Just about 5 months ago I had met with Kristy to chat about her plans to travel for a year with her husband, leaving their lives here in San Francisco at a pause. Although it seemed like a crazy idea to most, I was in awe, inspired and somewhat jealous of their future adventures.
This past weekend I was able to chat with Kristy at a local coffee shop since they were back in San Francisco for less than a week before continuing the rest of their travels. I had a ton of questions I wanted to ask. Where were they headed next? What had they learned so far? Was it crazy, amazing, scary, rewarding? I literally wanted all the juicy details.
Below, I'm happy and privileged to share some of our conversation- learnings, stories and plans for this new year. Hopefully an inspiration to us all as we plan out our year of travel.
Kristy's first statement: "It was actually really easy."
I was like, "Excuse me!?" I was shocked, but really more excited to hear that. One would naturally think traveling for months at a time, leaving your life and going into the unknown would be scary but there it was - confirmation that it is possible and easier than you think.
She did mention how the outlook of the experience depends on your personality, and for her there were only minor triggers of stress. Normally between going from one country to another, or making sure their Airbnb accommodations were booked. Moving every 3 to 4 days was quite daunting, but overall she just personally found it easy to transition into the lifestyle.
At this point I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. "What was the most rewarding parts of your experience?"
She answered saying that they quickly realized their best and most rewarding points in their trip were when they were doing something active - getting outdoors, hiking, exploring. Being in a countryside where the true bliss and experience is nature and BONUS - completely free; it had no comparison to the major cities where things were expensive and nothing was really free. They were able to majorly stay under budget with these smaller cities and yet, those experience were invaluable.
I'm one to personally love visiting major cities. The more expensive, the more I think it has a lot of offer. After talking to Kristy though, it makes sense. The true value is marveling at the beauty of what is just there. Getting yourself out and about vs. trapping yourself in a mall or bar just to spend money you shouldn't be spending.
She went on explaining her Airbnb situation. I was curious: "Were they able to find cheap listings? What were their experiences with hosts? Everything work out well only using Airbnb places?"
Listings were pretty cheap for them. 90% of the time they rented private rooms instead of an entire place, which really helped them get the local experience they were looking for. Whether it was dinner or drinks with their hosts, or constant suggestions and recommendations, it was a true blessing to already have a "friend" in each country.
This was what I expected. After all these type of experiences are what drive Airbnb to do what they do.
Now bringing it back to budget. The main topic that holds many back from doing anything remotely travel related. I was curious about how they actually budgeted their expenses and if they really did stay under budget significantly. Without revealing any numbers (holy crap - get ready), whatever you think you need to spend, cut it in half. Maybe even a third if you're like me and like a lot of "budget -cushion." So how was this possible?!
1. It did depend on the country. Some countries they were significantly over budget, countries like Sweden or Norway, and some countries they were significantly under budget. One she mentioned was extremely budget friendly was Spain.
2. Again, they really prioritized getting outdoors and spending time with nature. That was free.
3. They walked and biked everywhere. Both methods really allowed them to see the city, and the biking really allowed them to cover larger grounds. Walking = free and there were bike share programs in the some of the countries that were really cheap. Check out some here and here, as well as an amazing multi-city bike guide here.
4. They purchased 3-month Global Rail Passes. They range from $1300 - $2000 depending on your age but it allows for unlimited rail usage. May seem pricey at first but for them, they wanted to see as many countries as possible. It allowed for the spontaneity and range they were hoping to have without with extra planning of buying individual train tickets or plane tickets. They made sure to take full advantage of its value. One note: The UK isn't part of the unlimited pass. Bummer.
5. No brainer. Cooking your own meals. Some of their Airbnb's would provide free breakfast that would actually last them through lunch which at that point, they'd treat themselves to some street food for dinner. Meals can either be the most expensive part of your trip or the cheapest. Grocery shop and cook in the kitchen that Airbnb's luckily have.
6. Airbnb. They were able to find cheap, comfortable and clean Airbnb's every where they went. Sometimes it's hard to believe that's the case, especially with all the unique, funky and expensive places that are also on the site, but Kristy said it worked out well for them especially since they weren't necessarily prioritizing "fancy."
So what's next for them??
Kristy and her husband are off to India. From there they'll make their way down to New Zealand where they've gotten a holiday working visa in order to work and live till they come back in the late summer. I was like, "Pause - what is this holiday working visa you speak of??"
Basically with this visa you have to be between the ages 18-30 yo and you are only allowed to apply/get accepted for once in your entire life. This allows you to work within New Zealand for an entire year, practically giving you the experience of living there like a local. (Australia and South Korea also have this 12-month option for US citizens.) So cool!! You can read more about it here. For other countries besides the U.S - You can easily search about holiday working visas and see what countries offer it for your country.
In the end of our conversation, Kristy and I parted ways and I was left excited and inspired to plan my own travel adventure.
This was definitely loads of information, but I couldn't have shared this without Kristy's time and experience. (Thank you Kristy!!) Hope you found as much value and inspiration as I did. You ready to leave your life for travel now?