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How do travel bloggers support themselves?

Okay, I get how full-time travellers support themselves. They get sponsorships, volunteer in exchange for accommodation, they teach English, work odd jobs, travel slowly, they sell photography and ebooks, make a bit of money freelancing or from their blog… but for those that have been doing it for years – I’m talking about at least 2 or 3 years, I’m wondering… how are they saving for the future?

Clearly this is me being nosy. But don’t you wish they would talk about their finances? In fact, not only do I wish travel bloggers would talk about money, but I wish full-time travel fashion/style bloggers would as well. Seriously. I just love reading budgets and financial reports – which is why I do monthly goals and weekly spending recaps. :)

I’m sure that some travellers out there are making it work because their careers are location independent. But what about the majority of the full-time travellers? The ones who pick up the odd job working on a farm or serving at a bar – saving enough money to get through the next few months of travel, before they have to get a job again.

Most full-time travel bloggers talk about money in the now – how much it cost them to do something, how to find work while travelling, or how much income they need each year to keep on travelling. But very few (I haven’t found any) full-time travel bloggers talks about money in the future. Especially the ones who have plans to travel the world “forever.” I want to know how sustainable full-time travel really is. Because sure, you can likely scrimp and get by for quite a while, but I don’t consider that “sustainable” because you’re essentially living hand to mouth.

Because, eventually most travellers will have to stop moving, settle down, and resume a somewhat normal life at a certain point, right? I mean, they can’t keep moving and backpacking until they’re 90, can they? How will their children go to school? What about an emergency fund in case they injure themselves, or can’t make enough money to support themselves? How will they fund their forever travelling lifestyle when they can no longer work and are essentially “retired” from the workforce?

This is something I’ve been thinking about over the past few months, and I’m genuinely curious. After spending the last year in Europe, I liked having a “home base” to look forward to coming back to after each getaway. I don’t think I could ever be a full-time traveller. While I think I made a decent living, my priorities lean too far in the other direction. I truly admire those that can make a life out of travelling, and I’m intrigued by the financial aspect behind their everyday lives, as well as their plans for the future. But the PF blogger in me wants to see numbers! Is traveling “forever” actually possible, while also saving for retirement?

Do you ever find yourself wishing travel (or fashion) bloggers would post real budgets/numbers/plans? Or am I the only nosy one around here… :)

Autumn travel expense total

In the summer, I posted my mid-year travel expense total. It was a really good snapshot of how much I’ve spent, broken down by category… and it made me realize that I couldn’t keep spending at the pace that I was going.

Changes needed to be made, and I had to cross some trips off my list. If you click through to the old expense total, you will see that upcoming trips included Ireland, Scotland, and Bulgaria. Well those got scrapped in favour of spending more time in Turkey, an additional trip to France, and a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich (both relatively cheap b/c they’re close to Stuttgart). My Iceland trip got put on hold, but that will be happening in about 3 weeks because I was able to get a free stopover on my way home to Vancouver, and my accommodation is being sponsored.

Here is my updated travel expense total (click to make bigger):

So you’ll see that I will have traveled a total of 78 days in 2012, for a rolling total cost of €7,127.13 or $9,071.41.

Of course, I still have to factor in the cost of Cologne and Reyjavik. Cologne will be relatively inexpensive as we are only there to check out the Christmas market – and any presents that I buy aren’t reflected in my travel expenses. Reyjavik will likely be costly, but I haven’t booked anything yet, so it’s all up to me.

$9,000 is a lot of money, and I certainly would have loved to see that amount added to my RRSP or in a TFSA. But, this year my net worth has actually risen +$8,876, so I feel like even though my financial progress has significantly slowed down since quitting my full-time job (my net worth rose +$22,813 in 2011), I’m still doing well. I was able to take an entire year to travel and write in Europe – without incurring debt, and saving a little bit in the process.

Anyway, here is the cost break-down per trip, and per day:

Obviously I can’t talk about travel expenses without mentioning my partnership with Hostelbookers.com. It has saved us well over $3,500 combined this year, so it’s quite a significant chunk of money I’m saving.

However, for those who think the numbers above might be unrealistic for someone without an accommodation sponsor, it’s worth mentioning that almost all of my trips include round-trip travel expenses – whereas someone on vacation or extended travel likely wouldn’t have to spend round-trip costs because they’ll be continually traveling, not based out of one city like I am.

Also, even though I saved a lot on accommodation, I still had to spend almost €1,000 on accommodation myself, with an average price per night of €20.56 or $26.18. A few times, we stayed in hostel dorm rooms to save money, but 90% of the time we had private accommodations.

Here are a few other bullet points that are worth mentioning:

  • My 6-day trip to Toronto is not listed in the above spreadsheet because it was a business trip.
  • Some of my travel expenses will end up being tax deductible because I was writing stories about the trip for publications, or reviewing services for publication.
  • Day trips are also not listed b/c they didn’t include an accommodation component. I would estimate we went on 6 or 7 day trips.

I’ll do a final recap of my travel expenses at the end of December. :)

Let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer them!

How much should you spend on a Christmas gift for your significant other?

Okay, it’s November now, so it’s not too early to be busting out a Christmas-related post. :)

For some reason, I’m always curious about how much other people spend on gifts each year. Last year, RBC conducted a survey on holiday spending, and found that Canadian gift-givers planned on spending an average of $640 on Christmas presents, up from a total of $624 the year year before (in 2010). Looking back on my past Christmas budgets, I’ve been spending around $600 on gifts, so I consider myself to be an average spender.

However, I have been known to splurge on gifts for my significant other. Not just during Christmas, but throughout the year. I’ll sometimes spend hundreds of dollars just to find that perfect gadget I know he’d love, or taking a spontaneous weekend trip out of town.

But how much is too much, and perhaps an even trickier relationship and money question is: how many dates do you have to go on before giving a gift?

According to a nationwide survey conducting by dating website Match.com, most Canadians believe you should give a new partner a Christmas gift after dating for one to two months. And interestingly enough, more men than woman believe in giving gifts to someone they’ve been dating for less than two weeks.

For those of us who are struggling with how much to spend, Match.com came up with a “Gift Meter” to help those Canadians with gift-giving anxiety:

Dating for less than one month? Over 30 per cent of Canadians believe you should spend between $25 and $50.

Dating for one to six months? 51 per cent of Canadians believe you should spend over $50 on a gift.

Dating for six months to over a year? The majority of Canadians believe you should spend $75 to $100 – at least. And, almost triple the amount of men than woman believe you should spend over $200 on a gift for someone you’ve been dating for over six months.

Last Christmas, my boyfriend and I had been dating for about six months, and we mutually agreed not to buy each other presents. Instead, we spent our money on a one-week trip to Montreal and Quebec City. This year at Christmas, we will be together for 1.5 years and we’ve both agreed to a limit of $50 to spend on each other. :)

How much will you spend on a Christmas gift for your significant other?

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