Today is the five-year anniversary of my grandpa’s death and while I miss him every day, he has left a lasting legacy.
Today’s post is a thank you to my grandpa and his forward-thinking.
Today’s post is also about the biggest question I have been asked…How much money is this going to cost?
Honestly, I don’t know.
FAQ: How do you have the money to take this trip?
My grandpa had always said ‘pay yourself first.’
While I don’t think he meant pay yourself first so you can travel, that’s exactly what I have been doing for the better part of ten years, even while I was in some serious debt.
While some people save their money to buy handbags, furniture and homes, I save in order to buy airline tickets.
I don’t think that my grandpa wanted me to interpret ‘pay yourself first’ as a travel fund, much less an opportunity to quit my job to peace out for two months.
I do think that somewhere he is shaking his head in disbelief that his oldest grandchild who lived on grilled cheese as a kid has become quite the adventurer. He shouldn’t be all that surprised though, it was me who introduced him to ikura on the sushi menu.
Thanks Poppy. Without this cushion, I would never be able to do this.
FAQ: What’s your budget?
I think I can do it on $200-400 per week, depending on the country and the cost of living there. And I think that’s on the high end.
What would it say about my cost of living to ensure that my monthly travel budget comes in way under my expenses and outrageous monthly rent! It would mean — get the hell out of New York!
Because I only have limited time on the road, I will have a different mindset than a longer-term traveler. What’s the sense of being somewhere only to not partake because it busts the budget? I’ll make up for the splurge in other places, like food and lodging, or spending more time in less expensive places.
For example, Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic, wrote that she traveled South America for 18 months on approximately $1000 a month. And Wandering Earl wrote about living on $1000 a month.
In the meantime, check out these budget breakdowns from Shannon from A Little Adrift and Betsy and Warren from Married With Luggage. Their trips are longer (and still ongoing!) and cover more countries than my trip but you get the idea that the cost of living is much cheaper once you leave the USA, no matter where you live from sea to shining sea.
Please note: I am not an Excel whiz so please don’t expect me to provide anything like this at the end of my trip. I will probably start, with good intentions, to keep track of my expenses in a good, old-fashioned notebook. And then one day, not even halfway through my trip, I will probably stop.
FAQ: This last point isn’t an FAQ so much as a request from a dear friend and I think it nicely wraps up the money section of the FAQs.
Some background: I moved to London to live and work for six months after graduating from college. Thanks to this experience, which I would do all over again even knowing what I now know, I spent the better part of my twenties in a significant amount of debt.
I worked very hard to eliminate that debt, many years after the pints were drunk and the fancy Paris hotel was a faint memory. I have no intention of getting myself back into travel debt again. And the note my dear friend wrote was a friendly reminder.
My friend, we’ll call her M, writes…
And my only request/piece of advice for your new adventure is not to get yourself back into “London Debt”…you worked so so hard to get out of it, and I remember you feeling so relieved and proud of yourself for doing so. That will be my only comment on the finance matter of your trip. Other than that, I hope you have a fabulous time and wish you safe and friendly travels 🙂
January 12th, 2012 at 11:23 am
Thanks for the mention and best of luck on your trip, it ought to be epic! 🙂
January 12th, 2012 at 5:38 pm
Thanks Shannon! I am so in awe of your spreadsheets!
January 12th, 2012 at 5:26 pm
Such a nice post and a great tribute to your grandfather! I think you’ll have no problem sticking to your budget without having to worry about every dollar you spend. You just focus on the what is most important to you, spend money on those things and keep your expenses down on the other travel costs.
It’s already clear that you’re not worried so I guess the only thing left to do is enjoy the adventure 🙂
(And thank you for the mention!)
January 12th, 2012 at 5:41 pm
Thanks Earl. Here’s hoping those USD’s stay strong! Safe travels to you and I hope our paths cross again.
January 13th, 2012 at 10:20 am
The biggest expensive of South America is the actual traveling part, buses in Argentina and Chile are pricey, Peru is better and Ecuador is only $1/hour so very cheap. Travel slowly and you’ll be fine.
A while ago a friend told me that you always find a way to pay travel off, so don’t worry about scrimping on budget because you could scrimp on experience.
January 14th, 2012 at 8:19 pm
Thanks to my budget, I am definitely going to travel slow! I only have one domestic flight within Chile booked to meet friends and it wasn’t THAT bad and I paid for it while still employed so I feel okay about it.
And what your friend says is true!
When I hear how much things are (non-travel related) I always compare it to the price of an airline ticket. Like “The cost of that couch get you from New York to Madrid” or “That stroller was how much? It could have gotten you from Phoenix to Maui.”
(Obviously the people buying the stroller need it so that flight might not be an option for them right now.)
Where I am in my life right now, I will happily scrimp on other things like ‘stuff’ to be able to take this trip, right now!