There are many travelers out there who wander around the globe on a mere $20,000 a year. It seems incredible, but when you consider that $20,000 breaks down to about $55 dollars a day, it doesn't seem so crazy. $55 a day is extreme wealth in many parts of the world, and if you're smart with your food and transport, you can get by fairly well traveling on only $20,000 a year.
Thing is, not many people have $20,000 lying around and so money often becomes an excuse. A quiet night of TV becomes quick substitute for a dreamlike journey through Cambodia just because you didn't have some extra cash.
Well, no more excuses. Follow the 20 steps below and you will have $20,000 saved in a year and be off to travel Asia, Africa or anywhere else in the world you want to go.
1. Cut your Cable
It's only for one year and you can watch the big game at the pub or catch your shows on DVD's from the library. I recently read a post on Advanced Riskology that claimed you could save yourself an extra $133,000 in your lifetime by ditching cable. Sounds good. Hey, you think when you are in Buenos Aires you will really care who won Idol? SAVINGS $780
2. Brew your own Coffee
I wrote a post just on this and will always remember the day I added up the savings. It was costing my wife and I over $1,000 a year for Coffee. No wonder why Dunkin Donuts is on every corner in Boston. By bringing our coffee to work from home we saved big. SAVINGS $715
3. Ride a Bike
I am lucky to live close to work. But I still live in New England and 3 miles by bike in winter is 10 miles anywhere else. I sold my car, bought a bike, pocketed the difference and now save on gas, repairs, insurance, taxes and everything else that comes with owning a money sucking vehicle. SAVINGS $3,000
4. Go to the Library
Libraries today have pretty much everything a family could ask for. Movies, music, free passes to museums, tickets to local events, tax help, legal help, free internet and, oh yes, books! All you have to do is return everything on time and it is FREE, FREE, FREE. Now think of all the money you could save avoiding Barnes and Noble, Netflix and Amazon. SAVINGS $300
5. Skip one Family Vacation
This seems obvious if you are saving for a trip around the world. Yet, an itchy traveler often gets itchy to book a flight and hotel in Orlando. DON'T DO IT! Talk yourselves out of it. You'll be on your way soon. SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! SAVINGS $1,200 -/+ a few hundred.
6. Don't Buy a Pet
I know, I am going to offend some folks here. But people, your pets are costing you A LOT OF MONEY and owning a pet is getting a bit strange. I read recently that 42% of dogs sleep in the same bed as their owners. 42%! There's some lonely folks out there and I get that. Some people just love animals and I get that as well. But pet ownership has gotten nuts! Have you heard that neutered dogs can have testicle implants "installed" for just under $1,000? I kid you not! I love animals. I love dogs. But if you have any aspirations for a Great Family Escape, don't get a pet. And if you have one, start thinking down the line. Dogs don't do very well on Chinese trains. SAVINGS $750
7. Clothes Shopping
Worry not fashion folk, we have a plan with this one. The US Department of Labor estimates that the average family spends $1,881 dollars on clothes a year. I think our family of 4 can do better than that, and dress pretty well too. We go clothes shopping 4 times a year and we spend $300 each time. We always have something new, "In Season", and we spend a lot more time with each other than we do standing in lines at the mall. SAVINGS $681
8. Stop Eating Out
Here's the thing about eating out. It's not the food that attacks your budget, it's the tips and drinks. Let's say you eat out once a month at a decent restaurant. So that's about $65 for a family of 4, but add $10 (or more) for a tip and $10 for dad's beer and mom's glass of wine. That's $85. That's over $1,000 dollars a year for 12 meals. Cut that in half and you save some decent money. SAVINGS $500
9. Skip Ballet
I don't know why we parents do this. Why do our kids have to have introductory courses to every activity on earth? Soccer camp, Spanish classes, drama, ballet, gymnastics, summer camp, baseball, drawing, violin, girl scouts, math club, music and dance. Your kids just want to play. Yeah, I get that people work and our kids need a structured place to go, but could someone just sit at the park with them? Aren't the recitals and video cameras and "BIG" games just getting a little overdone? Maybe I'm overstating the issue. Then again, if I skipped everything my daughter was involved in this year I would have saved over $5,000! No wonder why I have feelings on the subject, this is part of the reason we are getting out. $5,000 is a fortune in most countries and I just can't do it anymore. That's horrible! $5,000 for camp, soccer and Peter Pan. I hope you don't spend as much as I did on creative kid daycare, so I will budget the savings low this time. SAVINGS $700
10. Do not go to the movies!
I was once a film guy. Lived in Hollywood, played around on the sets, sat in Tom Cruise's chair and watched him get really pissed off. I saw the faux of Hollywood.
Do you know how movies make money? Popcorn and Soda. That's it. That's why they charge you 10 dollars for some corn seed and sugar water that in reality costs about 15 cents. Hey, they've got to make a living right?? Just make sure they don't make it off you. With Netflix, Redbox and Hulu charging pennies for watching films, who needs to drop $50 bucks for endless previews and the world's most expensive corn? 5 Family Movies - SAVINGS $300
So, we are 10 money-saving moves in and have saved $8,926 dollars so far. I have decided to enlist the pros for the rest of the journey. I decided to put a little travel twist on this part so let's see how it goes.
11. Do Not Buy Souvenirs
Nora Dunn is one of the queens of world travel and has a site called The Professional Hobo. She also claims to be able to travel around the world on only $14,000 a year. You can see how she does this HERE, but one of her big tips was not to buy souvenirs. I agree. We might as well add unnecessary toys, games and anything from an antique shop or thrift store. You don't need it. SAVINGS $400
12. Ditch the Gym Membership
Some gym memberships have dropped really low. Maybe even $10 bucks a month. But you don't need it. I was reading a post on traveling the world for free which noted how when you travel you leave it all behind. True, but you can always exercise - remember running outside, on solid, non-conveying ground? You don't need a gym at home or on the road. Ditch it. SAVINGS $350
13. Cheap Eats
Some of the cheapest foods are the healthiest foods. You might as well save a few bucks and eat healthy. These guys at As We Travel have a pretty decent list. Make some adjustments to your groceries. Shop less, be less spontaneous. And never shop hungry. SAVINGS $1200
14. Kill your Vices
I do not even want to go back and calculate how much money I spent on cigarettes and alcohol in my life. 10's of thousands I would guess. I quit smoking years ago and have slowed down with the booze. However, when a person travels, the atmosphere often takes over. BootsNAll is a fantastic travel network and has great tips on budget everything. Cutting out smoking and alcohol can save you cash whether you're traveling or at home, not to mention the money you'll save on medical bills later on. SAVINGS $1,500
15. Stop using the Mail
Travelers have gone digital. Texts, emails, videos, all your communication can now be done wirelessly and often for free. Actually, at almostfearless.com you can get an ebook on it. So why keep sending Christmas cards, birthday cards and get well cards by mail? It all adds up. Let's say 100 cards a year. $2.99 a card, plus postage. SAVINGS $334
We are at $12, 710 dollars saved right now. That's a lot of travel money.
Nowadays taxes are easy and can be done anywhere. Please use turbo tax, your life will be so much better because of it (they DIDN'T pay me to say that). Learn to make the right adjustments and use your deductibles. My taxes are done in 40 minutes and I get a check for $4,000 a few weeks later. SAVINGS AVERAGE $3,000
$15,710, only $4,290 left!
17. Buy a fan and a sweater.
It's just a matter of comfort, really. None of us really need heat or air conditioning and you will find most countries don't either of use them anyway. Might as well get used to it. Making some agressive cuts to your heat and electric bill can save a lot. Turn everything off when you leave and try to get out of the house. SAVINGS $1,200
18. Buy a Piggy Bank
Try an old school approach and get your kids involved. At the beginning of each month get out $150 in 5 dollar bills and have the kids stuff the piggy bank. Say it is for Disney World or a stroll in Siberia or something, they will get into it. SAVINGS $1,825
19. Take Two of These and Call Me in the Morning
Do you really have to go to the doctor that much? I think we Americans go to the doctor a lot, like whenever we feel like it. I'm not sure that's what doctors are for. And did you ever notice how 99% of the time you spend 5 minutes at the doctor and they send you away with a few prescriptions and a follow up appointment? And then a few weeks later another visit and another follow up appointment. Hmmmmmm . . . . .
Ok, enough of the sarcasm directed out our terrible scam of a health care system. Point here is co-pays and prescriptions add up. I pay $20 bucks every time we go to the doctor and with 4 of us that is about 15 times a year, plus prescriptions. SAVINGS $500
20. Be Happy
You just managed to save $19,235 dollars in a year without making any extra money at all, you can't save another $765 on your own? We will see. Leave a comment below and give us your best idea for saving some extra money for your family's global travel adventures.
I hope this list is helpful for people. Even if you take advantage of half the things on here, you will be well on your way to a serious travel fund. Traveling around the world on $20,000 is possible. And you're not limited to saving for only one year. Start today and keep going. The world is waiting.
Thanks to Talke Photography for the pic on Flickr!