With 21 months of travel under my belt I often get asked how I do it – that is, how have I managed to plan and afford both a 15 month trip and now an 8 month holiday without jeopardizing my career or filing for bankruptcy? While I have certainly been blessed with good fortune in securing excellent jobs both abroad and in Canada, a lot of it comes down to these five secrets below:
- Save your pennies: While this one may be the most obvious, it’s usually the hardest for people to come to terms with. Travelling costs money and you have to be willing to make some sacrifices today if you want to travel tomorrow. There are numerous articles out there that will give you tips on how to put more dollars in the bank, but the easiest categories to take a look at are your entertainment and shopping expenses. It can come as a surprise for many at the end of the month just how much a few dinners out a week and those Starbucks drinks add up to, not to mention money spent on new clothing. If you’re serious about travelling stock up on groceries and move the Friday night dinners to your place, pot luck style.
- Get rid of everything you own (within reason): Minimizing expenses while you are travelling abroad will ensure that the money in your bank account goes to fund your trip and not pay for things back home. Selling off as much as you can before you leave will not only earn you some extra cash, but reduce your storage expenses while you’re abroad. Own your own home? Look at subletting to cover the mortgage while you’re gone. Own a car? Put it into storage or find a friend or relative who can take it off your hands while you’re travelling. Phone contract? Most companies these days will let you suspend your plan for up to a year. The travelling mindset is about experiences not material goods. Making the transition to a less cluttered life before you leave will help to prepare you for the journey.
- Planning: While entire articles are written on the logistics of preparing for a long term getaway there are a few basics that will guide you in the overall planning of your trip. Firstly, do you plan on working abroad or just travelling? If the answer is yes to working, you’ll want to choose a country where you can obtain a working holiday visa and take a look at the kind of wage you can expect to be paid. Australia is one such place which offers a working holiday visa that is easy to obtain for most nationalities and a higher minimum wage than most countries. If you are hoping to travel without working abroad, you’ll want to look at travelling to countries that match your budget. Southeast Asia, China, India and Nepal are some of the world’s cheapest destinations where you can survive on as little as $20 a day if you’re careful. South and Central America are pricier, but still a bargain compared to North America or Europe. In the past 6 months I’ve averaged $44/day including high expense items including a trip to Galapagos and cost savers such as couchsurfing and travelling on overnight buses.
- Develop your skill set before you leave and be prepared to quit your current job: Thinking about quitting your job can be a tough pill to swallow, but if you’re serious about travelling this is likely your only option as many employers simply do not have the resources to allow you to take off for a year and guarantee you a job upon return. If you are faced with resigning to take the trip of your dreams, be sure you make the most of your time while you are working by developing your skills as much as possible to help you land a job when you get back. Make connections and get recommendations in writing that you can use for future job interviews. Ever want to take an online course or study up on a new career but couldn’t find the time? Travelling may give you the time and perspective needed to further your career studies or change directions all together. Who knows, you may come home to a job that that you enjoy more than you the one you left behind.
- Moral Support: If you’re thinking of making a big change in your life and taking time off to travel, be sure to enlist the moral support of your friends and family. Hopefully they will be more than excited for you, after all, if you’ve put the time and effort in as outlined above and prepared to take a year off it should be easy to assure them you are making a wise choice. Join a travel forum and connect with like-minded travelers online for tips, advice and additional support before making the leap.
In today’s jet set world, gaining a more broad understanding of other cultures and nations is an asset than many companies are looking for. With some dollars in your bank account and the necessary paperwork in hand, the time to take a leap of faith and live the life of your dreams is now!