Quit Your Job, Travel, and Live Remarkably

I just returned from 10 days in the Caribbean, where I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. This wedding was particularly poignant because the bride and I were together the day she met her future husband.

It happened three years ago. She and I were trekking in the Himalayas. My bum knee was slowing me down, so she reached the hut below Annapurna Base Camp several hours before I did. By the time I limped into camp, she and a tall, tanned Frenchman were tangled in each others arms.

The couple became inseparable from that moment on. We lost track of each other within a few days — I ventured south to India, they headed north to Tibet.

Eighteen months later, I reconvened with the couple in Central Australia to swap travel stories. We had followed the same basic path — a wide loop across Southeast Asia, followed by a jaunt down to Australia, a standard traveler route — but our timing had always been a few months off. They would enter a country just as I was leaving it or vice versa.

Yet we shared a bond from experiencing the same places and enduring the highs and lows of our distinct lifestyle. Our lives were in our backpacks. We had no jobs, no home, no car. Only a map and a limitless imagination.

Another year passed by. I returned to the U.S. after two and a half years of overseas vagabonding, while they forayed into the “real world” by moving to the Caribbean, where they rejoined the world of the employed, waiting tables at an upscale pizza restaurant. When I flew to their wedding last week, we swapped “settling down” stories.

“I write a personal finance and lifestyle blog,” I told them, and they looked at me blankly.

“I mean, I write about how to live the life you want to live,” I said. Their faces brightened. They knew exactly what I was talking about.

“I write about how to use money to create the lifestyle you dream of living,” I said. “I write about how you should cut ruthlessly on the things you don’t care about, so you can spend lavishly on the things you love.”

The French groom smiled. His English is now smooth, solid, after three years of dating my American friend.

“Everyone asks how I could afford to travel for three years,” he said. “It’s easy. Once you decide to do it, it’s easy.”

Other Friends Ask How I Traveled for Two Years.

Our other friends assume I must be rich. Or that my boyfriend must be ultra-rich. Some people assume I held odd jobs during the trip (I didn’t). Others assume I’m in debt (I’m not, and never have been).

Oddly, these same friends don’t bat an eye at someone who:

No one ever says, “OMG, you bought a car? How on earth could you afford that? You must be rich!”

No one ever says, “You’re going to grad school? You must be dating a sugar daddy! What does your boyfriend’s father do for a living?” (He’s a retired sixth-grade math teacher).

People don’t question spending thousands on “conventional” expenses.

But as soon as you spend a fraction of the cost of graduate school on an unconventional life — an exceptional life — the questions (and assumptions) start popping out of the woodwork.

Ignore Convention. Spend on Your Dreams.

If a new car is what you truly want — if every morsel of your soul yearns for a brand-new Honda Civic — then by all means, buy one.

But if you dream of quitting your day job, selling your car, packing your life into a backpack, and buying a one-way ticket to Egypt to see the Pyramids and “go on from there” without a plan … and that’s PRECISELY what I did … then cut ruthlessly in other areas of your life to make it happen.

It’s Not That Hard.

It’s not hard to “give up” driving a nice car or living in a chic apartment. None of these so-called “sacrifices” are tough, because you’re not giving up anything you truly wanted.

The year before I set out on my trip, I lived in a small studio. I mean, a TINY studio. I could wash the dishes from my bed. I’m not exaggerating. It wouldn’t be the most comfortable position for doing the dishes, but it would be possible.

My car had no seat belt. It was almost 25 years old, with 285,000 miles on it, and the fibers on the seat belt wore through. The rust hollowed out sections of the door. Snow blew onto my lap as I drove through the holes in the door. In hindsight, driving it wasn’t the safest decision.

But my bank balance was climbing at a frightening pace. Every month — heck, every week — I’d watch it scale higher and higher. It reached an amount with which I’d be comfortable traveling for one year. Then it doubled.

I was free. And what had I really sacrificed? A car that everyone at my office lovingly joked about? A studio apartment that was perfect for cozy nights in?

I traded the mundane for the exceptional.

And my life has never been the same.

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  1. says

    I enjoyed reading this post but felt somewhat guilty about some of the choices I have made. It is too late to change the past, but someday traveling without a plan would be good.

    • says

      @cashflowmantra — I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but I’m pretty convinced that, unless you or someone close to you has a serious health problem, it’s never too late.

      When my parents were young, they wanted to immigrate to the United States and enroll in graduate school, but they couldn’t get a visa. They started applying for a visa when they were 21 … and when they were almost 40, they finally got it. At that point they started life fresh: new country, new language, back-to-school. My dad worked for an employer for 20 years, and when he turned 60, he started his own business. I always took inspiration from that; it’s never too late.

      • says

        I LOVED reading this. For the past couple of years, I have been trying to figure out how to quit the day job and just GO see the world and have a life changing expereince. I have worked at a law firm for about 10 years now doing the same old mon-friday 8-5. I want to just pack a bag and not look back! I just don’t see how this is possible.. to live with no income… i don’t even know where to start. Any advice on how to get started?

        • says

          July the article says it all
          cut your expenses…sacrifice and SAVE SAVE SAVE
          come back and start again. You could leave every other year if you wanted to!

        • says

          I’m older now but its funny how different we all are. I wouldn’t give you a Nickel to Travel. Honestly I hate it. To much Hassle. But I have no problem with you who do. Here’s the Thing. I’ve done a lot in my Life but Dreams and Realty are to different things. You have to really count the cost of doing something like this. You have to really think it out completely and make sure you have a plan and a good ideal is to have enough money to at least take care of yourself for a year. That way if you get out there and don’t like it you can come home with the money you have left. But I’ll tell you just my Honest thought. I would never never never do something like this without some money. You want to have enough to come home or stay in a safe place if you need to but to go without any money. Not me and I don’t think you should either. Find a Safer Dream. Just my thoughts. Don’t want you to get hurt. :)

          • maretta says

            She did not go without any money. I took the impression that she had more than enough to travel and to come back to. She lived extremely frugal( in most people’s eyes) and…
            “But my bank balance was climbing at a frightening pace. Every month — heck, every week — I’d watch it scale higher and higher. It reached an amount with which I’d be comfortable traveling for one year. Then it doubled.”
            She had double what she thought she would need for one year of travel.

    • Morgan says

      I have to say that it is never too late to do whatever you want to do. I graduated from college burdened with 10s of thousands of student loan debt, but I moved to Taiwan. I have been teaching English here for just 6 months, but I make a significant amount in disposable income. Enough to pay off all of my student loans in a few years, enough to pay for my mom’s mortgage on a three bedroom house in Los Angeles. I don’t live lavishly by American standards. I have a small studio apartment that rents for under $200 a month. I drive a scooter that is almost older than I am, but in the past 6 months I have traveled to Canada, Russia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia and Vietnam,

      • gavin says

        did you teach english in all those countries? did you learn all those langauages? or did you just go to those places for pleasure? just cuious

  2. says

    Another great post, Paula. I totally get what you’re saying.

    My dreams are more conventional than yours, but still would be considered unconventional by most people’s standards.

    I appreciate the recommended reading. I’m headed to check some of them out.

  3. says

    This is inspiring! I always wanted to travel or live in a tropical location for a while, and now I know it’s possible! Hmm…wonder what my husband and Great Dane would say to a year in Costa Rica?!

  4. says

    Add The Four Hour Work Week to your recommended reading! You don’t even have to stop making money to live that life, and you can do it on four hours of work or less per week.

    That book is like my second bible. One day, I’ll do it.

  5. says

    @Christa – DO IT!! Costa Rica is a beautiful place. I met one of the most inspiring travelers I’ve ever encountered in Costa Rica: a single mom of two who was working there as a whitewater raft guide. She homeschooled her children (it was a perfect setting for subjects like biology and Spanish). If she can make it there with kids, surely you can make it there with a husband and a Great Dane!!

    @Kevin – I read that book just before my trip! I need to reference it again … it seems like the kind of book you should skim through once every couple years, for a refresher on how to rule the world.

    @Shannyn — Thanks for the recommendation! I just checked out his blog, and I love his recommendations on staying healthy while traveling. That was one of the hardest parts of traveling for me: no gym, no kitchen, no ability to cook your own food. It was easy to let your health slip away!

    • says

      OMG! This kind of talk really makes me excited! I love to travel, but haven’t a clue as to how to sustain myself – and my 5yr old son while just travelling. I do know, the whole conventional lifestyle, for me, is boring, and I am not happy. I have no family to hold me back – just my son, – oh, and a spouse (father of son) who is so boring – all he does is watch TV – and I just don’t have anything in common with him besides our son! I want out of this crappy boring lifestyle. I wanna take my son, and live in the Carribean, or anywhere tropical, and live there. Just one thing, HOW????!!!!

      • says

        @Savanah — “How” is pretty straightforward:

        #1: Save money. Work side jobs; slash your expenses; sell your old stuff.
        #2: Once you hit a certain savings goal (maybe $5,000? $10,000?), buy a plane ticket and go!

        Everything else is just details. Don’t get hung up on little things like “will I need shots?” or “what happens to my cell phone?” …. you’ll work that out as you go. The most important thing is to buy the airline ticket.

        Homeschool your son from the Carribean. Rent a house with an excellent internet connection in the Carribean and work remote jobs through Odesk.com or Elance.com. Go to Meetup.com and find other Americans / Canadians who are living in the Caribbean, and connect with them … they’ll offer you plenty of ex-pat advice.

        Most importantly … GO! Buy the airline ticket. There’s nothing like a looming flight that will motivate you to work out all the details!

  6. says

    This sounds pretty damn amazing. I definitely want to spend a year just traveling — we’ll see if everything falls together! :)

  7. says

    I am trying so badly to convince my husband we should do this. The thought of not having ‘roots’ as in a house we own has terrified him, but the other night HE bought it up, with no prompting from me, so he is slowly coming around.

    The fact we could sell our house and car and travel for years with no worries appeals to me, but owning a house appeals to him more. He has agreed to travel, but only short trips. It’s still better than nothing.

    I loved this post and wholeheartedly agree. It is simply a matter of what do you want most?

    • says

      @Kylie — It’s all about priorities, though may I suggest: my boyfriend also owned a house while we went on our 2-year trip, and rather than sell it (at the bottom of the real estate market), he decided to rent it out. He found tenants whose background and credit scores were solid, signed them into a 2-year lease, hired a property manager to deal with repair emergencies, and off he went!

    • Jenny says

      Rent Out Your House……Maybe you make a slight profit or at least you get to keep your house and cover your expenses….

    • gavin says

      rent your house when you go and try to find a website that will pay you to blog about youre experience, depending on the different places you go there will be different languages and money. maybe turn your savings into bitcoin, you can extract into almost any form of currency, just an idea

    • says

      @Ashley – I’ve met a handful of travelers with kids, including one family that caravan-ed across Australia with three children. They decided to “homeschool” their kids from the road, and used their drive across Australia as a chance to teach their kids about relevant topics, like geology, geography, biology and world (Aboriginal) cultures — in addition to the standardized homeschool topics mandated by the kid’s schools. It’s something to think about!! :-)

    • says

      Honestly, don’ t mind the kids. If they’re young, they will learn SO much more than what the current public education system has to offer. If they’re grown, they’ll admire you, and you’ll be teaching them a
      Lesson many people never learn. To follow their dreams, and to never dismiss something as impossible.

      I am 18 years old, have never spent my childhood anywhere for longer than a year, and consider myself blessed for being able to see all that I have seen.

      Take it from a child, children are NOT the reason to hold back from doing what you have always wanted to do.

    • says

      I’m right there with you. It would be wonderful to be traveling kid free. I would actually even love to take my daughter around the world with me but I doubt that I would get the freedom to do it since it would be to expensive to fly back internationally for her to get her visitation with her dad :-/

  8. says

    Inspirational post. I would love to travel but it’s going to be way too difficult to convince hubby to quit his steady job to do so. Thanks for the links though; delving into some of these sites.

  9. says

    Question- When saving for a trip (or for anything else) would you really recommend buying a car that is the condition yours was? I love your logic for most of your blogs, but you were very lucky that your car didn’t cost you more in the long run in repairs, than a slightly more expensive used car that was not falling apart might have. In other words, I think it would be more logical to invest a little more in a car that would not be a “throw away,” so that any money (whatever amount) you spent on the car would go farther, rather than being thrown away when you ditched that car, instead of you being able to sell it for even a small cost to someone else.

    • says

      @Charlotte — As always, it depends on your future plans. Since I was leaving the country, I didn’t plan on driving my car for more than 1-2 years from the time I bought it. Therefore, it was in my best interest to buy something that I could “throw away” if it broke, rather than something I’d need to fix and maintain.

      I bought my car for $400 and drove it for 18 months, until the day it stopped running. When that happened, I sold it for $200, and stipulated that the new owner would need to tow it to his home/yard. In that regard, it cost me a net $200 to have a car for 18 months — a “rental” of $11 per month.

      If, however, I was planning to stay in the U.S. and would consistently need a car, then yes, I’d buy a used car with better long-term prospects.

      • says

        You drove a $400 car that was in that condition for 18 months and didn’t have to spend ANY money to fix things? You’re a lucky duck then, because we have three old (and cheap, and falling apart) cars and they all need repairs constantly.

        • says

          @Kristy — I only needed to keep the car running … it certainly wasn’t in pristine condition, by any stretch. Loads of cosmetic damage. But it got me from Point A to Point B without any problems, and without needing any repairs. It was a Toyota, which I love — it’s a super-well-made car.

  10. says

    THANK YOU!!!!

    No one seems to understand or get why my fiance and I are able to do the things we want to do… but its because we made choices.

    When he moved to California and we actually could finally go out on dates with one another, we didn’t… we cooked in, had people over for movie nights, and put our future first. Were paying cash for our wedding and honeymoon… and we were able to save up all the money to replay his parents too.

    I bought a condo before my boss did (who’s a good ten years my senior) because I was careful with my money and I valued a place I could call home.

    I’d love to travel… and so would SCB… so i’m sure it will be something we incorporate into our lifestyle :)

  11. says


    I loved this post! My wife and I live in Singapore. We get 13 weeks off a year (we’re teachers) so it feels a bit like part-time work (during June and July, especially).

    We love traveling to the nearby Malaysian and Indonesian islands, and we have some fabulous haunts that we keep going back to. We can afford to stay at high class places, but we don’t. We prefer inexpensive shacks on the beach, where we often meet travelers who have packed in their jobs, sold everything, and chosen to travel the world. Adventurous people are sooooo much more interesting to talk to than the folks at the Sangri La. The most adventurous travelers? The top five are (in no particular order) the British, Australians, Germans, New Zealanders and Canadians (although the Canadians only seem to come from Ontario, B.C. and Quebec) The people we practically NEVER see doing this? Americans. My wife is American, but we wonder how a country with so few people can have so few world travelers–the types that sell everything and just “go for it”. We don’t have an answer to that question. Do you?

    Anyway, you sound like fun, and if you’re ever in SE Asia, you have a place to stay with us! And we can recommend some of our great haunts!

    • says

      @Andrew Hallam — Be careful what you offer, because there’s a very good chance I’ll take you up on that! A friend and I were just talking about making another trip to Singapore; it’s been years since either of us has been there, and we’d both love to go back.

      As to why more Americans don’t travel … I noticed that when I left, my colleagues started saying that I was “taking time off” from my career to travel. That statement implies that my life in America has a solid trajectory, and I’m simply hitting the “pause” button for a second. A lot of people asked if I was worried about being forced to re-enter the workforce in a lower position. I think that idea scares a lot of Americans.

      In Britain, the notion of a “gap year” is common. Even Prince William, Prince Harry and Kate Middleton all took gap years to travel … Harry went to Africa; Kate went to Italy. (Yes, I spend far too much time reading royal gossip). So it makes sense that Britons of all ages are more comfortable with the idea of taking a “gap.” Don’t forget that both Canada and Australia are under the British crown, and highly influenced by that culture.

  12. says

    Let us know when you and your friend are coming back this way Paula. We often meet travelers during our SE Asian sojourns, and they often swing through Singapore and stay with us. One of the best parts about traveling is meeting adventurous people.
    As for the United States, here’s a thought: in many respects, it’s as much an old British colony as Canada or Australia. In terms of a melting pot, Canada and Australia is the American equal (just different groups melting, in some cases). So I’m going to ask you for a better explanation. Why don’t Americans travel the way the rest of the first world seems to? My guess is that it’s fear: based on their media. There’s a fear of what goes on outside the U.S., perpetuated by the media. When I drove a van from B.C. down to the U.S. and then down the Baja Peninsula, I was surprised at how many of my American friends thought I was crazy. Incidentally, it was such a fabulous trip. Sure, there are dangers everywhere (not the mention the U.S.) but I think it’s fear that keeps most Americans from traveling.
    There’s also the fear of losing a step in one’s career, as you alluded to. But a career isn’t a life, is it? Any other ideas? I’m keen to see how you respond to this!


  13. says

    I have had this post open for ages meaning to read and comment, well finally I am :).

    I totally agree. The idea of buying a car actually freaks me out but I don’t seem to have an issue buying a plane ticket or finding a hostel to stay in!

    • says

      @Forest — I’m glad you finally read it! I agree; I dislike the idea of buying a car (I want the cheapest possible car that’s still safe and reliable — right now I drive a 1998 Camry). But I have no problem dropping an enormous percentage of my income on travel. It’s all a matter of what I value; where my priorities lay.

      • says

        Hi Paula this is exactly how I think, I don’t want to be branded as having a “lifestyle that exceeds their income”. Having no savings scare me. I am happy with not having a 50 inch flat screen or a 800/month 2 year payment for a car. I am fine with a Honda (new, so it doesn’t break down) and a normal sized tv.

  14. says


    I think I am your polar opposite. I have only had two phone numbers and three addresses in my entire life. Twenty years from now, I’ll likely have the same address and phone number. I am very happy with my choice of stability, because it has been good for me and my family.

    I would like to visit the Caribbean though. I enjoyed reading this post.


    • says

      @Bret — I’m so glad you wrote that! I really want to avoid going down the path that so many other bloggers go down when they insist that travel is the end-all, be-all of life. After having traveled for so long, I thoroughly understand the appeal of wanting to plant your roots in one place! I applaud anyone who knows that being grounded is what they genuinely want, and in many ways, I can relate to that feeling.

      I’m styling this blog to encourage people to pursue any dream, no matter what it is … whether its travel, buying a home, retiring early, generating passive income … heck, join the circus or start a snow-globe collection. My aim is to encourage people’s goals and dreams, whatever they are.

      There are too many bloggers out there who talk about travel as if it’s the Holy Grail. I aim to NOT be one of those. :-)

  15. says

    Awesome post. You seem well traveled. Do you have a favorite place and do you have a dream place to visit? Great point about people not questioning conventional expenses. Perhaps we are all brainwashed to what is acceptable and not acceptable. “Traveling the world and doing what you want to be doing is irresponsible and foolish. Why don’t you grow up?” Little secret, I know who’s having the last laugh. Keep doing what you do!

    • says

      @Buck Inspire — a lot of people ask me where my “favorite” place is, but that’s such a tough question. It depends on “favorite” for what desired activity. Favorite major city? Favorite remote, rural setting? Favorite beach? Favorite food? Best experience meeting and connecting with locals? etc. A few of my many favorites are: Indonesia, Myanmar, Japan, Italy and the Czech Republic — all for very different reasons.

      You’re absolutely right … we’re brainwashed, in a way, to believing certain expenses are acceptable and certain expenses are not. When we “un-learn” that training, we can authentically assess where and how we REALLY want to spend our time and money.

  16. says

    I have been a gypsy all of my life….alittle bit more grounded these days by 3 ornery cats that rely on me for thier daily sustenance. I am always curious about the one thing that never seems to get mentioned in these types of stories/blogs….what did you do about the all important health insurance issue???

    • says

      @Bobby — I bought personal health insurance from a company that specializes in insuring Americans who are overseas … in fact, the insurance eligibility requirements mandated that I must be outside of the U.S. and Canada for a minimum of 50% of the time under which I’m covered by the plan.

      My insurance had a high deductible, so I couldn’t use it for a basic checkup or a prescription refill. It was really designed to be “worst-case scenario” insurance …. if I got very sick or injured, and ended up with a hospital bill in the thousands, the high deductible health insurance for travelers would be there to protect me financially.

  17. says


    Prior to working for the D.O.D. (Department of Defense), I had never been out of the country, but since then, I’ve been to more countries than I can recall… I LOVE TRAVELING!!! However, now that I am no longer contracted with the D.O.D., those days of seeing new and wonderful cultures are over, since it was all on the tax payers dime… sorry guys 😉

    Now I am a full time Med student… let me rephrase that… I am now a BURNED OUT full time Med student. Oh how I long for those hectic days at the Paris Airport, lol, for those coming into Paris with passports you should know what I’m talking about, lol — Burger King has a larger service counter and better customer service !

    I am getting my RN license, this is strictly a Long Term Investment decision since RNs are/will be in high demand, and the pay is exceptional — in other words, there will always be work and with me being a male, even more opportunities, so…. my plan is to work 6 month and save, then take off the remaining year and travel and party my butt off! I want to base jump off Angel Falls, visit Angkor Wat, sleep in all the haunted houses of the world… all the good stuff to be had! Then come back, find a job and do it all over again till something kills me off, lol, cuz lets face it… a lifestyle like this does not equate to a well lived elderly existence, no 401K or nest egg to be had, so better to die young with a BIG smile on your face 😉

    I got that all planed out, BUT…. I NEED A BREAK NOW!!!

    How do I take off from school (I don’t work) and afford to backpack across the Asia’s & on West to England!? Or how do I afford to make Japan my Temporary home… I LOVE Japan!!! I’m just so lost with all this! I keep telling my brother, who is a cop, that I just want to drop everything, fill my North-Face pack up and head out for 2 or 3 month, but then he slaps me in the face with reality and I go to school the next day :-/

    I need a break!!! How can I do this!?

    Sorry for the rant 😉


    • says

      @Ronin LSX — If you want to travel with no responsibilities, but you don’t have much money, there are two things you need to do: Pick a destination that’s affordable (you mentioned that you want to go to Angkor Wat, and that’s a great choice … Cambodia is extremely affordable to travel in. You also mentioned haunted houses … Transylvania, in Romania, is also an affordable destination, although not as inexpensive as Cambodia).

      Then start saving small amounts towards this. $10 here, $15 there really add up. A few things I did to accelerate my savings:
      1) Whenever I was out (like at the grocery store) and I saw something I wanted but didn’t need (like Odwalla Juice), I’d stop myself from buying it and put the money that I would have spent on it into a jar or an envelope.
      2) I had a savings account that was specifically for traveling, and nothing else. I’d check its balance weekly … sometimes even daily.
      3) I made “BIG” cuts, like finding a tiny tiny studio apartment that was ridiculously cheap.
      4) I sold stuff, like my mattress.
      5) I picked up freelance work on the side.

      Otherwise, if you are willing to take on some responsibilities while you’re traveling and to stay in one place, you can look for English-teaching jobs or other jobs abroad. There are lots of opportunities in Asia for English teachers.

  18. says

    Thank you for your reply. I was wanting to do the teaching English thing, but I thought you had to have a TEFL or the like. God how I would love to go to Nippon and teach English in Tokyo, but I was told that you need to have a bachelor’s to teach plus all the certs. :(

    Is it easy to earn money while traveling? I was wondering if it was easy to get odd jobs to help with expenses. I don’t mind staying in hostels, but I wound hate to miss on the good stuff because I’m too broke.

    • says

      @Ronin Lsx – You don’t always need to have a TEFL to teach English. You only need the TEFL to teach at really nice schools — the kind of schools with the reach and clout to recruit employees who are still in America. Programs like JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) also require you to have all the credentials (a bachelor’s, etc). But if you just go somewhere, like Bangkok, you’ll see flyers posted from smaller schools looking for teachers, or from private individuals looking for tutoring.

      Another program is WWOOF — Worldwide workers on organic farms. If you’re interested/willing to do hands-on work (like planting trees, building fences), this is also a good route — especially since you’re not “working” for a company, you’re working for a family that’s willing to give you a place to live + food in exchange for your helping with tasks around their family farm. (Of course, this is a totally different lifestyle … it’s a very different travel experience than the crazy hostel experience).

      If you’re a U.S. citizen, and you’re willing to be gone for 2 years (yeah, a LONG break), you can also join the Peace Corps. Although most people in the Peace Corps have bachelor’s degrees, this actually is NOT a requirement, as long as you have sufficient “real world” experience (like health care experience, or running a business, or working on a farm).

  19. says

    Great article! I love reading blogs of other people who share this same mentality. I love not living up to the “norm”. Great website, I noticed you just joined Yakezie like myself and I wanted to welcome you.

    • says

      @World of Finance — Thank you so much! Welcome to Yakezie — I’ve only been part of the challenge for a few weeks and already I’ve felt much more connected with a great community. I look forward to reading more of your stuff!

  20. says

    This is so true. Last year when I was traveling in Rome I met an American couple on a bus who implied that I must be making a lot of money to be able to afford to travel. I didn’t feel like listing off all of the things I wasn’t buying back home in order to travel!

    • says

      @Denene — I hear people say that ALL the time! “Wow, you must have a lot of money to travel like you do,” they tell me. Then they go home to their far-too-large house in their far-too-nice car!

  21. says

    How right you are when you say, “It’s not that hard.”, Paula. Once committed, the details virtually take care of themselves.

    When my wife, Heather, and I “got free” everything began to align the moment we set the date we would begin our first “anti-vacation” as we like to call it.

    We took a baby step and lived at the beach for 2-months just outside of our home town. But after we discovered how easy it was, we took it further–much further–to Berlin, Germany for 3-months, which was an amazing experience.

    It’s all a matter of perspective and crafting that ideal vision for what you want your day-to-day life to be like in detail. Then your mind naturally helps you make it real.

    Glad I discovered your blog via your article on Business Insider! Keep sharing!

    • says

      @Adam — Aw, thank you! I’m glad you found my site, too! I’m love hearing from readers who have accomplished exactly what you and your wife have done. I want to show the world examples that “Office Space” drudgery isn’t necessary!!

  22. says

    Hey Paula, and other life-lovers!

    All topics so far have been in reference to the practical side of making the decision to extreme-travel. Does anyone want to comment on the subject of the mental challenge it presents? I CONSTANTLY am put in a position to explain myself because at 40 years old, I am not married, nor do I have children (by choice) and I have lived 20 miscellaneous places in 21 years (also by choice). Although I am thrilled to have spent time with wonderful friends scattered all over, met celebrities, seen things others only look at in books, almost everyone is so freaked out by how “strange” that feels. They don’t know what to say because it catches them so off guard. Honestly, I feel guilty for making non-traditional choices…everyday. So I’m unable to enjoy them. What thoughts do you have for feeling confident when fighting the “shoulds” in life?

    • says

      @Kristen — I think its important to surround yourself with people who — in one way or another — live unconventionally. Not only does this help dispel the myth that everyone has to have a suburban home plus children, it also provides you with a nice support group.

      I’m sure that during your travels you probably meet some extreme long-term travelers. Keep in touch with them. These are the people who live in a similar way that you do, and these are the people who share your same values. These people provide an amazing support network. They understand you; they “get” it.

      I don’t talk to most of my friends about 1) travel; 2) location independence; and 3) real estate investing (my latest foray). I refrain from discussing this with certain friends because most people just don’t understand. In the best case scenario, they make well-meaning but uninformed comments. In the worst-case scenario, they tell me to get a job.

      But I DO actively seek out communities of people who live a similar lifestyle … either online or in the “real” face-to-face world. Not everyone has to understand every aspect of my life: my “travel” friends don’t really get my passion for real estate. My self-employed friends don’t really get my passion for travel. There’s really no one person who ‘gets’ it all, but that’s why we are meant to have so many friends. :-)

      • says

        I’m so glad I found this site. @Kristen, Hi, I’m Ali! I’m 36, single by choice (although I’ll admit I’m getting a little tired of said choice) and I have moved 33 times in my 36 years. I picked a career that would allow me to work in multiple jurisdictions and went with it. I’m proud and excited to say that I’ve lived in some of the most incredible cities in the world and have met many wonderful people along the way who share my vision of how a life can be led. The flip side to this, of course: just last night my 96 year old aunt was bugging me to come home and settle down already! This happens so frequently that I go for long periods of time struggling to sift what I want from what everyone else wants for me. And what I want is to find a partner in crime and then continue to globe trot (with or without kids) until my feet get too sore and the south of France (or the Jersey Shore 😉 starts singing my name. It’s just really hard to explain…

        • Oz says

          Alicat, I am 43 now and if only I wasnt married (happily) with two kids I’d stalk you!!! Just kidding but you sound like the chick most people want to run into on the road. I have traveled quite a bit on my dime looking for interesting stuff around the world. Stuff I can bring back home and make a profit at. I am quite successful at it and as a result enable myself to continue. So goes the wheel of my life. I have traveled always for “work” and I get the “must be nice” with a raised eyebrow from friends and others. Truth is I live in a smallish home, ridiculously low Mortgage and nearly paid off. I got here by walking away from a not so small home and huge mortgage, sold my newish car for a 2000 Tahoe and my wife drives her now 12 year old Honda Element. Not a penny owed on credit cards (have none). knew early on that I’d rather peddle my finds than punch a clock especially if I could could see first hand how the rest of the world lives. this summer for the first time I will take my wife and two kids from Barcelona (where I pick up a Mitsubishi Montero (diesel)) to the Black see and back. I expect this trip to take 45-60 days. with 21 stops/cities and many photo opps it may take a little longer, but my kids are out of school for 90 days so we’ll see. Anyways, good for you and if you get tired of all that traveling solo, I have a friend!!!;) just sayin
          Oh and that Montero comes home/Tampa, FL. with me where it sells and pays for the trip it just took me on. “YES it is nice, You should try it!!” is what I say to those friends and others with raised eyebrow above.

  23. says

    I’ve read this post before and was inspired by it, but for some reason last night the idea of just taking off really took hold so I decided to seek out this article again today and I’ve really been inspired by all the comments and your responses. Think Americans are pretty conventional? You should get to know people from the (english speaking) Caribbean. I come from a small Caribbean country where people are born and bred to do well in school, get a good job that you stick with for 30 years, marry and have kids. A bonus if you can afford to “vacation” in New York every now and then to stock up on cheap clothes and food. Deviate from that plan and people pretty much think something is wrong with you, especially if you’re a single lady. None of my friends understand that after a few years down one career path, that I now desire to do something else, or that I’m into real estate and investing, or that I dont want a cellphone, or that I’m not into facebook, that I want to teach english in japan, that I want to immerse myself in italian culture or that I want to visit botswana to see the big game animals. There are so many things I want to experience and ideally I’d like to have my friends along for the ride, but no one seems to be on the same page with me. I call people up and ask hey do you guys want to go to puerto rico, etc, people say no or they say yes but then never plan /save towards it, then they get envious/resentful when I actually go on my vacations by myself. What’s a girl supposed to do?
    I never saw myself as someone you would be stuck in one place forever but life has a way of throwing us curve balls and I’m not yet able to leave my job behind right now. Reading this post today has really invigorated me to hold onto my dreams. Everyday is one day closer to being able to just unplug, leave my job behind, and go see/do the things I always wanted to do. Thanks for providing this source for inspiration and encouragement.

    • says

      @Alanna — I completely understand. I’m from a Nepalese family (we immigrated to the U.S. when I was a child), and my cultural background has very strict, standard ideas about how you should live, especially — like you said — if you’re a single woman. I was raised to get good grades, study either engineering or medicine, have an arranged marriage (yes, an arranged marriage), then finish graduate school, get a “good job” and have 2-6 children.

      When I started deviating from that path (protesting an arranged marriage, majoring in the liberal arts, and traveling to Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia), I got a LOT of pushback from my family. I had to ignore it and keep a laser-like focus on my goals.

      As far as friends — many of my friends were like yours; they’d say “yes, I want to” but they never plan or save for it. So, like you, I did my first few trips on my own. The best part? Once I started traveling, I met TONS of other travelers in my exact same situation — all traveling by themselves because their friends weren’t motivated. These people became my new friends.

      These days, with Couchsurfing.com and Meetup.com and other communities, its even easier to meet like-minded people with similar interests. And it’s very, very important to make friends who encourage your unconventional goals.

      Best of luck, Alanna, and comment here again in a few weeks to let me know how it’s going!

      • Oz says

        Holy crap you are the Dalai Lama or some other super savvy out of this world, hippie adviser. I love reading your responses! I agree with you, what you really want deep inside defines who you are, and those that think your nuts are not a good fit. take the plunge/gamble a bit and when you get to wherever, you will find others who are incredibly like you. So much so I found, that you will likely end up getting invitations to other remote parts of the world, you may have never ventured. Those people are free spirited hippie like, bohemian people who share much more than their sense of adventure with you, They tend to be risk takers on many levels and those are the people who have the best stories to tell their grand children one day. Some dont make it there, but when you learn that they lived every minute of their lives, if you can’t relate, you cant help but feel a little envious

  24. Phyllis Adkins says

    I would love to travel but it’s going to be way too difficult to convince hubby to quit his steady job to do so. One day, I’ll do it. A lot of people asked if I was worried about being forced to re-enter the workforce in a lower position. It is simply a matter of what do you want most?

  25. says

    I’ve read article like this all over the web now for the last 7 months but i have to say this is my favorite so far.

    I’m in the same boat as you. When i was 18, 20 years ago i went to Japan for 6 months which turned into 3 years of working and travelling. Then when i had children i thought, oh well i need to settle down.
    Well after we lost our jobs in 2007 i thought, what a great time to start a business. so i did making sleeping masks. That ended after three years when i decided to take a family sabbatical in Marseille France for a year with my husband and 3 kids. (too hard to handmade things on the road). We don’t have jobs and we live off our savings and various residual incomes. Occasionally my husband gets contract work and works virtually.
    People think wow you must be rich.
    But like you, i didn’t spend on things i didn’t care about. I had an old beat up VW Jetta from 98 up until last year. My kids used to be so embarrassed to get in it. All my co workers had porsches and bmw’s and Mercedes. LOL. They didn’t bat an eye to buy their toys but they are in disbelief that we are travelling with three kids and don’t have jobs.
    Cut back and the things that don’t matter and spend lavishly on the things that do. I really love that. and thanks for posting such a fun article. The internet is great that way. Before this year, i had no idea that other people even led the same kind of life as me because i lived in a suburban bubble in silicon valley for way too many years. Sigh i digress.
    Anyway, i’m just glad i stumbled upon your blog today. If you have a chance, stop by mine and say hi. THANKS :)

    • says

      @Annie Andre — Thanks for sharing that story. You’re a perfect example of someone who lives the Afford Anything lifestyle — Cut ruthlessly on the things that don’t matter and spend lavishly on the things that do. And isn’t it amazing how people say things like “Wow, you must be rich!” when they hear about travel — but they don’t bat an eye at their $2,000 sofa? It shocks me that people don’t realize the irony.

      Anyway, thanks for commenting, and please come back and share more of your stories and insights!

  26. says

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog lately – some fantastic posts in there! Congrats. I have always liked the idea of travelling, but how do you make it sustainable if you don’t have location independant skills? Are you ever scared that if you had to return ‘home’ at some point, you would be unemployable due to too much time out?

  27. says

    It is also possible to cover your tracks. I’ve stepped away from work serval times over my career for periods of as little a three months to five years. You wouldn’t know it looking at my CV.

    Maybe times have changed, but my experience has been that companies like little slaves and are made very uncomfortable by independence. So I’ve always let them rest easy and have flown under the radar.

  28. says

    I am working and living to get out of the U.S. and live in the Americas south of the boarder, marriage a wonderful women from South America who from the start looked ahead and we purchased a beach condo and one in her capital city with the idea of living half our time here and half there while traveling other parts of the world. We are getting closer to our dream. However I would like to learn from other how to earn off the internet and live from my laptop now insted of later to start our dream as quickly as possible. Thank you.

  29. says

    Hi Paula,
    You’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. It sad that a lot of your friends don’t realise how cheap it is not only to travel to but to live in a foreign country. What we might think of as a meagre income could be a kings ransom elsewhere.

    • Oz says

      I cant stop readiiiing!!! someone, stop me, anyone!! But yeah,, try eastern Europe if you crave the old world but dont want to pay for Austria or France. Not to mention, the crowds are none existent and the locals draw you back there.

  30. says

    I LOVE that I ran across your site!! My boyfriend and I are thinking about doin this~but I am TERRIFIED!!! He feels like it would be an adventure and an awsome experience. I feel the same way im just scared because we dnt hv a lot of money saved and other people keep telling me that it would be stupid to just pack up sell your things and leave….is there ever really a right time and what’s a good amount to save up and leave with?

    • says

      @keineisha — It depends on a lot of factors. First: Where do you want to go? Western Europe will be a LOT more expensive than, say, Southeast Asia. Second: What kind of lifestyle are you willing to have? Are you okay with sleeping in hostels or guesthouses, without warm showers and other luxuries? Are you okay with eating noodles from streetcarts? Third: Are you interested in working while you’re overseas, or not? The benefit to working is, obviously, that you’ll earn money, but the downside is that you’re “stuck” in just one spot, at least for a few months.

      Your answer to these questions will determine if you’re financially “ready” or if you need to save more before you take the plunge.

      Here are four very detailed posts I’ve written about how I figured out when I was ready … they might help:

      By the way, if you’re a U.S. citizen and you’re under age 30, Australia and New Zealand both offer great programs that let you work in those countries for up to one year. You could also join the Peace Corps, but note: the Peace Corps requires couples to be married in order to be placed together.

      • says

        Thanks for the response!!! Well we were planning on travel within the united states (atleast at first) and see where it takes us. Hmmm could I deal without the luxuries…it’d be hard but id have to adapt~do you think it’d be harder traveling within the country than outside? Especially for an interracial couple?

        • says

          @keineisha — Traveling in the U.S. will be more expensive than traveling in some other countries, such as South America or Southeast Asia. The U.S. dollar goes a lot further in those places. Of course, U.S. travel will be cheaper than traveling in Western Europe or Australia, where you dollar doesn’t go as far.

          Will and I are an interracial couple, and we traveled across the Middle East, Asia, parts of Central/South America and Australia without anyone really commenting on it. The biggest “hurdle” about our relationship was the fact that we’re unmarried — a few people, especially in conservative countries, had a hard time grappling with the idea of an unmarried couple traveling together. Of course, many people just assumed that we are married (they’d look at Will and say “buy this for your wife!”)

          • says

            Nice!!!! Thank-you very much for the advice!!! Im still a lil afraid of pursuit this big jump but what the heck??!! Why not??! Neither one of us has any kids or any major ties here except our families…..I think I shall go for it…who knows what exciting places well end up!!

  31. says

    Hi Paula!

    This is a strange compliment, after reading your blog, I liked myself a little bit more. I made decisions and took risks that my conservative asian society (i live in Malaysia) did not support, and a combination of this and my own self doubts has eroded my sense of self confidence to almost zero. I’m 31 now and feel as if I have nothing to show for it, and feeling like a cross btw a freak and a failure every day has left me paralysed and exhausted. The story you told me about your parents moving to America and staring all over again, and the fact that they didnt let the first rejection letter defeat them… it was really moving. And when I read your articles, I feel the genuineness behind your words, and I feel myself begin to hope again.

    • says

      @Kath — Thank you so much! I understand conservative Asian society very well, and I know how difficult it can be to “go against the grain” and do something that our society doesn’t approve of. Sometimes I feel like almost every decision I’ve made — from my college major, to my career, to my decision to NOT go to grad school, to the fact that I’m dating a white man — is counterculture to the way I was raised. Stay confident and strong! You’re living life on YOUR terms.

  32. says

    My husband & I are 27 and we want to live extraordinary lives which includes travel. We have only been married 1 year & have travelled 3 times together in the last 4 years we have been together. We want to teach English in Japan by this fall, which is a great way to experience a new way of living, but do you have any suggestions as to how we can buy plane tickets and have a month’s worth of living expenses before our first paycheck? We don’t have any savings, our biggest expense is our car (ins, gas, loan payment=$561) and it’s an $8,000 car! We don’t spend much at all, but really it’s only me working right now and I guess that is the problem…its only enough to live on. Any suggestions?

    • says

      @Amanda — First of all, I’d recommend increasing your income. There’s a limit to how much you can save, but there’s no limit to how much you can make. I don’t know why you’re the only one working, but let’s assume it’s because your husband is a student. Can he add 10 hours of work per week to his schedule? Can you add another 10 hours of work per week into yours? That combined 20 extra hours per week, at $15/hr, will give you another $300/wk, or $1,200 per month.

      Use the extra money to get that car paid off as quickly as possible. After that, shovel the money into a Japan fund.

      I assume you’re looking at the JET Program for teaching English in Japan. (If you’re not familiar with that program, Google it). That’s a great program and, as far as I understand, it will cover your expenses while you’re in Japan.

      Best of luck! My first international trip, at age 18, was to Japan, and it sparked my love for travel. Going to Japan changed my life, and I’m sure it will do the same for you. When those 10 extra hours per week seem long and difficult, just remember what it’s all for.

  33. says

    I am 18 now and I want to travel but my parents and everyone I know say that it’s unrealistic and isn’t for you. I just grduated this last spring and they have pushed me to go to college and I don’t want too. I don’t think they understand. How did u get started and how did you gather the courage to just up and leave? And how did you first leave? I’d appreciate your help, I’ve been feeling so helpless and down lately becuase I’m unsure of doing this. Thank you.

    • says

      @Theresa – This sounds cliche, but ignore the naysayers. They’re not you. They don’t have to live every minute of your life. You do. They have different goals, aspirations and resources. And they’ve probably never traveled much.

      If you don’t want to go to college, don’t go. It’ll just be a waste of time and money. After you travel for a few years, you might decide you’re ready for college — and you’ll be a better student BECAUSE you’re ready.

      My advice: don’t overthink it. Just go. Save up a few thousand bucks by working your butt off and saving every penny. Then buy a plane ticket. Start with a Westerner-friendly country that’s easy for novice travelers, like Thailand.

      Alternately, if you’re a US citizen under age 30, you can get a work visa for Australia or New Zealand. Then you can work while traveling.

  34. says

    I will rewrite this post in 10 years time. No really, but everything you wrote here is how I live today.

    After graduating college, I ended my lease on my apartment, put everything my husband and I( City hall marriage baby! Saved the big bucks!) owned in a temperature controlled storage unit, sold the car and moved to Japan to work in our respective domains. I graduated in Teaching English as a Second Language, and my husband is a chef. We both had small debt and knew that moving to a medium city in Japan we would have wonderful jobs that could help us pay back our debt in a matter of months. I now work for the government as a teacher and have rent and travel expenses subsidized (read: almost free). We have no car, only bikes so our only real expense is for food, electricity and internet.These were all conscious decisions in order to save money. So, we spend our weekends and vacation days traveling Asia with incredible discounts because that is what we truly live for. It helps being payed in one of the world’s strongest currencies and being able to read the language 😉
    My husband, now a pastry chef in Japan, and I have decided on saving for our new Post-Japan goal: backpacking Europe. He has done the Way of St-James already but we are taking a different route now: Tcheque Republic, Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein( I know, right) and Italy. Finally we are taking a plane to France ( Le Puy) and we are walking to Spain. When all this is done we would stay at various friend’s houses in France and just enjoy or ancestor’s home ( we are French Canadian). Then, we would just fly from city to city discovering the beautiful citylife Europe has to offer with their cheap inland flights All this should take about 6 months. And all with less money than it takes for us to save in three months of working in Japan!

    It felt like dropping everything, my friends, family and my home, was the most difficult decision of my life, but now, I see it was the best. Oh, and what are we doing after we finish backpacking in Europe? We’re gonna teach in Hawai’i and see where life takes us from there!

    We are young, with no house and no children. It was easy for us in many ways, we just had to agree on the where and when. Reading your post reassures me that I will be able to adjust to settling down in the future yet enjoy my greatest passion, traveling. Thank you for sharing your story and for inspiring others to live their dreams.

  35. says

    I totally agree with you , I mean people ask question on travelling like its some waste of money , like their iphones and ipods , are something that should be spend money on ….
    But you need to spend on things that you love about, & i love travelling , I just cant imagine going from this world , widout seeing the worldy wonders , the vast earth , & so much more …
    But i guess Travelling is like a dream , only the one has it can understand it , others just look at pictures and smile

  36. says

    No more than a year ago, I took that leap and quit an great paying office job. Regardless of my student loans and mortgage I managed to put the student loan pmt on hold and saved enough to pay my mortgage for 6 months. The experience that I encountered during my travels was priceless. I’ve met many people whom shared their experiences, however, they all seem to be in their early 20’s which made me feel a old as a 33 year traveler. Regardless, there is no age restriction just what society dictates for a person at my age! When I got back home from my amazing travels my perspective of materialistic tangibles changed. In addition, it was very difficult to head back to an office job, I reluctantly took a job pushing paper and day dreaming about another affordable adventure. Maybe a 2 year adventure like yours.

  37. says

    Is there any way I can earn money online so I can fund my travel other than writing? I’ve tried to look for online job that are suited with my skill but I couldn’t find it yet. I love traveling and I hate office work but I also have to support my self financially. So any advice?
    thank you

    • says

      @Mila — Sure, there are lots of ways to earn money online! Coding, graphic design, becoming a virtual assistant, managing other people’s tasks, managing (the administrative side) of websites, etc., etc., ….. the list is almost endless. There are more than 30,000 online job postings on Elance, which is a good place to start looking.

    • says

      @Mila — Yes, absolutely! There are plenty of online jobs: you could be a graphic designer, a virtual assistant, a task manager … the list is almost endless. I know someone who makes six figures by selling advertising on websites, and another person who runs a consulting practice online. Think about what skills you can offer the world, and then figure out how to apply those to an online medium.

  38. says

    You nailed it! Conventional thinking gets you a life in a cubicle for 40 plus boring years. What happend to all the fun we had when we were kids? I will be retiring at 46 because I want to have a life that I control. I want to walk my daughters to school every day. Escape the rat race and do what you were meant to be doing. Life is too short. I just need to cross out 24 months on my calendar. No mortgage, no bills and no more Boss. I can’t wait! If you want to retire young move to a state where houses are very cheap. There are no excuses. Do it!

  39. says

    Yeah, right.

    I’ve never had more than 2k to my name, and yet I’m 25k in debt for student and auto loans my parents forced on me. I have no skills, no money, and whatever personality I have left is draining away. The only place I see myself traveling is off a bridge or high building.

    • says

      @Name — It sounds like you’ve lost hope. That’s the first thing you need to get back. Talk to a counselor. If you’re thinking of jumping off a bridge — you need professional help. Please, please talk to a mental health professional.

  40. says

    Amazing, you really need courage to get out there dont you? wish you the bestof luck , and hope for myself to get where you are soon! thank you for sharing your experiance :)

  41. says

    I stumbled across your blog after typing the following into my search engine: “How to travel for a living”.
    I am a registered nurse, who chose a stable career as my second attempt at growing up. My first degrees were in English literature and photography. My dream was to travel the work taking photographs and writing about my experiences. Unfortunately, I never realized that dream. Every day, I struggle with the knowledge that I’m living a life that doesn’t speak to my soul. Your blog entry brought tears to my eyes, as I felt a faint flicker of possibility in my chest, after years of giving up.
    Sometimes a spark can light a fire, and who knows? Maybe a year from now, I will be living my dream.
    Thank you.

  42. Interested traveler says

    I am very interested in doing this also. I am a recent university grad and got a professional job in my career already working a whole year.I have a car and was thinking of investing in a home However, something in my life is just not adding up, i want to have travel experience. Everyone says that if i quit my job i wont get a job in my field when i come back and its freaking me out!

    My question to you is, what if your not satisfied with the conventional life and you work this job then you decide to travel and have all these experiences, then what happens when you come back from the trip? Does your life go back the way it was working the same office white collared job?

    • says

      “Everyone says that if i quit my job i wont get a job in my field when i come back ” — Don’t listen to everybody! They haven’t done it. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

      My income is 4x higher than it was before I left for my round-the-world trip, and that’s largely because I gained enough insight during that trip that I was able to accelerate my career when I returned. Rather than climbing a conventional ladder, I “sidestepped” the ladder, created my own path, and my income skyrocketed.

      Thank goodness I didn’t listen to “everybody.” :-)

      • Melissa M. says

        Hi! I was researching random travel and came across this article and I loved it! The fact that you did it all solo is awesome to and really stood out to me because i pretty much do everything solo haha independent to the max. Traveling solo though made me nervous but one day I came home and just bought a plane ticket amd went on my fkrst solo trip to a little gem in Texas and it was an amazing experience, I was able to mark playing with dolphins off my bucket list. The thing is, I’m not terribly into going overseas at the moment, I’ve come up with the mission to save money and visit places in the U.S that are underestimated. If I ever go overseas it’ll probably be to New Zealand or Australia. Until then, my next destination is looking to be Portland Oregon next summer! :) and this blog will help me in my endeavor I believe because i wanna do this traveling now but I don’t want to go broke! haha Thanks Paula! :)

  43. says

    I am a single mom. I have taken a few short international trips. What I really want to do is take my two sons and leave the country traveling around for about two years then come back so my oldest son can finish high school here in the states or maybe in Europe where I have some other family members. Stay put for a couple of years while he finished up and goes off to the military or college or where ever he wants to start his life and then take my younger son and hit the road again for a couple of more years maybe longer. Just so long as he can finish high school and get on with his own life when we get back to the US at some point. Are there other parents doing that out here? Any pointers or suggestions on how to best facilitate this and help my sons stay on track with their studies. I would do homeschool plans for them to keep them moving forward with their education. At this point I own a home, I really don’t like it and I want to move and I also bought a car less than a year ago so I have some bills I can’t see a clear way out of quickly. I feel unconventional on the inside, OMG. I have some convention things I need to move around in my life so I can give my children the world literally. I just feel like it would make them better people and it would make me a better mom because I dream about taking them places that we would never be able to afford with our current life style. How do I do it? I understand cutting out things and putting the money into other places as a concept. I just need more concrete examples of how to accomplish it and how to budget the savings so I can get all the time traveling with my boys that I want them to have. I would really love to hear from parents doing this especially single parents.

    • says

      You know, Carmela, that’s a very important question. In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to post the story of a single mom with two kids who I met traveling through Costa Rica. She had an incredible story: she climbed to the summit of Denali (Mt. McKinley), she worked several months each year in Costa Rica, and she homeschooled her kids as she traveled with them all around the world. She was flabbergasted when I asked if I could interview her, because she didn’t think her story was remarkable in any way. In her mind, everybody does this.

      So … stay tuned. You’ve asked an important question, and it deserves a full-article response.

  44. says

    Ok, i just stumbled across your page. Enjoyed the post. But what caught me most was where you stated that your bank balance was climbing at a frightening rate. Ok, so that goes without reason for me to ask, what was you doing to make so much money at such a fast rate? Because apparently i don’t know how to, or i wouldn’t be asking. You claim you are not rich and i believe that, but you obviously felt that you had enough to travel the world.

  45. says

    I would love to pack in my ohso boring life of loneliness and poverty, and travel the world with my daughter for the rest of our lives…we are so unhappy where we are now….the only reason i am not going is my daughter; she is 14 and needs education…but now i am thinking: why let that stop us? this life is not what i want for me and her…..she is bright and intelligent….gets good grades at school….we need life experience…

    • says

      @Therese — Have you looked into homeschooling your daughter while you travel? I’ve met several parents who go that route. They approach traveling as the ultimate educational field trip for their children, and they design lesson plans around all the places they visit.

  46. says


    This was really inspiring! I have dreamed about doing something like this since I was a little girl. I’m 19 years old and I own a car and work at a restaurant as a server. Nothing really tying me anywhere. I was planning to backpack Europe this summer (2014) for a month. After reading this and a few of your other entries I feel that I need to just go for it.

    I am terrified as well as excited. I don’t want to let my fear hold me back nor my bank account.

    I have $5,000 saved up right now and plan on earning another 5,000 in the next 4 months to go towards the trip. Will $10,000 be enough to carry me on through the next 2 years of backpacking Europe?

    • says

      @Syd — Congrats on getting closer to your dream! $10,000 probably won’t be enough to backpack Europe for 2 years, unless you plan on also working while you’re in Europe. If you’re interested in doing that, get a work visa. If you can’t qualify for one (I couldn’t), there’s an organization called Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms, which has a nice program in which you can work — without a visa — in exchange for room-and-board. I used this while I was backpacking through Spain.

      As a general rule, plan on spending about $1,000 per month in Europe if you travel frugally.

      • says

        Thanks for the feed back!

        I will have more money than that. I’m selling my things and my car. I was planning to get a work visa(if I can). Hopefully I make quite a bit more money by selling my things.

        I’ve also decided to leave at the end of August or the beginning of September which with give me a few more months to accumulate cash.

        Hopefully, I will have around $20,000 to go with.

      • Oz says

        Hello again, I have written three times in the last 24 hours. But I have a life I swear, I just woke up and realized I forgot to turn this thing off, so there it was waiting for me as I walked past to get my morning coffee (in my Kitchen). Anyways I dont know if I can reply to anyone or just you and I dont know if any of my thoughts will make it on.
        Here is an idea for the girl wanting to backpack Europe on $10K. Start in Spain, consider the Camino de Santiago. There are countless (not really) ways to get there. It is a religious pilgrimage but does not have to be religious so dont let that scare you. Here is the kicker, since it is sponsored by the church, when you reach the end you will have a number of stamps on your Santiago passport to prove you were actually on the route. AT this point you get to your last checkpoint of sorts and a mane asks you some questions about the purpose/meaning of your pilgrimage. He needs to dedicate the certificate to something or someone. At this point, if you have any hangups or baggage (you not be aware you do) you may learn a thing or two about yourself at that very moment. I choked up and cried like a baby for my Mother who had died many years earlier and who I chose to name on that certificate. keep in mind I am 43 and not supposed to make a scene let alone cry outloud.
        Anyways back you your trip, The Hostels/Albergues are 5-8dollars and some times free (by donation), the food along the way is very affordable and you are guaranteed to meet other free spirited people like yourself. I always meet others my age with awesome stories. Lots of younger adventurous types along the way. Of course when you are done, you have arrived at the North west corner of Spain just above Portugal. So maybe head south through Portugal to the Mediterranean/ Gibraltar then East along the coast. make a stop in Jerez for the equestrian Festivals. Continue East and stop in the Canary Islands (Ibiza) if you plan it right you will make it to Ibiza for the summer festivities. At that point continue North into France and remember that Eastern Europe is considerably cheaper than the more popular Western European countries. If you are lucky you will meet many people along the Camino and probably have someone to visit elsewhere in Europe. Bulgaria, Romania and Greece of course are all under stated and you if choose to go east, you might wonder why these countries are not more popular. you will visit incredible places that will make your arm hairs stand on end, then realize you are there all alone, there is no one else there which is strangely a good thing. You will feel like you have discovered something. Think of Neil Armstrong on the moon. OK not that awesome!! but along those lines. Anyways enjoy your trips, people who really, really think they want to know whats out there and have the _____, eventually take the plunge. Those that lack ______, die unfulfilled. Like you missed out (Coulda, Shoulda, woulda)
        In Spanish there is a saying “Lo vivido nadie te lo quita” loosely translated: What you’ve lived, no one can take from you. Anyway I may have to start a blog of my own because I love this. Someone tell me how.

  47. says

    This article is inspiring!
    I drive a new car. I went to graduate school at a private school on loan, and I don’t regret it. I do not own a home.
    I take several short solo trips a lot. I am going to the Caribbean alone in 2 days.
    I have side jobs for travel fund. True, people never wonder how I could afford to go to private school or make car payments. But they don’t seem to understand how I can afford to travel every so often.
    Still, I can’t give up on jobs to travel the world for a year. :(

    • says

      Thanks Kate! Isn’t it interesting how nobody wonders, “How can you afford grad school?” or “How can you afford your car?,” but the moment you tell them that you’re going to travel, they immediately say, “How can you afford it?”

      That’s a symptom of people placing their idea of “normalcy” on top of yours. If something is “normal,” then they believe that you can find the money. But if something is “against the grain” or “nonconformist,” they assume that you have to be rich in order to make it a reality.

      The truth, of course, is that you can afford anything you want … you may have to work an extra side job in order to build your travel fund, but what’s so bad about that?

      • says

        Hello everyone, I’ve so enjoyed everyone’s views and replies and life stories, I was thrown out of home aged 17, lived in a car, stole to eat… I won’t go into too much detail but times were hard, I’m a grafter and I found myself a job, established myself but was with a guy who was always in debt, he still is to this day, we are still good friends, I was with him for 11 years, when we split up I couldn’t get myself a mortgage due to “our” terrible credit history, so, having worked at a large company for quite some years I persuaded a couple of senior people at my work to loan me the money to buy a live aboard barge on the Thames, everyone told me no, but I was 100% focused, I then lived for 3 years on marmite on toast.. For the most part, I gave myself 10 uk pound per day for commuting and food so, Monday I would try to minimise my spending by making sandwiches and walking, any money I didn’t spend of the 10 pounds would go to the next day budget, and so on.. So Friday night or sat night when friends suggested a drink or dinner I usually had enough saved to go, if I didn’t I wouldn’t go, but I felt like I really earnt a night out, it was very rewarding, I was able to live like this for 3 years, paid back my friends with interest and was in a position to buy a flat with a mortgage as I now had some credit rating… But I didn’t change my lifestyle much, I now have several properties behind me, and financially quite secure, I’ve worked and excelled at my company for 23 years, a week ago I was told they are letting me go, I’m going through the grief process but my determined youth will help me cope. But right now I feel a bit lost… I’m sure it will pass… I want to take some time out but can’t decide how long to take… Ive done quite some things on my bucket list, south pole, northern lights etc,,Any suggestions welcome… I have lived in dubai last 6 years so with no job I have to move on and I really don’t fancy uk

        • says

          Its inspiring to read all the stories about people giving up their comfortable lives for adventure and travelling. It isn’t easy to change your life and the first step is almost certainly the hardest.

          I have just sold my house, got rid of all of my ‘stuff’, moved into a cheap rented place, and am planning to quit work in a couple of months to travel and experience the world. Not sure what I’ll do yet or where I’m going but I am going ……

          Most of the people on here seem to be in their twenties or thirties which obviously makes them more employable en route or when they return home. I’m in my mid fifties and the only doubt I have is that it could be virtually impossible for me to find a full time job in a couple of years time. It’s pretty terrifying but perhaps that’s another reason to actually go, life isn’t supposed to be comfortable and easy is it?

  48. says

    Hello there

    I’ve just come across this site after typing into Google – I’m 58yrs old (female)and want a job that involves travelling abroad. I’m amazed..
    Having just returned to the UK following a 3 week visit to relatives in South Korea, my appetite for travel has been whetted. This was my first ever long haul trip. I’ve never been further than Europe (Spain, France, Italy) and I’ve realised that the world is a big place and I want to see more of it and ‘do something’ in it before I get too old. Long divorced, currently single, mortgage due to be paid off when I’m 60. Due to changes in benefits system, my state pension age has now been delayed until age 67. Got no savings at the moment, work part time and now more aware than ever that my time at my current job has to be limited. I want to spread my newly acquired wings and fly away from my little, limited life. Career path up to now hasn’t been a straight line.. Criminal Justice system – (Police, Probation and Prisons) followed by advocacy and employment coaching. What next I wonder.. All comments and suggestions gratefully read and received. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Green5c, I totally agree with you about wanting to see more of the world and life before it gets too late. I’m also in my 50’s and the only major worry I have is that I would never find another job if I decided to go off travelling now for a couple of years. It’s a little scary isn’t it?

      I hope you manage to get away and realise your dreams. Life’s too short not to go for it.


  49. says

    I married a person I thought was up for anything but he’s more settled now than ever. He is in 3 bands mind you and goes whenever he wants. I would love to move to Port A with my sons but he says no and that he would hate it there, when I suggest visiting or moving to another country he finds everything wrong with the place. I’ve decided to just travel alone or with my sons and leave his butt behind! I love this article!

  50. says


    There is another website that’g great for travelling. It’s http://www.helpx.net. It’s a labour exchange like woofing but has a range of homes, familes, businesses and people all looking for a spare pair of hands or two for a few hours a day in return for food and board. It started in Christchurch, New Zealand but is worldwide now. We live on 15 acres in the Bay of Plenty and regularly host individual, couples, friends travelling together and families with kids at our place in return for help around the house and the farm. We’ve been hosting for 3 years now and have made some wonderful friends from those we have hosted. Some hosts even offer paid work as well as unpaid/food and board work. Check the site out.

    To the single parents who have commented, don’t let the fear of education or the lack of it put you off. We hosted a wonderful single mum from France who negotiated with her employer to be paid half pay for a year and worked full time for the first 6 months. She then travelled for the other 6 months with her tow boys, using helpx the whole way. I was totally inspired. Her boys were world learning and she threw in a bit of homeschool. It’s totally doable. There’s a million ways to do it, every problem has a solution. Fear is all that put’s us off giving it a go. What’s the worst that can happen? Travel with your kids, you won’t ever regret it.


    • says

      Thanks, Peggy! I really hope to spread the message that there’s ALWAYS a way to turn your dreams into a reality, and that having kids is one of the best reasons to travel, and show them the world.

  51. says

    I enjoyed your article, I only wish I would have been aware of this type of living decades ago. I am in my early 50’s and now just shake my head of what could have been. The best time to start something new, is today and that is what I have started to do.

    Keep up the great work, you may never know all the lives you touch, but you are helping many people,


  52. says

    Nice article. The Wife & I caught the travel bug a little while ago and just recently got back from SE Asia. Because I’m ‘semi’ retired meaning we have a home and assets we’re happy with (gross value seems enough to sustain us into the future) we just save money by working part time and loosely plan trips as we feel like. We need house sitters to look after the dogs though. We still have a mid sized mortgage but rates are so low it matters little and rent from the other property gives a couple hundred a week so we just use savings to travel on and it’s great!

    I have a part time job interview today and am not looking forward to working again but as long as it’s for living ill get through. Really enjoy not working now if I don’t want but it took me 12 years to make it this far

  53. says

    People are living in an “instant” culture nowadays, of “I want what I want when I want it”, and society put so much pressure to succeed at such young age, the virtue of “it’s never too late” is forgotten, me too at times delve into this sort of thinking,but then again I realized we have a looooooong live to live why not take it slowly.Hence I took 10 months off last year to enjoy slow travel,am not back in the work force,but contemplating of leaving again soon, but this time, with plans in the making, wish me luck.

  54. says

    This is a great story about a great plan, Paula. Indeed, I’m on my way trying to get involved into the lifestyle which can help you invest into yourself, into travelling and gaining the most precious experience. Of course, it’s not that easy for those who have families and kids. Actually, this lifestyle is the best for so-called cooling period when you are young and free and don’t have too many obligations. Still, you need to have some down payment to start from. Of course, mobility, travelling, carrying a “wild” lifestyle can’t be working for everyone. I agree with Paula that you should first realize what is precious for you and what lifestyle you would like to stick to first, and then to start managing your budget according to this plan. And if eventually you decide you want to get away from your traditional schedule and make it for a year or two abroad hiking and exploring new places, then, probably, you should start right away. Get rid of debt which is tiring you and weighting you down and learn how the pros save on travelling using healthy and effective tips. Then, make a plan how to prepare yourself for a crazy trip and finally make it when the time comes. It’s all about planning and accepting what you actually want.

  55. kira says

    I just stumbled onto this website. All of the information and ideas are inspiring. I think you are all correct. We are all taught and trained on how we should live and what others expect us to do. Put that together and you have no support system to encourage you to do something different. This keeps us locked into their values and plans. With these things going on around us it is difficult to break away and create a new path with little or no guidance from people that always supported us. Put that all together and many of us have mind numbing paryalzing fear holding us back. With that said it is awesome that so many of you have figured out how to do what you want to do.

  56. says

    I must confess I loved your honesty, how you sacrificed and lived frugally for over a year and finally achieved what you wanted. That’s a great lesson to me considering I have been wishing to quit my job and at the same time travel to the Mara in Kenya some day.

  57. says

    This is a truly great post for all it’s honesty and point of view. It is so inspiring to see how other people achieve what they’ve always wanted, it motivates you to try to do the same thing! Thank you for sharing!

  58. says

    Great post! Hubby and I went travelling for two months before we had kids, and we got all kinds of questions about how we could afford it – questions from people with huge houses and cars of the year.

    We simply lived cheaply and saved up for two years.

    3 kids later, the travel bug has hit again, and we’re trying to figure out a way to just pack up and go with kids in tow. It is harder to go without a plan with 3 kids 5 and under; we feel the need to be somewhat secure if/when we return.

    But with some planning, we’ll be travelling again. It will be a great experience for all of us.

    Thanks for the inspiration.


  59. Helen says

    How do you obtain visa’s to travel through all those countries? Having just returned from Togo and Ghana visa’s themselves can be quite an expense.

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