Skip to main content

How We're Doing It

One of the most frequent questions I think we're asked when we tell people what we're doing is, "How are you doing that?"

That's a really vague question, first of all. But the whole point of a public blog like this is (besides quelling the anxiety of our friends and family while we're so far away) to share with others--whether they are doing it already or hoping to do something like it--how we're pulling it off.

Rather than burying all this information in a dozen different blog posts (though there will always be that), we thought we'd make a page to more easily peruse. Check out our links below for details about our style of budget travel.

Getting Started

Picking up and leaving for an entire year is a massive undertaking. We were in a privileged position where we didn't own a home, but instead rented from family which allowed us to end our "lease" whenever it was most convenient; had more family nearby who were willing to store our furniture and belongings while we were gone; and were at a point with our employment where we were ready to totally quit (Andrew) or were offered a position again when we returned (Jill. Well, Andrew too, but he probably won't take it). Leaving everything behind for even just a year felt like a really big risk, and it's one that a lot of people don't think is worth it. We decided to go for it anyway. 

We intend to write a detailed budget post at the end of the trip so we can be fully transparent about how much this year cost us, so stay tuned. 

The finances we're surviving on are a combination of generous gifts from family (we substituted a travel fund for the traditional wedding registry), the sale of Andrew's beloved Bonneville motorcycle, the eventual sale of our Honda Element at the end of our road trip, and of course, savings from Jill's two jobs and Andrew's overtime hours. All of this combined, we are still traveling on less than half of what we lived on back home.

The "Microcamper"


Click on the title above to see details about our Honda Element camping set up for the two months we spent traveling the United States.

The Packing List


Click on the title above for details about what to bring on a trip around the world.

Budget Accommodations 


Click on the title above for tips about spending as little money as possible on places to stay. (Some are free!)

More Cheap Tricks

By far the most expensive part of traveling is moving between places. If you've ever looked at flight prices or the cost of renting a car, you're familiar with the sticker shock. However, we've got about 15 different countries in our itinerary for this trip, and we've managed a fairly tight budget.



Buses are your best friend. Flixbus we used most in western Europe (they actually just contacted us about sharing one of our photos on their social media, probably because we tag them so often!). National Express is the way to go in the UK, and there's always Greyhound in the US. Buses take longer than trains or flights, but they are always cheaper. 

We only take trains when the time saved is worth the extra cost. (A 9 hour train versus 21 hours on a bus, for example.)  

We use the Google Flights feature for finding flights. Our biggest tips for finding cheap flights are 1) be flexible about your dates (sometimes leaving a day or two earlier or later than your first choice can save you hundreds) and 2) always try to fly in and out of major airports (small airports almost always cost more). Oh, and be okay with budget airlines. A little less leg room and no snacks is often worth it. While most of us back in the States associate European trips with hefty airline costs, Andrew and I bought our one-way tickets to Paris from NYC for...wait for it...$400 for the both of us. You just gotta play the game! Ryanair is a budget airline worth looking at, but always read the fine print so you don't get caught with tons of extra fees.

Navigating Visas

We can give you our own tips here, but ultimately working around visas has to do with the country you hold a passport in, and which countries you want to visit, so it's incredibly variable. 

With a majority of our trip happening in Europe, we were most concerned with how to be there. We aren't students, and we don't have work, and our research found that it's hard to get permission to be in Europe long-term any other way, so we're working with tourist visas. American tourist visas allow you to be in the Schengen region--the cohort of countries that allow free travel--for 90 days out of a 180 day period. After the 180 day period, it all resets. We decided, to keep things simple, to just do our 90 days all at once. We arrived in France at the beginning of December, so we left Italy by the end of February to be safe. We stayed out of Schengen countries until June, and instead explored Eastern Europe and the UK. We had no problem coming back in through Amsterdam mid-June, and while we could legally stay until September, we're going to Ecuador before that time is up. Countries are trying to join all the time, so you have to do your research before you travel!

As tourists, we can be in Ecuador for up to 90 days and in Mexico for 180, so we won't have any problem staying within their requirements.


There are tons of other awesome travelers doing cool things out there. Check some of them out:

Stephanie of Budget Bucket List
Lu and Aaron of Two Paper Boats
The ever-trusty Nomadic Matt

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Baby's First Passage

As I sat on the edge of the cockpit, my arms wrapped around the side of the dodger (not unlike a small monkey), riding out the 6 (maybe 8) foot swells with Galapagos and blinking through the saltwater droplets on my glasses, I figured my experience in that moment was probably similar to someone with no horse experience at all going out on a long, hilly, backcountry trail ride. Our boat crew, Andrew and his parents, were clearly unconcerned; in fact, the gusts of wind that accompanied the rough seas were filling the sails and pushing us along at a speed that pleased them all very much. I have no sailing experience to go off of, so I simply must assume that the ones who know what they're doing will let me know if there's something to worry about. The terms being thrown around are completely foreign to me, but I suppose I'll learn them in time. "Reefing the sail" can't be much more complicated than fitting a horse with a running martingale, surely.

Sunday's…

A New Home

Many things go into a planning a trip, especially one as extensive as ours, and yes, we have spent many hours looking over places to stay and sights to see... but nothing has been more pressing than readying our vehicle. Indeed, building a bed platform and camping system for our beloved 2004 Honda Element was one of the last things that we did. (Just behind getting "his and hers" travel wine glasses.)

Little did we know, getting a small car ready for an extended road trip with almost no motel stops is a real chore. All this time, it has been our intention to remove the seats from the back of the Element and build a bed/storage system enabling us to live in the car for the whole two months, minus some stops with family. Naturally, we hadn't really put much thought into this hypothetical bed platform, and our only real concept was a vague sketch, stored in my sieve-like brain, for something that may not work at all. As I've frequently been taught to expect, though, thi…

Paris Sans Regret

Paris is our first international destination on this trip, and knowing we were coming from two months of predominantly living out of our car, we decided a while ago that we would treat ourselves to a few weeks in an apartment to ourselves. We snagged our Airbnb deal 7 whole months before we hit the road... and paid for it at that time as well (when we were working 3 jobs between the two of us, aka, had an income).

But other than having a fully furnished home in a central part of town for 31 days, we are still tight-budget travelers. And especially for those of you who may visit Paris for closer to a week or two, we thought we'd compile all the ways we recommend enjoying this city as a tourist for very little spending. Paris has a reputation for being an expensive destination, and it certainly can be if you let it, but there are absolutely easy ways to be here for cheap!

Things to do in Paris for FREE Notre Dame (or any other cathedral) No matter what time of year you visit, there …