We had it all figured out.
The money was coming in. It was location independent (real estate and stock investments). So we sold our stuff, packed up the Armada with our four little tots and drove to Costa Rica.
It was a fabulous year. We swam in tropical waterfalls, sunbathed on beaches, bungee jumped from bridges and swam with wild dolphins.
Then the U.S. economy collapsed. Our income dried up. Our dream world was shattered. We had to go back the the States for a ‘job’ (oh cursed word.)
We were broken. We were sneered at with comments like ‘Welcome back to reality’. We considered giving up. We looked at buying abandoned new-construction houses in a dejected real estate market. My husband applied (and was offered) a cubicle job making $100k a year. Perhaps this was to be our fate.
But then we came to our senses. What are we thinking????!!!
Our greatest fear was living just an ‘okay’ life. We may not know how to earn the money we needed to live the life we wanted, but could trying and possibly ‘failing’ (again) be worse than acquiescing to a mortgage and a cubicle job? We wanted travel, exploration, adventure. We wanted the world to be our children’s classroom.
I don’t care what it took, we would find a way to fund our ridiculously awesome dream.
And so the quest ensued. We tried. And tried. And tried again. In the Dominican Republic. In Georgia. In India and Alaska. We weren’t very successful at it. We made lots of mistakes. And all the while people asked us the question that most people want to know…
How can you pay for all this travel with a family of SEVEN (okay, six at the time, and now EIGHT)!?
The answer? We really didn’t know. We felt we were scraping from the bottom of the barrel for money to pay for what we were doing, using every resource we could come up with, all the while trying to find ‘the answer‘ ourselves. How do you do it?
We finally came to a a couple of realizations.
First, even though ‘money’ may seem like the problem, there’s more to it than that. As we wrote in our book, Living Deliberately: How to Create Your Ridiculously Awesome Life:
If you’re like most people, you probably believe that the only thing that keeps you from living the lifestyle you want is more money. If you had more money, then you could do all the things you wanted to do.
But the truth is, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Living the life of your dreams comes down to priorities (Chapter 3), not money.
Having or making more money won’t help you to live a life of purpose if your priorities aren’t in place, and if you have lots of bills, and lots of ‘stuff’ to care for – and all the other things we’ve discussed in the previous chapters – more money can’t help you if the other critical elements are out of whack.
Until you have all those other things sorted out – until you stop blaming money for what you lack in your life (Chapter #2); until you know what’s important to you (#3); and what your purpose and passions are (#4); until you know where you’re starting from (#5); where you want to go (#6); what you’re currently exchanging your time and energy for (#7); and eliminate what’s distracting and holding you back (#8); and until you believe that you’ll actually be able to create the life you want (#9); and push past obstacles and challenges (#10) and start living independent of the opinions of the herd (#11); until you know and do all of those things, adding more money to the equation will only add to your problems, not solve them.
Second, there is no single ‘answer’ to funding a ‘non-traditional’ lifestyle, just like there is no ‘right’ way to live.
Travel has given us the chance to meet LOTS of interesting and amazing people. And the one thing we’ve learned from them is this:
there are people out there traveling the world, living their dream life, funded in a myriad of ways, each as varied as the individuals themselves.
There’s not just ONE answer. There’s lots of them.
For some, that dream life looks like having a home base in Crete with trips to Egypt and Greece (where baby number three will be born). Funding is created by a virtual assistant business which she built from the ground up, fueled by her burning desire to have freedom to travel. (Watch her full interview here, and check out her courses for creating your own freedom.)
For others, the dream life is living in Costa Rica with their family while working remotely for their employer in the States.
Or it looks like a round-the-world trip with three kids, exploring Mexico, Europe, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, paid for by income from their location independent business.
Some people teach English online, or at a local school in another country. Some have jobs with the Foreign Embassies, non-profit organizations, or big corporations.
We’ve met bloggers, website designers; wholesalers who have accounts set up with retailers; traveling actors who arrange theatrical productions; small business owners of restaurants and surf-board shops; stock and option traders; rental property owners; retirees who worked hard and retired early; and the good old-fashioned ‘work and save then live off your savings’ type (we’ve interviewed ALL kinds for our series.)
We did finally discover ‘our answer’ to funding, and it’s unique, combining our skills, interests, talents and passions. But we want to help you find ‘your answer.’ (That’s why we created How to Fund Travel.)
We’ve been able to do the traveling we have because of our priorities, even when we lacked money. But with priorities firmly in place, it’s helped us to create the funding that will make our dream a long-term reality. You have to put the cart in front of the horse.
We really recommend that you too make sure the ‘basics’ are in place (our book can really help you with that process.) Once they are, then you’ll be ready to build on them (see the five steps below) by starting the business, negotiating with the boss or finding the international employment.
(The following steps are expounded on in our free video training.)
1. Develop the Mindset
In today’s global, information and community driven economy makes it even more probable for regular people to create lifestyles that were previously only available to the ‘rich and famous’. But in order for it to happen you have to have the right mindset.
You absolutely MUST believe that you can do it, not by making decisions based on your current competencies, but on the certainty that you can learn whatever skills are required to figure it out. How bad do you really want it? Then be determined to make it happen.
2. Clarify the Vision
Once you have the mindset in place that you’re going to create an incredible life of travel and adventure, then you have to see clearly in detail what that looks like for you.
Are you an expat in a foreign land, working online or remotely? Or are you wandering from place to place as a travel journalist or blogger?
What does your ideal lifestyle look like? You can’t hit a target you can’t see, so the vision of your dream life needs to be crystal if it’s ever going to happen.
3. Take a Financial Exam
Now it’s time to take a real close look at those finances. What is your current income (and where does it come from)? What are your expenses? How can you reduce them? What debt do you have?
If you want to make travel (more of) a priority in your life, then some things will need to be sacrificed — maybe the cable or that Netflix membership — in order to make it happen. Debt will definitely have to go. How can you redirect your current income to reducing debt and saving more? How can you make some extra money on the side? What things can you sell to get ready for (and help pay for) that trip or move abroad?
4. Determine the Cost
Once you know where your finances currently stand it’s time to figure out how much your dream life will cost (you may be surprised — many travelers discover they can live less ‘on the road’ than they can at home, even with a family.)
Will you take your vehicle and travel overland through Central America, Europe or your home country? Will you fly from destination to destination? Will you slow travel and rent, or travel more quickly and stay at hotels? Will you keep a home base and have ‘at home’ expenses, or will your living and travel expenses be one and the same? Or will you simply move abroad and stay put? Will you need to buy a vehicle?
All of these factors will play a part in the cost of living your dream life. Go through the scenarios one by one until you determine which will work for you, and have a number of how much you need each month to support it.
5. Identify Your Assets
As today’s ‘gurus’ like Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk teach us, you are your own personal brand. You are your own corporation. There is no such thing as job security in today’s market. The only security comes from your ability to provide indispensable value to those who need it — whether that’s as an employee or as an entrepreneur.
So as you work on figuring out ‘your answer’ for funding a travel lifestyle, you need to analyze what assets you have — as an individual. What are your skills, your areas of expertise? What opportunities does this present for you? Can you teach abroad or online? Can you provide services as a freelancer or contract worker? Get creative (and inspired by ideas from others.)
It is absolutely possible to live a life that (right now) you can only dream about. Thousands of people have made it happen, regular people just like you. You can too. It starts by taking action today on the steps above.
- Working Remotely: 5 Ways to Get Your Boss to Say ‘Yes’ (so You Can Live Abroad)
- How to Fund Travel as a Freelance Writer
- How to Fund Family Travel with Travel Hacking — 4 Easy Steps
- Becoming Location Independent
- How to Fund Travel: 16 Ways to Make it Happen
- How to Finance Your Family’s Travel Adventures