If the prospect of leaving your job for a year of travel seems crazy, intimidating, impossible and/or all of the above, let Jeremy Jones, founder of the Living the Dream travel network of websites, sell you on it.
"Taking a year off to travel is like having 26 two-week vacations all at once," he says "I don't know about you, but the thought of being able to have a career's worth of travel in one year is a pretty good sales pitch!"
Luckily, Jeremy, who's on his second round the world adventure, has plenty of tips for how to make your dreams of long-term travel come true - including how to budget for the trip and where to find savings.
Read on to learn more:
Tell us the story behind Living the Dream...when and why did you start your site?
I started Living the Dream in 2008 to chronicle a long-term trip I was taking in 2010. That trip came and went and since then we have evolved to be one of the largest resources for long-term travel on the web. The second long-term trip covered on our site, now with my wife and co-author Angie, started in June 2013 and is still going strong. When this one ends, we will be growing even more to have staff writers covering new itineraries and travel styles!
Where in the world are you now? What's your favorite part about this destination?
We are currently in Salento, Colombia! It is a small village in the mountains that is famous for being the gateway to the Cocora Valley, where the wax palm trees are found. These palms are the tallest in the world and can grow to be over 200 feet tall. It is truly a magical spot that should be on everyone's must-see list.
When did you become addicted to travel? Do you remember the moment or day you knew you had to have more?
It is hard to say for sure. It was probably sometime in 2008 when I had just returned from my first trip to Europe and met a lot of travelers who had been all over the world and had amazing stories to tell. I had just visited a dozen major cities but came home with a list of places to see longer than when I started. It was from that vacation that I decided to take a long-term trip and launch Living the Dream. Now, six years and 66 countries later, my list of places I want to visit is even longer for the very same reason.
What advice do you have for saving for a RTW trip or for long-term travel?
It is much easier to save when you know how much you'll need to take your dream trip. First, you'll know whether or not your savings ability would make it practical by your ideal travel date, and second, having a monthly savings goal (be it $300/month, $500/month or even $1,000/month) puts more pressure on you to save.
Without having the need to save, say, an extra $100 to meet the goal, you will likely not stash away that money and then lose out on a day or two of travel in the process. Compound that over a year or two of savings, and you just lost yourself a month on the road or, if you absolutely must have that month, added on another few months of work before you can leave.
How do you budget for long-term travel?
We personally plan every country's budget individually and build our itinerary around what we're able to save (as mentioned above). It works out really well to ensure everything we want to do is covered, as having a set daily budget for the whole trip really doesn't work for most travelers. Likewise, we did not have any extra time to save, as our departure was fixed, so it was either save what we needed, based on what we thought we could achieve, or cut our itinerary somehow!
What are your best strategies for saving money on...
For long-term travelers, check multiple cities and departure dates when flying from region to region, especially in areas where you are traveling overland and are flexible with where you depart from. We saved over 50 percent off the cost of a ticket when flying from Eastern Europe to Dubai purely because we found a cheap (and direct) flight from Skopje, Macedonia, that only went two or three days a week. Had we picked the wrong city or wrong day of the week, we would have spent an extra $500+ just to fly!
Depending on where you are, this one is rough. In Western Europe, the key is to book as far in advance as possible, or if your route works out well for it, buy a rail pass. Elsewhere in the world, the only option may be to book a cheaper class, as tiered pricing based on booking date doesn't exist!
Being flexible with the type of accommodation you want to stay in can have great results. The number of times renting a private apartment has been cheaper than a budget hotel room has really blown us away.
Street food! There really is no other way to save money on this one and still eat authentic meals. Find a stall that is overflowing with locals and you'll be sure to have a delicious meal with fresh ingredients due to the high turn-over.
What are the most affordable destinations you've visited (ones that offered the best bang for your buck)?
There are so many! We found many of the countries in Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, etc.) to be quite affordable, which was rather surprising.
Other destinations like India, Nepal and Thailand can also be reasonable depending on how you travel; however, there are many activities that could increase the prices rather rapidly such as flights in India, trekking in Nepal, or nice resorts/scuba diving in Thailand.
What about places that surprised you with how expensive they are?
Argentina would go on our list as one of the worst surprises we've had when it comes to money. It isn't the most expensive destination we've ever been to; however, their failing economy and rapid inflation makes it miserable when dealing with money.
If you bring in USD from abroad, you can get currency on the black market for a 40 percent premium (or more), and if you don't, then you have to deal with insultingly low limits on the ATMs as well as a $5-plus charge per transaction at most banks.
There is nothing more upsetting than only being able to withdrawal <$200 per transaction, paying $5 plus your own bank fees to do so, and then having to do it again a day or two later. If that isn't enough to drive anyone over the edge, there is also a coin shortage, and most stores give you a really hard time when trying to pay with a larger bill.
What are some ways you've found to earn money on the road?
As a travel writer, I've been working online with our blogs throughout our trips. There are numerous opportunities including direct advertising, freelance writing and product sales (both affiliate setups and our own book), which make up most of our income streams. It isn't a lot, and definitely took a lot of effort to get this far. But it does help!