'For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
So, I'm going to lay something out there. Put it in writing to make it a little more real. Give a thought that's running around my brain a little more room to stretch it's legs. As I've mentioned a million times, I love to travel and I want to do more, see more and explore more of the world. Lately all I've been reading are travel blogs and websites (I'll list them later). I escape my world of budgets, decisions, markets, target accounts, and deadlines by becoming absorbed in their adventures.
And I want more. Instead of reading about koalas, I want to see one myself. Instead of researching work/stay vacations, I want to have one. Instead of being green with envy everytime I hear of a friends' trip, I want to be the one creating the jealousy. And I'm not just talking about a trip to Panama City Beach (nothing against the Redneck Riveria, but I want to see the original one). I want to go on my own gap year.
When I started this blog, I was living in Chicago because I had wanted something different in my life. I still do. I loved Chicago and I'm glad I was there but a part of me looks back on the money I spent and time I wasted which could have been spent seeing the world. Instead of thinking: "that's what I should have done" - I'm going to take this desire and turn it into that's what I'm going to do. And actually make it happen. Here's what I'm thinking about:
I just bought a house and I have several remodeling projects going there. I need at least a year for multiple reasons before I'll be ready to leave so that will allow me to complete those projects. At this point, I think I'd want to rent the house but selling it would give me a little more money to travel with... Decision to be made. If I rent, then I have to arrange for property management and designate money for those costs. If I decide to sell, then I have to wait until March 2011 to avoid any capital gains taxes. Either way requires a little research and planning. I love my house, hate to let it go but I'm not going to let it prevent me from taking this trip.
I'm sure the timing for my departure will have more to do with work and finances than capital gains. However, my house is an obligation I can't ignore. Plus in today's climate, it's hard to expect any return on an investment in real estate. By holding it longer, I'll get a better return but it will also delay my trip... things to consider.
I have a couple of other financial goals to accomplish before I can devote all extra money to a travel savings. Nothing huge so I'm currently going to add an additional line item in my savings spread sheet until it become necessary to seperate the money. Currently, I keep it all in the same account for a greater percentage return but I know how much is designated to each priority. Since I now have another looming priority, I will be sticking to a more strict budget and pushing through these nagging debts to increase my savings potential.
Everything I've read about how much money I'll need basically boils down to one question - how do I like to travel? If I can rough it and share space, then I'll be able to stay on the road longer. I know myself well enough that I'll want to spoil myself every once in while and I also know that missing an experience because of the price tag will be frustrating for me.
My goal is to travel indefinitely for an extended time. Work my way around the world and experience different cultures for extended time periods - this is going to take some crafty budgeting. One thing, I've already read about and think is a good idea, having fly home money in a CD. Place a designated amount in a different account, earning interest so that it's there when you're ready to come home.
So I think I'll set my goal at $25,000. That's a lot of money and I know it'll take me a while to achieve that goal outside of my other financial goals. But I think it'll be money well spent.
Since the only place I've been outside of North American is New Zealand, I know I want to start my trip in Europe and go around the world from there. I have friends living in England, France, Germany, Japan, Argentina, and Australia. I need to refresh all of these connections and see if I can find make some new ones:) Anyone know of safe places to sleep?
I'd prefer to leave in either September or January; either way I'd avoid the crowds of the summer. If I depart in the fall, then I can enjoy traveling for a while before finding a job for the winter season and if I leave in the new year, I can travel before finding a job for the summer tourist season. Or I can go straight to a work destination. I'm open to suggestion. I'd hate to feel trapped somewhere but working vacations knock out your biggest expense: lodging.
I have an awesome backpack which my parents gave me for my trip to New Zealand. It worked perfect before and I know I didn't fully utilize it then so I'm confident it will work.
I have a bad ass camera and a point & shoot little camera. That would be a tough choice. A friend who has traveled extensively said electronic equipment makes you a target. But I couldn't image not taking one.
I have clothing for every situation and I'm a pretty good packer when limited with space. Shoes will be my biggest obstacle - I like to have options.
I think I'd like to be able to take a computer with me so I'll be on the market for a new laptop for traveling. I need/want a new computer anyway so I'll just make sure it fits the needs of my trip as well.
Passport is burning to be used so no worries there:)
Those are my thoughts for now... I'll keep you posted on achieving my dream. Cross your fingers for me.