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Budget: how do you fund four years of travel?

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

One of the biggest misconceptions about traveling is that it’s expensive. As you’ve seen with my Would You Rather posts or my $15/day travel budget summaries, the amount you spend on a single meal at home is my entire daily budget on the road.

After four years, yes it all adds up and no I’m not a trust fund backpacker. So how did I finance my globe trotting addiction? I’ll tell you.

Did you win the lottery?

I wish! No. I fund my travels by good old-fashioned hard work, strict budgeting, and saving saving saving.

Instead of spending every penny, I stash every penny literally.

From 2008-2011, this is how I accumulated money to travel around the world:

In 2008, my trips where all spur of the moment decisions. I used the following monetary sources:

– tax return
– final paychecks
– vacation back pay
– apartment deposit
– savings
– credit cards

In 2009, my travels around the United States were all work related and paid for by my former employer.

I no longer had an apt or storage fee as I had moved everything into my parents garage.

I traded in my sports car for an economy ride to save money on car payments and gas.

In order to properly manage my finances for future travels, I also paid off some debts from the previous year.

In 2010, for my Round the World trip, I planned one year in advance. Most of my trip money was all based on strategic savings:

– I saved at least half of each paycheck from my job in 2009
– I moved in with my parents
– I minimized my bills
– I rented my car to a friend while I traveled to save money on car payments
– lawsuit earnings

In 2011, I worked a promotional tour and sustained nearly all of my earnings.
– I rented and eventually sold my car
– instead of using the $50/day per diem I received for work I only spent $10
– I used a low-cost prepaid cell service instead of an expensive contract plan
– I made all of my meals and hardly ever ate out
– I worked the hotel/airline programs for all their promotions and accumulated a large amount of points I later used for free airfare

With hard work and sacrifice, many of us can save money to travel. If your goal is to increase your travel experience, you just have to shift priorities a bit.

I traded in a life of clubbing in Marc Jacob shoes for a backpack filled with passport stamps.

Anything is possible! :-)

For a full breakdown of where I’ve been, check out my Travel Timeline.

What are your personal savings strategies?