How To Fund A Trip Around The World

Usually the first thing people ask when we tell them we plan to travel the world for six months is, “How can you afford that?” There’s no quick answer to this question, but hopefully this post will break it down into easily digestible chunks so you can see how we made it possible, and how you can make it possible for yourself if you dream of traveling the world too.

Obviously some of our circumstances will not relate to your personal situation, and that’s okay. However, most of our ideas and tactics for planning extended travel will easily be replicable by almost anyone. Keep in mind that plenty of other people have started epic journeys of their own with much less money than us, so remember, where there’s a will, there’s always a way! Your mindset is a much larger limiting factor than your current bank account!

Initial Funding

The initial funds for the bulk of our trip came directly from wedding gifts. We are both very fortunate in that our parents helped us a lot with our wedding and honeymoon. Although we are trying to be as transparent as possible on this blog, out of respect for our parents, we won’t say exactly how much they gave us. However, we will say that from the gifts from our three sets of parents (Darlene’s mom, Fat’s mom, and Fat’s dad and stepmom) the wedding was fully paid for and there was enough left over to pay for our initial overseas flights to Bali, three nights in a luxury resort so our trip can start off feeling like a proper honeymoon, and also cover several of the other flights, trains, and buses we’ll need to get to the various cities and countries on our planned itinerary.

Planning a Budget and Cutting Expenses

After considering and budgeting our initial wedding gift money, the next thing we did when planning the trip was take a look at our current expense spreadsheets and make a new spreadsheet based on what we predict things will be like after we leave for the trip.

There were a lot of expenses we were able to cut out right off the top like gym memberships, Netflix and Hulu accounts, a car lease, gas, and car insurance.

You can see from the screen shots below how we were able to visualize what we could expect once we cut our current expenses at home and rented out the condo, which we will lease it fully furnished so we can charge more while leaving us with less to put into storage. You can also enter your email below to download our spreadsheet and use it for your own personal travel budgeting.

Our plan and goal after looking at our new travel budget sheet is to be able to sustain our travels from our initial wedding gifts and the money we make while traveling, without having to dip into other savings or investment accounts.

Travel Budget Sheet

Enter your email to download our fully customizable travel budget spreadsheet!


Scraping Up Extra Cash

Once we committed to the six-month journey we had a few weekends where we worked on purging the house of everything we thought we could make a few extra bucks from—Bluetooth speakers, home exercise equipment, a bike, shoes…the list goes on and on. Craigslist became our best friend. We were able to bring in almost a thousand dollars from our efforts, and as a result we are left with fewer things we will have to store when we leave.

We’ve both read and listened to things that talk about the power of decluttering your life and purging, and although we were reluctant to get rid of certain personal possessions, we think the exercise was really good for us, and just like everything we had heard or read, we never missed anything or regretted getting rid of anything. In the end, it’s all just stuff, and if it’s really that important, we can buy new stuff when we get back.

The Power of Credit Cards (It’s Not What You Think)

Almost immediately after we made the decision travel for six months we applied for three new credit cards. Did we plan to put the entire journey on credit and go into debt? Of course not! Between the three cards we were able to get 154,000 frequent flyer miles from United and the Star Alliance network, which we plan to use strategically to cover some of the lengthier and more expensive flights. Between the miles collected from the new credit cards and the miles we already had on our various frequent flyer accounts with United and Southwest, we figure we should be able to get a total of six flights for the cost of the booking fee and taxes—usually $5-$17 each.

We are not affiliated with Chase, United, or Star Alliance, but we are loyal customers and like to take advantage of their offers.

We are not affiliated with Chase, United, or Star Alliance, but we are loyal customers and like to take advantage of their offers.

As you probably know, in order to receive the bonus miles when you sign up for a new credit card, you have to spend several thousand dollars in the first few months. How did we do that without going broke before we even left? Glad you asked! Here’s the breakdown…

The first two cards required we spend $2,000 and $3,000 within three months in order to receive 30,000 and 50,000 miles. We also got an additional 5,000 miles from each card for adding a second authorized user. These authorized user bonuses were great for since we are getting married soon anyway! By coincidence, our wedding venue cost $5,000, so we split the bill between the two cards and paid the balances that same week with the gift money from our parents. We put the cards into our file cabinet with a note on them saying to cancel a week before we get charged $98 each for the annual membership fees.

The third and final credit card required that we spend $4,000 within the first three months to receive 50,000 miles, and again gave us an extra 5,000 for adding a second authorized user. Initially we thought we’d have a hard time meeting the $4,000 spending requirement. However, Fat is the president of the homeowner’s association for the condo and was able to put $2,400 on the card for termite treatment at the building that was reimbursed by the condo management company. Then, one of Fat’s investment properties needed some roof repairs, and he was able to put $3,000 on the card that he paid back from his real estate investing business account. Done and done!

Let’s break down the math…

Card 1:
– 30,000 miles for signing up
– 5,000 miles for a second authorized user
– 2,000 miles from the $2,000 put on the card
Total: 37,000 miles (Enough for the two of us to fly from New York to Los Angeles.)

Card 2:
– 50,000 miles for signing up
– 5,000 miles for a second authorized user
– 3,000 miles from the $3,000 put on the card
Total: 58,000 miles (Enough for a flight from China to Greece.)

Card 3
– 50,000 miles for signing up
– 5,000 miles for a second authorized user
– 4,000 miles from the $4,000 put on the card
Total: 59,000 miles (Enough for a flight from Iceland to Louisiana.)

Total: 154,000 miles

Power Couple | Darlene & Fat

Hanging out at Niagara Falls. (December 2015)

The Worst-Case Scenario, Last Resort, and Backup Plan

In “The Four-Hour Work Week” (a book that had a massive impact on both of our lives and mindsets) best-selling author Tim Ferriss talks through a strategy of writing out the worst-case scenario as a way to realize that even if everything goes wrong, you’ll still be okay.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the path our minds took when we started to ask ourselves, “What if we run out of money and go broke?”

– We will figure it out!
– What if we can’t figure it out?
– We can sell t-shirts through our website.
– We can work at hostels or restaurants while we travel in exchange for money and/or a place to stay.
– What if those things fail?
– We can take money out of the personal mutual fund account.
– We can take money out of the real estate investing account.
– We can open the Roth IRA account and take money from there.
– We can open the Roll Over IRA account and take money from there.
– We can put things on a credit card—we have three new ones! (That’s a joke and we never recommend putting things on a credit card that you can’t pay off immediately. Going into credit card debt is a VERY last and desperate resort!)

At the end of the exercise we realized we had enough security in our game plan that it was more risky to not take the trip than it was to put off our dreams and goals. Remember, you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so why wait to do the things you dream of!

Luckily we’ve worked hard to manage, save, and invest money over the years, so our safety net has several different layers. Is it possible to travel the world without these kinds of back up plans? Of course! Is it more scary? Probably so, but that just means you have to get a little more creative or plan things a little differently than we did. Maybe pick two countries instead of 12? Maybe plan to work more while you travel? Again, where there’s a will, there’s always a way, and your mindset is a much larger limiting factor than your current bank account!

If you want more help with that mindset, here are a few books we recommend:
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
The Four-Hour Work Week
Vagabonding