"Wait for Me."
These three simple words set in motion a year-long international adventure that I never expected – or even imagined – what I could have ever done. I was on my first date with my husband David, meanwhile, and after half-supper he announced his plan to quit his job to travel . Without thinking, I exclaimed, "Wait for me," an exclamation that shocked both of us. But as our intentions became clearer to each other over the next few weeks, so did our plans to travel together. We developed David's idea from a three-month motorcycle tour to an 1
It was easy to wrap romance with our minds It was harder to determine how much we would spend. There were plenty of resources on how to spend $ 15 a day (or $ 30 a day for a couple) and how to go on vacation, but there was little evidence of the intermediate path we wanted to take. At one point in our lives, when we got used to a basic level of comfort, we decided to find an average and land on a decidedly mediocre budget of $ 37,000 for me and David. On average, about $ 96 a day (more or less, depending on where in the world we were). To put it in perspective, the average two-week European holiday for two people costs $ 6,200.
Having committed ourselves to a number, we gave ourselves a fairly aggressive timeframe of four months to formulate a plan . David had already saved for his motorcycle adventure, so I had to catch up. I was lucky enough not to have the shadow of student loans over me, but I did not want to blow any savings I'd built in a decade. Not only did I have to find and set aside half of my total budget ($ 18,500), but I also stretched it for almost a year. Seven steps were crucial to make this possible.
. 1 I cash in my car.
I had no idea when I bought my 2011 Honda Fit that it would become a desirable car two years later. Within hours of publishing a Craigslist ad, I had more answers than I could handle and sold my car two days later for $ 12,000. I decided to cross the bridge of the future car ownership when I came to it later.
. 2 I've taken a chance at a higher-paying job strategy – and that has paid off.
I've been advertising for many years, and while hearing the whispers of freelance success from former colleagues who had made the leap I've always been too risky to try it myself. After deciding to travel, I decided there was no time like the present to make a jump. I was able to land a contract for the three months prior to our departure, so I quit my job and earned almost double what I had done full time (even after tax) during that time.
. 3 I have been working seriously on the credit card points programs.
I had been earning bonus points with my credit cards for years, but David and I decided to really use those programs during our travels. I signed up for a Chase Sapphire card when we first left, then three months later David has a Capital One Venture card and three months later a Barclay Arrival card. Since most points programs are travel related, we were able to hit the bonuses much faster. The points we collected during our trip ultimately saved us almost $ 5,000 on airline costs and $ 2,000 on other travel costs. We all closed except one of these cards when we got home to avoid being hit with the renewal fees, and our credit scores were unaffected.
4. I bought like a boss.
I've always been a serious price buyer when it came to airlines and rental car companies, but I went deep into our journey during our trip, looking for lesser-known price comparison sites like Cleartrip, where you're in rupees pay, and Europcar for regional car rental companies. Although I generally preferred to book airline tickets directly through the airline's website, there were times when big savings were made on the third-party websites, provided I did not need flexibility. (Note: We chose not to make tickets for the whole world to get more options and because there were no real cost savings.)
5. I hugged the attitude that "everything is negotiable".
Throughout the trip, I was not afraid to ask for help or an offer. We would share our story with any potential Airbnb host and graciously ask for discounts. Nine out of ten times we got one, especially if we promised to write a great review and clean the room ourselves.
. 6 I lived like a local.
Being in "vacation mode" is more expensive just because the idea is to see, eat, and experience as much as possible in a compressed period of time. People often spend a lot more on vacation, which adds up quickly and is one reason why holidays can be so expensive. During our long journeys, we lived like locals, cooking at home, slowing our pace and spending more time getting to know the atmosphere than seeing all the sights. We also found that the food, which is native to the region, is much cheaper than non-local food.
. 7 I have opened up an international network.
When people ask me what the most surprising thing about our journey was, my answer is the unprecedented generosity of the people. Traveling has something magical in opening people up and cultivating a fundraising economy. While David and I were initially reluctant to connect with people we had not talked to in years, we quickly realized that these people were not only thrilled but enthusiastic. Friends of my New Zealand parents, whom I had not seen for 23 years or with whom I had not spoken, not only gave us their beach house for three nights, but also lent us their car and filled the fridge with food. A friend of a friend in Paris offered us his flat for a week. New friends we met during our Thailand travels invited us to stay with them as soon as we arrived in Europe. We were always humble about how enthusiastic people should receive us, and this generosity saved [$ 7,000] in housing costs.
We lived surprisingly well with our budget. We ate well, stayed in clean and comfortable rooms, experienced all kinds of transports and experienced several major ticket adventures. We have not seen or done as much as we could in many ways, but we went deep into the places we visited. While we had a handful of moments where our budget constrained us, there were only a few. We came to see our budget as an opportunity maker. It helped us to be more focused with our choices, time and money, and deeply appreciated the wonderful experiences we had.
Alexandra Brown is the author of A Year Off: A History of Traveling the World – and How It Can Happen for You .