I've always wondered where people, especially younger people, find the money to travel. A few of you have asked about how we planned and paid for this trip, so I know I'm not the only one! I haven't done much traveling of my own, until now, and I hope that this trip is just the tip of the iceberg. I still can't tell you how other people do it, but maybe the little bit that we have figured out will serve us well (and hopefully, some of you) in planning for our future travels.
We have found that there are two tricks to affording adventure:
1. Hard work
2. Keeping a budget
In other words, there are no tricks. Not for us, anyway. We don't come from wealthy families and we have a modest income ourselves. Riley has worked hard his entire life and has held the same job as an electrician since he was fifteen. I graduated college with an art degree and held a job with a local jewelry designer until I quit several months before we left. Average people with average jobs. Our circumstances are probably a little unusual though, in that Riley had the foresight to buy property when he was fifteen and start building a house when he was twenty-one, which would become our first home until it (now) became a rental property.
We started planning our trip a little over a year before we departed. After excessive research, Riley had an idea of what kind of boat we should look for and approximately what kind of budget we could live on (and afford) for several months of traveling on the water. We didn't have a lot of extra money to spend on traveling, but the idea of taking this trip became a priority, so we adopted the motto, "go small, and go now."
Our final budget (after the purchase of the boat) was $8,000 for six months.
I had already paid off my student loans, and neither one of us has a car payment, so we're not dealing with a lot of debt to begin with. We've always had a modest lifestyle and live within our means. So all of this budget is coming out of a savings account funded by Riley's full time job, and the long hours that he often put in on the weekends (when we weren't working on the boat) doing other electrical work on the side.
|in the midst of our renovations|
The thing about this trip is, living on a boat is relatively inexpensive. Our main expenses include food, diesel fuel, pay showers, laundromats, and a few stays at marinas or mooring fields (which often include showers and laundromats) and the bill for our smartphones, which provide us with internet. Our cost of living is significantly less than it was on land. This is how we are able to live on $8,000 for half a year. As far as standards of boat-living go, we probably fall somewhere in the middle. We didn't buy a large, fancy yacht with all the comforts of home. We bought an older, 30 foot sailboat, and fixed it up ourselves. We don't stay in marinas at every stop, we don't pay for taxi's once we get on land, we don't (can't) buy extra "stuff", and we don't even eat out that often. However, if we wanted to avoid marinas and mooring balls altogether and eat more beans and rice, we could probably live on much less.
This entire experience isn't so much a vacation as it is an experiment in living a completely different lifestyle.
We should be able to return without going over budget, but we definitely won't be coming back with any left over. When we return to land we'll essentially have to start over, renting a place to live, I'll have to find a new job, and we'll have to start building up our savings accounts again. But neither one of us would trade the security of a padded savings account for this kind of life experience. In fact, we're already talking about how we can fund our next adventure. It was (and still is) a financial risk to be sure, but one that we judged worthy.
I'm not sure if any of this information is really helpful to any of you, as not many people actually take off on a several month sailing adventure! But I hope that it inspires you in some small way to know that it is possible to have an adventure on a budget. This is simply how we went about it.
If any of you have any tips about other kinds of budget traveling, I'd love to hear them! A few of our ideas about our next adventures include a cross-country road trip and backpacking across Europe.
What kind of adventures have you embarked on? What adventures are you planning and dreaming about embarking on? How are you making it happen?
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