One week ago, on October 16 2012, ten cities across North America were holding Meet, Plan, Go events—designed to give inspiration and resources to help people make their travel dreams a reality. Speakers, panelists and other experts who have already fulfilled their own dreams of traveling the world shared their stories.
One of these events was hosted by yours truly, Shelley Seale and Keith Hajovsky, in their hometown of Austin, Texas. The real-life career break stories told included the unique challenges that all long-term travelers must overcome in order to claim their freedom on the road. Our speakers provided inspiration, and also tips on how they did it, travel planning resources, and answers to your questions.
The evening was started with an introductory video from Meet, Plan, Go national; in which founder Sherry Ott chatted with actor & travel writer Andrew McCarthy about his travel philosophy—which resonates incredibly with our own, here at How To Travel for Free!
Sherry asked Andrew what his response is, when people use money as their excuse for not traveling. “It costs too much, I don’t have the resources; You must be rich, I could never do that.” Here is Andrew’s response:
“I say nonsense. I’ve done the math, and I’ve showed my friends that it’s cheaper for me to travel than stay at home—and they don’t believe me!
But I also find the more money I spend in a place, the more insulated I keep myself from the place; the more difficult it is for me to penetrate, and the less valuable of an experience I have. So I find, the closer to the ground I travel, the more rewarding my experience. And the closer to the ground you travel, the cheaper it is to travel.”
Our keynote speaker Jefre Outlaw reiterated this. Jefre has traveled almost non-stop for the past 3 years, traveling in and through 96 countries, 250 cities and 500 sacred sites on 6 continents. After a health crisis caused him to re-evaluate his life priorities in 2009, Jefre decided to follow many others into the adventure of downsizing his U.S. life and up-sizing his world view by backpacking the planet.
Jefre shared his experiences and why he hit the road. He also shared that during the years he has been traveling, he has not dipped into his savings at all, hasn’t spent one penny of them. He cited two books that helped him generate some location-independent income: The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (a book that Keith and I have both used and learned from); and The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley. You might also look at a new book by Chris Guillebeau and recently reviewed by Keith: The $100 Start Up.
Jefre also traveled extremely close-to-the-ground, staying for free using methods like couch surfing and hospitality exchanges; or extremely cheaply in hostels. With the combination of an extremely low-cost travel method, and generating a small bit of income from the road, Jefre was able to fulfill his dreams of circumnavigating the globe — he’s done it three times now!
And Jefre (as well as our other panelists Greg Davis, Sofia Martinez and Tiffany & Billy Toomey) reiterated what Andrew McCarthy says: It’s much cheaper for them to travel than to stay at home. Greg happily shared that he spent $17,500 on his one year trip around the world (much less than a year’s lifestyle at home in Austin costs him). The Toomeys, who took their four children and lived in Costa Rica for a year, spent a little over $26,000 total in that year. For six people. Try that at home!
The moral of the story? If you really want to travel, money should never be your obstacle. In How To Travel for Free (or pretty darn near it!), we share in detail all these types of methods in which you can travel for far less than you spend at home, and how you can finance your travels or make money from the road.
Shelley and Keith