In 2014 we finally did it. We sold everything and walked away. It wasn’t forever, but it was amazing. And we’ll do it again, dang it. But let me start from the beginning…
It was late afternoon in June, 2013. I had just finished reading the book The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. I ran up the stairs, grabbed my wife by the hand, and excitedly announced that it was time to give the proverbial “man” the bird and travel the world for a year. Of course she said I was crazy. Maybe by “normal” standards I was. Heck, maybe I still am. But I was determined. I had seen the future, and the future was GOOD.
Like most, I had spent years playing by society’s rules, playing the corporate game, and biding my time until I too could retire. I was waiting until I could finally reap the rewards of years of monotonous and tedious labor. Then as I read Tim Ferriss’s book, I stumbled on a philosophy. “Why wait?” Why put off what I really want to do until the last years of my life? In that moment I had an epiphany. I began to furiously run numbers and, quickly, a plan began to form. I’m not one to wait until I have all the details planned out before taking a plunge, so I admit, my excited outburst to my wife was a little premature. And I don’t blame her for telling me I was nuts. But, the joke was on her. When I’m told something I want is impossible, it becomes a challenge I eagerly accept. So I began to crunch more numbers, create spreadsheets, and figure out how we were going to pull off this crazy dream of mine.
And here’s the best part. We did it, and I’m going to show you how you can too.
Step one – How Long?
For me the answer was one year. My wife, after an extensive powerpoint presentation over dinner one night (yes, that’s how I chose to spend date night, nerdy, I know) finally agreed to 3 months, but over the next few weeks, I had her converted to the one-year plan.
This step of course is influenced by many factors. First, are you able to work remote? If not, what has to happen to allow you to work remote? How long will it take you to get there? We’ll be sharing a whole blog post on achieving this goal, so stay tuned for that. Just know, it’s not only possible, but well within your reach.
Second, the longer you stay in one place, the lower your housing and travel costs become. Of course, you want to experience as much as possible during your trip. We found that one month was usually a good amount of time to spend in a city. It really allows you to experience a culture, food, and people. Monthly rates for housing are typically cheaper as well.
Third, if you have kids (which we did), how long are you willing to home-school them? For us, it was nice having the ability to home-school, but definitely not a long-term solution. Honestly, we’re not very dedicated teachers, and it was nice to have some professional help after our year was over.
Step two – Where?
Make a list of the places you’d like to visit, then look at the cost-of-living comparisons for those locations. This will help as you begin to make your budget and understand how much you’ll need to make each month to cover your expenses. After finalizing our locations and building our budget, we found that by traveling we could actually live on about 25-30% less than by staying home. And that included the airfare, housing, food, and entertainment allowance. How did we come up with those numbers? For the most part, by doing the research on cost-of-living. If some of the places you want to travel are high cost-of-living, balance that with countries that have extremely low cost-of-living.
Step three – When?
Next you have to set a departure date. We set a date for a year and half down the road. We knew we needed to sell our house and cars, and wanted to leave shortly after summer break started. That way, when we returned, the kids would have a summer to re-acclimate before returning to school. Whatever your case is, this step is critical. Don’t say we’ll do it sometime, but actually put a date on the calendar. Then tell everybody and their dog that you’re doing it. It will help you firm up your commitment.
Step four – What?
What needs to happen to get you out the door and on your adventure? Some questions that you’ll need to answer are:
- What will you use for housing? We decided to primarily use Airbnb.com, and began making a list of cities in country that interested us. Then we picked a few houses in each city and emailed the owner find out more.
- What are your plans for your house? Sell? Temporary rental? House sitters? We decided to get rid of the house, the cars, anything that would create expenses for us back home.
- Begin looking at flights and transportation between countries. We looked at services that book all the flights at once, and almost went with one. But later decided to book our own travel.
- Start making a list of the visa requirements for each country and if needed, apply for or renew passports.
- Required immunizations and medication for the trip.
- Home school options.
At this point, you’ve decided where your going, for how long, and how much money you need to live while doing it. You have a list of items to do, and the date you do them by. So, now it’s time to get busy. In future posts we’ll dig in deeper to each of the steps, show you more about the places we went, and help you through the planning process (which at times can seem a little daunting). Good luck and happy travels!