Preparation: Budget Concerns
A concern many career break-dreamers face is that they can’t afford to do it. But if you believe enough in your dream, you will find ways to make it happen.
It’s all about prioritizing and budgeting: even on a non-profit salary, you can make it happen.
See what some of our career break experts have to say about budgeting for long-term travel:
Brook Silva-Braga (A Map for Saturday)
Travel requires savings but not much; you can travel for less than you pay on New York rent, and you can always save more by indulging less at home. Money and time are commodities with an inverse relationship, you can only acquire one by spending the other and travel taught me free time is more valuable than additional money.
Jennifer Baggett (The Lost Girls)
Since I made the decision to travel about a year and a half prior to departure, I was able to properly budget and save for the money I’d need in order to spend a year on the road. And I was definitely not making that much money considering I was paying Manhattan rent and living expense (about $65K – I’m happy to be completely transparent) nor did I have financial help from anyone else.
The biggest money saver, honestly, was that I literally stopped purchasing anything frivolous (clothes, shoes, electronics, expensive dinners, etc.) and socked away a percentage of every pay check (including 100% of my annual bonus), cashed savings bonds from childhood, even sold books/CDs on Amazon and most of my furniture on Craig’s List. Amanda, Holly and I also chose to visit predominately third world and developing nations where you can easily live off of $20-$30 per day. Of course traveling as a group definitely helped as everything from lodging, taxis, food and other items (travel guides/books, some toiletries, etc.) could be split up and shared. Other big ways we saved: Round-the-world plane tickets (ours took us from Kenya to Australia – with multiple countries in between for only $2200), eliminating almost all bills/expenses back home (rent, cell phone, electric bills, cable, etc.) penning the occasional travel article while on the road, crashing at friend’s (or friends of friends) places overseas and keeping costs fixed by doing a structured volunteer program/staying in one location for multiple weeks.
The biggest thing to remember when planning a trip is sitting down to figure out how much time you have to save/when you can comfortably leave, how much you’ll need total if you’re not working at all while traveling (factor large upfront costs – vaccines, flights, equipment, travel insurance and daily average cost by country), if you can earn money on the road by working and how long you can afford to be gone. It’s a lot easier to do than you think and although it’s been said a million times, cutting out your daily Starbucks or earmarking a small portion of your pay check makes a huge difference.
Michael Bontempi (Briefcase to Backpack)
One might often think of my approach to my personal finances as a bit extreme, but I have been an avid saver and planner since I began my first job. Not to say I do not enjoy spending money, but I do know where every dollar is coming from and going to.
At the time of my career break, we forecasted not only the money we would have available to us during the trip, but the planned expenses upon our return – giving us the window of time before we would need to return to the working world.
All in all, it does not take a lot to sustain yourself on the road for an extended period of time.
Sherry Ott (OttsWorld)
I saved up bonuses for 3 years diligently and used that as my travel budget originally. That money is long gone yet I’m still on the road. It doesn’t cost as much as you think to live when you strip away car/house/insurance/house supplies/electricity/NYC social life and replace with hostels/travel insurance/airline ticket. Your major monthly expenses really disappear. Other ways to travel on small budget – Slow travel– staying put means less money on transportation, find work on the road (ESL/web/marketing) – You’d be amazed at how easy it is to market your skillset in some countries. Travel to less developed countries (SE Asia, India, Nepal, Africa)
Brian Peters (No Debt World Travel)
I used savings to travel after I was laid off. The three main things I used to save money on the road were 1. A round the world ticket 2. hostels 3. eating well but cheaply (the two words are not mutually exclusive). A round the world ticket can be had for $2500 US which is shocking to most people who think that that type of ticket is only for the wealthy. Hostels are much more refined, clean and accessible to everyone from singles, families and older travelers. If you spend $50 a week for lunch and Starbucks, you can afford a round the world trip!
Michaela Potter (Briefcase to Backpack)
I knew early on that I would be incorporating career breaks and travel into my life on an ongoing basis, so I’ve always set aside money and savings for them. And most of my working life I’ve been in the non-profit world, so I never had a large salary. But because travel is so important to me, I live a lifestyle that is comfortable for me and my priorities.
It does bother me when people assume you have to be rich in order to travel b/c I’ve saved and done it while living on a $30,000 a year salary.
How have you financed (or plan to finance) your career break dreams?