So you want to travel the world, but should you pay off all your debt first?
My definition of wealth changes constantly. One day I want to be a millionaire own multiple properties, save and invest, other days I don’t want to own property or have debt I just want to travel and live simply. My brain is constantly at battle. Pay off all my student loans? Or pay the minimum balance and use the rest to invest? Save for a house or save so you can travel? Save and invest all the money now so when you’re old you can live good, or spend money on travel while you’re young and beautiful. I’m sure being on a beach at 65 looks a lot different than being on a beach at 25. At 65 no one really wants to see you in a two-piece.
Some of you may be reading this and thinking well, you’re young; you still have time to do it all. Thank you, but my brain doesn’t seem to think so. Time is flying I feel like I was just a freshman in college, yet that was seven years ago. S E V E N! Seven years ago I only had to worry about my grades and what I was going to eat. Now it’s picking stock options in my 401k, paying bills and deciding how much money I have left over to take a vacation.
Speaking of vacation, I’m sure you’ve come across many articles where people have quit their jobs and traveled the world. Every time I read those articles I think to myself sounds nice, but how many people really get to do this. You mean to tell me they had the courage to quit their 9-5, travel the world and sometimes even make money while traveling? What about their bills? Did they pay off all their debt before they traveled? I need answers! I’m sure you would also like to know the answers to these questions too. That’s why I’ve reached out my lovely personal finance blogging community (Fincon) to ask them:
- How long did you travel for?
- How did you make money while you were away?
- Did you pay off all your debt before your trip?
- Any regrets?
- Lessons learned?
I was surprised to hear so many of there inspiring travel stories. I take off my hat to these brave souls. Below are their wonderful responses:
Jason From Phroogal.com
Alan from realmoneylife.com
“I have been traveling since 1992….I have lived in NY, SF, New Orleans, Paris, Lisbon, Berlin, among others and I have travelled through 4 continents…yes, it was awesome to quit that job. I have been self-employed, so to speak, since then. The funny thing is I got in debt while working a corporate job and when I quit and started pursuing my life, I paid off my debt without even trying! I play sax, read a lot and write poetry…all those things have one thing in common: they don’t cost much to do!”
Todd former founder of financialmentor.com
“I traveled 5 and half months after getting married for our honeymoon. I sold the company before departing. It was a great adventure that I’ll
never regret. However, I did learn that I prefer 1 to 1.5 month trips as the ideal length. It is long enough to get to know a single country very
well, but it still is just a vacation. When you leave for half a year, it becomes a way of life instead of a vacation, and you have to completely
drop your life and all things back home to do it. With 1.5 months you can return and your life is still intact. Less than a month is too short. More
than 2 months is too long. Somewhere in between is just right.”
Teresa from livingonthecheap.com :
“I traveled for 9 months. We didn’t have the Internet then, so I didn’t make money while I was away. The only debt I had were two mortgages and a car loan. I didn’t get my car sold before I left, so my father sold it for me, at a loss. I rented my house out for enough to cover the mortgage while I was gone. I also had a rental property with a mortgage and that was sold while I was on the trip. (I thought I had sold it before I left but the sale fell through.) I ran up a little credit card debt during this trip but I paid that off fairly quickly after I went back to work. I have no regrets. None. Many of the things I did when I was young, like stay in cheap hotels with a bathroom down the hall or walk for miles, I would not have done when I was older. Take risks. For many years, I wondered what the point of my trip was and what I had learned from it. And I finally realized that the lesson was that if there is something that you want to do, do it. The trip also made me more outgoing and less shy, since I traveled alone. By the time I had been on the road for a few months, I’d talk to anyone who spoke English or Spanish and would make an attempt in French or Italian. ”
Michelle from shopmyclosetproject.com:
“I just returned from 2 months in Hawaii and Australia. I had a large savings (that’s gone now LOL!) but I did receive some ad revenue during my trip. I did not pay off all my debt (it would have been impossible) and I have no regrets. It is what it is.”
David from www.moneyfortherestofus.net/:
“I quit my job in 2012 and we traveled with our three kids for three months in Europe and Asia renting homes via Airbnb. We lived off savings and had no debt. No regrets. In Asia we used public transportation and in Europe we leased a car for 2 months. A lesson learned that if you are traveling in a larger group (like the 5 of us) that driving into a major city for day trips (i.e. Amsterdam, Copenhagen) is often cheaper then public transportation even taking into account parking. I was also surprised how many Europeans rent out their primary residence via Airbnb and go stay with family. It is often how they raise funds for their own travel.”
Melanie from www.deardebt.com:
“I am traveling now on the cheap. I can tell you it is reinvigorating my debt repayment. I have a plan to get these loans gone ASAP, as I see so many Europeans travel for months on end. My 2 weeks seem so small and my wanderlust, still so hungry. I know once I’m debt free, I will be “rich” in my standards. But I also work for myself and am working a bit from the road.”
Holly is a freelance writer/ blogger :
“My husband and I are self-employed and location independent, so we can travel the world. What holds us back is the fact that we have kids in school. So for now, we’re compromising. Instead of traveling non-stop, we take eight or so vacations per year. In the last year, we’ve spent time in London, Paris, Jamaica, St. Maarten, and several parts of the U.S. We’re going to Italy later this year and touring the country. We do it mostly in 8 or 9 day trips. Once our kids hit college, we plan to slow travel- staying a few months in each destination.”
Fahima Director at www.chicdarling.com/
“I came at it from a different angle. Instead of quitting my job, I worked hard to make my job fluid so I can do it from anywhere in the world ( running your own firm makes that easier). I’m currently in month 5 in Europe with a vague idea of when I’ll be home. I have no debt ( although I did a 9 month trip when I had debt) and I don’t regret a single moment financially. The tricky thing for me, however, has been the missed connections with friends and family back home. Attempting to stay connected with loved ones via Skype or Google chat is harder than one thinks.”
Michelle from Makingsenseofcents.com :
“I left my job in 2013 for my online business and have been traveling since. Paid off my $40k in student loans to do so. Mainly traveling in the U.S. now – rock climbing, hiking, mountaineering everywhere here.”
Last but certainly not least, Derrick and Carrie wrote a book called One Bed One Bank Account, sold their items, bought a trailer and are touring around the U.S. doing their book tour.
Well, there you have it. It is possible to be able to travel the world for longer than a week or two. These people are living proof. Some people paid off all their debt before traveling, others traveled with their debt and paid it off along the way, and a few people still have their debt, but didn’t let it stop them from traveling.You just have to do what you think is best for you and your situation.
Thank you again to each and every person who shared their traveling story with me. I appreciate you! Be sure you check out their websites they all have some great information on there.