When we first started planning for the trip, we didn’t tell too many people. One of the main reasons is this illusion that in order to travel, you need a lot of spare cash (which is true) and therefore you must be earning tons of money (fortunately not true).
We have saved up for 4 years, pretty much since we graduated from college. We don’t earn anything close to 6 figure salary. But we’ve been pretty good about saving up what we can by prioritizing certain things. Because of that, even with some setbacks, we managed to stay on track with our saving goals. So if long term travel is something you’re thinking of doing but unsure how to start, here are some tips that might (or might not) be applicable to you:
Lay The Foundation
- Pay yourself first. Contribute to 401k, buy stocks, antiques (I’m kidding), or other types of investment. A portion of your paycheck MUST go to post-travel life. Very fortunate few get to travel for a living, most likely you won’t be one of them.
- Pay off your debt. Or even better, do not get into debt. Jack paid off his student debt within 6 months, most of it from the money he saved while in school from the loan itself. We have lived debt free ever since that. Being in debt also means being in a commitment (to pay it off), which brings me to the next point:
- Do not get anything that require commitment. Do not buy a house, or a car, or a 2 yr cell phone contract… Do not get pets who live for a very long time either. If you can not imagine living without animals (like me), consider fostering for your local animal rescue. It’s a win-win situation. BIG BONUS: You also get to save a life.
Save, save, save
- Downgrade. Move to a cheaper place. It’s the easiest way to trim your expenses. We saved $200/mo by moving to a smaller AND closer-to-work apartment. And saved further when we re-negotiated the rent after noticing a price drop in the neighborhood.
- Find a cheap hobby to keep yourself away from movies and malls on weekends. Do not get into rock climbing like we did. It’s addicting and expensive. You end up driving very far on weekends, spending money on food and gas. Not to mention the equipment.
- Cook more. You can save tons by not eating out. I’m serious.
- Do the many little things that make a big difference in savings. We don’t go to the malls, we put on more layers than turning on the heat, we make our own coffee rather going to Starbucks. Learn more about what we do to save money.
So, that’s the short list of things that have worked for us. I wish I could give an insider tip on what to invest, or some other big money-saving revelations. But unfortunately, it’s just a matter of making sacrifices (but not too many of them), and attempting to strike a balance between living in the now and saving for the future.