There are numerous blogs out there that will tell you how to travel on an absolute shoestring budget, couchsurfing and tending bar as you make your way around the planet. They’ll teach you how to travel even when you barely have two pesos to rub together. About the thrilling, rewarding, and mind-blowing sort of experiences you can have when you live life as a series of unplanned spontaneous instants. About living apart from all the typical social and corporate boxes of the “developed world.” About tossing those boxes out altogether.
Ours, however, is not one of those blogs.
Our trip is somewhere between the shoestring and the luxury vacation. We might couchsurf on occasion and we may have a luxury hotel stay once in a while, but for the most part, we’ll be hanging out at hostels. We won’t really be going on tours, but we’ll probably splurge for Machu Picchu. A lot of days it’ll be groceries and street food, but we also want to try a genuine Kobe steak.
Even so, the trip will cost a pretty penny. There are several factors that came together to make this trip happen for us:
- Lots of savings. Fortunately, our combined income for the past several years has been more than enough to support us, save for the long-term, and put away for the trip. We live somewhat below our means. For example, Mike’s never owned a smartphone, because he’s too cheap.
- Lots of miles and points. Mike’s been following various travel hacking blogs and forums (starting with Flyer Talk) for a few years. Through careful management of credit cards and jumping on good signup offers, we’ve saved about 700,000 points in various airline and hotel programs. We’ve spent hundreds of thousands already on domestic trips and staycations. All without ever carrying a balance, spending a penny on credit card interest, or hurting our credit scores.
- Job flexibility. At least to start, Mike will be working part-time for his employer as we travel. This is a little unexpected, but should help a lot in terms of keeping our coffers from draining too quickly.
- Luck. We’re incredibly grateful for all the opportunities afforded to us and let us travel. We have our health. We have loving, supportive families who encouraged us to pursue our dreams. We have friends who have shown us that there are many different ways to live outside the standard 9-to-5. We grew up in a country that afforded us these opportunities. And on top of all that, we have the financial security to make a leap, when so many others (harder-working and more talented than us) are struggling just to put food on the table.