Jan 22, 2014

how we afforded adventure



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?



linking up with Ashley

31 comments:

  1. Great post, I can't imagine living on so little for so long but I can see where you would need much less on a boat. I think adventure over savings was the obvious choice, after all what good is savings if you can't enjoy it?

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  2. I also found that hard work and keeping a budget are some of the main ways I was able to afford living abroad and doing a little bit of traveling every now and then! I don't think there is much else to it ;)

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  3. I can't even imagine how much work it takes to fix up a boat. All serial travelers need great discipline! :)
    http://liveitinerantly.com/

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    1. It was a lot of work, and really there was still so much that we could have (and probably should have!) done. But we kind of figured if we waited until everything was perfect we would never go. :)

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  4. Loved reading how you made this happen. My husband and I both traveled a lot before we were married and we travel a lot now. Currently, we travel averagely. However, we are considering traveling up to the NE and have talked about how we will camp and make our own food. It will be cheaper than a hotel and eating out all the time.

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  5. This is really interesting, and I'm amazed (and a little jealous!) about how much less it costs to live on the boat! We don't travel all that often (yet!) but once husband is out of grad school, I'm hoping we can do it much more often!

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  6. Thank you for this post; too often I find myself envious of other people's travels and my husband says "oh their parents probably helped pay for everything". It's especially nice to know the reality of your situation and that you've both worked hard on your own to be able to afford your trip. At first I thought "Wow, $8000 is a lot of money for 6 months!" but then I calculated how much we spend on rent for 6 months and it came in at close to that number... and that's just for having a place to live! I can't imagine myself living on a boat, but a cross-country road trip has been a thought of ours for a while and it's nice to see that it is not as unrealistic as it might seem.

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    1. It does sound like a lot of money at first, but just like you said, once you calculate a two person household's living expenses for 6 months, it's really not very much at all!

      I think a cross country road trip would be so much fun. And a great experiment in traveling on a budget! I hope that you'll make it happen!

      Thank you so much for your comment. :)

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  7. Great post and advice! I think it is important to set a financial plan and budget and try to stick to it. Most of the time it's just common sense.
    Good to read that you're enjoying your sailing adventure and already planning a future trip to Europe. I haven't traveled that much and I've never been outside Europe yet. I count myself lucky for having lived in several countries so far and I've tried to see as much of them as possible. As an expat I enjoy taking daytrips often and I think that kind of slow travel is a great way to see a lot while staying in a budget. And no, my parents did not support me financially either.

    Enjoy yr adventure and thanks for the info :)

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  8. This was a great post and advice! I was curious how you guys had planned this out and it sounds like you did a great job :) I've always wanted to go to Europe but kept putting off anything or planning, thinking that it would be in the distance future (i.e. after I pay off my student loans someday!). But I finally decided to put $25 away from each paycheck and hopefully by my 25th birthday (1.7 years away) I'll have enough for a plane ticket!

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  9. I loved reading this post! You made adventure seem very achievable! I have so many travel dreams that are all on hold until we get debt and life in general squared away. I so wish I had done things differently, but hindsight is 20/20, right?

    jess | Quaintrelle

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  10. I really want to travel to Italy so budgeting and paying off debt will be big this year so I can make it happen. I am so inspired by you two for making your dream of traveling come true!

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  11. I did wonder how you guys made this work, but now that I know your budget, it's really not so much! A two-income family could easily save that much over a year or so if they really put their minds to it.

    We went to Paris over Thanksgiving and did so on a relative budget. We shopped around for flights and ended up flying through Dublin because the Irish airline had the lowest rates. We rented an apartment for $75 a night (through AirBnb!) instead of staying in a hotel. We ate dinner during happy hour at bars (which was from like, 5-8 over there) so food and drinks were cheaper. I could go on and on. In fact, maybe I should do a post about cheap international travel...

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  12. I love that you guys did that. Worked hard and created a solid timeline and budget - what a smart couple! :)

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  13. I found you through the Fresh Face blog hop and you have such an interesting story! What an adventure to buy your own boat and sail along the east coast! I probably would never be able to do that (as I'm very prone to seasickness), but I kow what it's like to have the travel/adventure bug. I love reading about people who were able to carrying out their dreams and adventures, because it's good to know just normal, everyday people are able to fund these travels. I'm currently trying to budget for a big trip at the end of the year (plus a bunch of weekend trips), but it's a little daunting just thinking about all the research and planning I need to do in order to have a budget friendly trip. I'm very determined to make this trip happen since I would like to visit my two top travel destinations on my bucket list.

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  14. How interesting! It's really neat that you guys are dedicated to your adventure and have worked together to make it happen. Well done.

    -Amy

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  15. You know, I always wondered how you all were able to afford to do this. I never really thought about it being inexpensive once on the boat! And, you all really planned well. That's awesome. I swear I feel like you could be faces for Dave Ramsey! You totally did the live like no one else today so you can live like no one else tomorrow. :)

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  16. This is a great post! I've been reading your stuff since finding you on the Fresh Face Blog Hop and really enjoy the different style of traveling. It's pretty impressive that that he bought property that young. I don't know what I was thinking about at 15, but it wasn't that haha. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler this week--come back next week! :)

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    1. Thank you!
      Yeah, I've never met anyone else that was so forward thinking when they were that age. I definitely wasn't either!
      Great linkup, I'll definitely be back!

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  17. Great post. Proving that is you really want to, you can reach any goal.

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    1. That is so very true! The whole idea sounded pretty out there to us when we first started talking about it. :)

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  18. Wow! my boyfriend has a dream where he wants to end up living on a yacht and sailing around the world. I wasn't quite on board with it initially but it does sound fun. Great to see it's absolutely doable and with a minimal budget as well.

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    1. I hope he'll see it through! I'm not quite brave enough to do the whole world, but that would definitely be exciting!

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  19. I wouldn't even think of expenses like marinas - but on the other hand, at least you don't have to pay rent! I love that you renovated the boat yourselves.

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    1. Exactly. The lack of rent is one of the reasons it's so inexpensive. We could avoid the expense of marinas if we really had to, but it's so nice to have a few more conveniences every so often! :)

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  20. That's quite a modest budget, I guess having your accommodation sorted is a big line item ticked off! Love the idea of living on a boat ... except that I get motion sick.

    We had a much higher budget for a very different kind of trip but squeezed more out of our time with some volunteering in Europe.

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    1. Accommodations usually are such a big expense, that's definitely one of the biggest reasons we are able to keep costs down. It's nice not have to pack and repack all the time, too. :)

      That's such a great idea about volunteering in Europe! I've started hearing more and more about people working and volunteering as a means to travel around. I'll have to look into that idea some more!

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