Leaping: Part 2


In my first post, I wrote about how Jon and I have decided to make our own rules; to change the playing field, and come up with a different lifestyle. We’ve been talking with our families and it’s starting to sink in how this philosophy is truly a departure from everything around us. Since we pledged that this would be for all of you who feel like you can’t leave your obligations, or your responsibilities, we want to be honest with how we’re going about this.

Jon and I haven’t been planning this trip for a long time. Indeed, we've known we wanted to go to West Africa for over 18 months, but the question of whether or not we could ‘make it work’ lingered for a long time, and so we never really committed to saving and doing it. Bad move on our part: If you don’t take the first step and make the decision, time just flies by and before you know it, it’s 10 months before you want to leave and you haven’t saved really much at all.

So we sat down and figured out the budget. It included the following for 1 week in Europe over New Year’s Eve, 4 weeks in Mali, 3 weeks in Senegal, 2 weeks in Morocco and 1 week in Spain, with all the travel in between countries:

  • $2,300 savings from gifts received from our wedding, joint savings and some other random cash we pulled together
  • an expected $1,100 from the ‘car fund’: money Jon gets from mileage and gas reimbursement from his work that involves driving nearly 300 miles per week, minus expected car repairs and maintenance
  • $3,000 Jon’s personal savings money, after keeping some for reserve for when we get back
  • $3,000 Jess’ personal savings, with no reserve for the return (yikes! I had credit card debt that zeroed out my savings awhile back…)
  • $2616 Jess’ last month of earnings from work plus about $500 in unused vacation hours
  • $2700 Jon’s last month of earnings from work

This is a total of $15,200 to start with, not including the sale of any of our stuff, our furniture or our car (which we expect to net about $3000 from).  Also, because we bought a one-way ticket, we were going to need to save some cash to get us back home if one of us got really sick, or we just ran out of money. So we calculated a months worth of really cheap living, plus putting down first/last month’s rent on a new place, which came to reserving $4,000 for airfare and the aforementioned expenses. I will make a note here that at this point we have no plans to purchase medical insurance while traveling, which does make us both nervous, but we can’t afford it… Stay tuned on that one. We're going to try and find some money to do this - maybe from the sale of our car.

Of course, that is for a short 2-3 month trip and we've decided to not come back. So now the key is not spending all that money and finding work for short stints in order to continue our travel. It's all about being resourceful, and we're looking forward to it.

So there you have it. What about expenses you say? Well sure, we have them. Here's what we're looking at:

  • Student loans - we have 'em, but without income, they go down to about $10/mo, so that's $20/mo for both of us
  • Credit cards - I have 'em, and wasn't able to pay them off before leaving, but we transferred everything to a no-interest card - it's about $100/mo, which is more than the minimum payment, but not by much.
  • Phone - not sure what this is going to cost overseas. We'll take my smart phone and buy SIM cards locally, minutes and data will depend on usage. We'll mostly stick with skype.

Hopefully other than feeding, housing and clothing ourselves, there won’t be a lot of required costs. For someone like me who’s always had a lot of stuff, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to getting rid of it, going minimalistic and hitting the road.

Some people ask us if we're selling everything, or if we're storing stuff. Definitely storing stuff. Part of the reason we shied away from doing this in the first place was honestly because we were afraid to come back to nothing. But we've realized it doesn't have to be that way. We also just got a beautiful set of Heath dish and serverware, plus other gifts from our wedding. We also have a few pieces of furniture that we'll keep - things that will fit in a small apartment and we'll need when we get back. We also have some bigger things that we don't want to sell, but that others can enjoy on loan - like our tv, grill and the super nice washing machine that my folks bought us as a housewarming gift.

Looking at everything we have has really made us realize our assets. By doing an inventory of our things, and what’s really of value to us and what we don’t mind selling or giving away has truly opened out eyes to the small riches we’re living with, and how we really do have the freedom to let it go and use the resources from our stuff to start living our lives the way we want to. Hells yeah, that’s super exciting and so so freeing!

What things would you sell/keep in order to cut the cord and be mobile?