I work for an advertising agency in New York City, or at least I did. A few months ago my wife, Shannon, and I decided we were going to put NYC in our rearview and spend the next 6 months traveling. Our lives in the Big Apple were moving along nicely as any normal young couple’s do, but this year we decided to make the leap. Seeing as we haven’t left yet, this certainly isn’t an article about how “you too can quit your job and spend your life traveling the world!” For all I know in a few months this site will down because I’m locked up in a Red prison somewhere, haven’t paid my bills, and am cursing the day that I decided to leave my safe, little life. Although, I’m optimistic that won’t be the case. Anyway, I do know a few things that have got us started, so I may as well share them now…
The way I see it there are only 2 major factors preventing someone from traveling. (1) Mindset, (2) Time and Money. Congratulations! If you’re reading this article, you are probably already in the mindset to travel. Wow, that was easy, how about number 2? Ok, for most of us it’s just about the time and money. The first thing most people will tell you is that travel is expensive. The first thing most travel writers will tell you is that’s a myth. Well I’m here to tell you that travel is freakin’ expensive! Duh! What the heck are those other guys talking about?!?! The thing is, life when you’re not traveling is pretty damn expensive too. For me, it’s all about…
As I said, my wife and I are avid travelers; it’s one of our favorite things to do. Unfortunately we were not born into riches, we didn’t hit the lottery, and we haven’t made a killing on Wall St. So our finances are all about give and take, and deciding what takes precedent. We make travel a priority in our daily life. I like to think I’m frugal – some may dare to call me cheap – and those people are the ones that wonder how I can afford to take this sabbatical. Here are a few small ways I cut corners to save for travel:
- Drinks and Food – I still go out at least once or twice a week, but I keep it modest. In NYC you could easily spend $50 every time you go out, and I see a lot of people going out 3 – 5 times a week. For me, I try to cap it at about $75/week.
- Shopping – Buy things that serve multiple purposes. I have 4 pairs of shoes that I wear all the time; sneakers, sandals, dress shoes, and rain boots. I have 1 jacket for each season. I pretty much only buy something new if something old fails.
- TV – I haven’t paid for cable tv in years. Believe it or not, you can get about 10 core channels on antenna for free. Lets be honest, do you really need more? When I do want to catch up on some shows I subscribe to Hulu or Netflix, and usually there’s a free trial. After 2 or 3 months I’ve seen pretty much everything I want to. So I cancel the subscription; don’t just keep it running.
- Movie Theaters – I love seeing a good movie on a huge screen. Unfortunately it’s been ridiculously expensive lately. Now I only go to matinees, this saves almost $6 per ticket. I would never encourage anyone to break the law, but I’ve heard rumors that you can even sneak in food, or hop between screens… so I’ve heard.
The above may sound pretty minor and nit picky, but just this saves me close to $4k a year. Not bad. I’m not saying you should be miserable 340 days out of the year so you can be really happy 25 days. Just realize the cause and effect, and prioritize accordingly.
Life’s expensive too
Before making any big decisions, Shannon and I made a spreadsheet to figure out our expenses and options. We were actually really surprised to find that there’s not a huge difference in the cost of traveling verses just living. Of course the huge factor against traveling is not making an income, but if you look at the below estimates, expenses are pretty close.
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So what’s the main take away from this? Assuming your cost of travel and cost of living are about the same, if in one year you spend 50% of your salary and save the other 50% for travel, you’ll have enough money to travel for an entire year! If you save 25% of your salary for travel, in a year you’ll have enough money to travel for around 3 months, and so on. That really doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Well, I hope you are inspired and realize how realistic a “travel life style” can be! If nothing else, here’s one of Shannon’s amazing photos to get you day dreaming: