£20/day – getting over chronic fatigue

In my last post about my grand quest to live and travel Europe on £20 a day I touched on the meaning of money. Running out of money, or not having ‘enough’, is such a normal fear in the society that I am (and possibly you are) part of, that I think we rarely question what we are actually afraid of. Continue reading “£20/day – getting over chronic fatigue”

£20/day – 3 months in and an interesting turn of events

When I embarked on Grand Mission £20/day (see rules in previous posts) three months ago, I’m not sure that I really considered that it would ever be anything more than a learning experience and an opportunity to flaunt the moral position that loads of money isn’t critical to living well and, actually, it’s much better for the environment blah dee blah dee blah.  I certainly didn’t think that I’d be in a position where I had to cut my spending to £10/day because I had no money!

I’m averaging £22/day, which I don’t think is too bad, considering I have had weekends to Oxford, Cambridge and Stratford-upon-Avon and a splendid 12 days travelling between Paris and Toulouse.

Time and space for whimsical reflection in la ville rose.
Time and space for whimsical reflection in la ville rose.

So what has taken me from decadent sun-drenched lounging in the midi-Pyrenees to near-broke in such a short time (apart from some over-priced TGV train journeys and feeding a chocolate brownie addiction)? 

1. A few tough questions about what I really want to do with my life and the decision to pursue them.  

2. The restrictions of a working-holiday visa that only permits me to work in the country for a limited time, and my desire not to squander the time and opportunity on just any income-generating activity.  (Don’t let me start on the irony of the immigration rule that forbids me from starting a business that employs people and create jobs…)

Almost everyone embarking on a new business goes through giddy highs of inspiration against the desperate panic of uncertain cashflow.  I figure you either succumb to fear and give in to a normal job, or you battle through it and come out the other end with a new world view.

I’m most interested to see where I end up!

In the meantime, and as food for thought, some of the interesting experiences of temporary broke-ness:

  • Giving my last (and when I say last, I mean pretty much literally) 45p to someone begging opposite the Ritz. 
  • Realising how much fear I have of running out of money when, really, what is the worst that can happen?
  • Wondering how it feels to blog about running out of money.

I might let these sit with you and I’ll write more about them later.

Having it all on £20 a day – the rules!

My quest to experience London and surrounds on £20 a day has very strict rules!

The figure doesn’t include rent, but it must cover all bills and travel and I am not allowed to become a hermit on a rationed diet – I must have a life.  My definition of ‘a life’ may differ greatly from yours (dear reader) and thus I write, as evidence, my intentions thereof:

  • While I’m living in London (the other side of the world), I must enjoy my time here and take advantage of opportunities to do cool stuff and travel to lovely places.
  • I will continue my sports and activities, which tend to be on the expensive side, such as corde lisse.
  • Enjoy great food.
  • I am to live as ethically and sustainably as I can, which means I:
  • Buy organic, local and unpackaged as much as possible.
  • Pay what things are worth – no shopping in Primark or wheedling unfair bargains.
  • Take the train to holiday destinations.  No cheap flights!

Your thoughts (dear reader) are most welcome.

Having it all. On £20/day. In London.


Being vegetarian is good for the environment and saves money!  Plus reduces the chances of dubious encounters such as this one.

To be fair, £20 a day is not as ambitious as it could be – even in London –  particularly as I’m not including rent in this amount. 

However, I plan to continue to live in Barnsbury, so food bills and council tax tend not to be the lowest in the capital, and I want to make the most of my time in London, which means visiting the UK and Europe and not giving up my chocolate brownie addiction, so I think it’s kind of ambitious!

It started out of necessity:  entering the big, wide world of freelancing and its sporadic income generation necessitates a tight budget. 

But now I’m starting to see the benefits:  my bike never feels neglected, I don’t even bother going shopping, I’m eating a lot of brown rice and lentils (very good for you – amino acids apparently – and they actually taste good if you know what you’re doing) and my friends think I’m quirky and creative (or at least they are very polite) when their birthday presents are handmade or sourced from the local Oxfam store. 

Five weeks in and my £18.50 average per day has allowed an overnight visit to Cambridge, a B&B in Stratford-upon-Avon and providing a fully catered birthday brunch. 

I think I’ll keep it up for a wee bit longer; see what happens.  Good luck to me!