The question on everyone’s mind seems to be, “How did you save money to quit your 40 hour a week job & travel??”
The decision to leave my family, friends, & job security was a difficult one, but my desire to see the world eventually outweighed the desire to stay. After graduation, my student loans seemed overwhelming, but I was fortunate to land a job right out of school.
Everyone has a different route to achieving freedom. Here are the steps I took to achieve my goal of traveling the world– maybe my plan will inspire yours!
Step 1: Student loan repayment
I started an aggressive student loan repayment plan. I put ½ of every paycheck towards my student loans. The most important life lesson my dad taught me was to never purchase anything I didn’t already have the cash for. After half of my paycheck went to loans & all of the bills were paid, whatever was leftover was for spending. I lived comfortably but, aside from having a small cushion for emergencies, I lived paycheck to paycheck until the loans were paid. Tax returns, bonuses, & any extra money went straight to loans.
Step 2: Aggressive saving
I started an aggressive savings plan. Once loans were paid, I realized how easy it was to save. I put 20% of my paycheck into a 401k & 30% into a savings account & kept spending as usual. I became un-obsessed with spending money & more obsessed with obtaining complete financial freedom.
Step 3: The wild hair
I woke up one day & realized that I didn’t know what I was saving for. I certainly wasn’t ready to buy a house. I had the wild idea to quit my job & travel to Europe. It took 8 months from the time I resolved to quit the job that was suffocating me to the time I finally took the plunge into unemployment. It was terrifying but completely worth it.
Step 4: the right timing
I (over)estimated my travel budget for a few months & left some money in savings to return to. I timed my leaving with the end of my lease. Then I sold my furniture, car & most of my possessions & handed in my resignation. I said goodbye to monthly payments.
Step 5: don’t hesitate, just go
I packed lightly & went without hesitation. I stayed in hostels, met locals, shared ideas with other budget/solo travelers, got to know the joys of workaway, volunteered, & traveled slowly. Slow travel is cheaper travel. I found the free museums & events, played in nature, admired the colors & cultures of my favourite cities from benches in parks. When a stranger offered me a meal or a ride, I accepted. I had faith that a new job would find me when I returned & that the universe would support me until then.
While this kind of aggressive saving plan is not possible for everyone, I truly believe in the saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Even designating a small portion of each paycheck to a travel fund can quickly add up to a nice chunk of change.
Realize that obtaining this travel lifestyle didn’t happen for me overnight & it will likely to not happen instantly for you either. Create a long term plan & tackle it. Having a greater goal to aspire towards can make even the most thankless job seem more worthwhile.
Check out www.workaway.info for opportunities to exchange a few hours of work per day for free room & board. The opportunities on this site are endless & are excellent for the traveler who wants to be fully immersed in a culture.
If you want it, go for it. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered. I can’t promise that it will always be easy but I guarantee that it will be worth it.