Scott and Christy, a couple of surfers from Ordinary Traveler share some finance travel tips.
We have been paying off student loans for a few years (or shall I say my other half has been paying off expensive loans from helicopter pilot school and college) and we have decided not to put off traveling until those loans are paid off. I know countless other people are in the same boat.
They want to travel, but feel it’s not possible because they are still paying off debt. I want to share how we plan to make this dream a reality without having to wait until we are old and gray.
Planning to travel for an extended period of time while being tied to a $500 or more per month loan payment can be scary, but I want everybody to know that it’s not impossible.
I’m not going to lie, it takes a little more planning and discipline than if you were to wait until you are debt free.
Saving Money is Top Priority
First things first. We made sure our savings accounts were extremely cushioned before we made the decision to set a date for our big adventure. Even though we are paying off debt, we made it a priority to also set aside a certain amount of money every month towards our savings goals.
Now, this is where the tough part comes in. Since we make modest incomes in San Diego (where it is also expensive to live), we have to limit the things we spend our money on. Basically we;
Live like we are poor, even though we are not.
We don’t go out to dinner, shows, or bar hopping all that often. We definitely let loose occasionally because you have to give yourself a break every once in a while, but for the most part we cook at home and try to stick to free or cheap forms of entertainment.
For some people this may seem difficult at first, but trust me, you get used to the lifestyle and after a while it feels really good not to blow your money on hefty booze tabs or $100 meals.
Stop Spending Money
Resisting the Urge to Buy
In addition to finding cheap entertainment, we also make it a point to avoid buying all the latest gadgets. Keeping up with the Joneses can eat up your money real quick.
We don’t replace items unless they are falling apart.
Scott’s car has over 200,000 miles and counting, but no car payments. When we do have to make a purchase we usually buy used items.
You can save a lot of money by purchasing something that is a few months old. This is especially true for electronics and furniture. I once bought a brand new couch and TV that totaled about $5,000. When I needed to sell them less than a year later, I was only able to get about $700 for both! That was the first and last time I bought new furniture. This gives you an idea of how we were able to save a good chunk of money.
Money Saving Tips
If you want more money saving ideas, we have written an entire post on this topic.
In order to feel comfortable quitting our jobs, we decided to have at least one years worth of loan payments set aside in addition to our traveling budget.
Remember, you also need to be disciplined enough not to dip into the money you have set aside for loan payments while traveling.
If possible, pay a little extra toward your loan while you still have a job. That way your due date will be extended and you can skip a payment or two while traveling, if necessary.
Limiting Monthly Expenses While Traveling
While you are on the road, subletting your apartment or renting out your home furnished will save on storage costs. We love our apartment because is a great deal for the area we live considering we are two blocks from the beach. Our apartment is in high demand and we don’t want to give up such a good place until we know we are ready to move away from San Diego for good.
If you don’t want to keep your place and you have a friend or relative who will store a few of your things, then you are way ahead of the game.
Since you already have loan payments to make, you will want to keep your other monthly expenses to a minimum while you are traveling and storage costs can get expensive.
Working While Traveling
If you find a city or town that you really enjoy while traveling, you may want to look into finding a little work and lay down some roots for a few months. It’s a lot cheaper to find a monthly rental and explore a place for a while than to constantly be on the go. This will also cut down on your transportation expenses.
You can stretch your budget a lot longer by practicing the art of slow travel.
There is also the possibility of finding online work while traveling. Think about what you are good at and if you could offer your services or consulting.
These are just a few examples of how to make traveling with debt a possibility. Most importantly, make sure you have enough money saved before you take off on your trip and don’t wait until all of your money is spent before you look for ways to replenish your savings.
Keep an open mind and remember that long-term travel is possible if you are willing to make sacrifices.