now as I’m working all hours under the sun working at the pub I usually do as a summer job. Hopefully writing work will pick up to help get me back on the road quicker!
I think when you get awesome travel experiences out of working hard it is totally worth it. Good luck with the writing.
Wow you’ve had a busy career! I’m impressed! I’m lucky I’m working full time as a journalist while saving and have just started babysitting for a friend on the side, hoping to secure a bar job in the next couple of weeks as well so that will top up the funds and I’m busy selling everything I own on eBay and at car boot sales! 🙂 hoping that should give me a good amount for when I go in January!
When you have an end goal in sight I find it is so much easier to knuckle down and work/save hard. Good luck with your goal.
Wow, that’s one hell of a list! Pretty much all I’ve ever done is retail, subsisting now as a house-sitter which doesn’t pay enough for another jaunt of extended travel but does give me freedom to not have a ‘proper’ job!
Worst job, litter picking after T in the Park, a whole two weeks after the festival. Combing through for anything left over, it was backbreaking and to top it all off the company who hired us went into receivership and we didn’t get paid for months, and even then just a token amount. This was straight after 14 months travelling and we were so skint!
Oh goodness cleaning after a festival sounds the worst. It’s crazy what we’ll do just to get by and travel?! I would love the freedom not to have a proper job or just being my own boss.
I have the freedom but the money is draining out and I’m going to have to get a ‘proper’ job come autumn, boooo ;(
What a list! I remember when I was at uni saving to go to Camp America and I worked three jobs alongside my studies. One of them was in a clothes shop where I got 75% discount so I had to be very strict with myself!
It is so hard when you get discounts but I always find the thought of what I could spend my money on while travelling helps me be ruthless!
This post is great. It’s nice to hear a realistic opinion outlook on travel. At the moment, we are both working, for our phd’s and saving to travel at the end. It’s going well and we have another 3/4 years to save. In between we take other trips and use the money outside of the savings for this.
Sounds like you have a great plan/goal. It must be hard to fit a phd around work, that is an amazing achievement! Good luck with it all.
This is such a motivating and inspiring post, also reassuring to know that it’s achievable to travel!! I’m currently finishing my a-levels and have not applied for uni, as all I want to do is travel, working at my local Tesco and gradually gathering funds. I have also applied for ICS next year!
I’m glad this inspired you, good luck with your saving for travel!