My wife Tara and I met in May 2013, and we quickly found that we shared a passion for the ocean and desire to travel the world. You can say we are dreamers, but we’re not the only ones ;). We’d often put our heads together and talk about all the places we wanted to go. All the amazing things we wanted to see and do and that life is too short to wait.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails… Explore…Dream…Discover” – Mark Twain
Over time, our talks evolved into more concrete ideas and plans of a great escape from our full-time corporate jobs. And I’m so psyched to report, that as I’m writing this, we are 49 days away from realizing our dreams: we’re ditching the 9-5’s and embarking on an yearlong surf expedition around the world.
How the heck are they doing this? You might be wondering, as many people have asked. Without further adieu, here’s the lowdown on how we have planned, plotted, and saved to make our dream trip a reality. And, a beginner’s guide on how you can leave your job to travel the world too.
We’ve put a lot of thought into what our dream life would look like. And landed on the vision of a lifestyle that includes freedom of time and location, with lots of traveling, surfing, and a tropical ocean-minded influence. Nothing revolutionary here for a couple of southern Californian surfers.
But regardless of where you live or where you’re from, I’d guess that anyone curious enough to read this article could get behind our vision or something similar with their own twist. Am I right?! What made all the difference for us, was putting our plans on paper.
• THE GREAT ESCAPE FUND •
Approximately 2 years ago we sat down and started mapping out what it would take to pull off a trip and lifestyle of this magnitude. And we thought about it conservatively. Based on research, case studies, articles such as The Real Cost of Round The World Travel, books like How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, and our own logic and reasoning we crunched the numbers and came up with the following thoughts and figures.
- On a low budget standpoint, you can travel the world and spend less than $50 a day.
- On a higher budget, you can travel the world in style on around $120 a day.
So we asked ourselves. What would be a comfortable daily budget where we don’t have to slum it (too much)? We decided $80 a day each was a good middle ground. Therefore:
- $80 x 365 days = $29,200 per person
- $58,400 as a couple
Based on our own experience traveling alone versus traveling as a couple, we’ve found that money goes farther when traveling as a couple. That’s because you can share certain expenses such as lodging, eating, transportation, and so on. We feel pretty darn good about a daily budget of $160 between us, since we’ll get more bang for our buck traveling together.
Our great escape fund goal seemed very intimidating and out of reach, and we knew that this figure was only the beginning. There’s more to consider than our daily budget. Next, we had to think about other major expenses involved such as flights and insurance. And after that what we would want to do with our condo, cars, and other belongings.
• FLIGHTS + INSURANCE = MO’ MONEY •
Luckily, there are some incredible tools and resources out there for planning a round-the-world trip. For example, at Bootsnall you can create your own custom RTW trip itineraries, or you can choose from pre-planned ones. And you can filter the results by cheapest flights, quickest routes, and so on.
We figured one-way tickets would be cheaper than round trip, and since we had historically paid $500-$900 for round-trip flights to places like Oahu, Costa Rica, and Bali, we thought our average one-way flight had to be less than $500. That turned out being a fair assumption.
We’re going west in the same direction the whole way around the world, so we’ll mostly be taking fairly short common flights. We found many one-way flights to be in the $200-$400 range, and some of the shorter flights are even less. After doing a fair share of research, we found that (surprisingly) separate tickets are cheaper than round-the-world tickets. At least in our case. And as an added bonus, we like the freedom to be more flexible and spontaneous as we travel.
Planning TipAfter you've plotted your route at indie.bootsnall.com, they'll generate an estimated total price for all your flights. But we suggest you take it one step further by spot-checking each leg through Expedia, Google Flights, or whichever flight search engine you prefer. Find out how much each individual flight will cost you, and compare that to what you were quoted from Bootsnall.
We calculated that $5,500 each for flights should be enough if we’re strategic in our planning. $11,000 total as a couple.
For insurance, we got a quote from World Nomads covering us both for the year in the $2,000-$2,600 range.
Let’s recap and do the math to come up with our grand total savings goal.
- $80/day x 365 days x 2 people = $58,400
- $58,400 + $11,000 in flights + $2,600 for insurance = $72,000
$72,000 has been our savings goal for our dream trip. It’s a good chunk of change, but we believe that following our dreams and creating memories through awesome adventures and unforgettable experiences will be invaluable. Here’s an article you might find interesting about why you should spend your money on experiences over things.
If you’re traveling solo and you’re comfortable with a lower budget, here’s the math to put things into perspective for you.
- $50/day x 365 days = $18,250
- $18,250 + $3,000 in flights + $1,500 for insurance = $22,750
It’s obviously much easier to travel on a low budget in places like Southeast Asia and Central America where you can get by on roughly $40 a day. As opposed to first world countries like New Zealand and Europe where you may need more like $80+ per day.
• BACK TO REALITY FUND •
You’ll also want to factor in some savings for your return. Depending on your appetite for pressure, 2 – 6 months of your typical living expenses is commonly recommended. That is of course if you want to return.
The more you read about how to travel the world for an extended period of time, you’ll find that many people who set out on this kind of adventure often come up with creative ways to make a lifestyle out of it. Which turns their yearlong trip into two, three, four, and five-year (plus) journeys. I don’t know about you, but that just excites the heck out of me!
• SAVING MONEY AND CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS •
It’s time to calculate how much you can actually save every month. Get ruthless about cutting your expenses, and get creative with generating more income. Below are a couple formulas to help you get started. This should only take you several minutes. Consider the following questions as you write all of this down on paper. Are there any expenses you can eliminate or reduce? How can you generate more income?
- Monthly Net Income – Monthly Expenses = Potential Savings
- Total Savings Goal / Monthly Savings Ability = Your Timeline until Departure (Yeeew!)
Once you have your savings goal, it’s time to start working toward it. Tara and I both set up special savings accounts, figured out our monthly budgets, and closely tracked our progress in Mint. It’s very motivating to have everything organized this way. It’s helped to keep our budgets in check and believe it or not, it kind of becomes fun to monitor your finances. Probably because we have the most delicious-looking carrot ever at the end of the stick: endless tropical paradises like this.
For some ideas on saving money and how to use credit cards to earn free flights, check out these articles:
• EXECUTING THE MASTER PLAN •
Tara and I have been reading books, following travel blogs, and taking more online courses than we can finish (I have an online course addiction). All this research has really helped with creating a blueprint on how to bring this trip to life. But it also takes having an optimistic outlook and a mindset of abundance and possibility, because it’s very easy to come up with all sorts of fear and scarcity-based reasons not to do something like this.
If the idea of taking time off to travel the world excites you, there’s no time like the present to start planning. A great way to get started is to crunch some numbers and get it all down on paper. Take advantage of all the information available to you, and above all, enjoy the process!
If you’re feelin’ all fired up and ready to take action, here’s a few steps to help you get started:
1. GET INSPIRED AND START PLANNING
- Read this detailed article on actual trips: The Real Cost of 11 Real Round the World Trips
- Inspiration to travel for those with kids: Family Road Trip From California to Costa Rica
- Plot your trip and discover flight costs on this Interactive Map (caution: it’s addicting!)
- Sign up for the 30 day BootsnAll’s Free Trip Planning Course
- Work Remotely and Travel the World with These 10 Programs
2. CRUNCH THE NUMBERS
- Daily Budget x Length of Trip + Flights + Insurance + Return Fund = Your Savings Goal
- Net Monthly Income – Monthly Expenses = Your Potential Savings
- Total Savings Goal / Monthly Savings Ability = Your Timeline until Departure!
- Sign up in Mint and create a savings account
- Brainstorm Ways You Can Earn More Income (Get a raise. Another job.)
- Brainstorm Ways You Can Reduce Your Expenses (Phone, car, insurance, gym. Eating in.)