In researching a round-the-world (RTW) trip, I came across a myriad of bloggers who are constant travelers and who have quit their jobs to pursue their lifelong dreams of travelling the world. Inevitably, I find a post on how I can do the same thing followed by lists of jobs I can do in foreign countries, cheap places to stay, links to Woofing, and how it is possible to travel the world for free. Of course, when you get right down to it, “free” is not all its cracked up to be. Free in this sense really means exchanging your time and expertise in exchange for lodging and/or meals. It truly is a fabulous idea if you are twenty-something and have wanderlust. If only I had read these posts 20 years ago, I too might have set off on my own to travel the world. The problem is that 20 years ago blogs were called Usenet and no newsgroup that I ever saw discussed free world travel. Instead, I opted for the career, husband, two kids, three cats, and a mortgage plan.
With my family of four and my continued search for cheap world travel, I recently took a class at the local community college on how to travel the world for “free.” While the instructor had several good ideas, there were several more that were definitely not a fit for a family. The ideas presented included mystery shopping, driving others’ cars and RVs across the country, and importing goods found on your adventures. While mystery shopping may be a great way to earn a few dollars, and possibly even make a career out of, in the many hours it would take me to sign up for multiple mystery shopping gigs and complete assignments, I could just as easily work my normal job for the same amount of time and earn considerably more. (Between the cost of the class and the multitude of imports for sale at the break, I figured out quickly how the instructor was paying for her next trip!)
So how can we afford a RTW trip without having jobs?
Fortunately for me, the man I married has a head for money and knows how to set and keep goals.
For my part, I am lucky enough to have found a job that offers me a great deal of flexibility. I let my boss know two years ago that I would be taking this trip and that I would need to reduce my workload significantly. I have, however, ensured that I have the ability to get connected when Wi-Fi is available and my boss and I have worked out a plan for projects that I might be able to accomplish while travelling, within reason. That being said, I expect my income to be reduced to a mere 10% of what it is now. Ray is a different story altogether. After 8 years of college, Ray joined Indian Health Services (IHS), which is part of the Public Health Service (PHS). This means that his boss is the Surgeon General of the United States. It also means that after 20 years of service, Ray can retire from PHS and start collecting retirement. Twenty years is up as of June 2015.
I am quite jealous of the young adult with a desire to travel and the many opportunities to find a way to do just that. I was that young person 20 years ago. As much as I try to fight it, those days are gone. My husband and I are now forty-somethings with two teenage children and established careers. We are working hard to reduce our expenses here at home and are employing many of the life- and travel-hacking skills we have learned about in our research, but we are no longer a young couple off to travel the world indefinitely. Through this blog we will not try to convince you to buy secrets for free travel or give you a top 10 list for each city we visit. It is our hope to share the skills we’ve learned as well as our adventures, and quite possibly our misadventures, along the way. And by this time next year, we’ll be back to work…. maybe!