How I made £5k in 6 months to go travelling

How I made £5k in 6 months to go travelling

‘How do you fund your travels?’

This is the golden question everyone wants an answer to! 

Anthea and I have a few different fingers in various metaphorical pies that allow us to continue to earn as we travel, including ESL teaching and digital marketing.

For me personally though, it’s no exaggeration to say that Matched Betting changed my life. Like many people I had a serious case of wanderlust but no savings to make my dream a reality. Once I discovered Matched Betting I was able to save enough money to start my travels and I haven’t look back since.

It’s always a bit awkward to try and explain what Matched Betting is in just a few short sentences, especially as when people hear the word ‘betting’ they immediately assume I’m just gambling – which couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you’re wanting to skip ahead to the ‘how and why’ of Matched Betting itself, go to my website www.mastermatchedbetting.co.uk to get more information on how to get started and find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. I also run a free ‘Matched Betting Support’ Facebook closed group that you can join for added help in making extra money each month.

(Please note, you need to be resident in the UK to do Matched Betting)

So how did I get started with Matched Betting?

I returned to the UK from a Working Holiday year in Canada in late 2015 and I was broke. Not the kind of broke people claim when they are spending all their money on Starbucks, takeaway food and alcohol each month, but the actual broke in which I had less than £20 to my name when I touched down back on English soil.

I was moving back in with family and searching for a job at the age of 27, coming up to a Christmas knowing that I couldn’t afford to buy any presents for loved ones. I did what I had to do and found a Christmas temp job in a call centre, and after a couple of weeks there a friend mentioned Matched Betting to me. I was as dubious as most at the start, and couldn’t afford to lose money taking a risk, but during the next couple of days I spent some time researching about it on my lunch breaks at work and when at home in the evenings.

Once I got my first pay packet, I figured it was worth a try. I signed up for the free trial with Profit Accumulator and spent hours watching the training videos, studying the guides, and reading on the forum to see what other people were saying and recommending. I wanted to make sure I completely understood what I was doing before I started, as I didn’t know anyone else who was Matched Betting that I could ask for advice.

 

 

How much did I start with?

I started with about £40 to do my first sign up offer, but as the money came in from my Christmas temp job, I began investing more money into the offers. Within a couple of weeks, I was making more money sat in a café on my hour-long lunch break Matched Betting than I was making from 8 hours that day working on the phones in a customer service job. My problem at the time was that I was spending the money I made Matched Betting, so I never really managed to build my balance up! However, after a few months, I’d saved enough to go travelling again. 

Fast forward to mid 2017 and I’d been Matched Betting on and off since starting, whenever I needed a cash injection, whilst doing online English teaching at the same time.  Then when Anthea and I decided we were going to go travelling to Mexico in early 2018 I started again in earnest. I wanted to save a minimum of 5k before we left, so that I had that money there when we landed in Mexico.

I decided to really focus on the Matched Betting, as there were plenty of offers each day that I wasn’t taking advantage of, which was just potential profit going to waste. I cut down my online teaching hours so that my earnings from that covered my bills and essentials, and then put all my time and effort into Matched Betting. I learnt how to do the offers I hadn’t attempted yet, and I scheduled my days around the frequent, higher earning offers. In short, I treated it like a job and it paid me back in kind. I hit my target of £5k in just under 6 months.

So what is Matched Betting?

At its most simple, Matched Betting is a system using bookmaker incentives to bet on both outcomes of a wager. It’s a betting technique that enables you to guarantee a profit from the free bets and incentives that bookies offer when you sign up. It requires no previous knowledge of sports, or betting, and is essentially just matching numbers – using the tools and calculators provided once you have signed up. I use a company called Profit Accumulator, who for a small monthly subscription,  provide the following assistance;

  • Full training modules, with both written and video instructions explaining each concept of Matched Betting.
  • Regularly updated offers page, with the offers broken down into specific categories such as ‘Sports book Sign-Ups’ and ‘Reloads’
  • A large ‘Offers Team’ – members of staff dedicated to finding potential profit opportunities and teaching users how to do them.
  • Step-by-step written, and occasional video, instructions on exactly how to complete each offer
  • A large, very active forum where every offer is discussed and there is always support on hand when required.
  • Multiple advanced calculators (including usage guides) and tools such as Odds-matcher and Acca-Catcher included in the subscription.
  • Full Customer Support, 7 days a week, via phone, email, forum, and Facebook Messenger

Whenever I’ve had a problem with anything, Profit Accumulator (PA) have been excellent at getting me up and running again. There are other companies out there, but PA are definitely one of the most comprehensive and well-run in my experience.

No doubt you still have more questions! There are a few questions that come up time and time again, and I’ve answered the most frequently asked ones on my website, www.mastermatchedbetting.co.uk, but I’ll cover some of the top questions here too:

 

What is Matched Betting?

Matched Betting is a system using bookmaker incentives to bet on both outcomes of a wager. It is a betting technique that enables individuals to guarantee a profit from the free bets and incentives on offer. It requires no previous knowledge of sports, or betting, and is essentially just matching numbers – using the tools and calculators provided once you have signed up.

 

Is Matched Betting just gambling?

No.

Due to the word ‘betting’ being in the title, people are often immediately put off. Matched Betting is basically just Maths, and at its most simple, we are covering every outcome on an event so that we are guaranteed profit using the money that bookmakers give us (the free bets). We aren’t interested in whether ‘Team A’ wins or loses, because whatever the outcome we can, and usually will, profit.

 

Is it really risk-free?

Yes, but this is not accounting for human error. The golden rule is not to rush. Always double check your work and ensure you’re typing in the correct numbers and clicking the correct boxes. Slow down, double check your numbers (just like at school), and then Matched Betting is as close to risk free as possible. If you’re not sure about something then ask! This is why I set up my Facebook group, to give people a safe place to learn and ask questions.

 

Are Matched Betting profits taxable?

Gambling in the UK is currently tax-free and because matched betting is classed as gambling winnings, there is no need to declare any extra income you make from matched betting. There are no annual self-assessments to complete and no tax to pay.

“The fact that a taxpayer has a system by which they place their bets, or that they are sufficiently successful to earn a living by gambling does not make their activities a trade.”

For more information, you can read here what HMRC themselves have to say about it all.

 

Is Matched Betting legal?

Yes, although I appreciate it does sound too good to be true! Matched Betting is rapidly growing, and has featured in major news outlets, such as the Telegraph; in the Telegraph article there is even a quote demonstrating how the bookies themselves are aware it’s happening. A spokesperson from William Hill, says the industry does not have a problem with matched betting. “There’s no illegal element,” he says. “It’s a free bet and you can do what you like.”

 

How do I start Matched Betting?

To get started you don’t need to know anything about betting, or sport for that matter! Anyone can learn how to do Matched Betting and make some money. If you’d like to give it a go, use this link to sign up to Profit Accumulator and receive FREE access to the first two offers – worth around £35. You’ll then have access to a wealth of information including training videos, detailed offer write-ups, and an active forum all designed to help you increase your profit.

Last of all, check out my website, www.matchedbetting.co.uk and you can also join my private Facebook group in which I provide advice, offer guides, and answer questions from members as well as making members aware of the best offers to take advantage of.

Whether you’re looking to make some extra money to be able to travel, like me, or just fancy a little side income, Matched Betting is a great way to generate cash. I hope I’ve inspired you to give it a go and if you have any questions just leave a comment below. 

 

This post contains affiliate links which just means if you click the link, we receive a small commission.  It doesn’t  change how much you pay and it means we can afford to keep this blog running and buy the occasional cup of coffee for Steve.

 

Workaway – A ‘How to’ Guide

Workaway – A ‘How to’ Guide

First off, If you’re unsure what Workaway is, start here first and then come back… I’ll wait.

 

 

 

Ready? Ok, great!

 

 

 

In my prior post I spoke about what workaway is and how it works, but there are obviously many variables as to what accounts for a ‘good’ workaway placement. We are currently in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico at a guesthouse workaway placement and feel like we have really struck gold. We work up to 3 hours in the morning, Monday to Friday, in exchange for accommodation and use of all the facilities. Our days are often working 9-12 before I go for a swim in the pool and read my kindle while floating on a rubber ring. We then have time to our own work online in the afternoon before having dinner and relaxing/going out for food in the evening. When done right, workaway can be a truly fulfilling experience, and we are meeting some amazing people along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our work is quite basic and easy, usually just cleaning the rooms or areas we share such as the kitchen, and sometimes there are other projects that our host asks us to help with. Come 12pm, and often earlier, we are finished and have free reign to seize the day as we wish, as mentioned above.

 

So, what makes a good workaway host, and how can you be a good ‘workawayer’? These are some of the basic principles which, although they seem simple, can often be overlooked or forgotten.

 

 

 

Choosing the right Workaway for both you and your host

 

Now, this should be obvious, but bear with me. When looking for a workaway placement, in my mind you should be looking for three things;

 

  1. Where do you want to do a workaway placement?

If you don’t like cold temperatures, then maybe don’t go to Finland in the winter. Once you’ve chosen your location, make sure it’s somewhere you can get to. Don’t arrange a trip in Japan, but then realise you can’t afford the flight prices, or you can’t get a visa to enter a country such as the USA. Do your research on the country first, and make sure that, most importantly, you can get there, and secondly, that you will have things to do in your free time.

 

2. What type of work are you willing to do?

 

This is important, as you don’t want to be waking up depressed every morning, knowing you have to do work that you hate! If you don’t like children, don’t apply for a workaway with children, even if it’s in a location you really like. The host will always put on their listing the type of work they are requiring help with. It will help no one if you’re evidently hating the work you’re doing, or alternatively, if you’re not physically able to do the work requested. I couldn’t do a job that required someone with knowledge of horses and the ability to ride. If you’re being asked to clean rooms, expect to clean toilets, and if you’re not ok with that then you could either contact the host for more information (see point 2) or don’t apply and look for something else that suits your requirements. It’s good to be picky about what you’re going to do as you want something you can enjoy and put your full energy into!

 

3. How long can you workaway for?

 

Often you will see workaway hosts requesting that people stay for a minimum amount of time, whether it be two weeks or six months. Respect this. If you can’t commit to the minimum time then don’t apply, even if you really like the look of the placement. It’s not fair on the host, who then has to train someone new to continue the job you’ve now left. On the flip side, maybe they would be happy if you went for a pre-agreed shorter time frame with the possibility to extend if both parties agree. 

 

workaway wall

Our current hosts have had over 100 workawayers stay with them! We’re not sure what we’ll contribute to the wall yet…

 

So, these are three quite important aspects to take in to consideration before you even contact a potential host. They may seem obvious, but nonetheless, I feel they are three important unwritten rules that are worth sticking to.

Communication is key

 

So, you’ve found your dream workaway placement and they are showing that they have available space on their profile. This next point is not just important at the start when arranging a placement, but throughout the whole arrangement. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your host if you are ever unsure about anything or have any concerns. This is meant to be an enjoyable and beneficial agreement for both parties. Where possible, I would recommend that you try to arrange a rough working schedule, obviously with some flexibility when necessary, before starting. This can avoid any confusion about working times between you both, and in turn avoid any underlying tension or potential disagreements further down the line.

Another important point to remember about communication – don’t forget that the language that you are using might not be the native tongue for your host; yet even if it is, sometimes there can be communication errors. For example, Anthea and I were asked by our friends at the guesthouse if we wanted to have dinner with them there that night – great! We arranged to eat at ‘half six’, and then thought nothing further of it for the afternoon. At 17:40, we were told our dinner was going cold and to hurry up downstairs. Our initial confusion was rectified when we realised our error – in England, we refer to 6:30 as ‘half six’, whereas our Turkish friend thought that ‘half six’ meant ‘half to six’ – i.e. 5:30!

An innocent and fairly innocuous misunderstanding, but you can see how the ramifications could be worse if this meant that you missed a train, a collection time, or were late to start work on the first day!

Having a clear and open communication with your host can save many problems further down the road. Even if you might feel a bit uncomfortable to speak about your concern at the start, it will only get worse, and potentially turn to resentment, if you sit and say nothing. Anthea and I both stated to our currents hosts that we are quite open and honest, and asked that they be the same with us. If they have any problems with anything to just tell us how to change and improve, rather than say nothing or, maybe worse, just try to make subtle hints; one half of this travelling relationship (*cough* not me *cough*) doesn’t pick up subtle hints very well at all! Thankfully, our current hosts are two very laid back, open and direct Germans who we work amazingly well with (we think…)!

 

Read the reviews on the Workaway website

 

They’re there for a reason folks, so make use of them. Reading the reviews of other workawayers can give you a good sense of the work type and schedule that you would be expected to complete, as well as giving you a sense of the personality of the host themselves. Maybe they prefer to keep themselves to themselves after the work time is finished, or maybe they like to take you out and about to show you the local attractions.

 

Workaway Host Review

Our hosts have excellent feedback and reviews, which is why we changed our plans to go and work there!

 

The reviews can give you a good scope of what potentially lays ahead, and you might read things that you want to ask the host about – ‘Is the hot water fixed? Are there still noisy neighbours? Do they have any pets?’ Etc.

 

Stay safe, be prepared, and be respectful

 

Finally, and maybe the most important of all, is that you must always feel safe and secure. Don’t use workaway as a last gasp attempt to keep travelling because you can’t afford even one night anywhere else. You should always keep some money aside so that if there’s any problems such as not being able to contact the host or find the hosts location, or worst-case scenario, you just don’t feel safe alone with another workawayer or the host, you can always go and get a room somewhere last minute at a hostel, hotel or Airbnb.

Give someone the address and contact number of where you are staying, and vice versa give an emergency contact number to your host, so if there are any accidents or emergencies, someone else knows how to contact you or someone for you. Similarly, make sure you note the address and number of local services, such as a doctor’s surgery and hospital.

Last of all, this person is inviting you into their home and/or place of work. Respect it as such and treat it as you would your own – unless you live like a stereotype student, obviously! Helping with small tasks, even outside of your agreed ‘work hours’ can make a huge difference. Emptying a bin, refilling water, washing up or vacuuming a room for example, are all small tasks that will mean a lot to the host, and really help establish a rapport and relationship. Go that extra mile for them, and you’ll get it back in return, I promise.

Hopefully this has answered some questions you may have had, or maybe even some you didn’t realise you were going to ask. Above all, remember that workaway offers a fantastic opportunity that will more likely than not result in you creating fantastic memories and building friendships for life, so enjoy it!

Steve's 30th birthday, with hosts and cake

Celebrating my 30th birthday with a surprise cake from our hosts!

 

Have you ever done a Workaway? Would you consider doing one? Tell us in the comments below….

 

What is ‘Workaway’?

What is ‘Workaway’?

Workaway: What it is & Other FAQ:

 

  • First things first, this isn’t an affiliated post, and the thoughts and opinions you read here are all my own, uninfluenced by anyone except maybe Anthea!

People often ask Anthea and I about our current plans, and how we manage to travel  as we do. We’ve spoken previously about working online for income as we go, but we often get blank looks whenever we mention our use of the website, www.workaway.info.

We sometimes get people who’ve vaguely heard of the concept, but often they’ve not, and replies range among the following:

‘What on earth is workaway?’

‘What are the benefits of it? Isn’t it just free labour for nothing?’

‘Oh, I’ve heard bad things about that. Is it safe? It sounds dangerous to stay with a stranger.’

So, to help those who are interested and are considering using the website themselves in the future, let me answer a few frequently asked questions.

What is it?

To start at the beginning, workaway is a cultural exchange program in which workers (workawayers) work an agreed amount of time each day/week in exchange for accommodation and sometimes food as well. The great thing about workaway is that there is such a variety of possibilities. This isn’t just working on a farm like WWOOF programs, and the chances are that whatever your skillset, there is somebody somewhere in the world who would benefit from them.

What can I do?

Almost literally whatever you want to do, and many places accept couples or friends together too.

Good with kids? There’s plenty of au-pair/babysitting possibilities in every city around the world.

Good at DIY? Help people design and build their dream homes in exotic jungles or help to build a school or housing for those in less wealthy countries.

Native English Speaker? Any country that isn’t native English speaking has people desperate to either teach them and family members, or to teach at a local school. From Buenos Aires to Madrid, choose your dream location and away you go.

Proficient at designing websites? Good with animals? Wanting a party lifestyle in a hostel? The next Monty Don* in the garden? Happy to get down and dirty doing laundry and cleaning rooms?

You get the idea; Whatever you want to do, there’s likely to be someone, somewhere that needs your help. We’ve both used it to good effect now, and estimate that by the end of May, we’ll have saved ourselves at least between £1700 to £2,000 in accommodation costs going by average Airbnb costs we usually look for (£15-£30), and what’s available in the areas we’ve been (often upwards of £50 a night in Sayulita for example).

*Anthea’s informed me that Alan Titchmarsh isn’t the relevant modern-day gardening guru anymore. Sad times indeed.

How many hours a week? What’s the accommodation like?

The requested hours for working are usually 3-5 hours a day, 5 days a week. This can obviously vary quite a lot, but personally I don’t think you should ever do more than 25 hours a week. Accommodation can vary from a private room or studio, to shared hostel dorms or even a tree house or tents! Information on accommodation will always be made clear on the listing when you are messaging to contact the host.

 

We’re currently staying in a great ‘tent’ at a guesthouse for our workaway placement

Are you not just free labour?

Ideally no, although undoubtedly there are some postings on the site which are aiming to secure just that. Workaway is meant to be a cultural and skills exchange; it’s not just about securing a free place to sleep, it’s meant to give you the opportunity to experience places that you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to explore, with a local showing you around and teaching you about the culture and the language where required. The work that you do is intended to ‘give back’ to the host in exchange for them giving up a room for free.

Why not just get an Airbnb?

As I mentioned above, there is so much to learn from doing a good workaway placement. You get to see an area at ground level as a local, you get to meet those locals and develop relationships which in turn can lead to other advice and opportunities. Sure, it can be great to have an apartment to ourselves, but by doing this current workaway in Mexico, we’ve met so many incredible people with inspiring stories to tell – as well as being able to get advice from people who’ve already travelled to places we are planning to go to! It can be difficult to meet new people if you are in an area for a short amount of time and renting a whole apartment, whereas workaway placements can often have the opposite problem of so many people passing through.

Is it safe?

It’s easy to forget that the trust has to extend both ways; people are inviting you into their home or place of work and hoping that you don’t destroy or steal anything. There will always be the odd horror story in any walk of life, but I’ve found that the hosts are often people who’ve been travelling themselves and have a very similar outlook on life. As I said though, read the reviews and don’t forget that if you don’t feel safe or comfortable, you can always leave.

Obviously, the same social sensibilities apply; don’t go leaving your laptop alone in a hostel lounge for 30 minutes, wonder why it’s been taken and then blame the workaway placement!

How do I make sure I can get a good workaway placement?

Well, it’s funny you should ask that, as I have another post to answer just that question…

A good workaway can be a peaceful paradise away from home

Becoming Digital Nomads

Becoming Digital Nomads

‘You do what?’ is a question we get asked A LOT. I remember very clearly people’s expressions when I told them I was quitting my career to go traveling and work remotely. Surprise, confusion, ‘wow’ and a bit of ‘you’re bonkers’ thrown in for good measure. Even now, after we have tried to explain it and several months into the journey, I think people get the ‘why’ but we are still regularly asked ‘how?’ I’m writing this blog post from my perspective to try and clear up any confusion but if you still have any questions at the end of it, just ask.

Let’s start with the ‘why’

We have met lots of people on this journey so far and they all have their own reasons for leaving their home country. Whether it’s for a month, a year or a lifetime. Sometimes they’re searching for something, sometimes they’re running away from something but in the end it all boils down to the pursuit of happiness. Of course, wise people know that happiness is a choice, not a destination – but I find that choice easier to make on a warm beach with a margarita in my hand.

For me it was always more about the ‘why not’.’ When I first met Steve in Valencia and he told me about his plans to travel around Central and South America it was like a light bulb turning on in my brain and it set me on the path that would ultimately lead us to fulfilling this dream together. Once I started to research the possibilities I quickly realised two things.

Firstly that my perceptions of the world (especially those countries) was vastly out of kilter with reality. My mental images were of coffee, drugs and llama’s and that to visit such countries would require either backpacking in hostels or being restricted to the expensive tourist hotel zones. What I discovered is that there is a diverse range of safe, cosmopolitan towns and cities as well as well trodden tourist routes.

Secondly, I discovered that it’s not only totally possible to live a digital nomad lifestyle but that many people are already doing it! It’s nothing new. My dominant logic truths blown to pieces, I came to realise that whilst it seems impossible to make such a drastic lifestyle change, it all comes down to mindset. You only have to make a decision to do something, the rest is just details.

Take the wider view with the lifestyle of a digital nomad

Digital Nomad?

Digital Nomad, remote worker, call it what you like. Basically it’s just a term for someone that works online, independently of location. It doesn’t matter what the work is or how much you earn, just that you can make money from anywhere (with internet connection – hence the ‘digital’ bit).

For some people it’s about being able to work from home so they can spend more time with the kids, for others the ability to combine travel and work. Balancing life and work is a goal most people want to do better. Even at home in the UK we are seeing the remote working trend increase as the desire to balance work with life becomes ever more important. Why sit in traffic to get to an office desk to work 9-5 when modern technology facilities the ability to work from any suitable location? Having had a field based sales job most of my career, the concept of remote working is nothing new to me. I’ve just stretched out my horizons a bit.

Cheap airfares, the low cost of living plus access to decent WiFi have opened up a world of opportunity for combining travel with work. If you don’t believe me, try searching on Airbnb for a place to rent in Medellín (Columbia) or Playa Del Carmen in Mexico. You can rent an entire apartment (sometimes with a pool/gym etc) for £10-£15 per night and there are often discounts for weekly or monthly stays. Of course, your budget is only restricted by how much income you have coming in. The point is that you can choose how luxurious you want to go depending on your earnings. Travelling is no longer restricted to holidays, sabbaticals or gap years.

There are loads of reasons becoming a DN is desirable. For me it’s become about wanting to combine and achieve three things; spending quality time with Steve, getting out and seeing the world and learning new skills to grow a business. Three very different reasons! But how fantastic that we live in a world where it’s possible to do them. I’m humbled whenever I think about how lucky we are that we live in an era and own the right passport that we can make our dreams a reality.

And the ‘How?’

So hopefully that gives you a bit of a background and idea on the why, so on to the crux of it and the ‘how.’ There are some well established ways that DNs make money online. The first is what I did in Valencia and what Steve does primarily and that’s teaching English.

English Teacher

I had no idea until I started researching just how high the demand for English teachers is globally. For much of the world, the ability to speak English opens up opportunities to better jobs and higher incomes and is therefore highly desirable. The demand in China, for example, is so high that there are schools that will pay you a good salary (by their standards,) cover your airfare and include a large bonus if you stay the academic year. But if China isn’t on your list of places to visit, another popular alternative is teaching online using video platforms similar to Skype.

Steve does this for a company in Vietnam. He chooses his own hours, logs into his computer and can have up to six adult business students per 45 minute lesson. The lesson is scripted so there’s no lesson prep, he guides them through it and there is opportunity for the students to both listen and speak doing role plays and questions. And there are many companies that offer a similar service. Basically, if you are a native English speaker you can get a job anywhere in the world. Pay is dependent on experience and qualifications (you don’t need either but it helps!) and typically averages 10-15 $US per hour/lesson. While that won’t make you rich in the UK or US by any stretch, it goes a long way in parts of SE Asia and S America!

Digital Marketing

My preferred method to earn an online income stems from my previous job as a business consultant. I found that my clients were all facing similar challenges when it came to digital marketing. As a consultant I felt limited in that while I could advise on areas like planning and strategy, I didn’t know enough about the actual nitty gritty of running things like Facebook Ads or understanding Google Analytics. Because these are things that ALL businesses need and most struggle with, I decided to focus on up-skilling myself and set up my own digital marketing agency. All of my services are online and I can have web meetings with clients so it fits perfectly with the remote work lifestyle.

It’s still early days for me with this but I already have clients who pay me to manage their social media accounts. That means I create and schedule content (content just means the ‘stuff’ you see on Facebook, Instagram etc) create and manage paid ad campaigns as well as offering marketing consultancy. I can also design and build websites. This is the area that excites me the most because I love the design side of it and I get to put my consultancy advice into action. I’ve still got tons to learn and the nature of this business means that it’s constantly changing too. It’s a challenge, but that’s part of what draws me to it and the valuable skills I’m learning will help me whether I scale my own business or go back into the corporate world in the future.

Other stuff

So those are the ways we make money whilst traveling but there are a load of other ways people do it. Anything from setting up e comms businesses like drop shipping, freelance writing to the more traditional travel blogging. There genuinely are people making large incomes sitting next to a pool in Bali. I’m not saying it’s easy! But it is possible for the entrepreneurially minded. What you choose to do and how much time you want to spend doing it comes down to your personal objectives, no different than any job.

There are some other useful tips for maximising your budget when it comes to being a DN. If you’re flexible on your travel dates, or destinations, there are some great deals on flights using websites like SkyScanner. For example, when we flew to Mexico we just searched ‘Mexico’ for the month of March. We were astonished to find a direct flight (12 hours) London Gatwick to Puerto Vallarta, on the TUI Dreamliner, for just £190 each. Tickets for the same flight a week later were £1000.

view flying into Puerto Vallarta

For accomodation we generally use Booking.com for hotels, ask in local Facebook groups for recomendations or our preferred method, Airbnb. We love Airbnb because of the huge range of options, from having a entire place to ourselves to sharing in someones home, it’s a great way to meet local people and quickly learn about an area. It helps remove some of the safety concerns if you’re someone’s guest and we love to practice our spanish if we can too.

When it comes to working, if you don’t want to stay in your accomodation and work, DNs often migrate to places with decent WiFi like cafe’s, Starbucks or Coworking spaces. We’ve really enjoyed using the coworking space in Puerto Vallarta. It gives you all the benefits of being in an office but with the added advantages of hammocks for when you want a break, an ocean view and like minded people around to network or socialise with. You pay by the day or week and there’s access 24/7 (helpful when you’re in different time zones to your customers) with an electronic lock on the door controlled by an app.

Vallarta cowork is a great space to get some work done

Another option that we will be doing in a few weeks and are very excited about is Workaway. In a nutshell, workaway is a volunteer program where you exchange a few hours of work for accomodation and (sometimes) food. Whether it’s helping build an eco-retreat in Belize, caring for huskies in Finland or building clay houses in Lithuania the options are mind bogglingly varied. I strongly urge you to have a look at the site and prepare to be amazed! Steve has already done a workaway in Spain and loved it so we have high expectations about our upcoming adventure. More to follow on this though as I feel like I’ve rambled on long enough for one blog post.

workaway

So there you go. Hopefully this blog post has shed some light on what we are doing and how we are doing it. Like I said at the start, if you have any questions feel free to comment or send us a message. Carpe Diem.

It’s hard to learn a new language

It’s hard to learn a new language

AKA: Stop Laughing at me – It’s Hard to Learn a Language!

in 2014, I met an Armenian girl through the couch-surfing website (Hi, Anna!). She spoke seven languages, five fluently, and was teaching English in the city. We met up with a mutual friend, a Polish girl who also spoke four or five languages, and went to meet some friends in a café to have some dinner.

I sat at one end of the table and as the conversation flowed, I took note of what I was witnessing. Nationality wise, we had Italian, Armenian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Irish and English (me) sat down. Everyone else spoke at least one other language (The Irish guy was fluent in Spanish as he had lived there for 5 years), and as people laughed and joked, they all had to turn to me to translate everything into English; all of them switching between English and their various other languages with apparent ease.

I remember feeling quite embarrassed about this, but unfortunately, rather than motivate me to improve my, at the time, non-existent Spanish, it did just the opposite – I was horrified by the scale of the task ahead of me.

“If there is an English person who speaks a second language, it’s because they wanted to learn, not because they had to.”

I have stated this to my non English friends on more than one occasion, and unfortunately is something I believe to be painfully true. Yes, we should take responsibility for our own learning, but when I was at school we didn’t get exposure to our first language until year 8 (French) and then German in year 9 (I think). At 12 years old, I feel this is too late compared to the age other countries start teaching English [I don’t know if this is still true, I’ve not been to school for…a few years] but I don’t believe this to be the main problem.
We were never, at any stage of our education, made aware of the importance of learning a second language. Truth be told, as native English speakers, we don’t have to; as a travelling English speaker, it’s difficult to find a city in which another English speaker could not be found. Whether that be at hotel desks, shops or local schools. English is the language of the internet, Hollywood and business. Most people know of the old English stereotype, in which an English speaker will just speak slower and louder until they are understood… Stereotypes exist for a reason!

However, despite all this, with all the advancements in technology, not only is travelling safer than ever before, but learning new languages is also easier with the plethora of language learning apps, podcasts and websites available. Google translate is my favourite app on my phone – if I don’t understand a word I can have a quick search and get a general idea of the meaning, and try to learn it for next time.

“It’s important to always learn from our mistakes, however, it’s even better to learn from other people’s mistakes so we don’t have to make them at all.”

One of my old managers said this to me a few years back, and it is with this in mind that I wanted to write this article. Learning a new language can be exciting and fulfilling, but it is damn difficult. So, I present to you my dutifully prepared list;

F*** ups I made/am making/will probably continue to make while learning Spanish:

Carlos, my first Spanish teacher, in a bookshop/bar in Valencia 2014

A) Stop Comparing Yourself to Others:

This might be my fundamental problem, and is one I am still struggling to overcome. It is very easy to become disheartened when watching a friend change language as easily as you change TV channels. It doesn’t matter if they could speak fluently after just three months, we all learn at our own speeds. I can’t compare myself to ‘seven-languages Anna’, or anyone else, and I have to accept that I will learn slower than some, and faster than others. As long as the end result is the same, that is the important part.

B) Find Your Motivation:

As I mentioned earlier, I feel a big reason that many English speakers don’t speak a second language conversationally, is the lack of necessity and therefore a lack of motivation. I know myself that I am terrible at trying to motivate myself when I’m back in the UK to sit down and study Spanish. If you have a target to focus on, and a reason for learning, it will help to push you past that lethargy and motivate you; you need work out why it is you want to learn the language – is it out of interest? A necessity for work? To help you move country? Once you have that, you’ve taken a big step.

C) Set a Realistic Target:

I’m not going to be giving a TED speech in Spanish year. I accept that. But for a long time, I was my own worst enemy, wondering why I would forget words and phrases I knew. This would just frustrate me causing me to then just give up completely, before wondering why my Spanish wasn’t improving. Funny that. I was expecting to become fluent without putting the work in. However, I now know my target – it will be knowing that when I arrive in Mexico next year, I am able to sort out registering, applying for jobs and medical issues with minimal fuss. Don’t get me wrong, I could become fluent quicker, but I live with English housemates and I teach English, so I don’t have that immersion around the house that would undoubtedly help speed things along.

D) Don’t be Afraid to Make Mistakes

This was a big factor for me, and it’s something I’m still struggling to overcome. I HATE it when friends just say “come on then, speak Spanish. You do lessons/you’ve been here long enough, (insert a various ridiculous assumption for why I should speak the language like a native).” This just has the opposite effect. Something else that I still dislike, is that people will laugh if you make a mistake. I’ve been refusing to speak any Spanish to some of my Spanish friends (*cough* Brenda cough) because when I first tried, I just got howls of laughter, which immediately put up my defence.

However, I’ve had a couple of instances where things have gone a tad awry; When I very first arrived in Spain, speaking not much more than ‘Hola’, I was trying to ask for a drinks menu in a bar, and the bartender looked a tad confused, before returning with a roll of toilet paper. Not entirely sure what went wrong there.Secondly, in my Spanish lesson, I was trying to say “You are brushing your hair with my brush.” Now, my Spanish teacher is lovely, and I didn’t know anything was wrong until she started speaking about the importance of pronouncing the vowel sounds correctly, and what I’d actually said was “You are brushing your hair with my penis.”

It’s not just me that makes mistakes! Menus around Spain are filled with quite humorous translations.

E) Take Lessons!

You would think this is obvious. However, it took me far too long to actually start Spanish lessons. For a while, it was predominantly the cost that put me off, although I should really have just drunk less beer and invested in at least one lesson a week. Anyhow, I eventually saved up some money and invested in some intensive group classes. I had a couple of weeks fairly free over the summer, and figured that I would start with an intensive beginners course, before doing private lessons. I think I paid about €280 for two weeks of 20 hours, so 40 hours in total. Since this, I have been doing 4 hours of private lessons a week, along with using various apps to try and improve my Spanish.

F) Make use of language exchanges

When learning a language, there really is no substitution for speaking to a real person. It’s fine knowing every colour of the Dulex* colour chart in Spanish, but you have to be able to talk to people as well. My problem was, when I was at a café, bar or restaurant, I had no problems, but I had never practiced an actual conversation meaning that unless I was ordering a coffee, my Spanish was useless. Most cities have various language exchange/inter-cambio events, whether it’s through Facebook, Couchsurfing or other various websites. Make use of them, and try to practice real live conversations. Try to also avoid what I ended up doing the first few times, and just purely helping others with their English.

*For those that don’t get the reference, they have over 4,500 colours apparently.

G) Enjoy it

The last, but most important note to make, is that you have to enjoy learning a new language. Yes, it can be tough, frustrating, merciless and embarrassing but I promise it won’t be for nothing.

Learning a new language opens up a whole new world of possibilities as you discover places you would never have found and meet people you would never have met or been able to speak to before. I know as well as others, that learning a language can feel like climbing a Everest while there’s an avalanche, but once you get to the point of being able to start communicating with others, even at a most basic level, it makes it all worth it.

I grasped the important Spanish quickly!

Embrace the language, love the experiences it brings, and enjoy the ride.

What languages do you speak? Which are you trying to learn? Do you remember your first time speaking in a second language or the first mistake you made?

Tell me your stories in the comments section below.

To leave or not to leave?

To leave or not to leave?

 

Aka: Leaving your comfort zone and the inevitable doubt and panic that awaits you!

They say the hardest part is leaving your loved ones behind, but the hardest decision is surely choosing to leave them in the first place.

Everyone has their own reasons for travelling. For some, it’s merely a gap year in which to experience some freedom and let their hair down before returning home and getting back on track with their chosen careers. Others travel to escape; whether it’s a failed relationship, a broken business venture, or simply a sense of not-belonging. A few simply wish to explore what the world outside the window is really like, without the filter of media agenda or social media telling us what we should and shouldn’t do with our lives.

Many of us travelers have a mixture of these; whichever it is that broke the proverbial camel’s back is a personal matter for each and every individual. It is this principal however, that I wish to draw your focus to before we carry on.

Whatever motivation you have to travel, it is YOURS and yours alone.

Too many other people in this day and age are far too quick to jump in and let their thoughts be known to all;

“Oh, I wouldn’t go there…”

“Have you considered this…?”

“What if…”

I will get back to this topic of outside judgement, but first and foremost, you have to do what you think is right for you. Don’t be afraid to ‘fail’, and don’t be afraid to return home if things go awry.

Ok, so, you’ve decided you want to travel, and you know your reasons why. You’ve started to make plans, and you begin to tell those nearest and dearest to you that you have finally made that huge, life-changing decision… only to be met by a cacophony of “Oh, but…”

who say’s life isn’t a holiday?

This can be deflating and de-motivating, especially when it’s family who start trying to ‘talk sense’ in to you. Don’t get me wrong, many people will applaud and wish you luck, but there will always be those who think you are making the wrong decision. Everyone will want to give their two cents, whether that be people who have travelled extensively themselves to people |” never left their home city or country. Just by choosing to leave and travel, you’ve made a decision that many are too scared to make. Be proud, and use that as your armor against those who will try to discourage you, and convince you that ‘life isn’t just a holiday’.

Even more important to remember, is that there will be times when you yourself start to question whether you are making the right decision. I’ve known people, myself included, to move to a new country and be miserable for the first few days, weeks or even months (Hello, Toronto), before they finally fell in love with the city or country they were in; although sometimes they didn’t even have that at the end (I’m still looking at you, Toronto). Depending on your plans and travel style, if you don’t like an area or don’t feel comfortable, then you can always move on to somewhere new. These doubts will arise though, and it’s down to you how you react to them.

When you are first leaving, there may be tears and/or doubts as you head for the departures gate, unsure of what lies ahead or what things will be like when you return.

It’s important to remember as well, that there are always going to be things you worry about before leaving, and usually money is the biggest concern of all. This is natural, and the worry will always be there even when you know you have enough! For me, it boils down to two important points:

> Do you have enough money to get home should an emergency occur?
> Do you have enough money to rent a cheap hostel/Airbnb room to stay should something unexpected happen?

Yes, the concerns of the many are often unfounded. When I tell people about my plans to live in Mexico, I get the same look from anyone who has never been there –

“But, isn’t Mexico dangerous?”

To which I reply that, yes, I’m sure all 120 million residents of the huge country that is Mexico are knife-wielding lunatics ready to mug me at first glance. Having said that, yes, certain parts of Mexico are recommended to be avoided, and I will do just that. It’s important to do your research and stay safe when travelling, but at the same time, just because one part of a country is to be avoided, doesn’t mean the whole country is tainted.

When seeking accommodation, follow your instincts – if you are Couch-Surfing and you don’t trust the host you are staying with, find a different place to stay and make different arrangements for the following nights instead. If the hostel you have arrived in has no lockers to securely store your luggage, then why would you want to risk your passport or money etc being stolen?

Get on that plane

Worst case scenario, you can always (usually) just jump on a flight back home. I know this is over simplifying it somewhat, and I’ve touched on this in more detail in the linked post (in progress), but you get the idea.

Fundamentally, remember what it is that made you want to travel in the first place. Whether it’s to seek a new adventure and escape the monotonous 9-5 lifestyle, to learn a new language and culture or to just blow off some steam for a few weeks and see what happens, we all have our individual needs and desires to travel. There will always be people who make judgements on your decisions, but you have to do what is right for you at this moment in time, and for all those who doubt you, there are those who support you every step of the way. Those friends and family members will be there when you are in need of a little extra strength. We all experience the homesickness, the money concerns, the travel mishaps and more. Remember, there are always people to help and guide you!

Don’t be afraid to make the mistakes, don’t be afraid to shed the tears and don’t be afraid to tell people you miss them. Leaving for the first time is terrifying, exhausting and exhilarating before you’ve even got on the first plane. That in itself is a huge step, and one of the most difficult to take – But we all have our own reasons for doing so.

Despite all the initial difficulties, concerns and debates, more often than not (9/10 times?), it will be the best decision you ever made, even if things didn’t go quite to plan. In fact, usually the times when the plans go awry are when the most memorable stories occur!

Me personally? My motivation is a whole other story! What’s yours?

 

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