In January 2013 we sold our hour in Englewood, Colorado. We were planning on traveling outside of the United States by the Fall of 2013 but we wound up visiting lots of family and traveling around the United States instead. In the spring of 2014 we will be traveling outside of the United States for, hopefully, many years.
A lot of people are curious as to why we want to and how we are able to do this. Here is an attempt to answer that.
It is true that we are currently not working and have no income. Before we sold our house we were planning on using some of our retirement savings to travel the world.
The thirteen years of off and on remodeling work on our house, refinishing the hardwood floors, adding new kitchen cabinets and appliances, completely replacing the plumbing, completely replacing and updating all of the electrical wiring, adding a bathroom, finishing the basement, landscaping the front and back yard, etc…, all paid off.
We were fortunate that when we sold our house, we made a profit and that’s the money that we are using to finance our travels.
Sure we could have used that money to buy a fixer upper house or as a down payment on a large house in a different city but we didn’t want to do that.
We want to leave home and travel. There is a theme of “leaving home” in most of the worlds mythology and religions. Leaving home means putting aside everything that we know, everything that is secure and comfortable and heading off to parts unknown without a map, no promise of finding our way or even the reason why we are going to a particular place. To go forward you must leave everything behind.
We want to travel while we are able and because the American idea of retirement is not right for us. Chris has already had 2 back surgeries before he was even 35 years old. We see so many people with knee, back and other health problems we want want to learn to live in a way that may prevent us from having those issues. Chris’ dad retired at 55 and died at 58, a day before his 59th birthday. Robbyn’s mom died at 52. We don’t know how long we have on Earth or what condition we will be in, so we’re going to enjoy it now while we can.
We are curious and want to know what people eat for breakfast, how they can exist on a couple of dollars, or less, per day, what life is like without many of the modern conveniences that we take for granted, how to grow our own food, live off the grid where they don’t even know what the “grid” even is, we want to know how to prepare different foods, with ingredients that are strange to us, and combine ingredients that are familiar to us in different and unusual ways than what we are accustomed to, we want to know how to build things without having a Home Depot, hardware store or Walmart nearby. Our idea of traveling is not to just pop in and see the popular tourist sites, take some photos and leave. We want to experience the local culture up close and personal. We want to challenge everything that we’ve learned about how to live, work and play. Why do we work 40 hours a week, have a career in an office environment, only spend 30 minutes or if you are lucky, an hour for lunch? Why do I need a TV, house with a yard and lawn mower and all the maintenance that goes along with it?
We want to see how other people and cultures live, work, and play.
We also want to go back to the concept of working for our room and board since food and lodging can be the most expensive part of traveling. There are many ways to do this and the opportunities are all over the globe, but a couple that we will try are: WWOOFing (wwoof.net) where we will work on an organic farm and get 3 meals a day and a place to sleep. Helpx (http://www.helpx.net/) where volunteers stay with hosts on their organic and non-organic farms, ranches, lodges, B&B’s, hostels or even sailing boats in exchange for food and accomodation. The only cost with both of these is the transportation costs to get to the location.
Another idea we would like to try is housesitting. Listing of available places can be found at sites like (http://www.housecarers.com/,http://www.mindmyhouse.com/, http://www.trustedhousesitters.com/, and many others) where you stay at somone’s house while they are away from anywhere to a few days, months or even a year or more. You will need to take care of the house as if it were your own, mow the lawn, keep everything clean and sometimes even take care of their pets, dogs and cats. The costs for this is transportation to the location, food and usually utilities like electricity, water and maybe some others.
Our current goal is to spend less than $1000/month. So far we’ve accomplished that by visiting and staying with family.
We are expecting to spend about $600/month in India and $400 in Thailand.
We’ve been making budgetary cuts for a while and prioritizing our goals.
Before Chris quit his computer job in April 2010 we had to make some adjustments since we had less than half of the income we were used to.
Here are a few of the things we did to cut back:
1)quit eating out as much, This was Chris’ issue as Robbyn always prepared all her meals at home and broght her own lunch every day.
2)less driving and more combining trips.
3)focused more on necessities instead of “nice to haves” and wants
4)less vacations and less expensive vacations when we did.
5)Chris only paid for cable TV in 1997 and 1998 after moving away from home. He could never see paying money to watch commercials with a little entertainment thrown in. We’ve heard that some people pay up to $200/month for (Cable TV, Dish or Direct TV) & Hulu, Netflix, Blockbuster etc… Chris didn’t own a TV from 1998-2001 and when he did buy a TV he never paid for cable, instead he just watched whatever came over the antenna and an occasional movie. Paying $60/month adds up to $720/year to watch commercials. We wound up not spending $9360 for Cable or Satellite TV over the 13 years in the house.
6)We rented movies and watched them once instead of buying them and watching them once. Renting them at Redbox for $1 instead of buying them for $14 or more saves lots of money.
7)When Chris first got his cell phone he made the decision to cancel his home phone. No reason to pay to 2 phone lines for one person. That saved at least $320/year, if not more. That was about $3200 not spent on a home phone over 10 years.
8)We did coupons for a while but ultimately decided that the products we were buying were not real Food and the other household products had more chemicals and was just generally stuff we didn’t need to be eating or buying. If you try to eliminate wheat, dairy and High Fructose Corn Syrup from your diet that eliminated almost all of the food that you would buy with coupons. While we were saving money we weren’t becoming any healthier.
If you take all of the expenses of living an American lifestyle: cable/directv bills, electric/gas bills, water bills, trash service, mortgage, auto loans, credit card debt, home repair, appliance repair, car insurance, gas for driving to and from work, eating out, movies, concerts, sporting events, etc… it all adds up.
Take all of your bills and write them down on a piece of paper and multiply them by 12. This will give you a yearly cost for that bill. Most people will be surprised how much their cable bill is when you base it on a yearly number instead of a monthly number.
If you sell your house, sell your car(s), boats, motorcycles, appliances, DVD’s, CD’s, books, guns, furniture, TV’s, Blu Ray players, etc… Pay off all your credit card debt, loans and any other obligations. Most likely you’ll have a good chunk of money in the bank. You might even be able to travel or pay cash for a much smaller house with less clutter.
If you want to buy things again, don’t buy new unless you absolutely have to. Almost everything you need or want can be bought on Craigslist, Amazon, ebay or at the numerous Thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets.
There are lots of tips, from your friends, family and strangers and online, for saving money. We learn new things ways every day.
We are still learning and reading other travel blogs and getting tips on how to travel cheaper, live cheaper and experience more of the places we will be visiting.
So no we are not rich, wealthy, or loaded we have just decided to allocate our funds in a much different way than many people. We want to travel and that’s what we are going to do. We want to move forward with a different way of living and we are doing that too. There are so many opportunities in the world and so many places to see.