How to travel the world - Couple

“Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” – Napoleon Hill

Phase 1: Desire

If you want to know how to travel the world, you must have the desire to do so.  This is the first step to learning how to travel the world.  It isn’t a whimsical act you decide to take on a Monday morning.  You must envision yourself as a long term traveler before you can act on it.  This vision and desire will do two things; first, your vision as a long term traveler will force your brain to come up with solutions for every issue.  If you don’t picture yourself as a traveler, then doubt will be allowed in your brain and arguments on why not to do it will over take your thought process.  Second, the desire will help you overcome all the external forces that are keeping you in the rat-race style life of consumption.  No matter how confident you are in your decision, you will always wake up during the planning process and think “what the hell am I doing?”  Collette and I had these thoughts and dreams almost daily during our pre-trip time period.  We continually had to remind ourselves that this is what we wanted.  When we really doubted ourselves we did the following:  Vision yourself with your backpack on, walking down the jet bridge onto your first flight.  This simple task allowed us to refocus and rebuild our confidence.

Phase 2: Savings

Finances: Car, House, Job, Savings, Insurance, Phone bill, cable bill, when you add up all of your reoccurring expenses it’s almost mind-blowing how much the average person spends on a monthly basis.  Unless you’re a trust-fund baby, you’re going to need some savings for your travels.

“Regardless of how long it takes to earn your freedom, remember that you are laboring for more than just a vacation.  A vacation, after all, merely rewards work. Vagabonding justifies it.”  – Rolf Potts

You can cut out  hundreds of dollars a month just by a few small cost-saving maneuvers.  Some simple cost saving tips.

Small Actions:

  • Take your lunch to work
  • Don’t eat out
  • No new clothing purchases
  • Stay in for date night with a bottle of wine

Large Actions:

  • Downsize your apartment.
    • No need to live in a penthouse apartment or drive a brand new car.  If you can, move to a less expensive apartment – $200/month savings yields $2,400/year.
  • Downsize your car
    • If you’re driving a brand new car, sell it! and buy a 2-3 year old used car.  This action can save you an additional $200-300/month.  Now you’re up to $5000/year in savings.  We did this several years ago and we saved over $5000/year on one car alone.

For more saving tips – Read David Ramsey’s – Total Money Makeover

How to travel the world - Finance book

How much to save?

Now that you have some savings set aside, you can travel.  The size of your savings is all up to you.  Some people have traveled the world on only $1,000.  Others have spent $100,000 vagabonding (not us!).  It’s all up to the style of travel you prefer.

“Most people travel for 3-6 months are comfortable with a $10,000 to $20,000 – others have done it for way less!

Before we left we had $40k saved up for our journey.  Our budget was $30k which allowed for some buffer.

Travelers tip: purchase everything on an airline credit card like United’s Explorer Card.  This way you can have several free flights saved up for you trip, plus you earn miles simply by signing up.  Additional miles are offered on shopping portals like or Chase’s ultimate rewards mall

How to travel the world credit card

Status report: 

Now you have….

  • Desire

  • Savings

  • Frequent flyer miles

Alright, Let’s assume you have $15,000 saved with 200,000 miles in frequent flyer miles.


Time to cut the Fat!


Own a house?  Rent it out!We were very scared to do this at first, but when we reviewed the few items we were afraid might get ruined we realized they’re only things and could easily be replaced.  Collette placed our house on AirBnB and it was rented in 1 day.  An unexpected bonus was that we were able to rent it for more than our mortgage.  This extra few hundred dollars per month was very helpful during our travels. If you’re renting, end your lease and rent a storage unit for your things or ask a friend if they have space where you could store it for a few months.


Sell your cars – simple task.  A few weeks before your trip, take your car to a dealer and get a quote.  Now you have the bottom price you’ll accept for your car.  Post your car on craigslist and tell all your friends your selling it.  Put the price at 10-15% higher what the dealer offered you.  If you can’t sell it on the private market,  take it to the dealer right before you leave.


Fun note about booze in your house.  Collette and I had plenty of wine, liquor, and beer that had accumulated over time.  (It must be human nature to avoid finishing any bottle of liquor.)  When we decided we were taking a trip, we made a rule that “no alcohol could be purchased.”  As a lover of IPAs , this was difficult, but we had plenty of wine, scotch, and vodka to drink during our late night planning discussions.  (if you don’t have any alcohol in your house, you may want some to get you through your own planning sessions)

Phone, cable bill, gym membership, utilities

– all of these are pretty simple to cancel.  Just make sure you give plenty of notice.  Most of these things require a 30 day notice.

Travel tip!  If you have a smart phone, you can cancel your monthly service and only us it on wifi.  While traveling, Collette and I don’t have any international plan.  With an iPhone we use facetime audio, WhatsApp, facebook, and email to communicate with friends and family.

Now you’ve cut all your ties to the consumerism world!


How to quit your job and travel the world

For some people this is a highlight during the pre-travel time period, for others it is an opportunity cost of vagabonding.  I was ready to move on from my company so I was counting the days up to my 2-week notice.  As for Collette, it was a much harder decision as she loved her position, job, and boss.  However you feel about you company, quit with tact and respect.  You never know when paths will cross in the future and with companies like LinkedIn, you may need a reference from your current employer.

Leave of Absence

A small percentage of readers are able to ask for a leave of absence from their current position.  If you’re able to do this and you want to stay with your company, great! But one caution to this, If you’re looking to make a major life transition, having a job to return to can distract you from the benefits of vagabonding.  You’ll always have the thought of “when I get back” in your mind.

Pack, Pack, and Re-Pack

how to pack and travel the world

The thought of living for 6-months out of a backpack can be very intimidating.  Ladies – checkout Collette’s tips for clothing Like an Ikea package, you need to use every inch of your packing space.  This is nothing like packing for a weekend get-away, everything has to have a purpose, there’s no need for packing an article of clothing you’ll only wear once.  Pack items that can be interchangeable.  I tend to pack browns, blues, and grays.  These don’t scream tourist, hide stains easily, and all match together.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he had courage to leave the sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

Going away party

Once you decide to vagabond, tell your friends, all of them!  You may be surprised who is willing to help you with your travels or meet you during your trip.  Once we told friends we were going to Brazil and Argentina, 2 of them offered us free places to stay, and we didn’t even ask!  My view on this is the idea of long-term travel is a dream of everyone, and when you decide to take the leap, you become an inspiration for others.  People want you to be successful in your travels so that the “one-day” they decide to do it, they’ll be successful too.