Funding A Dropout
My shiny silver Toyota Rav 4 funded my first dropout. The next one will be funded by a year’s worth of savings (which isn’t that much, really. Really.)
I traded in my battered and rusty Pajero for the Rav 4. The Pajero had taken me to the top of Australia’s Cape York, a trip that shook the radio out of the dashboard and the bounce out of the suspension. The Pajero got a bit rusty but that just added to its charm (until I discovered it was no longer considered roadworthy). The back side windows were just the right height for my trusty sidekick, the indefategable Mollydog. (Of course, back window height was a key factor in choosing the Pajero’s replacement. I even took the dog along for test drives!)
Unlike its predecessor, my Rav 4 barely went off-road, a fact I was quite embarrassed about. It looked fab in the driveway, though. During yet another sleepless night in early 2007, tossing and turning and wrestling with the feeling of being trapped in my career and in soulless Canberra, I thought about selling the car. Suddenly everything fell into place.
So my car funded my career break, which stretched from the originally planned “three-months-to-a-year” into a full-blown dropout. I think I sold the car for about A$8,000, less than half of what I bought it for. That money paid for my stuff to be packed up and stored, for my dog to be flown to my Mum’s for safekeeping (and there were many many tears at the airport), for my one-way ticket to Ho Chi Minh City and for a four-week teaching English course. At the end of the course I found some teaching work which initially brought in $1,000 a month, rising as I gained confidence and more hours. Rising again when I switched jobs — twice. And so the car (kind of) funded nearly four years of living in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as trips to various parts of Vietnam and to the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Many travelers save for years to fund their adventures. It’s hard to know how much to save. Thankfully, some bloggers are very open about their expenses.
Former Ballarat boy, the Aussie Nomad, has a handy breakdown of his traveling costs for various countries in Europe. Danny and Gillian from I Should Log Off traveled the world for 21 months for a grand total of $59,114, according to this post they published in February. Some careful Googling can lead you to other bloggers who have totted up their expenses at the end of their trips.
This next dropout, of course, includes my entourage. I am planning this next one with much more care because I know I have to look after three people instead of just myself, at least initially.
We’ve decided we need to enter the next dropout with US$10,000 in savings. I think we will have that but it’s not so important if we don’t. A good portion of that money will be earmarked for a two-month holiday in Europe. So if we don’t have the money, we don’t go to Europe. Simple.
What we are embarking on, on this next dropout, is a lifestyle of travel, not just a trip or a holiday. It will be a period of slow travel. Slow travel so we get that sense of home that we think we need. Slow travel so we can watch gardens grow in different parts of the world. Slow travel so we can find the best street food, the best local foods and make friends. And slow travel because I’d really like to write a book.
I’ve set myself a target of earning $3,000 a month during my next dropout. That was to be funded by freelancing and entrepreneurial activities until I met a magazine dude. I may well start the next dropout with a part-time magazine job that will enable us to save during our six months in Chiang Mai. Then we’re off to Europe, hopefully, then back to Asia, where costs are much, much lower.
I expect our living expenses to be about $1,000 a month in Chiang Mai. That rough estimate was confirmed by Avril from Got Passport in early July. Avril and her family of three have been living in Chiang Mai for nine months for an average cost of $1,200 a month, according to this post. School fees kicked their monthly expenses much higher than ours will be.
So, you see, dropping out doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Especially if you’re crap at savings like I am, so just plan to work as you go.
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This post is part of a “turning our travel dreams into reality” group writing project. You can read the following fantastic posts written by traveling parent bloggers:
9 years ago