“So how can they afford to do that?” you may ask. Good question. And one that we’ve spent a lot of time asking ourselves. The top barrier for us, and probably for most people is money. It’s a lot easier if you’ve got a lot of money.
Motorhomes aren’t exactly something you just decide to pick up on a whim while you’re doing you’re weekly shop. They’re not cheap. For a bit of comparison you can pick up a brand new car from £5, 995. For a Hymer B544, the motorhome we’d most like to get, a rough price is £17,000 for one that’s 16 years old with 45,000 – 60,000 miles on the clock. We’d love to get one of those, but will probably be looking at something older. £17,000 is a bit outside our budget. And then once you’ve bought your van there’s all the money you need to live on while you’re away. From our own estimates, and seeing the figures from other people travelling full time in vans, we’ll probably need a minimum of £7,000 – £8,000 for a 6 month trip.
For some people that’s just pocket change. But I’ve read that about half the people in the U.K have less than £1,500 in savings. Guess which category we fit into? It’s definitely not the “pocket change” one that’s for sure. We don’t own a property either so we’re not going to have any rental income coming in while we’re away. And there’s nothing to sell as we’re in a furnished rental flat, and our only possessions of monetary value are our instruments, computer and recording equipment and cameras. And we need those for the trip.
So what do we have? Well the main thing is determination. We’ve thought about this for a long time and we really want to do it. We want to do it enough that we don’t mind giving up stuff other people do so we can make it happen. We’re lucky in that we both earn above minimum wage, and that if we both work full time hours our combined income is about £47,000. About £8,000 short of the Scottish average. That’s before tax of course, so knock it straight down to about £38,000 net pay after all deductions. We’ve never actually earned that much, because being involved in the arts we fit work around arts activities and don’t usually work permanent full time hours. To be able to do this we work for agencies, so work is not guaranteed even if we want it.
So the first big change for us, is that to do this project, we have to not do any others. For the next few months we’re going to have to put paid work before unpaid arts work. And a lot of arts work is unpaid. Or when you calculate how many hours you put in, it may as well be, as the return is about £2 an hour if you’re lucky. This is a big sacrifice for Jay as he’s normally in at least two bands spending an average 4 nights a week practicing and gigging. We’re going to have to take work whenever and wherever we can get it, and we both work anti-social hours in health and social care. So, barring things like my daughter Gemma’s wedding next month, we can’t make any social commitments in advance.
The next thing is we need to take a really hard look at how and where we spend money. Do I really need to buy that Costa coffee on my way to work? Can I exist without takeaway? How about having friends round for dinner instead of meeting in the pub? When you think that you can get a bottle of wine from the supermarket for less than the cost of a glass in a bar it’s easy to see how that adds up.
It’s not going to be easy. Our aim is to be on the road by the end of the year, with a savings goal of £20,000. By far our most expensive arts project to date. We’ll keep you updated on our progress as we go. But it will all be worth it when we’re sitting in Yggdrasil on day one. Jay will look at me and say “Ready?” I’ll nod and say “Ready as I’ll ever be.” He’ll start the engine and our lives will never be the same again.