I was happily planning my trip next year. My leave was booked and all things were starting to happen. Then I noticed a story about the Australian dollar possibly falling to 60¢ US pretty much in line with the start of my break. I started looking at charts and things and even downloaded a currency app (this is a nice, clean little app which I now use regularly). Then I started to look at my budget, then I started to realise that if the the dollar got to the sort of levels the pundits were predicting, I wouldn’t be able to afford to take a year off.
Now I know there are lots of folks who will say “You don’t need lots of money to travel” and “You can hitchhike and dumpster dive” and “I lived on a dollar a day and didn’t die”. That’s fine and good luck to you, but that’s not how I want to do it. I want to make sure I’ve got my savings in tact by living on my income and not be able to not think too much about money while I’m away. I had also planned to travel only on half my income, so the lower the Australian dollar is the more significant the impact.
So, I’ve decided to re-jig my plans. I’ve pulled the pin on the idea of a year off. Instead I plan to do two things.
Firstly I’m going to try to go to lots of Swing Dancing (that’s not me in the video by the way) events here in Australia. Pretty much every capital city has a Swing Dance event (known as an exchange) throughout the year. It’s possible to travel (somewhat) cheaply by pooling accommodation with other swing dancers and renting apartments with kitchens so you can make your own food. I’m also using it as a way to force myself onto the social dance floor. I’m not a great dancer and I’ve found it hard to just throw myself into social dancing but I’m going to keep at it. I also like the dance community. They’re friendly and welcoming. They’re also the kind of people who will allow me the space I need when I need it. Dance events usually end with very late nights and plenty of sleeping during the day to catch up. I’m a morning person so I’m quite happy to excuse myself a little early, get a reasonable night’s sleep then wander off to a coffee shop and explore. Travelling within Australia is really starting to make sense with the way the dollar is right now. The bonus is improving my skills and getting to see more of my own country. Plus.. dancing!
The second thing will be to keep a sharp eye out for cheap flights and travel opportunities for short trips. I missed picking up a super cheap fare to Japan recently which could have got me to Japan and back for about $500 AUD! I’ve signed up to all the sites I can to keep an eye out for cheap flights. The plan will be to see something, grab a flight, plan a short trip for up to a month and then go. I can keep an eye on my budget better and space out the trips so it’s financially comfortable. I’ll also look for places where it’s cheaper to travel and yes I’ll be looking for ways to save money along the way. I’ve already been spending a lot of my time downsizing my live and cutting my expenses to boost my savings and reduce my ongoing costs.
So there’s the latest plan. Since I curtailed things, it looks like the Australian Dollar has leveled out a little. I’ll keep an eye on things and who knows, maybe it will work a little more down the track. For now… Australia!