How to have an adventure on a budget

Welcome to our series of blog posts about helping you to turn your adventure dreams into reality. This post is all about taming the budget. Budgeting doesn’t necessarily sound like the most inspiring part of adventure planning but it is a critical part of turning your plan into a successful venture. Many planned expeditions that don’t to go ahead fail due to difficulties with funding. This can make funding questions feel quite intimidating but they don’t have to be. Here is my advice based on my experience of being part of many challenges of different scales from personal challenges that I can fit into a Sunday afternoon to huge undertakings on a world stage. It is important to say here that expeditions and adventures don’t have to be hugely expensive. There is sometimes a feeling that to be worthwhile an adventure should be a big budget extravaganza, however this is not that case. In fact some of the most worthwhile and rewarding adventures are those undertaken on a small budget. Check out ‘10 adventures under £100’ below for inspirational challenges that don’t break the bank. If you really don’t want to go through all of the hassle or budgeting then there is one way to avoid the process of chasing every small aspect in detail. That is to book a place on a commercial expedition. These are very often inclusive of food, accommodation, equipment and guiding costs. This makes them not only much easier to arrange but they often work out cheaper than you could manage on your own. Your aim is to get as accurate an idea as possible of how much your adventure is going to cost. Use the budget planning worksheet to guide you and tot it all up.

 

Budget planning

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Now that you have an idea of the likely overall cost you can ask yourself some questions:

  • Can I afford to cover that cost myself?
  • Do I feel that the challenge is worth spending that amount of money on?

If the answer to both is yes, congratulations, proceed with your planning and booking! If the answer is to either is no then it is time for the second stage - reducing the costs

 

Reducing costs

It is actually well worth completing this stage even if you can afford your trip, there is no harm in saving some money for your next adventure. The thing to keep in mind is that it is almost always easier to reduce costs associated with your adventure than it is to generate extra funding. We’ll come onto the challenge of fundraising in a later post. First it is time to start taming your costs. Go back to your budget worksheet and look at each element. Can you reduce the cost of this element? Here are some ideas for making your money go further:

Travel: 

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  • Indirect flights although taking a bit longer can be significantly cheaper than direct flights. Look at the cost of flights a few days either side of your chosen travel date, they can vary dramatically in price. 
  • Flight prices often fluctuate, monitor them and you will be able to judge when they are the best value. 
  • Take the bus, coach travel can be a cheap way to travel. MegaBus offers fares to European destinations for £1. 
  • Can you get a lift for any part of your journey? Even if it is just to the airport as this can often be quite an expensive part of your journey.

Accommodation:

  • Is it possible to stay with someone? Organised races may have a forum with locals offering accommodation.
  • Could you camp? Cheaper than a hotel and makes your challenge even more of an adventure.
  • Try websites like Gumtree and Airbnb for low cost accommodation.
  • Share with fellow adventurers. Can you group together with others undertaking the challenge and split accommodation costs? 
  • Can you be flexible on your dates? Accommodation is often cheaper mid week and it is best to avoid holiday periods if possible.

Equipment:

  • What do you really need? Make sure you are only taking equipment that you really need, 
  • Can you borrow the kit you need? Maybe a friend will lend you the kit your need. Alternatively clubs often allow members to borrow equipment at minimal cost. Especially if they are undertaking an adventure as awesome as you are.
  • Can you get it second hand? There are loads of places on the internet where you can track down second hand gear with significant savings on buying new. Be sure to check the quality especially for any safety equipment. 
  • Can you rent it? There are many adventure equipment rental companies. If you rent kit where you will be starting your adventure then you can also save on the cost of transporting equipment.
  • Selling it on. If you are going to have to buy equipment for your adventure, will you be able to sell it on afterwards? It won’t reduce your initial outlay but will help you recoup some costs.
 

Budget adventures

Awesome adventure doesn’t have to break the bank. Wild camping is a low cost way to open the door on a world of exploring. You can get yourself kitted out from as little as £150. It is possible to spend a lot more on high end gear if you want to or if you are going to extreme environments. It is also possible to hunt down cheaper bargains. As long as it is up to the job, how flashy your kit is is much less important than getting out there and enjoying!

 

10 Adventures under £100

The best adventures don’t have to be expensive. Here are some budget options to set your imagination soaring

  • Enter a trail marathon ~ £40
  • Spend a night wild camping cost £0 if you already have or can borrow a tent
  • Go in search of the northern lights ~ £50 budget airline flight, £30 BnB
  • Run into the sunrise - start your run before the sun comes up and finish in a blaze of glory £0
  • Try out sea kayaking ~£50 for a day trip
  • Enter the GoPro Mountain Games from £40
  • Cycle coast to coast via the Great Glen - £0 or £45 for cycle hire
  • Compete in the classic Round the Island sailing Race - £0 if you offer your crewing services
  • Wild swimming £0 - Cheaper than the swimming pool and less noisy
  • Take a walk in a rain storm

 

Good luck with your budget taming. In the next post we will talk all things logistics.

This is part of a new series of blog posts that I am trying out for 2018. They are all about sharing our expedition and adventure planning experience to help you achieve your own goals and dreams. The aim isn't just to talk advice but to give you tools that you can actually use to make success happen. Let me know if you like it, what you like best and what you want to hear more about. Are there any areas holding you back from achieving your goals? What aspects do you find challenging? The aim is to provide you with tools you need to overcome these.

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For loads more information about achieving you goals, check out Katherine's book How to have an Adventure.