Expert Interview with Tony Rulli on Long-term Travel for Mint

Escaping the corporate grind for a life on the road is easier than you think, says Tony Rulli, co-founder of travel blog LandingStanding.

To get started, he says to read travel blogs and reach out to travelers on Facebook and Twitter to get their thoughts - interacting with long-term travelers will not only inspire you, but also teach you a lot.

"We have met people of all ages, family-size, financial backgrounds and life experiences on the road, and the only common factor was their willingness to turn their dream of travel into a reality," Tony says.

LandingStanding.com tells the story of how Tony and his wife, Meg, pulled off their own round-the-world journey. Here, he shares how he budgeted for the journey and saved money on the way. Read on:

Tell us about LandingStanding...when and why did you start your site?

My wife and I both had corporate jobs and were living in Miami when the travel itch started to take hold. So we started our site at the beginning of 2011 to get a hang of this travel writing thing and then started our around the world trip at the beginning of 2012.

Bonus: All of that pre-travel writing let us meet a lot of cool travelers who ended up being great friends once we met them out on the road!

When did you decide you needed to leave the corporate world for a while to pursue travel? What led you to this decision?

It goes all the way back to our honeymoon on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. We were at the local bar and started talking with the crew of one of the mega-yachts and learned all about a lifestyle we had never contemplated. Very low salary, but an unbelievable amount of life experiences and fun.

Once we got turned on to the idea of a career and life outside the corporate world, it was just a matter of time before we made the leap. Hence our site name: LandingStanding. Because our HOPE was that we could take this big jump into uncertainty and land on our feet. :)

Once you decided you wanted to take a round-the-world trip, what steps did you take to start saving money?

Even before we decided to travel, we were very aware of our finances. We liked to practice "conscious spending," which means we set up automatic draws from our bank accounts every month that used our paychecks to pay any bills, deposited a portion into savings, deposited another portion into investment accounts and then deposited the rest into checking. This way we could spend freely from our checking since our long-term finances were being taken care of!

Once we officially decided to take our trip, we created a separate savings account called "travel" that was just for our upcoming journey. We also downgraded apartments from a two-bed to a much cheaper one-bed, which saved us a ton of money over the course of a year - we automatically put this monthly savings from rent into our travel fund.

By the time we left on our trip, we had saved enough money to travel for a year and to have a nice cushion for when we returned and started our own businesses.

How did you budget for your adventure? How was your budget revised on your journey?

The best laid plans...right?

We knew we had a set amount in our savings account, and we thought we could average spending less than $100/day based on researching the travels of others. While we actually were very close to this average, the budget had to get revised at times due to some countries being much expensive than others. We averaged $140/day in South America (thanks to some pricey activities like the Inca Trail hike), but only $60/day in Southeast Asia.

If you're curious, here is a country-by-country breakdown of what we spent in each country we visited along with the total cost of our year long trip.

What is your philosophy on how you spend/save money while traveling? Where do you try to pinch pennies? Where do you let yourselves splurge?

In travel and at home, we believe that our money is best spent on activities as opposed to things. The memory stays with you longer than an item ever will, so if we thought an activity was going to make an awesome memory, we were all for it!

We also tried pet sitting while traveling, which let us stay in some incredible accommodations while saving money on rent and hotels. When we weren't pet sitting, we tried to stay in the cheapest places (while still being safe) since we never planned on being inside too long anyways.

What are some of the best methods you've found for saving money on...

...air travel? Local air carriers often have great last-minute deals (we flew from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney for $300 on Air Asia).

...ground transportation? If you can handle spending a long time on a bus, definitely do it in South America. Very cheap, and you can even splurge for first class accommodations and still have it be cheaper than air travel.

...lodging? Pet sitting. As long as your travel plans are flexible, you can score some great (free) lodging.

...food? Do you like Thai food? Go to Southeast Asia immediately. It's less than a $1 for the best green curry of your life.

What is travel hacking, and why is it a good thing to know about for budget-conscious travelers?

Travel hacking is basically systematically using different travel deals to travel as cheaply as possible. This means using credit card promotions to get lots of miles, flying an extra bit in order to get the minimum miles required to be a frequent flyer and knowing how to transfer your miles and points between different loyalty programs.

We used the loyalty program miles we had accumulated in the year before our trip to cover our flights from Boston to Santiago, Chile, and many people use miles to pay for an around-the-world ticket.

Tell us about one of your favorite destinations. What makes it stand apart?

Gili Air in Indonesia.

It is part of the Gili islands and is about a two-and-a-half-hour speedboat ride from Bali. There are no cars, and it takes only 45 minutes to walk around the entire island. Very rustic, but incredible scenery, amazing SCUBA diving, and some of the best local food we had on our trip.

It was a truly magical place that let us completely relax and just enjoy being on one heck of a trip.

Follow Tony on Facebook and Twitter.