Travelling as an empty nester

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Guest post by Jane McIntyre of The time of our lives

I’ve recently migrated to new territory. After raising a family, my daughters have now flown the nest … and so have I. My new partner is in a similar position. Nigel has always loved travelling (he’s long held an ambition to visit 50 countries by the time he is 50). This, coupled with my insatiable wanderlust, has developed into something of a recurring theme in our relationship.

The world awaits…

An early conversation was discussing the places that we had each dreamed of visiting. Tonga, Japan, New Zealand and a train ride across the Rockies were soon on the table. Hmmm. Could we chain them all together into a round-the-world trip? Yep. Game on. Blimey.

After much research and planning we ended up with a 57-day, nine country framework of flights … the biggest travel adventure that either of us had embarked upon by a large margin. We had no difficulties agreeing on the itinerary, the ‘must sees’ or the ‘absolute no-nos’. But the area that, for me at least, was going to require some thought, was management of the finances.

Financial independence – could it last?

I often describe myself as ‘fiercely independent’. I don’t think of myself as a fierce person, so why do I always use that adjective? I guess it’s about feeling incredibly protective of my freedom – my hackles rise if it’s ever threatened. And that independence absolutely encompasses the subject of money.

I’ve always earned my own and spent my own. But here I was: about to embark on a new type of adventure with a new partner. How was it going to work? (And should I stash some cash away for secret spends?!)

Establishing a budget

The first step was establishing a budget. But what kind? This would depend on whether we were closer to the backpacker end of the spectrum or lording it in 5 star. As it turns out, we had no problem deciding on ‘straight down the middle’.

There was total agreement that our days of three-dollar-a-night hostels were well and truly behind us, but equally, we really wanted to get under the skin of each country we visit. That meant embracing buses in Cambodia and doing self-drive in New Zealand. Fine by us.

So, a figure of £8,500 each was set to cover absolutely everything on the trip, from flights… to (light and portable) presents for daughters.

Managing on a holiday budget

But what of managing that budget? Most of it is spent before we leave, so that’s pretty straightforward. All flights, most accommodation and a few trips a trips are already paid for in sterling. But there are still day-to-day expenses while we’re away. And to work that into our budget, Nigel’s worked out a daily allowance for us. And, against all my natural inclinations, I’ve embraced that. I have to admit, he’s the more numerate one – and if nothing else, those numeracy skills will ensure that we can still eat after week three. But I still find myself grabbing hold of a wall every so often to steady myself. This is big stuff!

We’ve had a few bits of personal pre-trip expenditure to account for. Travel insurance, vaccinations … even zip-off trousers. We’ve done plenty of shopping around, and pooling of research. (Apart from my private investigation into the best, most long-lasting mascara. Yes, it’s coming too.) So…it’s worked well.

Multi currency travelling

While we’re on the trip, handling transactions in nine currencies could get confusing. So our strategy consists of:

  • A Revolut pre-paid Mastercard. This is a brand new concept, which enables a pot of money to be tapped into in varying (up to 90 in all) currencies, both via cash withdrawal from ATMs and card payment. Conversions can be done at any time, using a smartphone app.
  • As Revolut is so new, we’re taking back-up in the form of a zero-transaction fee debit card and a similar credit card.
  • A fistful of dollars.

Jane is the female half of 2emptynesters. They write about their travel experiences at The time of our lives and can be found on Twitter @2emptynesters and on Instagram 2emptynesters. Their round the world trip started in mid-September 2016.

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