Two years, and a little wiser… Lifevoyagers’ conclusion!
Our two years of Work-and-Travel-Sabbatical could not have been richer or more diverse, we are infinitely thankful for having had the chance and the possibility to make this happen, it was absolutely awesome, for a change mostly free of commitments, with a lot of jointly spent free time, designed to our liking, indulgence in nature, indulgence in culture, a lot of ‘sitting-on-the-wall’, exploring to our hearts’ content, two years without winter, etc., in so many different environments of this planet.
Even having sunshine or at least daylight at seven in the morning, for nearly two full years, is priceless, even in Peru with its cold nights we had summer temperatures throughout the day, and the darkness in Europe’s winter at seven in the morning kind of hit us like a hammer surprise…
The many different countries, landscapes, cities, environments, accommodation, means of transport, work places, outings, sightseeings, activities, got even more life-enhancing by meeting all the people we got to know and who we were lucky enough to share these experiences with!
Be it work colleagues in the insurance- or the workaway-jobs, Airbnb-hosts, or CELTA-training colleagues, be it dear friends and relatives from and in Germany, workaway-employers, or physicians, be it highly appreciated Facebook-contacts, particularly with people left behind, or revived old aquaintances and friendships,
be it people who trusted us blindly relying on a recommendation by joint friends, church parishes, or countless everyday-contacts, all of them of highly varied shades in many respects, to name but a few, without them all and the respective mutual inspiration and support, our adventure wouldn’t have been half as wonderful as it was!
That’s why the photos of this blogpost celebrate a small but very important part of the many people we met, if ever possible we asked whether we can use their photos. Thanks ever so much for having had the chance to meet you all and for the huge enrichment we were lucky enough to gain by meeting you! Lesson learnt? Never shy away from meeting someone new, heaven alone knows what’s kept in store for both parties!
Apart from the methodical and professional expertise we gained on our trip (hard skills: optimization of supplying- and cooking-methods inc. optimization of budget and sustainability, CELTA-knowledge and methodology, optimization of organisation regarding planing, booking and execution of the journey as well as local logistics, single competencies at workaway-work places like agricultural skills and skills in the hotel industry, etc.), we gained a lot of personality- and social competences (soft skills).
For example the ability to adapt to numerous and frequently changed environment-parameters and sometimes employers, and to in all respects highly heterogenic teams of colleagues (flexibility), the ability to successfully communicate and act interculturally, to increase our own stress-resilience and develope new, adapted strategies to do so, and many more. The fact alone that we’re off TV now is very valuable indeed!
The second year was a lot more challenging than the first, because of the even more numerous changes of location and because of Claudia’s Giardia Lamblia infection, despite less work, the number of destinations is not to be underestimated, we would plan this even more generous now, of course at the cost of the number of places to be visited! Even a stay of one month at any one place means a lot of moves within two years! For any concept of ‘living travelling’ the single stays would have to be planned to be much longer! Of course moving is also more expensive than staying too!
Our budget was 1.400 Euros per month for two for: rent: (mostly in a whole flat to ourselves, sometimes tiny, mostly quite roomy, however): 700 Euros, and on top of this, costs for living: including public transport, without travel costs (!), inc. eating out once or twice a weak: another 700 Euros.
This can be achieved in many countries and big cities when staying at least 28 days (4 x 7) via Airbnb- and competitors, but not in Europe’s capitals and neither in Singapore, because the costs for rent are much higher, Singapore would not have been affordable for us on our regular budget without local employment, not even in a drawer-bed-hotel which can actually be found in Singapore!
This budget equals 47 Euros inc. accommodation and living per day for two, just compare this to your usual hotel- and provisions-budget of an average holdiday…
Sharing, i.e. renting a room in the flat of the host, mostly isn’t a lot cheaper, particularly for two. The budget of 1.400 Euros does not contain any costs for fun-/adrenalin-/touristy activities and rental cars either. These should be budgeted separately according to your taste and purse and can amount to rather a lot, depending on your goal, ours was to live abroad, partly work, and experience any culture almost like a local, as opposed to your classic holiday experience.
This monthly budget can in total be replaced by one or more workaway-stays! For a single person travelling alone it can in our opinion only be halved by sharing a flat or staying in a dorm of a hostel.
To make do with that kind of budget for two years gains you a lot of practice, hence there’s no reason why we should work with a significantly different budget in the future back home in Germany, anything earned over and above this budget can be saved and once more be used for fulfillment of yet another dream!
We are of course aware that we’ll now be bashed because this is by no means a tiny budget, because we were able to afford travel costs and extras on top, and because we are of course extremely priviledged, but it’s still important to us to show the conditions under which a work-and-travel sabbatical can be feasible, even for a shorter period. The young French couple we met in Bahia Bustamante travelled for one year and did workaway-jobs for half of it in order to be able to afford the other half, travelled over land rather than travelling by plane, and even bought a rather old van and refitted it as a camper van to be re-sold at the end, that’s even more afforable!
To nearly not purchase any stuff for two years, except replacements, mainly clothes, feels good and trains for a similarly consumption-poor life at home, after all we nearly don’t have any stuff at home any more either, having given it all away, so we bought as replacement:
- 1 Jeans (mail ordered online to Germany, delivered to Barcelona by dear friends)
- 3 blouses (Barcelona)
- 1 sun hat (Chile)
- 1 scarf (Barcelona)
- 1 pair of sneakers (Colombia)
- 1 sweater (Buenos Aires)
- 1 suitcase (mail ordered online to Germany, delivered to Singapore by dear friends)
- 2 pairs of heels (for Singapore, of which one bad buy)
- 2 pyjama tops (South Africa)
- 1 pyjama bottom (Colombia)
- 8 pairs of socks (Colombia, Barcelona)
Now our clothes, of as much quality as they were, they even had their age already when we started, are really mostly worn out, meaning holes in blouses, jeans, pyjamas, worn shoes nearly falling apart, so at home a few replacement purchases were necessary, a few winter clothes had still been waiting for our return.
Budget for travel costs: this is so much dependant on preferences that we really cannot put numbers to it, here’s our strategy: long haul flights get much more feasible by booking with Air-Miles, in the end we booked all our intercontinental flights this way, Claudia spent 194.000 Miles in total, Carsten 238.000 Miles in total, because he flew Business Class on two legs when Claudia flew Eco.
Had we booked all legs in Eco, we would have spent only 140.000 Air-Miles for our in total four intercontinental flights inc. connecting flights, all one-way of course, one-way flights cost 50% of the Air-Miles for a return flight, a regularly paid for one-way flight usually costs more than 50% of the return-flight!
The legs from Buenos Aires to Singapore and from Singapore to Cologne were of course luckily paid for by the employer. After our last booking of a flight on Air-Miles we’ve already each collected ca. 20.000 Air-Miles, less than 50% of this by actually flying, see our resources below for other methods of collecting!
Of course you pay for taxes and fees, but that is of course only a small part of the regular price, and price-value concerning both Air-Miles and taxes/fees in our minds is best when spent on Business Class flights, particularly when necessary on long haul flights for tall people who just don’t fit into some of the seat ranges, like Carsten. To pay for an update by using Air-Miles in our minds is too expensive in comparison, we wouldn’t recommend it, except if you have Air-Miles to spare.
Several one-way flights within one continent often get cheaper once bought in a package, example Avianca: a one-way flight from Buenos Aires to Bogotá should have cost slightly above 800 USD, we were flabbergasted, wasn’t flying in South America supposed to be cheap?? But when we then tried to book nearly all our intra-continental flights at once and in a row with Avianca, this route cost much less, like this: Buenos Aires – Bogotá – Quito – Lima – Sao Paulo, that’s FOUR one-way flights, which we paid for in total 1.064 Euros per Person plus 20 Euros Expedia booking fee, there you are!
Any local, intra-national flights, for example to Cartagena from Bogotá and Cusco from Lima, we booked with cheap local carriers, we might have added them into our row of flights too, but the decision to go there was taken much later than the original package booking. With Avianca we had only excellent experiences, be it price, punctuality, processes or service!
With our concept of ‘living traveling’ we became more and more relaxed in terms of ‘insurance’, but our Travel-Health-Insurance by Hanse-Merkur was very important, even if not as expensive as privat health insurance at home because it only covered any illness not yet aquired/treated for yet. This of course has to be taken into account budgetwise, and in case of Hanse-Merkur is to be paid up front before leaving for the full period.
We used it when Claudia had to have three Cholazions removed from her right eyelid in Buenos Aires, and when the parasite got the better of her in Ecuador, and accompanied her across no less than four countries, with costs for physicians in three of these countries. So the budget has at least to be able to cover Health Insurance, even if most of planet earths human inhabitants have to manage without paid for health care, same is true for pensions, doesn’t hurt at all to be aware of this privilege, and to highly value the conditions of social security contributions in Germany, even given all justified criticism.
And finally: we were right in saying that this wasn’t about two years on the beach: we only wore our swim suits once: in Bali! Our decision!
So a definite go: to live a dream can be more feasible than you might think, and sometimes is a question of what you are prepared to give up for it, life after all is a total compromise! We would certainly do it again ;-)) !
Here you can find five pages of our resources, just click on the link or on the photo above!
And please don’t forget: