Lindsey and Adam Nubern have been traveling around the world for more than 500 days. They’re not trust-funders, but hard working people who made direct choices that have led to an enviable lifestyle. This isn’t just for dreamers; this is for doers — so read on, and make your dream trip a reality.
So far, my husband and I have traveled around the world for 17 months. Can you believe it? Sometimes, I’m not sure if I can myself.
I wasn’t sure if I could even survive six months! Where would we sleep every night? What about laundry? Or, showers? To my surprise, we haven’t just been surviving; we have been thriving.
Travel The World: From Dream To Reality
We dreamed of traveling the world for years. This was something deep in our cores that we just had to do. The day after we got home from our honeymoon, we got serious, sat down and created a strategy to start saving for this “I’m not sure how long” adventure.
Some nights I couldn’t sleep, scared of the unknowns out in the world. But I was even more terrified of feeling regret if we never made it happen.
It took us a year and a half to save over $20,000 for our trip. Seventeen months later, we are still going. It’s been awesome!
Here are eleven steps we took to extend our limiting, ten-day-a-year vacations to now traveling for more than 500 days straight.
You ready for this? Let’s jump in!
1) KNOW YOU CAN DO IT
Having the confidence in ourselves is the scariest part and biggest hurdle. Know you can do it. This is possible for you. Believe it, because it’s true.
We are definitely not the trailblazers out here. We followed, sought advice and learned from those that have gone before us. Then, we took their advice, put our own strategies in place and made it happen.
If we did, you can, too!
2) MAKE YOUR DECISION
Once you believe in yourself, then you make the decision to go for it.
After your decision is made to just do it, everything changes. Your mind shifts from “Can I?” and “Should I?” to “Where do I start?”
You decided? Alright! We know where to start. Read on!
3) PUT TOGETHER A PLAN TO PAY OFF DEBT & SAVE MONEY
Paying off debt and saving money? That’s no fun!
Wait! Wait! Don’t get overwhelmed and quit on me, now. This can happen by changing small habits. I’ll share two tiny habits I changed each day in a bit. I think you’ll be surprised how easy this is to do once you put your mind to it!
Back to it! Like I said, the day we got back from our honeymoon and our incomes were officially combined, we strategized a monthly budget for ourselves. Adam is an accountant, so this helped, but there are many strategies that you can follow if you are disciplined.
We worked backwards. Instead of adding up our monthly expenses and then designating the leftovers for our savings, we decided to do it the opposite way, deciding how much we wanted to save per month first.
Our ultimate goal was to save my entire salary (things came up, but hey, we were pretty close every month). Then, we worked with our remainder and figured out how we could live solely on Adam’s salary. By working backwards, we saved more than we thought possible.
Once we paid off our car and grad school loans, we started putting money in our savings account for our dreams of afternoon gelato in Italy and our future Pad Thai in Thailand.
To keep ourselves accountable to our budget, we paid for everything with cash using the envelope system.
This cut frivolous spending. When I only had $10 per week in my personal envelope, paying $4 for my yummy Starbucks Caramel Frappacino virtually emptied my envelope! If I were using a debit card instead of physical cash, I would have totally made excuses to get a tall of that deliciousness! However, seeing the physical cash vanish from my envelope in one transaction made my no-more-daily- Frappacino’s an easy decision.
4) BUILD CREDIT CARD POINTS
After seven months successfully paying off our debts and saving money with the envelope system, we watched our friends go to Mexico for a week solely on credit card points.
We were shocked! “What? That is AWESOME! How can we do that?” We immediately re-strategized our savings plan.
We were nervous to change, though, since it’s easier to spend money with a credit card instead of physical cash, so we recommend starting with a non-electronic saving system before switching to a debit card once savings habits are developed.
We stayed true to our budgets using a card thanks to established spending habits. And it was worth it. The benefits were free flights and hotel stays!
Adam dove in by learning from Million Mile Secrets. We have been so thankful for these points. In seventeen months of travel, we have saved over $10,000 on our flights and hotels!
5) SEEK ADVICE FROM THOSE LIVING YOUR DREAM
“We are the average of the five people we hang around the most,” is a common saying, and it has a lot of truth.
Surround yourself with folks already doing what you want to do, even digitally!
We found inspiration and guidance by reading blogs and signing up for newsletters from the folks blazing the trail before us. We learned tips and how to’s from Making It Anywhere, Never Ending Voyage, Wandering Earl and Nomadic Matt.
We have insight now, too. If you have questions, just holler at us!
6) SET YOUR DEPARTURE DATE
This concept exactly the same as planning to run your first race. If you don’t sign up for the race, you’ll never start training.
Well, if you don’t set a date for yourself or book your first flight to go, you’ll continually make excuses and spend your gelato money on that sweet new pair of sneakers.
Set a date to hold yourself accountable to your bigger goal!
7) START PACKING TO TRAVEL THE WORLD
Ugh! The dreaded packing. We agree. This is the worst part! I thought it would be impossible to rid myself of all my possessions, down to the point that they’d all fit in a backpack.
By keeping the big perspective at the front of our minds and having our departure date set, we were more motivated and held accountable to dwindling our stuff down from a house, to a car, to now a 40-liter backpack.
8) BUDGET TO TRAVEL
As you travel, continue to budget yourself. We still run our budget every month with mint to keep ourselves accountable to our spending. Our goal is to spend under $50 per day. Some months and countries are more expensive than others, but our current average is $47 per day.
9) TRAVEL SLOWLY
We have realized traveling slowly makes the experience better in every way.
First, it’s cheaper. The months when we are jumping around a lot are way more expensive from the extra transportation costs of boats, taxis, trains, and tuk tuks.
Second, when you slow down you become more relaxed and present in your current location. You get to really experience a place and you relieve yourself from the anxious tourist mentality of “I have to see everything now or I never will!”
Third, with more time and a more relaxed attitude, you give yourself more opportunity to form friendships with other travelers and locals. When we travel somewhere new, learning the tiny details of the culture by sharing time with new friends are so fascinating. How is Thailand’s chili really made? How are New Zealand’s sheep shorn? What do the Balinese really pray about during their ceremonies? We’ve been taken in my amazing locals that we now call friends!
Lastly, by going slower, your experience becomes so much richer. Our experiences with new friends were so much more exciting and spontaneous than any of our experiences at a “must-do” tourist attraction.
This leads to my next step.
10) DON’T FOCUS ON TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Be creative with how you experience a country. Instead of paying for the tourist attraction of flying in a helicopter, find a hike that gets you above it all and have your legs carry you to the grand views.
Being creative with your experiences and your budget will help to carry you longer and further.
11) AROUND THE WORLD OUTLINE, NOT ITINERARY
It may be scary not to have an itinerary. We suggest creating a flexible outline of a schedule, but releasing yourself from a strict itinerary.
As you travel longer, you will hear of other amazing destinations that you just can’t miss. Give yourself the flexibility to be spontaneous! Those end up being the best adventures.
When we set out, we never considered going to Australia, Vietnam or Indonesia. These countries hold some of our favorite memories and experiences!
Tip: Changing Your Life Happens In Your Daily Routine
Remember the first step we gave you? Good. You can do it! We believe in you.
Now, do you believe in you?
Believing you can do it is your first step. Now, if you want it bad enough, it’s time to put in the work. I have good news for you! The work may not be as hard as you think.
Here is a quote to get you thinking creatively about yourself and your own strategy to make the big change you want in your life.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” –John C. Maxwell
So, finally, these are the two secrets that led to successfully saving for our travel dream: Packing my own lunch and making my own coffee each day.
By just transitioning my daily $4 morning coffee run to making a cup at home saved us $20 a week, $80 a month, and $960 a year! Hey! This was a small start that made a big difference in the long run! Add to that making my own lunch, and the cautious saving mentality that came with it, and we quickly saved enough to travel the world on modest salaries.
What is one tiny change you can make in your daily routine to get you closer to your own goal? It’s time to decide to do this, to travel the world. We did it … are doing it, and if you put your mind to it, you can too!
Lindsey Nubern is currently traveling the world with her husband Adam. The couple is gearing up to travel the USA by campervan. Follow their journey at www.nuventuretravels.com.