We spent my maternity leave travelling the world, embarking on our first adventure when George was 12 weeks old. Unlike other travelling families, we had not planned for this at all. Our first adventure to Singapore and Vietnam was to attend a friends wedding and for Grandma Sue, who lives in New Zealand, to meet her first Grandson (we are currently based in the UK).
It was only once we were in South East Asia, that we really got the travel bug and decided we wanted to do more. When you are lucky enough to have a break from the modern ‘rat race’ you can embrace a different way of living. We had booked our second adventure to America before we had even left Vietnam!
Whilst on maternity leave we visited so many countries on both sides of the hemispheres and tried to keep costs down, where possible. We did some extensive research and through our own travel experiences, here are some ways to help maintain a budget and finance a maternity travel gap year.
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CONVERT A VAN INTO A CAMPERVAN
We’ve enjoyed two mammoth road trip across Europe in our very own, campervan. One whilst I was pregnant, driving from Manchester to the Czech Republic and the second, again from Manchester to Switzerland with a 6 month old baby. I absolutely love the Van! We are currently based in the UK and use it for
This was our first attempt at a van conversion and by trade, neither myself or Nathan are labourers! But we didn’t let that deter us and we purchased an old Ford Transit van for £1,500 and spent £800 doing it up. We regularly use our van for weekend trips, up and down the UK. An absolute investment, we save a lot of money on hotels and accommodation. You can even go off grid if things get tight, and only visit a campground every other day, to save funds.
With George now 18 months old, we sold the van and have upgraded to a long wheel based Ford Transit Van and have been renovating it during lockdown. Next summer, we will be living in the van full time whilst we explore UK and Europe.
SELL YOUR UNWANTED ITEMS ON EBAY
It’s time to get rid of that handbag that you only use for ‘special occasions’ and any other items of clothing on eBay. I use eBay to sell clothes, shoes, handbags and small electronic items. Setting up an account is really easy and PayPal handles all the transactions and fees. Take into account sellers fees (both eBay and PayPal take a small percentage of your transactions) when naming a starting price. My minimum is 1.99 and I charge 2.99 for postage to cover all basic costs.
If you intend to sell a lot of items, I would recommend purchasing some mailing bags to avoid any damages, and to make the process quick. Listing the items is very time consuming, but once the descriptions are on there you wont have to do it again. You can relist any items that don’t sell. Be honest with the condition, the last thing you want are returns or negative feedback. A handy tip, is to invite people to check out your other items and offer combined postage.
For bulky items that don’t fit in the post, we used Facebook marketplace. A handy tool, where you upload pictures and create a short description and you decide on the price and or whether you want offers. The buyer has to collect your items so you can make money without leaving your house! You can boost your item up to three times, without charges and there are several categories to place your items under to improve your chances.
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TRUSTED HOUSE SITTERS
We first heard about this well kept secret from an older couple we got talking to at a camp ground. They had sold up their home in the UK and bought a plot of land in the hills of Spain. In winter they leave the cold behind and seek free accommodation elsewhere, via Trusted House Sitters. In return for looking after someones beloved pet, you can stay in their house for free!
You pay a fee of £99 for the year and you have full access to the easy to use site. Create a profile which includes your details (and your partners) of your job, hobbies and pet history. You might want to put some time and effort into making your profile stand out. This will include ensuring your social media posts and accounts are family friendly. Would you want to invite someone into your home when their profile picture has them chugging a crate of beer?!
There are destinations all over the world from Mexico, America to Australia. You can search via dates or longevity, again this varies. Every time you house sit they leave you a review and you can also leave them a review. Build up a good rating and your chance of being selected over other applicants vastly improves.
SAVE SAVE SAVE!
Although we had not planned and therefore saved specifically for our travel year, we are expert savers. Prior to parenthood, Nathan and myself have travelled extensively and prioritise making memories and exploring over physical possessions. We had been saving a deposit for a house dipped into that when and as needed.
We also have our own savings accounts and utilise our credit cards to earn points to pay for flights and hotels. Ditch the takeaways, cut the booze and challenge yourself to not impulse buy. Make it fun! Can you get your weekly food shop for a specific price? Can you go 1 month without making an online purchase? The rewards will be worth it!
SHOP OUR RECOMMENDED TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
Be sure to read your contract thoroughly to see how much you will receive. In the UK, the maximum you are entitled to take off work, is one full year. Originally I had agreed with my school to return after 6 months, but then chose to extend it to the full year so we could continue travelling. It can be handy to have and factor in, when budgeting and working out how long and where, you can travel.
Different countries and jobs vary the rate and amount that you will receive. Normally you will receive full pay for the first 1/3 months (depends on your job) and then a reduced amount for the next 3 months. After 6 you may just be get a small contribution from the Government which dwindles. I stopped getting any maternity pay after 6 months and had to use my own savings to fund our travels.
When we were travelling around Europe, a couple who were parked next to us at the camp ground, told me about Workaway. Its a website that advertises volunteer work around the world. You sign up, create an account and search for a job or role and destination that suits you. In return you might earn a small wage or get free meals and/or accommodation. It varies per host.
Not all roles are suitable for families but they have a families tab to browse along with others, such as animal care and pet sitting. Such a great resource and community, it is worth using this website when planning a route. You don’t say no to the chance at saving money when your travelling! A great way to meet like minded people and travel for free. For more information, visit: workaway.info
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