How to Budget for Your Adventure

After competing at an international level, British sailor Katherine Knight (in the header photo) then turned her focus to exploring the world’s remote places by sailing boat. She has recently produced a book, How To Have An Adventure, and has shared an extract from it, about Adventure Budgeting.

British sailor Katherine Knight. 

British sailor Katherine Knight. 

You have an amazing adventure in mind! However, the scary question of how to fund it holds you back from taking the plunge and making it a reality. This guide will give you a step by step process for working out and taming your budget. This is my advice based on my experience from personal challenges that I can fit into a Sunday afternoon to huge undertakings on a world stage. 

Expeditions and adventures don’t have to be hugely expensive. It’s not the case that the only worthwhile adventures are a big budget extravaganzas.Some of the most rewarding adventures are those undertaken on a small budget. 

One way to avoid the hassle of budgeting and logistical planning is to book a place on a commercial expedition. These are often inclusive of food, accommodation, equipment and guiding costs. This makes them not only much easier to arrange but they often work out cheaper than you could manage on your own. 

However, this post is all about the tools you need to make your own adventure a success.


With your dream adventure in mind, work through the spreadsheet below. Your aim is to get as accurate an idea as possible of how your adventure costs. 


Now that you have the likely overall cost in front of you, ask yourself some questions:
    •    Can I afford to cover that cost myself?
    •    Do I feel that the challenge is worth spending that much money on?

If the answer to both is yes, congratulations! Proceed with your planning and booking. 

If the answer is to either is no, then it is time for the second stage…

It is almost always easier to reduce costs associated with your adventure, than it is to generate extra funding.


It is well worth completing this stage even if you can afford your trip. There is no harm in saving some money for your next adventure. Keep in mind that it is almost always easier to reduce costs associated with your adventure, than it is to generate extra funding. Go back to your budget worksheet and look at each element. Can you get those numbers down? 

Some ideas to make your money go further


  • Indirect flights may take longer but can be significantly cheaper. 
  • Can you be flexible about your travel dates? Flights can vary dramatically in price on different days. 
  • Flight prices fluctuate, monitor them and you may be able to judge when they are the best value. 
  • Take the bus, coach travel can be a cheap way to travel. MegaBus offers fares to European destinations for £1. 
  • Can you get a lift for any part of your journey? Try BlaBlaCar. 


  • Is it possible to stay with someone? Organised races may have a forum with locals offering accommodation.
  • Could you camp? Cheaper than a hotel and makes your challenge even more of an adventure.
  • Try websites like Gumtree and Airbnb for low cost accommodation.
  • Share with fellow adventurers. Can you group together with others undertaking the challenge and split accommodation costs? 
  • Can you be flexible on your dates? Accommodation is often cheaper mid week and it is best to avoid holiday periods if possible.


  • What do you really need? Make sure you are only taking essential equipment.
  • Can you borrow the kit? Maybe a friend can help. Clubs often allow members to borrow equipment at minimal cost.
  • Can you get it second hand? There are many sites on the internet where you can track down second hand gear for significant savings. Be sure to check the quality, especially for any safety equipment. 
  • Can you rent it? There are many adventure equipment rental companies. This can also save you the cost of transporting equipment.
  • Sell it on. If you have to buy equipment, can you sell it on afterwards? It won’t reduce your initial outlay but will help you recoup some costs.

Tweak your plans:

  • Give yourself longer to fundraise.  Instead of trying for a major expedition this summer, why not do a smaller one this year and take the lessons that you learn into a bigger one the following year?
  • Reduce the distance. Instead of trekking 200 miles to the North Pole, how about trekking just the last degree?
  • Break it down. You want to run Land’s End to John O’Groats but can’t afford the time off work. Run it section by section, a week at a time.
  • Complete a leg of a challenge. You want to row around the UK or sail around the world but can’t take months away from work and family or justify the cost. Enter as part of a relay team or sign up for just one leg.

It is still too expensive! Time for a tough decision....

Katherine Knight's book:  How To Have An Adventure .

Katherine Knight's book: How To Have An Adventure.

As climbers say, the mountain will be there another day.


You have some tough decisions to make. You could decide that now is not the right time for this particular adventure. Put it on the back burner and pick something that is affordable right now. 

This can be tough, and it can be hard not to see it as a failure. Instead consider it as a sensible evaluation leading to a postponement. Think of it in the same way as making the hard but sensible decision not to push for the summit when bad weather is coming in or altitude sickness is creeping up. As climbers say, the mountain will be there another day.

But you are still determined to make it happen! Here are some options for finding more money:


  1. Save more.
    Can you reduce the outgoings in your life? Skippling takeaway coffees could save you £1,000 in a year. Work out how much you would need to save per month to pay for your trip in 6 months, a year, two years. Staying away from shops sounds silly, but it is amazing how much you can spend on things you weren’t planning to buy.
  2. Sell stuff.
    I funded a whole summer of traveling by selling kit that I no longer used.
  3. Make more money.
    Can you take on overtime at work? Can you take on a second job? Can you take in a lodger or advertise a room on Airbnb?

In a sense these are the easy options as they are under your control. If these still don’t cover your budget it is time to look into external sources of funding.


Finding external funding for an expedition is hard work, often at least as hard as a full time job, and with no guarantee that the time invested will produce results. Before you commit your valuable time, try this exercise: 

  • How many people are taking part in your expedition? 
  • What are your average annual salaries? 
  • If you all saved hard and each committed half of your annual salaries to the expedition, how much would you have? 
  • Is it really likely that you will find a sponsor who will donate that much?

For example, there are six people going on the expedition. Their average salaries are £35,000. Each person commits half of their annual salary, 6 x £17,500. That gives you £105,000 to fund your expedition, without a single rejection letter. What’s more, your adventure will be all your own!



Remember that awesome adventures don’t have to break the bank. Smaller projects are great ways to build up your fundraising skills and gain experiences that will make you better able to market yourself in future. Wild camping is a low cost way to open the door on a world of exploring. You can get yourself kitted out from as little as £150. 

Here are some budget options to set your imagination soaring

  1. Enter a trail marathon ~ £40
  2. Spend a night wild camping cost £0 if you already have or can borrow a tent
  3. Go in search of the northern lights ~ £50 budget airline flight, £30 BnB
  4. Run into the sunrise - start your run before the sun comes up and finish in a blaze of glory £0
  5. Try out sea kayaking ~£50 for a day trip
  6. Enter the GoPro Mountain Games from £40
  7. Cycle coast to coast via the Great Glen - £0 or £45 for cycle hire
  8. Compete in the classic Round the Island sailing Race - £0 if you offer your crewing services
  9. Wild swimming £0 - Cheaper than the swimming pool and less noisy
  10. Having an amazing adventure experience - priceless

After competing at an international level, British sailor Katherine Knight then turned her focus to exploring the world’s remote places by sailing boat. From Norway to Iceland, Canada and Cape Horn she has faced the elements and revelled in their power and beauty. Owner of Narwhal Expeditions and skipper of her own expedition yacht, Narwhal, Katherine now aims to share these fantastic experiences by welcoming would-be adventurers on board for the journey of a lifetime.

Find Katherine Knight on the Web:
Facebook: YachtNarwhal
Twitter: @YachtNarwhal
Katherine's book: How To Have An Adventure