It is the question, I asked several world travelers and is the most common question I get from people:
How can you afford to travel around the world?
Here is my transparent reality. For me, it is all in the numbers. I love my spreadsheets! I sat down and looked at my spreadsheet and figured out: how much I spend at home each month. Of course, every month is slightly different, but I calculated the average monthly expenditures from a year of my life living in a 2000 sq ft house in Round Rock, Texas. You can see my spending in obviously no particular order.
My monthly spending came out to about $107/day when broken down by day. Of course this also includes my savings each month also which has been a practice I have done since Day 1 of my career that started 16 years ago. Pay yourself and your savings account.
Another practice I use to save money is I only use credit cards only to accumulate points for free flights or hotels, and never spend money that I don’t have.
Those of you that know me personally, know that I am frugal in my life, but also spend my money on things that I really want to do. I am not extravagant, and don’t buy that many “things”.
Some ways that I have saved more money in the past few years:
- I don’t really drink alcohol. This can be a big expense if you go out in Austin.
- I got rid of cable television about 5 years ago and haven’t missed it.
- Cook at home, meal planned, eat out once a week or so (no exact set amount).
- Canceled the gym membership and started working out more outside and with friends.
- Only buy essentials to life
- Worked two jobs for 10 years, teaching English in the evenings to adults
After traveling to over 30 countries at the time that I analyzed these numbers, I decided to start figuring out my per day costs when I travel. Almost every trip (not including the flight, came out to less than what I was spending at home). Especially when you travel with someone else, your accommodations are much cheaper per day since you are splitting the cost.
For example, in Cambodia, a very cheap country, where I stayed in a nice, fancy hotel, ate out everyday and rented a guide every single day, I spent less than $70/day. I could’ve done that trip WAY cheaper if I really wanted to but this is just to give you an idea.
One day, I was thinking, what am I really saving this money for…???
- Retirement in 15 years?
- A rainy day?
- A new car?
The more I thought about it, and really looked at how much I spend when I travel, I knew that it was possible to set out in the world with the money I had saved, living on a budget of $75/day with a cushion of $100/day just in case. I knew from experience, that most likely I would be less than this, but wanted to have a security blanket.
I could have bought a new car or done this trip of a lifetime…I chose travel!
Setting out in the world trip with $36,000 in savings was the goal, and with my saving discipline that I created for myself when I was 21 years old, it was not a problem.
When you really want to do something, you make it happen. This life choice wasn’t a rash decision, it was practical, thought out and was a process.
So in a nutshell, I saved my money and calculated my numbers to figure out, traveling the world solo for at least a year without working is totally possible. You just have to take a risk and have the desire.
Four Months into Traveling Solo Update: I am below my budget, spending an average of $65/day. I am not keeping exact count, but one week out of the month, I will write what I spend down and just see how I am doing.
There are a few other questions I get often too, but this one is the most common.
(The hardest part was deciding to sell my house and liquidation of all of my assets, that is a future post.)