Funding Freedom

The most asked questions since I have left home. 

“How are you paying for this lifestyle?  It looks like all you do is roam around drinking wine, catching flights and living on the water.  You aren’t emaciated looking, so we know you are eating well and your locations are anything but cheap.  What is your secret?  There must be some secret you aren’t telling the rest of us.”  

Okay, let me set the record straight.  

It’s true, I am living the good life right now.  I am traveling to some of the top destinations in the world, sleeping in a clean bed every night and not skipping meals (or wine time).  I am living an exceptional, quality life with a beautiful scenery around me.  It’s not all luxury, though.  My clean bed comes in a room with five other travelers (at minimum) while I stay in affordable hostels.  Other times I have been lucky enough to stay with friends or friends of friends.  My destinations are chosen based on where I can find the best deal after hours of research online and using websites like Skyscanner.com and HostelWorld.com.  

To break it all down simply (and hopefully help a few aspiring world travelers out there), I’ve shared the financial details of “Funding my Freedom” below.  Read on, share the wealth and travel the world along with me.

Saving Money

I saved for three years to fund my year of travel.  I did this by cutting frivolous spending as much as possible and following a few tips I learned from expert money savers.

  • Grocery shop like a pro.  What do you actually need versus want?
  • Cut out luxuries like pedicures, massages or going to expensive shows.
  • No Starbucks.  (Make your coffee at home.)
  • Walk or take public transit when you can.
  • Cancel your expensive cable (I went almost two years without cable and saved $1200).
  • Live in an affordable (sometimes not ideal) location.  I commuted to work everyday so that I could save money living outside the city.
  • Give thoughtful (maybe even home made) gifts versus expensive ones for birthdays, weddings, etc..
  • Instead of using vacation time this year at work, cash in unused paid time off when you leave.

I saved exactly $23,000.  

Exit Costs and Profits

I paid for my one-way flight out using funds I made selling most of my stuff, which meant I was able to take my entire savings with me.  

I sold all my furniture, some handbags and jewelry and home decor.  I made roughly $800 doing this, which covered my entire one-way flight to Madrid.  

I also saved money by NOT getting a storage unit.  When planning your exit, sell absolutely everything you can, and give away the rest.  A storage unit would cost you at least $1,000 for the year- which is 20 days worth of traveling!  (See below.)  

Daily Budgeting

I worked out my daily budget to be about $50 per day, which is $18,250 for the year, leaving me $4,750 for transportation and miscellaneous (or unforeseen) costs.  Some days I spend a bit more, and other days I spend less.  I check myself every couple days to ensure it has all balanced out.

$20-$25 per night for accommodation

$15 per day for food (I grocery shop and cook using the hostel kitchen)

This leaves $10-15 for miscellaneous expenses like transportation or activities.  

Find the Free in Freedom

  • Every hostel you stay at has a free daily walking tour and sometimes a free pub crawl.  Take advantage!  
  • Couch surf!  Check out CouchSurfer.com.  It is a site that links you up with locals that want to host travelers around the world.  Note: It will cost $20 for a verified membership for the year.  
  • Entertain yourself!  There is free entertainment everywhere you go if you look for it.
    • Street performers and live music can be found on the streets in many places you visit.
    • Architecture and wall paintings.
    • Check out local festivals.
  • Go for a walk or to the beach or a park.
  • Read a book (I bet there is at least two you have been wanting to read for a long time and have put it off).
  • Write about your experience so far.
  • Talk to people!  Yes, in real life.  Talk, chat, laugh, make friends!
  • Get lost.  You will be surprised what you find around the corner.
It costs ZERO dollars to read a book...at the beach. Double win.

It costs ZERO dollars to read a book…at the beach. Double win.

Through this process of planning, budgeting and becoming a “homeless nomad,” I have been truly humbled and enriched at the same time.  I am learning to live with less and be more present everyday.  I can only hope that everyone has the opportunity at some point in their lives to travel the world and learn to budget effectively.  These skills I have acquired will not only get me through this year, but will help me for the rest of my life.

Cheers to the good life, and happy travels!

HD

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