How to budget the adventure of a lifetime

Nichole S. Gehr

After the past 18 months, who doesn’t dream of leaving the 9-5 behind? New research from Mintel shows that almost twice as many of us are planning a trip of a lifetime than they had been pre-pandemic. ‘Grown up’ gap years are growing in popularity too, with 46% of those taking a gap year aged over 26, according to a Sainsbury’s Bank survey.

Going away doesn’t have to mean giving up your job either as many companies have sabbatical programs – although there’s no legal obligation to offer them – or even the option of working remotely from overseas.

Calculate your costs

Use the trip planner calculator at airtreks.com to help you work out what you’ll need, then write out a budget for day-to-day expenses allowing some contingency money for unforeseen costs, such as cancelled flights.

Some adventures cost more than others. Camping and travelling by bike or on foot are all low cost (or free), whereas long distance hiking trails in the US, for example, cost thousands of dollars in fees and other expenses. Compare flight and other travel costs at kayak.co.uk, and use rome2rio.com to find the cheapest way to get from A to B. Wherever you’re heading, don’t forget that travel insurance is worth every penny.

close up view of man and woman making account of family income writing down and calculating expenses attentive review of finance calculator on desk economy concept

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Start saving

Now you know how much you’ll need to save, give yourself a time frame to do it in and work out exactly how much to put away every month. There are plenty of ways of saving for a big trip: you could try the 50/20/30 rule, where 50% of your income goes on needs like rent or your mortgage, 30% on wants and the rest into savings.

Need some help? The Chip app automatically shifts money into a savings account every few days by analysing your spending and using artificial intelligence to work out what you can afford.

Apply for grants and scholarships

These range in value, from the likes of the Royal Geographic Society which offers an annual £5,000 ‘journey of a lifetime’ award (previous winners include a woman who crossed Ethiopia on foot and a paralympian who handcycled the course of Australia’s longest river), to smaller ones like NextChallenge which gifts adventurers of any age a couple of hundred pounds to get you started.


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