How We Funded Our Around the World Trip

How we funded an around the trip in nine months

Before I tell you how much our two year around-the-world trip cost, I feel it’s important to tell you how we funded our trip.

We didn’t inherit a bunch of money. We didn’t sell our kidneys. Our parents didn’t pay for it. And we didn’t win the lottery. On more than one occasion we had people tell us they assumed we won the lottery. I wish it had been that easy! 😉

We booked our one-way tickets on December 31st, 2013 and had nine months to save up as much money as possible. Here is how we funded our around-the-world trip:

Vienna Wine Hiking

Full Disclosure – we started with money in our savings account. We’d always kept an emergency fund, so that was a starting point. However, we told ourselves we would be coming back to the US with a savings cushion, which is exactly what we did.

During our marriage prep classes we were introduced to Dave Ramsey and his snowball approach to getting out of debt. At the time we had two car loans, my student loan, and we had just taken on a mortgage. And within a few years we were down to just our mortgage. So, we figured if that type of financial planning/saving could help knock down our debt, why couldn’t it help fund a trip around the world?

In addition to putting money into our savings account when our paychecks arrived, the following are other ways we saved and made money for our trip!

Cut the cord

cut cable

Cutting unnecessary bills is a great place to start. We canceled our cable TV and DVR service and began putting that money directly into our savings account each month.

No more date nights out

We cut back on entertainment and eating out. We spent nights together cooking in our apartment and streaming our favorite shows. More often than not we were in front of a shared laptop planning our big adventure. We saved nights out for special events like our friends’ birthdays. This didn’t actually put money into our savings account, but didn’t take any out either. 🙂

Cashed in savings bonds

Matt received savings bonds as gifts when he was younger. As it turned out, a lot of them had matured and were ready to be cashed in. He thought using them to travel around the world seemed like the perfect idea!

Stopped contributing to our retirement accounts

I know, a lot of you just gasped a little. We did too when we made the decision at first. While we both continued to contribute to our 401k accounts through our employers, we stopped contributing to our individual Roth IRAs. We put the money we had be allotting to our IRAs directly into our savings account each month.

Sold Alana’s car

White Mercury Milan

There was no sense in holding onto two cars. Insurance and registration were enough of a reason for us to sell, but finding somewhere to store two cars would have been a whole other problem. Matt’s car handles better in the winter, so mine was the one to go.

Sold our stuff

I am not going to sugar coat this, selling your stuff takes time and can be a pain in the butt. Luckily we had nine months and Matt worked from home, so he could be available for Craigslist pickups. And it took all of nine months to sell the last of it. Of course, we held onto things like our bed and couch until the end, but eventually it was time to sell those too. The last week in our apartment was spent on an air mattress and two camping chairs. I’ll highlight some methods we used below.

Matt on in our empty apartment

Matt eating Thai food on a camping chair on the last night in our apartment. Can you see our kitty?

Here is some extra motivation to sell your stuff instead of storing it: We took in right around $10,000!

  • Garage Sale

We used a garage sale to sell items that weren’t worth the time and effort to put on Craigslist. We decided to haul it all back to Alana’s mom’s house and participate in her neighborhood’s annual garage sale weekend. This way, we didn’t have to do any advertising as there were plenty of people driving around that weekend. We didn’t price anything and instead asked people to offer what they thought it was worth. This saved us a significant amount of time and we didn’t run the risk of overpricing anything.

  • Craigslist

We mainly used Craigslist to sell our furniture, electronics, artwork, and kitchen stuff. Though we sold plenty of DVDs and even one of Matt’s business suits on Craigslist as well. We researched what others were selling similar items for and set our prices just under those. We often got our asking price using this method. Remember, your stuff is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. It doesn’t matter how much it cost you brand new.

  • Resale ShopsClothes at a resale shop

We used resale shops to sell clothing and shoes. Stores like Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor are good options. There is even a new online version that allows you to ship everything to them, they buy what they want and donate the rest. Though the payout per piece of clothing may seem small, it adds up in the end. It took us several trips to several different stores, but this can easily be done on your lunch hour.


Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

As we began preparing for our trip it was obvious we were going to need to buy some stuff. We both needed backpacks, shoes, clothes, and million other little things. By shopping through the portal, we ended up putting cash back into our savings account. With Ebates, you earn up to 40% cash back on purchases at hundreds of popular online retailers. The thing I love about Ebates is that you get your credit card points upfront and then you get the discount in the form of a check on the back end. The best of both worlds! Though most stores offer between 2-10% back, it definitely adds up in the end. Plus, it’s cash back in your savings account! If you sign up through our referral link you’ll get a $10 bonus after your first purchase.

I hope this post clears up how we funded our trip, again, no lottery winners here. 🙂

Matt always says, “it’s simple, but not easy”. A little sacrifice and discipline can really add up over the course of a year, so get going if you are serious about making long term travel a reality! Just imagine if you started planning TWO years in advance!

If you have additional questions, please leave them in the comments or contact us directly.


Fund your around the world trip

About Alana

Alana is one-half of Great Big Globe. She loves animals, the Wisconsin Badgers, exploring new countries and chasing the sun.

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