We are three weeks away from stopping work, which makes us just four weeks away from walking forever (well, five months seems like forever). People wonder, ourselves included (sleeplessly, in bed at night), how we can afford to give up nearly six months of work and live off savings for a dream. I thought I might give a little insight into how we can travel so much while making relatively little.
To begin with, let me just tell you that I work as a writer, which, in case you were wondering, isn’t the most extravagantly paid position. On top of that, I am a freelance writer, which means there are stretches when I am not paid at all. Avry, on the other hand, works as a cook at a fancy restaurant. Although a highly skilled position, again it’s not one that gets you a 2.5 million dollar
hunk of scrap metal car (is this really what rich people spend their money on??).
Both of us do okay, but we are not rolling in cash. Somehow we still managed to save the funds we need for five months on the trail and one month’s expenses after (because we are trying to be a little responsible here, people!).
So here are our two tips, if you too would like to throw the yoke of adulthood away and follow a wigglier path to your bliss. There are only two, because there are many other blogs that tell you millions of ways to save money — and we are not financial planners (if you couldn’t tell by our choice of professions), we are dreamers.
1. Live Cheaply
It is easy to save when you spend less than you make. And when I say “easy” I mean possible, because I still want to buy all of the meals out and silly trinkets I don’t need instead of saving.
First of all, I realize we are ridiculous lucky. We are lucky enough to be a couple, which means we can split rent on a Seattle-priced one bedroom instead of paying normal rent. We are lucky because I work at home and Avry is a cook — which means I buy fresh groceries regularly and Avry transforms that into something I can eat (because there is no way I would). Eating well at home means we don’t eat out that often. Which means we save a ton of money. We are lucky because we don’t have student debt (thank you endlessly parents), lots of credit card debt, a mortgage, ailing parents (again, thank you parents), health concerns, and any number of problems that would keep us from saving.
We also go to great lengths to pay less. I have talked internet companies down in their prices, we park two miles away from our house to avoid garage payments, and we look for coupons and sales before we buy anything. Living under our means allows us to save.
2. Prioritizing Freedom
The second way we can afford to travel is we prioritize freedom. We do this in lots of way. I refuse to get a “real” job because I believe travel and adventure is more important than stability. Avry knows that staying in one place is the best way to climb the kitchen ladder, but these opportunities to travel provide a quality of life worth slowing career advancement.
This is how we do it. We sacrifice in different ways to have what seem like extravagant experiences.
Having said all of that, I know that we are highly privileged. With ridiculous student debt, sadly low wages, and sky-high rent, living under your means is a privilege not many can afford. It also flies in the face of conventional wisdom, and leads to many uncomfortable chats with “real” grownups.
We have spent the last year placing this trip above any other needs. And that is how we saved up enough to make this trip a reality.
How do you guys do it? Do you think it’s worth it?