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I started travelling in September 2022 and spent time in India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia among others while living off my savings. This was largely possible because I was going to countries where the cost of living was a lot cheaper. In some places I was paying as little as 70p for a pint and £1 for dinner.

When I came back I was really shocked at the prices of some things in the UK — the cost of drinking and eating out seems to have gone up by so much in the past few years. The price of alcohol was extortionate before and it’s only gotten worse. It was a rude awakening after being away for a year. It feels like most people have had to make some sort of lifestyle change to deal with spiralling inflation.

But the good thing about travelling is that it’s made it pretty easy for me to talk about money. Most backpackers are on a tight budget so money came up a lot while I was away. The price of activities, accommodation, destinations — it’s all discussed when you’re travelling. In my time away, I’ve had so many more conversations about money than I did in my whole time living in the UK, and I’m happy to be transparent about the cost of things to help people who are wanting to travel. 

Back to a more expensive reality 

That said, I’m thinking about money a lot more now that I’m back in the UK. I paid a lot of attention to how much money I was spending while I was away but I was still eating out three times a day, paying for transport, spending on fun activities like scuba diving and going to museums. And still, my outgoings were far less than they would have been if I had been living in London. I’m keeping an eye on my money just as much, if not more, now than while I was away because the price of transport, food and bills has all skyrocketed since I left. 

I used to go out for dinner and on nights out a lot, but higher prices mean these things are no longer my priority. Now I save them for special occasions like birthdays, holidays or reuniting with friends. Even if I could, it doesn’t feel worth it to me anymore because the prices don’t make sense — the cost of entry, drinks, taxis and food on a night out can easily add up to £150. 

The cost of living crisis makes it harder to save 

The higher cost of living has also made it difficult for me to save, which will likely delay my travelling plans. I know it’s just a matter of time until I go away again, but I need to save for this, and if I want to make that a reality I know I need to start being strict about budgeting. 

I’ve become a lot more mindful about the money I’m spending and made the conscious choice to spend my money on the things that I actually want and value. I use Revolut and the spending data it provides me with is really helpful. I will regularly look through this so that I can see exactly where my money is going.

Now that I’m back in the UK I’m also going to be shopping at cheaper supermarkets which I didn’t go to before I left. It would also be useful to find a tool that could help me plan a budget, and stick to it. 

I used comparison websites to book flights, but I also used MoneySuperMarket before I went travelling to buy travel insurance. I paid £200 for the whole year and having just checked the same trip would cost me £470 now — ouch! I’ll also be renewing my phone contract in the next couple of months so I would definitely use MoneySuperMarket to check for the best deal. 

Embracing a budget can help you travel 

I think it’s important to remember that even though finances can be tricky, we all have more control than we think. A problem shared is a problem halved, so it’s important to open up. Keeping up with the best tools to save and invest, and learning how to make contributions to savings is also important. The best plans can come from unexpected adjustments, so embracing budgeting doesn’t have to be a daunting or bad thing — if anything, it’ll help make you a savvier traveller.  

If you’re looking for ways to make your money go further, MoneySuperMarket has got you covered. From insurance to phone deals, broadband and money, there are always more ways to save.