You may be surprised to know that our bank account is quite sad. A chilly wind and a couple of tumbleweeds make their way through occasionally, but overall we are nowhere near rich (and actually, I think we’re technically at poverty level). So how do we make it work? How do we save for travel?
It all comes down to how badly you want it. Because when you eat, sleep, and breathe something, you quickly figure out your priorities – and travel is ours.
Over the last year I obsessively tracked every penny we spent and I found out something that really surprised me. We were traveling for 6 ½ months last year and we only spent $10,000 for the entire year. That sure is a lot cheaper than living in Austin full time.
How do we do it? How do we pay for it all?
I’ll give you a few pointers.
1. Flex your technical skill muscles.
Though few people realize it, just about everyone has a skill that they can capitalize on. For Shaun, it is his extensive knowledge as a mechanic. When we’re at home, he does general maintenance and repairs. For me, I find freelance work with my wedding photography background. This time around I got to second shoot a wedding and did an exterior building shoot in Houston. Pimp out your skills. Having jobs like this will make it easier to get up and go on your next travel whim.
2. Write for online publications.
The travel industry is growing quickly and many freelance writing gigs are opening up for travel guides and content writing. Caroline of Caroline in the City has an extensive list of “Travel Writing Round Ups” that give you a heads up on what people are looking for every month.
3. Cook at home.
Saving money doesn’t mean you have to eat badly – you just have to eat smartly. I’ve grown leaps and bounds in the kitchen and I’ve done it on a budget.
3.5 Cook from scratch – prepared foods are much more expensive.
Buy a CSA – Are you looking for veggies on the cheap? We invested in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box every 2 weeks. It gives us about $90 of organic veggies for $35. It is amazing how well you can eat when you cut out the middleman.
4. Sell your stuff.
I think Shaun and I now have all of our belongings down to 8 tupperware boxes. We’ve sold books, DVDs, collectables, old car parts, tools, and a slew of other assorted goods. While it may not be a substantial chunk of money, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions. Do I need these? When was the last time I used them? The general rule is if you haven’t used them in a couple of months, you won’t miss them when they’re gone. And of course there is the big-ticket items. We’re selling our car and my scooter when we head to Australia at the end of the year.
5. Find free and cheap entertainment.
Saving doesn’t mean you have to sit at home for months twiddling your thumbs, waiting for your savings account to fill up. Have movie nights at home. Make your friends bring over the booze. Go to free festivals and shows in your area. Have a Mario Kart bracket night with a $1 entrance fee and get your karting on. When we’re in Austin, we like to partake in free things like the Full Moon Swim at Barton Springs and Eeyore’s Birthday Party. Be creative!
While we may not be pros at long term travel, I can say without a doubt that we’re getting there. With 2 years under our belt of being cubicle free, I can’t imagine ever going back.
Good luck, have fun, and by all means, if you have any questions please feel free to contact us!