Before deciding to go ahead with the Big Adventure, Brett and I crunched a whole lot of numbers many, many times, made several changes to the itinerary, and finally came up with a realistic plan for covering the costs of continual travel on a fixed income, and without incurring any debt.
Our goal is to cover one year’s around-the world travel combining travel savings with our regular monthly income. We’ve been putting away as much as possible this year, and plan to finish this December with at least $8500 in our travel account. Next year our goal will be to bring our total amount saved to somewhere around $28,000 – $30,000 by the time we leave Kaua’i at the end of August.
Here’s how and what we’re saving next year:
- We’ll be putting a minimum of $800 a month into our travel savings account for the eight months before we depart Hawai’i.
- We’ll be using our credit card to pay upfront for some travel expenses (see below), but will pay the card in full each month and put the rewards toward travels expenses.
- Income tax and other refunds, gifts or windfalls will go into savings, and we’ll continue with our change/$1 bill savings. The monthly increases in Brett’s military retirement and our Social Security will go into our travel savings – we weren’t expecting any increase this year since we haven’t had one in four years, and view it as a windfall.
- We will sell our car as well as the furniture and household items we’re not going to store here before leaving Kaua’i.
- The savings total will include approximately $1500 in Southwest Airlines gift cards – most will be earned through Swagbucks.
We will use the savings to pay upfront for:
- All our Airbnb lodging expenses except for Sydney and New Zealand – those will be booked further along in our travels (Airbnb requires payment when we reserve a home). We have given ourselves a strict upper limit for how much we can spend per night.
- Normandy B&B
- India tour
- Train trip across Australia
- One-way airfare for two to Buenos Aires from Houston, TX.
- One-way airfare for two from Buenos Aires to Paris.
- One-way airfare for two from Lisbon back to the mainland.
- Additional travel insurance – our military insurance covers all medical expenses everywhere in the world, but we’d like to have evacuation coverage and a couple of other features
- A rental car for approximately one month before we leave Kaua’i (how long we’ll actually need it will depend on how quickly we sell our car).
- Three week’s to one month’s vacation rental on Kaua’i before we leave (we plan to move out of our house at the end of next July)
- One year’s worth of storage fees
- Flights on the mainland with Southwest Airlines, paid with gift cards
The rest of our expenses, including meals, local travel expenses, travel between most countries, and incidentals will come from our regular monthly income. We’ll have just three fixed expenses when we leave Kaua’i: my student loan payment, our phone plan and non-owner car insurance, which together will total less than $500/month. We’re keeping our T-Mobile plan because it gives us free data and texting in all the countries we’re visiting, and the girls are on the plan until they graduate from college. Without having to cover all our current expenses we’ll have a solid amount to live on as well as continue to save while we travel.
I have enough miles in my Hawaiian account to cover flights for four of us back to the mainland at no cost, and we will use the Southwest gift cards to cover airfares when we or the girls are flying inside the U.S. mainland.
Brett will be manning the spreadsheets to keep track of our expenses and spending, and like our heroes and retirement role models, Michael and Debbie Campbell (The Senior Nomads), we will be keeping a daily log as we travel, and tracking every expense down to the penny (or euro or yen or whatever).
Meanwhile, in the coming year we’ll continue saving, saving, saving as well as using it up, wearing it out, making it do, or doing without as we get ready to go!