Preparing for long-term travel is a daunting task. I am currently planning to backpack for at least one year through Australia, Southeast Asia and Europe. I have a good job, a nice apartment, and a family I love nearby, and later this year I plan to leave everything behind to see the world. Here is my general travel prep timeline, past and present:
October 2015: Started thinking about long-term travel as a realistic possibility, and started slowly selling my belongings.
December 2016-present: Working on selling all my belongings and saving up as much money as possible.
December 7, 2015: Opened a separate savings account with $337.50 and got a travel rewards credit card.
Christmas 2015: Announced to my family that the following October I would be embarking on long-term travel.
Mid July 2016: Submit resignation at work.
August 31, 2016: Move out of apartment, stay with friends for 6 weeks.
September 9, 2016: Last day of work.
Early October 2016: Head out for an epic life-changing RTW (round the world) trip!
I do not yet know when I will buy my backpack and other travel necessities, but that will occur sometime this summer.
Update: I bought a 55 liter Osprey travel backpack at REI over Memorial Day weekend, and little by little I have started buying some travel accessories. I have purchased a portable luggage scale, a set of Humangear GoToob travel toiletry bottles, and a flexible luggage padlock. I have also purchased my flight! I fly from Los Angeles to Melbourne,Australia on October 2nd , 2016.
Preparing for extended travel is an overwhelming combination of anxiousness excitement & anticipation. I am completely changing my lifestyle, coping with being far away from my friends and family, and frequently questioning if I can really pull this off (I can!).
I don’t think I have ever been this busy; I feel like I have three or four full-time jobs!
I am also in the process of selling all my belongings, which is very time-consuming. Not to mention I am planning a year-or-more-long trip and have been doing a fair amount of traveling lately. The travel bug has bitten me hard, and I just can’t sit still. I went to Southern California in April, Vegas in May, and have a Texas road trip planned for June.
So, how exactly am I preparing, you ask? Let me tell you, I have a list, but we will start this week this the finances. Stay tuned for more posts about my preparations!
Part I: Saving Money
Working Multiple Jobs
I am aggressively saving money. My goal is to have $20,000 by the time I leave, and I currently have saved just over $10,500. I am now kicking it into high gear selling all my belongings, working as much as possible, and bringing in extra cash in any way I can.
Like I mentioned above, I am currently working multiple jobs: I am in a management role in a human services field and have been known to work 50-60 hours per week on average. As of late, I have been keeping it closer to 40 hours per week, as other things begin to take priority. At my job, I am able to earn a monthly $200 bonus for completing a set of tasks with zero mistakes (i.e. if I forget to do one thing I do not earn the bonus). I have made these tasks a number one priority and put the entire $200 into savings as soon as I get paid. I also just received training to conduct internal assessments, for which I will earn $300 each. My goal is to do five by the time I leave, which would total $1,500 before taxes.
I also have a part-time evening and weekend job at which I get paid $10/hr. I work anywhere from 5-20 hours per week, and the best part is I can basically set my own schedule. One or two weekend nights per week I drive for Uberand average about $20/hr. Since Uber does not withhold taxes I transfer 20% to my “regular” savings account and 80% to my “adventure fund” savings account. I started mid-March and have made just over $500 in the two months I have been driving.
Side Gigs & Other Money-Making Endeavors
Another great way I have earned extra money is through AirBnb. I am strategically renting my place out for exactly 14 nights. On these nights, I stay with friends and family while I earn money. By doing so I don’t have to claim my earnings as income on my taxes, and thus can transfer 100% of the money into savings. So far I have been paid out $620, and have the potential to earn close to $800 total, sans taxes. (Fun Fact–I met Kelli from the NomadApp team when she rented out my apartment).
Another fun way of earning an extra few bucks here and there is with the app Field Agent. It is a secret shopper’s app that lets you earn typically $2-$8 per job. Jobs are not always available, but I check every day and do them whenever I can. They usually entail taking a few pictures and answering a few questions about a product or display in-store. I have earned a little over $100 in about five months. It’s no get-rich-quick scheme, but if you check regularly and complete as many jobs as possible, it can really add up.
I also use a website called InboxDollars. I have earned just shy of $100 total in the last six months by confirming paid emails (I set up a separate junk mail account so my real inbox isn’t flooded), doing surveys, and completing “cash offers.” Again, not a get-rich-quick type of thing, but it does add up.
I recently signed up for Digit, which tracks your checking account balance and automatically transfers money into an FDIC-insured Digit savings account based on your spending habits. There are no fees and you can transfer the money to your bank any time. Their tagline is “Save money, without really thinking about it.™” I haven’t even noticed because they just take a little here and there, and I have saved over $100 in about six weeks.
Selling Everything I Own
Yes you read that right, I am selling everything I own. Besides a few sentimental and family heirloom items, and the stuff I’m taking with me, it’s all got to go. I have made over $600 selling off my belongings and hope to make at least $2,000 more.
I mainly use Facebook to connect with buyers. I am in several buy, sell, trade groups where I post and bump posts daily, and I even have my own garage sale Facebook group. I typically have people pick up items at my home. When I first started selling I would always meet in a public place. That got tiring, so I started giving people my address and building letter and would meet them outside. I was afraid of someone seeing my TV and coming back later to rob me. I now just give people my full address and have them come to the door most of the time. The travel community and sharing economy have taught me to believe in the good in others and follow my gut feelings about people.
I still feel like I have a LOT of stuff weighing me down, but when a friend stopped by my place recently she said “wow, it’s looking bare!” My newfound minimalist views see clutter, but if others do not agree I guess I am on the right track!
You can read more about how I am taking stock of my life and selling all my stuff on my blog.
Other Financial Preparations
Another way I am preparing financially is with a travel rewards credit card. I have the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Signature Visa card. I get 1.5 points per dollar spent, there is no annual fee, and there are no foreign transaction fees. I received 20,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, which equals $200.
I use the card for almost everything in order to rack up as many points as possible and pay off the balance each month as to not incur interest charges. I now have over 26,000 points which I will use for my plane ticket in October. Points can be used for any travel-related expense, such as flights, hotels, attractions and more, and if you don’t have enough points to cover the entire cost of say, a flight, you can use the points you have to pay for a portion of it.
I have also opened a Charles Schwab Investor Checking Account because the debit card has no foreign transaction fees and you get reimbursed for 100% of all ATM fees, domestic or foreign. You just can’t beat that! This will be my primary checking account I use to withdraw cash during my travels, and my travel rewards card will be my primary account for making credit card purchases.
I will keep my old Bank of America credit card and debit card (which I currently use) and my Charles Schwab and Bank of America accounts will be linked online. This way if my primary cards get lost or stolen I have backups and easy access to my money while get my other cards back in order.
My travel blog is in its beginning stages, and I spend several hours each week on social media engaging with other travelers and travel bloggers to create an online presence. I would love to talk with other travelers from around the world about their experiences. I am also working on creating as much quality content as possible, both for my website and NomadApp, and spend at least a few days working on each post. While I often feel overwhelmingly busy, I am thrilled to start my adventure and share what I learn along the way. Check out my website to learn more about me, or keep checking back here for parts 2 and 3 of my preparations.