Our adventure has officially begun! Needless to say, we’re scared as heck. We’ve traded in our steady paychecks and permanent home for a life of travel and adventure. We have no idea where this year is going to take us and that definitely makes us nervous. But we’re also more excited than we’ve ever been about what the future holds.
The decision to live a more nomadic lifestyle wasn’t one we made overnight. Thinking back, it all started around 2011 when we both took a trip to Paris. It was our first time exploring Europe and it was like a new world opened up to us!
That trip made us realize that the world is huge and there’s so much out there that we haven’t experience. We also noticed that when we’re traveling we both just seem happier and much more productive.
Eventually, the dream of long term travel became less of a choice and more like something we had to do. We knew we’d regret it if we didn’t.
But how the heck do we make this work?
Overcoming the biggest issue with longterm travel
The biggest issue with longterm travel is figuring out how to make it work financially. Most of us can’t just drop everything and go travel the world. And the thought of not having a steady paycheck is scary!
We used this as an excuse for a long time. The way we overcame it was by asking ourselves “What’s the worst that can happen?”. Since I’m a designer / developer, the worst case scenario is money gets a bit tight and I have to work a bit more. That doesn’t sound so bad!
And Allison can work on getting some small remote contracts while we’re on the road or maybe do some paid content writing.
Even if things got really bad, we could always head back to Missouri and live with our parents for a bit while we sorted things out.
So what are we so afraid of?
Long term travel is also tough when you have debt hanging over your head. We always seem to have at least a few thousand dollars lingering on a credit card. But we decided earlier this year that we were going to get it all paid off and never go into debt again. I’m happy to say that we managed to get it all paid off around October of last year (2015)!
Once our debt was paid off, we wanted to save up some money so we could have a bit of a safety net during our travels. So we set a lofty goal of saving up $10,000 by January 2016.
The way we spend, I honestly didn’t think this would be possible. But here’s how we did it:
- We sold most of our expensive items on craigslist (phones, cameras, monitors, etc..)
- We stopped eating out and drinking so much. It’s amazing how quickly this all adds up!
- We sublet our $1600/mo apartment for two months while we lived for free with a friend.
It’s funny, it seemed so much easier to save up money than it was to pay off debt. Currently all of our extra funds are sitting in a Betterment account. If you haven’t heard of Betterment, check it out. It’s an amazing service for investing your money without all the headache that comes along with it.
Saving up this money was hugely important because it helped to ease our minds before starting this journey. No matter what happens, we have that safety net.
Sticking to a budget
Once we decided that we were going to give the nomadic lifestyle a try, the first thing we did was create a hypothetical budget.
In San Francisco, we live on around $7,000 a month. We could probably make that same sort of money working remotely full-time, but the idea is to work less and spend more time having fun right?! So we shot for a budget of $3,000 per month.
Here’s how we broke it down:
Rent: $1,000/mo $33/day
Travel: $500/mo $17/day
Food: $1,370/mo $46/day
Cell Phones: $100/mo $50/day
Misc Expenses: $30/mo
Honestly, this is probably a bit ambitious. It’s really more of a starting point. We’ll shoot for $3,000 a month, but I’m sure we’ll be adjusting this at the end of January.
We decided to put this budget to the test by taking a little trip to New York earlier in December. We quickly realized that the biggest issues is going to be food.
Breakfast is pretty easy, we’ll just need to make sure to hit up a market nearby market and grab the basics. Lunch and dinner are tougher since it’s unlikely that we’re going to pack sandwiches every day and head back to the AirBNB by 7pm to make dinner.
So our food budget will likely need to be adjusted. We probably need to set aside specific days of the week that we eat out. That way we can control the spending a little bit. We’ll keep you posted on how this goes.
Each month, we plan on releasing an update like this to share how things went from a financial perspective. Did we spend too much? Did we have to alter our budget? Are we flat broke?
Making this thing work financially is going to be tough, but not impossible! Our hope is that this sort of transparency will inspire others to make the leap to a nomadic lifestyle.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, always be wandering.