My first trip to Madrid in mid-October 2014 was a breath of fresh air. I had an epiphany somewhere among the vegan churros and chocolate. I realised I wanted to be free to explore and appreciate this world we live in instead of being tied down by a job I disliked just so I could pay bills. Thanks to Madrid, I decided to quit my job once I returned to the States so that I’d be completely free to travel and promote veganism as I please.
I figured out that I could only quit my job and travel full-time if I changed the way I lived completely. I dove headfirst into minimalism and eliminated all unnecessary expenses from my life. Every action of mine and every penny I spent supported my goal from that moment forward.
Know your budget.
Nearly everyone can travel the world and quit their job with sufficient planning and organisation. Budget planning is key. The first step is to figure out how much money you need each month to survive.
Track every penny you spend in an Excel spreadsheet or phone app. Only then will you have some perspective about where your money goes. When you examine how much of your spending is devoted to stuff you actually need versus stuff you simply splurge on from time to time, like eating out and updates to your wardrobe, the numbers are shocking! If you learn you spend $150 a month at the café, you might choose to quit drinking coffee and deposit $150 into your savings account instead.
Since I’ve been tracking my spending for years, I knew exactly how much I needed as a minimum to live comfortably each month. I aimed to save at least that much for each month I expected to be travelling. I also receive a modest pension from a former job so I add that to my savings as well.
The key is to adjust your spending to reflect your priority in life. My priority was to quit my job and travel, so I stopped buying stuff I didn’t need and saved every penny. Once you know much money you spend each month, you can trim your budget and reduce or eliminate spending in certain areas. Use this extra money to pay down debts and save as much as you can.
Sell your stuff.
Once the wanderlust hit me, I suddenly had an apartment chock-full of stuff I had no use for, and I certainly had no desire to keep these things stored away. I gradually eased into a minimalist lifestyle and sold all of my belongings: all my furniture, all my baking and pastry supplies, books, my car, everything!
We don’t all need to sell everything we own in order to fund our travels (but you really should try it). If you are able to save up a significant amount of money beforehand, you may be able to afford to store your belongings somewhere back home while you spend time abroad. As a super minimalist, I don’t recommend that, as I feel you won’t miss any of it and you’ll come to regret paying a monthly bill to store heaps of stuff you don’t really need.
And if you feel like you can’t live without your stuff, try calculating how much it would cost to ship all your belongings to a new destination overseas, and how much rent would cost for a flat large enough to accommodate your belongings. (Spoiler alert: it’s expensive!)
I’m able to afford to travel this way because I live very simply. I have no bills besides my phone. I don’t spend money on eating out, clothes, make-up, Netflix, or anything unnecessary.
I also travel on the cheap. Couch surfing with friends, house sitting, staying in hostels, volunteering in exchange for room and board…these are just a few options for those of us on a budget.
Depending on the skills you have, you may be able to get a job abroad. Granted, I wouldn’t expect to make loads of money while travelling, so living simply is still the best thing you can do for yourself. A simple life means fewer bills and expenses and more money to save for future travel plans.
Ultimately it comes down to the choices you make. If you want to quit your job and live as a nomad, you’ll need to make some sacrifices. You either need to win the lottery or stop spending money on stuff you don’t need.