Obviously, everyone’s situation is different but, we all have bills to pay.
What most people don’t realize is the total cost of the bills they pay. Most of us have never sat down and figured that number out. That sum can be both shocking and depressing. Compared to the cost of sensible long-term travel, the difference can be pleasantly surprising. The final decision to sell it all and travel will mostly depend on the cost to support yourself versus the income you can secure. It’s not as hard as you might think.
Depending on the country you’re dreaming of, the cost of living may be a lot cheaper than you expect. Most of Asia is very inexpensive while the Scandinavian part of Europe is very expensive. Websites like Airbnb can be both good and bad in ways, but they do at least let you set your rent budget.
If you have a mortgage you have an advantage. You can rent your home out and create income that will cover your mortgage and possibly give you a little bit extra to work with. We were renters so we didn’t have that option. However, living in Los Angeles is very expensive. When you compare what we paid in rent there to the cost of an apartment on Airbnb in most countries, we still came out ahead. Almost everywhere is cheaper than Southern California.
Food is the other expense that doesn’t go away. Everyone has to eat but you’d be surprised how much more you spend stocking your kitchen at home compared to only cooking occasionally, eating at local places, and having a few snacks and staples in your temporary home. We’ve compared. It can be much cheaper, and we get to try more local dishes that way. When we do cook at the rental, the ingredients we’ve found at the local markets are fresher, taste better, and aren’t processed.
This is the fun part. Add up all of your utilities and expenses. Add up your car payments, car insurance, and the gas you spend every month. Now add the two together. (Not having fun yet. Don’t worry, here it comes) This is the amount that you’ll be saving every month…..Take your time and enjoy it. Do the happy dance if need be. This info will still be here when you’re done.
As for those who feel that they can’t live without their phone, it’s not as bad as you think. Your phone will still mostly function the same way that you’re used to, for free on wi-fi. And wi-fi is everywhere. It won’t work like a normal phone with texting but there are so many ways around this, that we couldn’t help but wonder why we weren’t doing this before we left.
Skype is one of many free options. Parts of the service require payment but it’s still cheaper and allows you to buy a normal phone number (in any area/country code) that you can be reached at. If the person you want to talk to also has Skype, then a person to person call (video included) is free. Otherwise $7 a month will get you a subscription to almost anywhere. Combine that with other options like WhatsApp, WeChat, and even Facebook, which has free video chat, calling, and messaging, and there’s always a way to stay in touch for free.
It’s Just Stuff
Before we left for Europe, we put some things in storage at our parent’s house. It wasn’t much but the surprising thing was, that after 2 short months of being away from our “stuff”, we had a really hard time remembering what was in there. It’s an important realization. Maybe it’s impossible to explain but after you experience it, you realize that you don’t need those possessions. Granted, we weren’t about to throw out grandma’s china but you get the idea. It turned out we didn’t need any of it.
If you feel the need to store anything, leaving it for free with someone you trust is obviously the most preferable option. If you need to rent a storage unit, we recommend to only keep the things that are sentimental or irreplaceable. You could be gone for years if you love this lifestyle as much as we do. The cost of a larger rental unit will eventually be more than what your furniture/stuff is worth. You may also buy a rug in Istanbul and decide to redecorate with things from your travels one day. That old Ikea bookshelf just isn’t going to match anything anymore, so why save it?
Sell everything that you can. I know it sounds scary but also consider that everything you sell becomes part of a nest egg. Think of it as security if you need it or a bit of fun money when you find a new experience worth trying.
So, let’s recap. Even though you’ll still have to pay for a place to stay and food, you’re more than likely going to be paying less without utilities, car expenses, etc. Credit cards or any other debt will be the only extra consideration so make sure that you have those numbers figured out. It could be that you’ll pay them off quicker without all of those other bills. Weigh that against your income and it could become an easy decision.
We originally intended to stay in Los Angeles and pay them off before we left but after doing the math, we realized that we were better off traveling. Hopefully you are too. It’s an amazing feeling to take control of your life in this way. Spending your money on cool experiences is far more gratifying than spending it on bills that only serve to keep you in the daily grind. Trust us when we say, you’ll never regret it.