We opened an expedition bank account with the Co-operative Bank. This allowed all expedition transactions to be made from a single, shared account, making the accounting much easier. The account allowed us to take multiple debit cards on one account, allowing us a higher daily withdrawal limit (useful as we were only in Bishkek for a day at a time). It also meant that we wouldn't lose access to our account if the one person’s wallet was stolen. A downside to this was that setting up a 'community' account required lots of paperwork to prove we were not money-laundering. We think that a dedicated personal account in one person’s name rather than a business account would be a good compromise. However, it could cause issues with security, withdrawal limits and tax arrangements in the UK.
We initially agreed on a budget of £1800 each as a total maximum, but with many students on the expedition we tried our hardest to reduce this. Any choice we had to save money without compromising safety we took. This included taking indirect flights, buying our own food in the markets and staying in self catering apartments in Bishkek. Our major costs were insurance (£1880 in total), flights (£5025) and medical vaccinations (£3200). The only other major expedition cost was equipment, much of which has been sold second hand to recuperate some costs. Costs while in Kyrgyzstan were minimal in comparison. Phase 2, our week of travelling, was put through the accounts to make our life easier. It shows a cost of £235 each for a week of eating out, B&B accommodation and bus travel. Around £60 of that was insurance.
In total, the cost per person (including the ‘Phase 2’ week of travelling) was £2025, the grants for the mountaineering reduced our personal contribution to £1335.
Grants and Sponsorship
We applied to a great number of grant-giving organisations, not thinking we’d get very far. In fact, the idea of young mountaineers exploring an entirely new area seemed to capture people’s imagination more than we thought, and we were very successful. The lesson we learnt is that if you don’t apply you certainly won’t get. In addition, the writing of applications forced us to ensure we’d thought of everything and was useful in helping the expedition to be well planned out from the beginning.