I am Mechelle from Cebu, Philippines. And as most of your readers, have been dreaming to travel the world too. My purpose though, is to seek more understanding of who I really am by getting lost and exposing myself to the possibilities that this world can offer. After all, one can never know white without seeing black, right?
I’m a firm believer that you have not seen the best of anything yet by just staying where you are. I would love to just thrust and throw myself out there, and like everyone else.. I don’t have any idea where to start. So here I am seeking for your two cents worth too :) I hope it won’t be too much of a hassle to go through my questions :)
How much do I have to prepare for a year-long sabbatical? I understand you fund yourself by working remotely and I plan to follow the same path or else, I will never be able to start a year’s travel with the kind of work and pay that I currently have. I just want to have an idea of the range that I initially need to prepare to sustain myself while settling in. Europe seems dreamy but I’m not excluding it from my option. And Japan is my backpacker goal.
Trisha: Hey Mechelle! Good to hear from you! I’ve been to Cebu but not extensively and I hope to explore it more when I come back home (who knows when). Yes, you are correct. I do work online as a social media manager and this keeps me on the road. To be honest, I only had more or less a thousand dollars when I left home to travel and the road just made its magic for me. I volunteered, did au-pairing and when I met other travelers who introduced me to the Digital Nomad world, that’s when things became more clear for me. “I can travel for as long as I want by being a digital nomad.” I said. From then on, I lived one day at a time and stopped looking at money as a tool to travel. I didn’t let money paralyze me and become the source of my fear.
I believe in what Paolo Coelho wrote: If you really want something, the Universe will conspire to make that happen. I guess what I am trying to say here, as always, the will and drive to travel the world is the most difficult to obtain. Sometimes, we spend our whole lives saving for the big trip and when the time comes, we don’t have the energy to do it anymore. Stuff like promotions at work, relationships, big family changes are some things that make us postpone traveling. When we get older, we get filled with so much responsibilities that traveling is not part of the priority anymore.
I do not have an actual estimate for the one-year sabbatical you are planning because I never experienced saving for travel. I just made things work and more often than not, when we don’t plan our lives, the more it goes to a positive path. “Pack your bags and just go” is a very easy phrase to say but not everyone knows that it really is true — JUST DO IT and let the road tell you what to do. You will figure it out along the way. Btw, Yara, Justin and I also sustain our travels by blogging. You might want to venture into that. Good luck and thanks again for writing!
Justin: Hi Mechelle! I’m justin and I’m a full time traveler and traveled blogger, so was asked to answer your question! First of all I was in your shoes, and there was no was I could save up a big sum of money to do some traveling. Just no way. But I didn’t care, I wanted to travel anyways. Now!
So I just saved enough for the essentials, a plane ticket, some cheap travel insurance and enough money for maybe two weeks at a hostel in the place I was going. Basically less than $3000 all together. I landed with less than $1000 left. But I made connections right away, and I had my accommodation paid for for the first couple weeks so I could worry about finding work. And it worked out! That small some of money got me in the travel door, and I haven’t stopped for 4 years.
Anyways, if you want more piece of mind and want more of a plan, you can always find work that pays under the table before you arrive. Sometimes I would email hostels in the cities I wanted to hang out in and see if they took workers. Almost always they take volunteers, and if so, you will meet lots of people and have time to find other opportunities. Europe works awesome for this. I worked at hostels all over. Also check out websites like helpx.net to find other jobs before you arrive.
As for money, well that’s hard to answer. If you are broke like me but still want to travel the world, you need to go full-on budget-backpacker style. I’m talking cheap hostels, budget flights, cheap street food. Basically living like a local and spending way less. You do his and obviously you need way less. It also depends on where you go. Europe is kinda expensive but easier to work and sustain yourself. Japan and Australia are really expensive. SE Asia and Latin America generally cheap.
Anyways, I guess that’s it. I get this question all the time and I never ever advise someone to work half their life or even years, so they can travel comfortably. I say go now. Work and save for a few months and leave with what you got. If it’s. It much, go somewhere cheap first. Either way, all I know is that when you arrive somewhere, things become clear and more simple, and much more opportunities Pop up then they do online. Just go for it!
Yara: Hi Mechelle, thank you for your wonderful question, it made me reflect a lot on my own inner journey during my long life of travel. And By the way, I’ll be flying to Cebu in August, let’s stay in touch! It will be my turn to seek for advice.
You know, just like you, I don’t come from the richest country in the world. In fact, I come from Portugal the poorest western European country and my resources were seriously limited. But one thing I knew for sure, I could make my dreams come true if I really, really chase them. They did! If they became true for me,Trisha and many other amazing girls, they can also come true for you, no doubts about that!
For me traveling is mostly an inner journey. I could almost say, every trip is a spiritual journey for me. I feel I grow so much during every challenge, every new country and culture I experience. I’ve noticed that for most of us, long term travelers, being out there has less to do with visiting monuments, as it has to meet new people, push our boundaries and become better people.
Sometimes I wonder if I would have been the same if I would have lived a conventional life and the answer is absolutely not! I wouldn’t be better or worse, but I would have been limited by my culture, my language and my small circle of friends…. not knowing how much is out there waiting for me.
So, when I started traveling I was not making money online. I actually worked as an Au-pair, so I could live legally at certain expensive cities. I would never be able to experience those places otherwise. Then, i would get temporary jobs here and there. They weren’t very fulfilling, but necessary, because once i turned 18, I became 100% financially independent.
There are many ways of making money while traveling or at least of saving money and traveling lighter. This article is excellent offering tons of financial travel tips. So once you manage to save money, you’ll have to travel light.
Europe does not have to be expensive, most Eastern countries are actually cheap. Same with southern Europe. The northern countries are extremely expensive, and even I have avoided going there. So keeping that in mind, check out the prices in beautiful places like Slovenia, Poland, Croatia, Czech Republic; all countries filled with history, great spots and low prices.
You biggest challenge might be the airplane ticket but even that can be worked out. For example, I bought a ticket to Manila for 30€ (1.478 PHP). I haven’t been to Japan yet, but I can tell you we both share that dream! How long you’ll have to save and for how long you’ll be able to stay on the road, will depend a lot on how you decide to travel. I do a lot of research to find out hotel rates on websites like Booking and Agoda. That will help you calculate your biggest expense which is accommodation.