Tourist or Traveller?
I was bitten by the travel bug at a very early age. I traveled overseas to play soccer in England when I was just 10 years old. Since then, I haven’t looked back! My trips have mostly consisted of 1-5 days (maybe a week if I’m lucky) in one place. Then, pack up the bag, take a bus/train/plane, and off to the next destination. Although this is a great way to see as many cities and towns as possible, being a tourist prevents you from truly getting to know a particular place.
My goal has always been to see as many countries as possible. After hearing about “slow travel,” however, this changed a bit. I no longer want to do the “Go! Go! Go!” whirlwind tours of days past, just to check a place off “the list.” Instead, I now want to travel more like a local–getting to know the food, culture, people and the everyday way of life of my locale.
I am quite a lucky man. In addition to being the kindest person I know, Kristen has an incredible sense of adventure. But even her adventurous spirit knows some limits. So, when I mentioned this crazy idea about trying to visit 12 countries in 12 months, I didn’t know how she would react. Not only was she open to the idea, but she was probably even more excited about it than I was.
As of Monday, October 29th, we officially will NOT be teaching another year at our International school here in Santiago, Chile. Although these were four of the best years of our lives (thus far), the timing is perfect. Instead of the saying “there’s always next year” we have decided that “there’s no day but today” sounds a lot better.
But seriously, how could we possibly leave our school!?! We have such great jobs, wonderful friends, an incredible lifestyle, and we are saving a ton of money while living a dream life in Santiago. Well, that last part is exactly how we can seriously be considering taking a year off from paid work. At this juncture, we could use 4% of our “Net Worth” to fund our year abroad. We would have roughly $1,500 USD/ month to spend. However, this would put our path to “FI” in a worse place than where we left it. And for us, that’s NOT a great plan!
Here Is the Plan!
We will sell Kristen’s car here in Santiago. That $5,000 (or so) will give us a nice kitty to work with. We will use our school’s flight (they pay for a flight home for us at the end of our contract) to fly to Wisconsin and/or Virginia. Then we will either use some frequent flyer miles or try to find a cheap flight to Europe for a wedding we have in France. From then on, we will try to purchase cheap short-haul flights using $ and try to use our stockpile of awards points (225,000 Avios points, 70,000 AA, 70,000 Delta, and 40,000 Alaska) to pay for any long-haul flights (i.e. Berlin to Dubai).
In addition to using as many frequent flyer miles as possible, we are going to use some hacks to help with housing costs. A month-long Airbnb in some parts of Asia could be ridiculously cheap when some offer up to 50% off for extended (month-long) stays. Additionally, we will try to find some housesitting, pet sitting, and/or couchsurfing opportunities when possible. We will supplement these stays with the 300,000 or so hotel points (SPG, IHG, and Hilton) that we have acquired from hotel rewards cards over the past few years.
With these hacks, we think we can live on roughly $15,000 for the year (for those of you who did NOT have Mr. Barrett for math class, that’s about $40/ day). BUT, we do not want to sell any of our investments (I <3 VTSAX) to help us finance our trip. We don’t like the idea of having a “negative’ savings rate. Instead, we are aiming for a 0% savings rate for the year.
How Is This Possible?!?
We will try to do some online tutoring (VIPkid or something along those lines) to help make ends meet. For one hour of work each, we could make about $40/ day. With this amount of money, we will live like kings in some part of Asia and need to subsidize it in other ways in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
When needed, we will use the quarterly dividends we receive (≈ $300 from “Fundrise” and $1,000 from Vanguard/Schwab) to help smooth out the ride.
The Power Of Compound Interest
In theory, if we don’t spend a dime of our investments and achieve the lofty goal of a 0% savings rate, we could be QUITE better off than where we were before we left. Compound interest is a POWERFUL thing! In a perfect world we will be able to reap the benefits of the 8% -10% annual historic return of the US Stock Market, and let compound interest do its beautiful thing.
That means that we will quite possibly increase our New Worth in one year by roughly $30,000-$45,000 while having the adventure of a lifetime and NOT working full-time!!!
Our Slow-Travel Plan
(MUCH more to come in the not-too-distant future!)
We will ship two 50-pound suitcases home before we leave in June. These will contain some mementos, keepsakes, and other items that we do not want to get rid of, but also do not want to travel around the world with (I see you wedding book!)
We will donate most of our belongings to Venezuelan families that have fled the chaos of their home country with only the clothes on their backs. We also will offer to “sell” (in reality we will ask for a free month’s rent) our big items to our landlords, so they can rent a furnished apartment in the future. We will be left with the perfect minimalist set-up–two rucksacks and one daypack.
Our initial plan is fly to the Galapagos for 10 days or so. Then, head to Wisconsin and Virginia for some quality time with the families. Afterward, we will head to France for a good friend’s wedding and swing by a small town in Germany to see one of Kristen’s closest friends and her family.
We will slowly make our way through some of Eastern Europe–Hungary, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Slovakia are just a few of the potential spots. We will try to make our way to Dubai for a job fair, then head to Oman for a while.
The bulk of our traveling will be in Asia, however. We both want to spend a lot of time in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Japan, just to name a few places. Luckily, our money will go pretty far in most of these spots (hopefully they sell Ramen noodles in Japan!!!).
We cannot wait to share all of our adventures, hardships, triumphs, sadness, and joy that we will encounter, with you, starting in June!!!
We are just in the preliminary stages of our planning, so leave a comment below if you have any advice, ideas, and/or feedback!!