And as always, I welcome comments and ideas. Now, onto the article you came here to see.
I'm asked this question often. Are we independently wealthy? Do we work along the way? Do we stay with other people?
The answer to all three questions is yes.
First, we gave up or sold just about everything we had before leaving the United States. Apartment, furniture, appliances, all of it. We only kept what we needed or what was most important to us -- art, books, music and all Lila's baby stuff.
Then we put aside a certain amount of money and said we'd travel until it was gone. It's enough as long as we make careful choices. We work along the way, sometimes exchanging work for a place to stay. We have home shared, couchsurfed and learned to travel cheaply.
It is not as expensive to travel as you may think!
Long term travel is not like a vacation. You have let go of everything at home and thus don't have to worry about rent, school payments, gas, electricity, water, and all the other payments that keep you tied to a needing a certain level of income per month.
We have two bills we pay per month. One is a phone bill which goes automatically on our credit card. The other is our credit card bill. We pay them both online and with the exception of our months in Europe, our monthly credit card expenses rarely exceed one thousand dollars. Then add to that rent and travel expenses such as buses, airline tickets, car rental and gas.
There's a lot to be had for free or at least very cheap!
Food: Local markets are the best. You'll find the best food for the best prices.
Don't discount street food. Along the way, we've had crepes, empanadas, johnny cakes, tamales, bunuelas, cupcakes, the best chicken sandwiches on earth, fruit, vegetables, and so much else bought for pocket change. Often, this food is home made or made on the spot, and the people making it are usually local so they know the best places to buy bread, cheese, fish and vegetables.
Lodging: One word: Couchsurfing. We've couchsurfed for approximately half of our two years traveling. Sometimes, the three of us squeezed onto a small couch in someone's living room. Sometimes, we've had an apartment all to yourselves. If this is something you plan to do, create your Couchsurfing profile immediately and start meeting people. The more people you know, the more connections and references you have, the more people will feel comfortable opening their homes to you.
There are other options as well. WWOOFing, for example. Where you work in exchange for food and a place to stay. There are WWOOF options all over the world. Some are best for singles, but many are even better for families with children. Imagine staying on a small farm in the Andes with a family with three children. You'll tend the garden, learn to keep beehives and improve your spanish while living with a host family.
In addition, you can check out Home Exchange, Hospitality Club, idealist.org and Voluntourism. These are just a meager beginning of the options out there, but they are a good place to begin your research.
Entertainment: We've never found a place that was too expensive to find something cheap and unique to do. Even Iceland, home of the 40 dollar hamburger -- at the time of our visit, anyway -- had many very affordable options. Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir hot spring area and Þingvellir National Park are all free entry. The thermal baths to be found in every city and village of Iceland are also very affordable, even if you plan on renting a towel or bathing suit.
In Provence, we found endless candy and perfume factories you could tour for free or almost nothing. The Florian Candy Factory in Nice gives free tastings in their gift shop after your tour.
We've found most of these things while just exploring places on foot. The feria at the Mercado Municipal on San Martin in Salta, for example. Or get on a local bus and ride around until you see something you want to explore.
Paying for a night's sleep is much more expensive than paying for a month of sleep!
We stayed in Provence at Domaine de la Begude for three weeks at a much reduced rate in the height of tourist season. We also rented by the month in Buffalo, Atlanta, Buenos Aires and Bocas del Toro. All far cheaper than had we rented by the day. In Buenos Aires, for example, you can find apartment rentals for 500-800/month as opposed to the at least 75 dollars a night you would pay at a hotel.
You also have a kitchen, which means you save even more because you cook for yourself. You also have the benefit of exploring the food offerings of local panaderias, boucheries y mercatos where you'll learn more about language, culture and people than you will at the nearest tourist trap.
Coming next week!
When I began writing this article, I intended for it to be only one entry, but it turned out to be far longer than I expected.
See How To Pay For Two Years of Travel, part II in which I discuss:
- Where to stay when you have no choice but to pay for the night.
- How to find work along the way.
- How to find the most current travel information for anywhere in the world,
- And some basic travel advice.
Also, some upcoming topics:
- What To Keep In Mind When Traveling With A Child
- Women Traveling Solo
- What To Do In Case of Emergency
So then, until next week....