With a few hundred pounds in her banking account, Rachel Horne chose to leave her job in palliative and dementia care in 2022 and travel full-time.
She started in Scotland and, from Glasgow, covered the entire North Coast 500 route as well as the Outer Hebrides and many lesser-known islands on a tight budget of just lb3 each day. While inflation has risen the cost of many components of recent months, here's how she learned to help keep her costs low and her spirits high.
I didn't set out with a plan to spend lb3 each day – I simply have little money and want to be able to travel indefinitely – however i achieved this budget having a combination of wild camping, hitchhiking* by cooking basic meals on a small camping stove. When you travel in this manner, you can't be too uptight about your diet, your schedule, or your destination. But, on the plus side, together with your accommodation lying on your back, it doesn't really matter where you end up.
Before leaving, I packed everything I decided to need: waterproofs, warm clothes, good boots, first aid supplies, a tent, a sleeping bag, a camping stove, a head torch, a charging bank, a travel towel and an emergency blanket. Luckily, I already had supplies from previous trips which saved a lot of money. If you don't have any gear, buy around you are able to from charity shops to help keep costs down.
Eating well on the move
Sticking to some tight budget cannot be to the detriment of your health, so make certain you're getting enough to eat. Where possible, buy food from budget supermarkets. I purchased big bags of oats and rice, cans of vegetables, fruit, biscuits and gas from all of these cheaper stores. Shops become a lot more expensive when you reach isolated villages and islands – balance this with what you can safely carry in your backpack, including water. My first grocery bill found around lb25 however i only had to purchase a couple of top-up components of small shops between towns.
Canned vegetables are already cooked and therefore use little fuel, so cooking them with rice in stock was the best meal in terms of calories for weight, gas usage and space. Shelter your stove in the wind to avoid wasting fuel (and therefore money) when you're cooking, and always possess a second compatible gas canister in reserve. There is nothing worse than eating half-cooked rice when you are cold and tired.
You can ignore eating out if you're seriously interested in sticking to this budget. I'd a pub meal once in 3 months of traveling, but it was bought for me personally with a farmer in return for helping on her behalf croft. After a couple of weeks on the highway, I discovered the compulsion to visit bars and restaurants faded away, and that i actually desired to go for peace within the noise.
Discovering the joys of untamed camping
Wild camping is legal in Scotland and may present more spectacular views than any hotel could offer you, regardless of how soft the sheets might be. From my little yellow tent in the sand dunes I saw dolphins leaping interior and exterior the ocean; golden eagles circled above me in the forests of Mull and the bobbing heads of curious seals crept ever nearer to my waterside campsites at Port Appin.
So long as you follow some fundamental rules for example avoiding enclosed fields with crops and animals, keeping a respectful distance from people's homes, leaving no trace (including toilet paper) and burying your 'number twos', you can walk and camp pretty much anywhere. There are some places where the practice is restricted for ecological reasons; look into the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for details.
The weather conditions are wet and windy so, should you prefer a break out of your tent, utilize Scotland's network of bothies. They are basic huts with a fireplace that can be used free of charge. And always remember to bring your boots within the hut or perhaps your tent to prevent needing to squelch miserably over the heather together with your feet in plastic bags.
If the wind and rain become too much, or the notorious midges get too persistent, it's time to head indoors. Libraries, harbor buildings, leisure centers, churches and many community museums have the freedom places where one can dry out, connect your devices and take shelter from the storm. The legendary hospitality of the Scots saw me invited into strangers' homes to shower and drink tea to some backdrop of Celtic rock music and yapping terriers.
I washed in rivers, lochs, public toilets and leisure centres. Pool showers have the added benefit of spinners to ring out swimwear which you'll throw your clothes into after you've given them a scrub in the sink. Using plant-based shampoo and conditioner bars will help minimize pollution.
Setting off from home, I was worried I'd be desperately bored without money to splash on pub dinners or wildlife tours. This was a complete misconception.
Traveling like this can help you get a new rhythm, or rather uncover the old one; a rhythm that came before smartphones, cheap flights and office jobs. Life moves more slowly, and watching a driftwood fire crackle around the beach becomes far more rewarding than whatever happens to be on the telly home.
To me, travel is much more than a hobby. I found which i didn't need a ton of cash, or perhaps much of a plan; I simply required to find time, and to prioritise my freedom over any obligations and expectations that rested on my shoulders.