… and how to make it analogue.
This upcoming April, I’m going to travel the world for 3 months (oh, how I longed to say that sentence since I was 12). Which, granted, isn’t exactly a sufficient amount of time to see everything there is too see. To see everything, a lifetime of travels wouldn’t suffice, but after finishing my Degree I wanted to treat myself with something special. More or less to keep me going while writing my thesis. Therefor I decided to combine visiting friends and family all over the world with my greatest and everlasting passion – photography. If you’ve been following this Blog lately, you probably know that I’m a total geek when it comes to analogue photography. Da real thang for me! There’s no photography like analogue photography goes the old saying (at least in my head it does).
However, traveling + affording film material isn’t something… easily affordable. There are plenty of wonderful articles online on how exactly to prepare such a trip, how to pack, which backpack to buy, which vaccinations to get and so on. Therefor, this text is rather about which practicalities to look out for and especially how to save money to afford something like this.
I’m aware that not everybody is in the position to follow these advices. I have been incredibly lucky. But, I believe that by getting some external ideas it can become a lot easier to develop some own ideas on how to prepare and perform such a project according to ones own preconditions.
Don’t just decide on a route – look out for your friends
When I created the route for my trip, I tried to combine countries I wanted to see with countries where friends, family members and acquaintances from past travels live. This way, I don’t just get to explore the cities/countries like a tourist: I get to see my people, man! And, depending on how these people live and how close you are, you might even crash a few nights on their couch (and save money). What better thing is there to sleep in your friend’s grandmother’s magical farmhouse in New York State and she tells you not to open the door when you hear a knocking at night, because it might be the bears…
Work the wallet!
If you need the feeling of security, like I do, I suggest you create a decent (and realistic) financial plan of your earnings and expenses. Some people are adventurous enough to just book a flight and dive into the unknown. Kudos! I don’t do that.
Preparation includes time. But: with time, you can avoid your hungry wallet to stop you from achieving this. And in the best case, you might even get additional qualifications for your CV. So what the heck am I talking about? I’m talking about getting a second job, Ladies and Gentlemen. Not a job that requires you to spend your weekends as a Walmart cashier, but something that combines your qualifications and hobbies (although, if you are a cashier and doing that, please don’t feel pushed to quit your job).
Even if you invest into a small, additional freelancing job that might not pay more than 200 EUR per month (which would require you to work 3-4 hours every weekend), after a year you will still have enough to travel Asia for several weeks. Are you good at foreign languages? Enjoy photography? Like to plan events? Edit people’s texts? Play nanny? Craft things? Teach children and young adults? There are so many freelancing options that, in many countries, fall under a different tax law than usual jobs. For me, that meant combining jobs I actually enjoyed doing for 2 years with an additional income I didn’t have to tax.
What the Laptop says
One thing that was most important for me when I started thinking about this trip was whether I would have to quit my job or not. And to be honest: Quitting was not an option. I love people who tell you to “live your dream” and “get rid of society’s boundaries” . How do people afford to travel for months without an income? Am I just too unimaginative?
However, I talked to my boss and we decided that I’ll be able to take my job with me. Since I work part-time, I know this is not something everyone will be able to do or is willing to do. But think about it: I am going to spend 2-3 hours each day of the week (yes, also Sundays) working. But, I will also have a decent income while I travel. Which will basically cover 80% of my expenses. Yes, of course it would be more relaxing to not work during that trip. But you know what: not coming back unemployed is even more relaxing.
Look out for good (!) travel agencies
Many people prefer to plan such a trip by themselves. Going through flight prices, I decided to book my travels with StaTravel. They have some absolutely amazing deals for students which are only valid when you (you might be guessing it already) book early in advance, are a student and under 35. A god travel agent does not just try to sell you something, but actually helps you saving money. My travel agent spend hours (literally) on finding the cheapest connections, flight times and days and I am very content with the result.
Don’t just buy what you need to buy the month before departure
For me, this is probably the most important aspect. Since I’ve known about the definite travel dates, I have been purchasing and preparing stuff. For example, I love travel guides. But if I were to buy them all at once, that would already kill my spare change for that particular month. Instead, I have been collecting them since October, which also gave me a good chance to ask for some of them for Christmas.
The same goes for vaccinations: if your health insurance does not cover specific vaccinations, you should get them as early as possible to give your wallet some time to recover. Also, most websites suggest you visit a travel physician 6 weeks prior to departure. Depending on how much you work and what else you have to prepare, this suggestion could be a little too narrow for your time frame. Instead, get a first appointment 3 months before. This gives you sufficient enough time to get all shots (and you might be getting quite a lot of them) without stretching what your body and purse can take too much.
And now to film
Of course, if you are planning to take your analogue precious gemstone with you (am I getting too romantic here?), you have to prepare a sufficient amount of film to take with you. In my case, I have decided to take a small digital camera with me for all the little snaps I might take in between, and my beloved Minolta SRT 101 for the more valuable shots. I like to play with the vintagy feel of analogue photography, which is why I am taking a mixture of old and new films with me. I got a discount package on ebay, which included 8 expired films. This is not everyone’s taste, but I like it. Additionally, I am taking several packages of Kodak Gold with me (for sale at most German drugstores). I am more than satisfied with their color and grain quality and I don’t find them too pricy at all.
The amount of film I am taking with me is supposed to last for the first 3 weeks until I reach Sydney. There, I researched a variety a photography shops that will hopefully help me restock.
How to pack and what to pack
Like I said before, there are so many awesome tips on how t pack for such a trip that I wouldn’t dare to claim having the ultimate list. Some great examples are such as this one by blogger Dennis Kopp, this one by Spartan Traveler and this one by a little adrift. I’m only adding a few minor details here:
I’ve decided to take a large backpack and a small, hand-luggage-sized suitcase with me. Naturally, one tends to buy stuff while traveling. Not just standard souvenirs (who really buys these anyway?) but personalized items, clothes, memory pieces. To make sure you will have enough space for these things, pack smaller objects and unloved clothes. The amount of skin care products I am taking with me will probably be finished when I am finished with the trip. The magical word here: travel sizes.
The clothes I take with me are 50% specifically targeted for such a journey, and 50% replaceable. This way, I know I have enough to wear with me, but I won’t cry a tear when (not if, when) I finally get rid of those old trouser I neither liked when buying them 10 years ago…
The backpack will contain everything for “the body”: clothes, skincare, contact lenses, first-aid kit, etc. The suitcase will contain everything for “the mind”: camera, film, e-book reader, laptop. Plus, things to survive on for a few days, in case the backpacks gets lost.
Sublet your space
Depending on the country/city you live in, you might consider subletting your space. It will give you the security of not having to worry about your rent while you’re on your way. Plus, somebody will take care of your plants. I know, it feels weird to have a stranger sleep in your sheets. In that case, try to get to know that person you’re choosing a bit first before letting them sign the contract. Nothing fancy, but invite them for a coffee, have a Skype conversation with them, Your guts will tell you whether you like that person or not. The rest is lawfully fixed in a contract. Just like your landlord (with whom you might have to talk first). Trust and a contract. Don’t go for subletting your space if one of these two points is missing.
Take care of yourself
Planning a trip such as this is super exciting. However, don’t overdo it (not the fun, of course). Take care of yourself in advance. Plan to have days in between where you won’t be doing much but resting. Traveling can get exhausting (yes, believe it or not) if you don’t take care of your body and mind. Stay connected with your people at home, if that’s what grounds you. Choose to spend a few nights by yourself instead of in a dorm. Make sure you have enough breaks in between to help you process all the beautiful experiences – we don’t want you coming down with a travel-burn-out syndrome, right?
And most of all: Breath. Enjoy. This is yours.