Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Saving for a Life of Travel
Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Kayaking Milford Sound“Are you guys millionaires or something?” That’s often the response when we tell people we’ve been traveling the world for the past four years on our HoneyTrek. We aren’t rich, but we are diligent savers and big dreamers. After working in New York for ten years and putting away as much money as possible, we decided life was short, the world is big, and there would never be a better time to travel than now. Averaging under $40 per person per day, we’ve explored 44 countries (and counting) across 7 continents. Here is our strategy and a few tips you can employ when saving and planning for your own lifetime of unforgettable travel.

Outline Your Itinerary

Determining where you’d like to go and for how long will largely determine your budget. Remember, there are plenty of extremely beautiful and affordable regions of the world (Southeast Asia, Central America, Eastern Europe, etc), and you don’t need to visit them all in one shot. Laying a linear path from one place to the next will reduce your transportation costs and stress level. To help figure out your required budget, based on your travel speed and destinations, check out this handy RTW Country-Cost Calculator we built.

Evaluate Your Funds

Now that you have a ballpark cost for your dream RTW, you need to compare that number to the balance in your savings. If your bank account is a bit light you can swap out some of those expensive countries, travel slower, and start an intense savings plan until you reach your goal. Follow our small-dose savings strategy in the next section and you’ll be on the road in no time.

1-3how do we budget

Small-dose Saving

If you save just $10 a day for two years you will have enough money for a 6-month RTW. Save $13 a day for three years and you can globe-trot for an entire year. To help yourself stay on track and keep your hand out of the cookie jar, open a separate travel savings account ASAP. If you don’t have a steady paycheck and financial flow, check out DigIt.co which will automatically fill your travel savings account when you have extra cash, and scale back your contributions when times are tight. And if you have complex questions on saving, you can always reach out to the financial planning pros for some advice.

Ways to Cut Expenses

First, you will need some basic self-restraint, like going out less and avoiding impulse buys (yes, that cappuccino counts). Go through your monthly expenses and see where you can cut or switch to cheaper services. Swap your $150 cable bill for a $0/month digital antenna, switch to a cheaper phone plan (ours went from $100 to $40 a month with AT&T’s Go Phone Plan), and find more ways to trim your bills.

Make Extra Cash

Make money using the skills and the things you already have. AirBnB the extra room in your home, sell excess stuff on Ebay, rent your car on a peer-to-peer sharing site like GetAround, pick up part-time gigs like babysitting, dog walking, or driving for Uber and LYFT. Check out CompareAndShare.com for more opportunities in the sharing economy. Be diligent and get creative!

Budgeting on the Road

Prices vary greatly between countries so you will have to adjust your daily budget accordingly. Just because a place is cheaper, doesn’t mean you should splash out. Be as frugal as possible on expenses (food, lodging, transportation) so you are able to splurge on the things that are unique to the region (a base camp trek, scuba trip, safari, cultural outting, etc.) and the occasional treat. Always bargain. Before you start negotiating, learn the local prices on typical goods and services so that you have a benchmark to work from. Vendors in developing countries usually start 2-3 times higher than the price they are willing to accept. Remember to save where you can and spend when it counts.

Mike & Anne from HoneyTrek

Becoming a Life-Long Saver

Managing a finite amount of money for an extended period of time is similar to that of retirement. Getting this practice earlier in life, teaches you to be creative, resourceful, and prioritize your spending for unforgettable experiences. We realized we didn’t need a million dollars to explore the world and that we won’t need a fortune to retire…travel has taught us how to live a simpler and richer life and that you don’t need much to be happy.
By Mike & Anne Howard, Founders of HoneyTrek & RTW Packing List
Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

 

Disclosure:  This post was brought to you via Fisher Investments, however all opinions expressed here are the author’s own.

Traveling the World With Teenagers
Monday, December 7th, 2015

family travel

Loving the family adventure in Cappadocia, Turkey

Nine weeks ago we left our home to travel the world for several months with our two teenage children – Ian 19 and Lily 16. During the four year planning and saving process, we came across many different opinions about our decision to undertake such an adventure ranging from fascination to jealousy to disdain, but what surprised us the most was how many people responded with reasons why they could never take a trip like this. The “I would love to do that, but…” responses were varied and perplexing to us. If we could do it, surely ANYONE could, right? And so, we developed this series of articles to tackle what we call the “myths” of family travel – all of those reasons why you “can’t” take a trip like ours are about to go right down the drain. Here we go!!

FAMILY TRAVEL MYTH #1

You have to sell your house and all of your belongings or be loaded with cash to undertake a round the world trip.

That would be FALSE, my friends!

This idea first came about several years ago when I read a book called “One Year Off” by David Elliot Cohen. It tells the story of two parents who take their three children on a one year trip around the globe. It was mesmerizing and inspirational and at once I decided we needed to do it.

But here is the thing – we had less than $1000 in savings. We were renting our home. How could we ever come up with the capital to undertake a journey like that?!? And that was the pivotal moment. We could have defeated ourselves right there and moved on to the next seemingly unattainable dream. Or we could get real about what we wanted to teach our kids about big dreams and how to go about making them happen. And so we came up with a plan to cut back on our spending and start saving with an end goal of 9 months abroad.

We did all of the standard things that people do – we cut back on eating out, family vacations and movies. Instead we cooked at home, took weekend getaways and watched Netflix. We sold all of the junk in the house and garage that we weren’t using anymore and stopped buying stuff we didn’t need. At one point in time, all three of our cars didn’t total $10,000 in value because we refused to take on a car payment.

WHEN PLANS GO AWRY:

travelign with teenagers

This is what the kids look like all loaded up with their bags on our travel days.

We had hoped it would take us three years to save the money we needed and that because we were renting month by month, we could just terminate our lease and hit the road. And then the unthinkable happened. The perfect little house fell into our laps. It was “just right” for our family in a fairytale kind of way and we fell in love with it immediately, but the clincher was the price. It was CHEAP. And there was no way we would ever be able to find a home we loved as much in the price range we were looking at. I said no. NO NO NO. And my husband, who clearly knows me far too well, took me by the hand and said “I can see growing old with you here”. And so we bought a house.
Now we had to decide if we were going to rent it out while we were gone. We were hoping for 9 months away, but our plan had always been to travel until the money runs out and then come home and that is NOT conducive to renting out a home. And so we had to figure a mortgage and basic utility costs into our budget. And three years turned into four.

YOU DID WHAT?!?!?

We knew pretty early on that in addition to cutting back and building our savings that we would also be taking some of our retirement money to pay for this trip. It kinda cracks me up how freaked out people get about this. It was a no-brainer for us. First of all, we are young. We have 27 years left to work and can quickly recover those funds. Secondly, we beefed up our contributions when we decided to take the trip so that we were padding those accounts and getting the most out of our employer contributions. And most of all, it was more important to us to use that money now to travel with our kids than to wait until we are retired and travel without them. The future is not guaranteed and there is no telling if either of us will even be in any condition physically to travel at all in 25 years. Why risk it? Why miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime to spend this amazing time with our kids exploring the world? Why indeed!! We are 42 years old. My husband’s mother died unexpectedly at the age of 47. Her death is like a bright star in the night sky reminding us to live in the moment and not take for granted that the future will be what we expect it to be.

We were an unlikely family to take a trip such as this. We had little in savings and no equity when we made the decision to chase this dream. Many of our family and friends thought it would never happen. And yet, here we are, in Thailand, having the time of our lives. I love proving people wrong!

travel with teenagers

At the Red Fort in Delhi, India.

But the bottom line is this – if we can get our nonsense together and save the money to take this adventure, then you can, your best friend can, your co-workers can and that weird neighbor down the road can. It’s a choice you make every moment of every day to prioritize the dream. I can have the Starbucks or I can pay for a meal in Thailand. I can buy these concert tickets or I can pay for a week’s lodging in Cambodia. Every time you chose the dream, you are that much closer to attaining it. It really is just that simple.

About Staci Schwarz

staciStaci and her family are currently traveling the world for several months enjoying good food, incredible sites and the best of company. You can follow their madness on www.blameitonmywildheart.com or on Facebook at Blame My Wild Heart.

Next month Staci will explore family travel myth #2 by interviewing her children to assure you that they were actually totally excited about this trip and are not being held hostage by their super mean parents who tore them away from their friends to go on a stupid trip around the world.

Preparation: Budget Concerns
Thursday, October 30th, 2014

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.

(more…)

How to Track and Save for Career Break
Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Deciding to go on a career break is difficult enough, but the tough decisions don’t end once you finally take that plunge and decide to do it. After making the decision to go, the first question most people ask is, “How much is this whole venture going to cost?”

The good news is that you’re going to have plenty of time to practice budgeting. The budget and money-saving doesn’t begin the day you leave. It starts right now. The minute you decide to go on an adventure like this is the minute you need to start focusing on money.

Be Realistic and Ask Yourself the Right Questions

 

Before you open your first spreadsheet, start an account on Mint, or think about anything money related, you need to be 100% honest with yourself about you, your spending habits, and what type of traveler you are. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you OK with hostel dorms (cheap, shared accommodations)?
  • Do you think you’ll want a private room most of the time (hostels have these, too)?
  • Are hotels more your style?
  • Are you OK with cooking a lot of your meals in hostel kitchens?
  • Are you OK with eating street or market food?
  • What type of big activities do you want to participate in?
  • Is overland travel the way you want to get around?
  • How many continents do you plan on visiting (the more you go to, the more expensive it will be)?

 

Where to Begin

Sometimes the most overwhelming part of the budget is figuring out where to begin. If you don’t already track your spending, then start now!

  • Open an account on Mint.com and start figuring out where your money is going.
  • Break down your income vs. your expenses. (see Monthly vs. Travel expenses)
  • If your expenses exceed your income, then you need to make changes.
    • Cut back on things like eating out and drinking at bars.
    • Stop buying new stuff. Chances are high that you are going to want to get rid of a lot of   you clutter before leaving, so why buy new items now?
    • Consider getting a second (or third) job.
    • Think about selling off a lot of your stuff. You will most likely come home from your career break and realize that you have way too much clutter. Get rid of it now – sell it on ebay, Craig’s List, or have a garage or yard sale.

 

Start Saving

Once you get to the point where you are bringing in more than you are spending, then it’s time to go into saving mode. Open up a savings account somewhere. Research banks that offer high starting interest rates or specials for the first year. Any extra little bit helps. Then start paying that savings account, otherwise known as your career break travel fund, as you would your normal bills. Figure out how much you can start putting away each month, and pay it as soon you receive a paycheck.

Any little extra bit you earn or save, put it in the travel fund. Start getting into travel mode. Saving for a trip of this magnitude is difficult. You will have to turn down a lot of fun events before leaving on your career break. Going out to bars, dinners with friends, movies, shopping trips with the girls-all are things you are just going to have to say no to much of the time. It’s frustrating, and there will be times you question if what you’re doing is worth it. It is. It’s just all a manner of how you spin it in your mind.

Bypass a night out on the town with your buddies? Congratulations, you just bought yourself four extra days in Thailand. Turn down that shopping trip with your sister? Good job, now you can spend another week in Argentina. It’s all about priorities, and when you make the decision to take a career break and travel the world, it has to be the top priority in your life.

ADDITIONAL INSPIRATION

Warren and Betsy Talbot of Married with Luggage provide some video advice on how to think of your ‘number’ and stay focused on the goal:

Are you ready to start focusing on your number?

 

Financial Planning for Your Career Break
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

It IS possible to save the $’s to take a career break. Where do you start?  We interviewed a few financial experts about how to go about saving for your break.  Sit back and be inspired!

What’s Your Number? featuring Career Break Vets Warren and Betsy Talbot:

 

We know that MOST Financial Advisors would tell you that you are crazy for wanting to take break from work to travel.  After all, it will cut into your retirement savings; however financial expert, Debbie Whitlock, doesn’t think you are crazy.  In fact – she’ll give you advice on how to go about financially planning for such a big trip.  She understands the desire to take a break and won’t talk you out of it!

Sherry Ott talks with Financial Advisor Debbie Whitlock about how to start saving, tracking your spending, and creating a budget for both your career break and re-entry without dipping into your retirement funds. (Runtime – 14:04)

Transcript Part 1
1:10 – How far out do you have to start financial planning for a career break? Depends on:
– Debt carried
– Current cash reserve
– How much stuff you have
– How long is the break
– Must do your research first!
– Overall range is 9 to 24 months to start saving
4:25 – What are the steps to creating a career break financial plan?
– Budget – you have to know inflow and outflow of your money presently
5:55 – Find the missing money, it can become the key to the kingdom!
6:40 – Track every penny for 30 days
7:55 – Start making changes in spending – alternative ways to socialize
9:00 – Look at your current cash position and what it is allocated for
10:15 – Figure out where you are going to travel and create your daily travel budget
10:55 – Don’t over look the cost of re-entry
12:00 – Don’t go backwards! Once you identify where you can cut back – don’t absorb it back into your life – keep it separate!
13:10 – The planner vs. the non-planner
– There are different types of people who go into career break travel; however both types still need to do a little front-end work when it comes to budget.

FINANCIAL PLANNING – PART 2
Sherry & Debbie discuss some financial myths, how to supplement your income on the road, budgets for different circumstances and working with your financial advisor. (Runtime – 13:39)

Transcript Part 2
00:10 – Do you have to sell everything you own or dip into retirement money? It is an extreme to sell everything you own, and not always necessary.
1:15 – Take a balanced approach which may mean a bit of delayed gratification and more thoughtful planning.
2:40 – You can consider working during the career break to support your travel budget
3:50 – What if you have kids or a spouse/partner – do you need to financially plan differently?
5:00 – Need to consider what the potential additional costs with kids
6:45 – How do you engage your current financial advisor in this career break discussion?
8:10 – What do you do if your advisor doesn’t think it’s a good idea?
9:15 – Meet with your advisor regularly and consider how you will communicate when you are on the road.
10:50 – How do you know that you have the right financial advisor to be your partner in this venture?
12:30 – We are a different generation and therefore we look at things differently – including our finances.

Travel Is Not As Expensive As You Think
Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Think Good Thoughts

Think Good Thoughts – Travel isn’t as expensive as you think!

“Travel is too expensive, I can’t do it.” Sound familiar?

Tripping yourself up with the “travel is expensive” myth is a sure-fire way to defeat the dream before you even give it a chance to breathe.

Before you defeat your dream consider this: A vacation is different from traveling. Maybe up to this point you’ve only taken a vacation, a one to two week trip you saved up for and enjoyed thoroughly. On average – a vacation that includes a flight, hotel stays, and eating out for every meal can cost anywhere form $1,000 to $2,000 per person per week. Plus when you go on vacation, all of your other monthly expenses don’t go away. You still have to pay for your mortgage or rent, car, electricity, water, magazine subscriptions – this all continues while you are on vacation.

Time is on Your Side

When you travel for an extended time this scenario of costs change because time is on your side.

Airfare

First you buy a plane ticket – but you stay longer, much longer in a region. The cost of your $1000 plane ticket overseas is now spread out across 4 weeks instead of 1 week potentially. Plus – once in that country, you have a myriad of transportation options to get from place to place in the region. You may get around the country or region by local transportation now since time is now on your side. No need to maximize every second of your vacation; slow down and relax – by doing so you spend less money.

Lodging/Food

You will also most likely not stay in high priced hotels or resorts for a long term lodging solution. You will start to be introduced to the world of guest houses, couchsurfing, and hostels; or simply more budget style hotels. You’ll find accommodation with access to a kitchen and can cook some of your own meals. You won’t be dining out for every meal; going out to eat all the time can get tiresome not to mention costly.

Monthly Expenses

Here’s where the real money savings happens…your monthly expenses go away. Maybe not all of them – but a good majority of them no longer are expenses while you travel. Consider this list (below) of typical monthly expenses for people. The ones in red will, or can, disappear while you travel.

To begin with, you can sublet or sell your home. We know that may be a big step for some, but by doing this you remove many monthly expenses! You potentially don’t have to pay to put your items in storage. No more electricity/gas/water bills. In addition, when you travel, you no longer have to supply your home with stuff like toilet paper or cleaning supplies, these normal day-to-day expenses go away while you’re on the road.

You can also get rid of your car or simply store it while you are gone and reap the benefits of no insurance payment, maintenance, or fuel charges. You no longer have to commute to work, or dry clean work clothes!

Sure – other new expenses are added when you travel – but not at the same rate as it takes to live day to day and maintain a dwelling and job.

Before you know it your monthly expenses disappear and the amount you will need to simply travel becomes ‘reasonable’ . So don’t think about your budget in terms of a vacation budget; extended travel is much different!

Download the Excel Sheet: What Can Disappear?

WHAT CAN DISAPPEAR? Current Expense Expense While Traveling
Rent/Mortgage  x
Rental/Home Insurance  x
Electricity  x
Water  x
Heating  x
Gas  x
Garbage Pickup  x
Telephone/Land Line  x
Mobile  x
Cable  x
Internet  x
Auto  x
Car Maintenance  x
Fuel  x
Car Insurance  x
Lease/Loan  x
Parking  x
Tolls  x
Warranty  x
Commuting Expenses  x
Medical Insurance  x
Gym Membership  x
Clothing  x
Dry Cleaning/Tailoring  x

What other expenses do you have that will disappear when you start your career break?

How the West Can Be Won
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Cost is an obvious, integral factor for those of us planning an overseas sabbatical.  You’ve already resolved to place your day job on pause, now it’s time to strike a balance between where you would like to visit and the amount of money it takes to get there.  While Western Europe rightfully holds an allure for all travelers, some of its more enticing cities tend to be the most prohibitively expensive.  It’s the reason we see few backpacks in Florence and a barrage in Luang Prabang; Southeast Asia is the affordable alternative, particularly when you’re sustaining yourself with US dollars.  But is it completely out of the question to be Euro-friendly?  On a recent trip to Berlin, I discovered that Western Europe can indeed make the shortlist for potential career break destinations.

There are few places in the world in which I believe the possibilities are infinite; Berlin is one of those cities.   Perhaps because certain areas appear under perpetual construction, or likely since there are invariant traces of its tumultuous past, Berlin exudes an energy that similarly sized cities notably lack.  From its trove of museums to a nightlife that puts New York’s to shame, the once-divided metropolis may sate whatever a traveler craves.  The fact that it is one of the least expensive cities in Western Europe makes it even more palatable for those seeking a bit of intrigue versus the steeply priced capitals. Food, housing, and transportation are a relative bargain when compared elsewhere within the EU; Berlin’s monthly metro/bus pass is $98, dinner and drinks runs around $50 for two, and a private flat in the city’s most convenient and compelling neighborhoods can be had for $40 per night.  You won’t reside in a lap of luxury, though that usually isn’t one’s intent when embarking on a sabbatical in the first place.

As I’m sure it will take some convincing, here’s a snapshot as to how Berlin can be your private and economical European playground:

Expense-Free Exploration

Anything pertaining to World War II is free of charge.  The Holocaust Memorial should be at the top of your list as the museum provides context for all European nations who were affected by the Nazis, while its exterior, undulating slabs of concrete are a site in and of themselves.   The former SS Headquarters, now known as the Topography of Terror, along with the Resistance Museum (think “Valkyrie”) are likewise of interest, as is the lesser-known Museum Otto Weidt, the namesake of which is attributed to a man who hired blind Jews at his factory and successfully saved them from deportation through 1943.  Also notable is the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining portion of the Wall covered in commissioned art for ¾ of a mile, while the Tränenpalast is a former border crossing that today exhibits East/West checkpoint complexities.

Note: If you need a respite from Berlin’s varied past and happen to be in town on a Tuesday, free concerts are held each week at 1pm at the city’s Philharmonic.

Cut-Rate Transportation

As mentioned earlier, a monthly pass in Berlin costs roughly $98 and covers S-Bahn, U-Bahn, and bus services.  Those who prefer to have a late start while on break should instead opt for the “Wide-Awake” monthly pass ($72), the primary difference that it may only be used between 10am-3am Monday through Friday, with all day/night continuing to apply on weekends.

Thrifty Fine Dining

On my recent jaunt I devised a gastronomic tour that encompassed any and all cuisines.  Henne, a traditional “wirtshaus” in Kreuzberg, is the frontrunner as it serves remarkable roasted chicken along with kraut salad and wine for $26.  Close seconds are Monsieur Vuong, a trendy Vietnamese spot in Mitte that I’d recommend for lunch and dinner (appetizer + entrée + drinks for one = $23), and the inventive Rosa Caleta, a Jamaican joint where I dined on a jerk platter and crispy snapper (plus drinks = $32).  For Italian enthusiasts, Muret La Barba is an inviting wine bar where the host stood at his Mac and obligingly translated the German-only menu (homemade linguine + wine = $16).   Schöneberg’s Bejte is another top contender, offering excellent Ethiopian fare that ran three of us $64, while W-Der Imbiss specializes in an array of appetizing naan pizzas ($8-10) that range from guacamole to olive tapenade.  For a meal on the go, Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebab was the best $4 I spent during my trip – expect a line.

Shelter on a Shoestring

I rented a two-room flat in Schöneberg via airbnb.com that was considerably larger than my one-bedroom in New York.  The rate was $60 per night (taxes/fees included), though I could have leased a smaller yet equally adequate space for less than $40 a day.  In addition to where I stayed, the neighborhoods best suited for sightseeing and sustenance are Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain, the latter of which has most faithfully retained its eastside temperament.

In all fairness, it should be noted that half of Berlin was once part of the Eastern Bloc for almost thirty years, a fact that continues to impact its current economy.  Every city likewise has its perks; nearly all museums in London are free, the Paris metro is $2 per ride, and the art in Rome is unquestionably worth the price.  Is it impossible to find a meal in London for two under $50?  It’s quite feasible, actually, though your day-to-day costs on the Tube along with lodging will leave you feeling Pound foolish.  My advice to anyone who is considering a Westernized sabbatical – save the other capitals for one-off visits, and instead couple Berlin with more reasonable cities like Lisbon and Barcelona.  While Bangkok may be kinder to your bank account, the exchange rate doesn’t necessarily create a barrier between Western Europe and the wandering employee.  And Berlin is the perfect place to begin.

Paul Fusco is an avid traveler who works as an Executive Recruiter at an international management consulting firm in Manhattan.  He took his first career break in early 2010 and recently achieved a personal objective of visiting thirty countries by the age of thirty, celebrating in both Israel and Jordan.  In his spare time Paul writes, maps out future destinations, and enjoys New York City for all it has to offer.

Before You Go: Budgeting and Saving for Travel
Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Amrita Evans is an expat and freelance travel blogger writing for HolidayHypermarket.co.uk. She is well acquainted with the ups and downs of moving and living abroad, and wouldn’t give up her nomadic lifestyle for anything.

Money is the most-cited concern of potential career-breakers, and with good reason – leaving your life for the great unknown is not an easy decision, even if you’re seeking a paid career break position, and in this economic climate it is crucial to make sure you’re prepared for a lifestyle change. Regardless of whether you’re walking away from a great job, or unemployed and hoping that a trip might get you back in the game, long-term travel is a huge financial commitment that should not be undertaken lightly.

However, as the saying goes, if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. As long as you’re prepared, your journey can be one of the biggest, most rewarding adventures of your life.

There is plenty of money advice out there, and it can be overwhelming; Meet, Plan, Go! alone has dozens of articles about saving, planning and making money. Let this starter guide be the beginning of a compendium – if you have a great idea or a tried-and-tested tip, leave it in the comments or tweet to @MeetPlanGo!

 

Planning Before You Go

Budgeting isn’t fun, but absolutely critical. Catch up on some excellent advice from experts before planning and creating a cost-per-day. These two fantastic spreadsheets from David Lee have been a lifesaving resource for many. Research may take time, and this may be the most daunting act of preparation you’ll have to undertake, but it will pay off on the road.

♦ Make sure to include preparation costs in your budget. Travel visas can be expensive, and include unexpected costs like extra birth certificates and documentation, possible notary fees, and travel to and from a consulate. The cost of travel insurance, immunization and storing your things while you’re away should be factored in as well.

♦ Open a savings account just for your career break, so you don’t fritter it away on other things in the meantime.

♦ Make sure you have enough money budgeted for a few months after your return, as it may take some time to find a job on your return.

Saving Before You Go

There are plenty of money-saving tips floating around the internet, but it’s worth noting that saving for a career break is a little bit different – rather than cutting corners for the long term, you may need to make large savings by taking a hatchet to your lifestyle. These compromises are usually temporary, which makes them easier to bear.

♦ Start tracking your expenses, so you can see where to make savings – Mint.com is a great resource for this. Take stock of your assets as well, including frequent flier miles.

♦ Go on a money diet – put a mental price tag on everything, as you might think about calories. A night out with friends, or two nights in a hostel? A new pair of shoes, or a week’s kayak rental in Sweden? Just like a diet, you will slip sometimes, but making this a habit is a great way to get excited about saving.

♦ Moving in with a friend or family member for the short term is the fastest way to save thousands of dollars. This is especially true if you live somewhere with high rent, like New York or California. If you’re about to travel around the world, sleeping in hostels and tents and campervans and under the stars, what’s a few months on a sofa bed?

♦ Take a long, hard look at your “essentials.” Do you really need a smartphone? Could you cut the cable and watch TV online, or read?

♦ Switch insurance providers or gas and electricity providers. Just a few hours’ research can save you hundreds of dollars – to make sure you take advantage of the savings, set up a monthly direct debit to your savings account for the difference.

♦ eBay and Gumtree are a great resource – sell anything that’s not nailed down, starting with that old rice cooker you got from Aunt Barbara and have never used. Then move on to clothes: beautiful dress that’s two sizes too small, or a week of meals?

♦ Flights are usually the biggest cost – see if you can get some money back to fly as a courier – you can be paid to escort someone else’s belongings.

♦ Consider slowing down: would you rather rather see more things shallowly, or less things more deeply? Sticking to a single landmass (North and South America, Australia, Africa, Eurasia) and buying a campervan can completely eliminate your flight and accommodation costs, and there is much to be said for a life on the road.

The thought of saving enough money to take a career break or sabbatical to travel may seem daunting, but following the tips above can get you on the right track in no time!

Images: mynameisharsha, quinn.anya, KSDigital

First Class Service on an Economy Budget
Monday, July 23rd, 2012

You are at the airport, with time before your flight.

You want to check your email, but after wandering around the airport terminal you can’t seem to find wi-fi or even an electrical outlet.  Wouldn’t it be nice to find both of these in a comfortable setting AND a cup of coffee or snack?  Well . . . you can!

Just before I left for my around-the-world journey, I discovered Priority Pass, an independent airport lounge service with access to 600 lounges worldwide.  Regardless of what class of service or airline you fly, you’ll have a quiet space from the hustle and bustle of an airport departure terminal to either catch up on a bit of work or just relax.  Lounge services vary, but they typically have comfortable seating, refreshments, snacks, a TV, clean bathrooms, flight boarding information, complimentary wi-fi and . . . yes . . . plenty of power outlets.

So far on my journey, I’ve visited lounges in Atlanta, Honolulu, Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Delhi, Dubai, London and Venice.  Being able to walk through the crowds and into a private lounge makes me feel like a rock star.  Of course, I love the access to wi-fi, but I’m also a big fan of the food and bottles of water included as part of my membership as they help me avoid the high prices in the airport terminal.

My travels have been in the ‘budget’ category and it’s really nice to treat myself to some ‘first class’ – even for just a few hours.  I’ve had no problems using the membership, except for the Kolkata airport where the lounge was no longer affiliated with Priority Pass – but they did allow me to sit in the room.  The nicest lounge I visited was in Hong Kong where guests are presented with a full food buffet, several choices of seating, hourly sleeping rooms, showers and spa facilities!

There are three types of annual memberships to Priority Pass.  The Standard membership is $99 with a $27 fee for each VIP lounge visit.  The Standard Plus membership is $249 and includes access to 10 lounges, then $27 for each additional visit.   The Prestige membership is $399 and all lounge visits are included.  Click here for a 10% discount on new memberships.

Aside from being an affiliate, I can honestly say that membership to Priority Pass can be a great value if you’ll be traveling through many airports throughout the year and will utilize the features.   New lounges are regularly added to the program and special discounts on other airport services are often offered to members.  I, like many other travelers, may not be able to afford flying first class, but I can at least start my trip that way.

Jannell Howell is just over half-way through her first around-the-world journey that started last January. After exploring parts of Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, and India, she is now hopping around Europe. In 2010, Jannell started Traveljunkie’s World Tour to blog about her trip preparations and in the process became a self-confessed travel gearologist.

You can read about other travel-related products  Jannell has studied and/or find out what other travelers use at Traveljunkie’s World Tour. 

Working While on a Career Break
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

outdoor office

Yes, you read that title correctly, no need to rub your eyes and refocus. I know what you are thinking – “You told us that we needed to get away from work and take a break in order slow down, clear your mind, and see the world. Why would we consider working during our career break? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose?”

Every situation is different and there are many reasons why someone may want to work on a while on a career break:

• Some people don’t have enough time to save the necessary money for their career break so they need to generate income while they travel.
• You want to dabble in and explore a new career while you are taking a break from your old one.
• You want to dig deeper into a culture and learn about what it’s like to stay longer or work in a place.
• You want to keep your expenses down while you travel.
• You want to meet more locals and have local experiences.

The main goal of a career break should be to take a break from your everyday life and your routine. You want to shake things up and get away from the daily grind so that you can free your mind and provide space to think and process things – this is when you start to reap the benefits of a career break. The key is getting away, and what you do when you get away is up to you.

As Jonah Lehrer writes in a piece for the Guardian,

“Several new science papers suggest that getting away – and it doesn’t even matter where you’re going – is an essential habit of effective thinking.”

For those of you who fall into the myriad of situations that cause someone to want to work on a career break, then we have some resources for you as you look for work during your break.

Working for Reduced Expenses

HelpX is a site where people ask for help, and you work in exchange for lodging and sometimes food. In a typical HelpX arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts. Note that a real salary is not really paid typically – but you do cut your travel expenses drastically by not paying for lodging.

The opportunities on HelpX range from handyman/woman work at hostels and guest houses, to social media help for small business, to crewing boats, riding horses, and fruit picking. To get a better idea of what opportunities they list, take a look at a few of their  international listings.

Think good Thoughts

Working for a Salary

If you think you are looking for a real salary and something more permanent then check out this comprehensive article about How to Make a Living on the Road. It provides inspirational stories and detailed information about what kind of careers are good for making money on the road and what you may expect to make in a year. In addition, it provides some stellar advice on how to get over fear in making any big change in your life.

“Fear and taking a leap – fear has a way of fermenting in your mind, the longer you sit and think something over, the more likely you are to allow all of the things that could go wrong pile up in the back of your head until you’re paralyzed by your worst enemy, your own imagination in fear mode.“

Finding Work Via Networking on the Road

Our Meet Plan Go Chicago Host, Lisa Lubin, is a career break veteran who worked her way around the world just using her own personal networks. After all, traveling is about meeting people, and when you can meet local people and expats, then your work opportunities really open up. She found random opportunities from working for Turkey’s largest media conglomerate, to doing research at the University of Cologne, to landing a year-long freelance gig doing publicity for an English Immersion program based in Madrid. The key – you have to make an effort to meet locals and be open to possibilities.

Another resource worth noting is Transitions Abroad – which offers article, resources, and programs for those interested in finding work overseas.

All of this working while on career break just broadens your horizons and increases your experience for your resume when you return.  In fact – you may find that you like it so much that you don’t want to quit!

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go