Big Dreams, Small Wallet: Planning and Financing the Trip of a Lifetime…On a Budget


This is Part I of a six-post series. Enjoy!


I am just an average girl with a dream to see the world. I was bitten by the travel bug early. In fact, I don’t ever remember NOT having it. I always knew that I would make it to the places I wanted to see. I didn’t know how. It was just the one vision that I held onto above all others. Much to that chagrin of my family, I even put it above my career.

I was lucky to do some traveling early on; Russia when I was thirteen, Mexican study abroad in college and the obligatory backpacking trip to Europe in my early twenties. But I wanted more. I wanted to take an extended trip and really immerse myself in another part of the world. I didn’t want to and would not wait until I was 65 to do so.

In 2011, after much planning, scrimping, saving and dreaming, my partner and I departed on our dream trip. It took us seventeen months of waiting and saving, but it was all worth it when we quit or jobs, turned in our apartment keys, picked up our backpacks and headed off on a life-changing five month sabbatical. We spent one month rock-climbing in California and four months in South East Asia. We were not given any money. We were solidly middle class with bills and student loans. But we held this vision close and MADE it happen. Nothing was going to get in our way.

YOU can do the same. You are dreaming big. I know it!

If you are still reading this, you have probably decided that it is time to take a break. Maybe you have been in your job for awhile, and need some time off. Maybe you are between careers and think this would be a good opportunity to see the world. Maybe, like me, you just HAVE to travel.

I understand you. You don’t want to look at a computer screen day in day. You feel stuck in an office. Your two week vacation, if you even get one, is barely enough time to start to unwind. You feel life, an adventurous life, slipping by.

You’re ready for adventure, perspective and new scenery. You want to see how other people live. To experience exotic cultures and new food. You want to breathe different air. To feel free. To Live.

And you should.

Taking a sabbatical, break from your day to day life, will be one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of your life. You will not regret it. I promise.



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8 responses to “Big Dreams, Small Wallet: Planning and Financing the Trip of a Lifetime…On a Budget

  1. One trick that I used was getting involved in the Argentine tango community. There are people that dance tango all over the world and will open their homes up to you when you are passing through. Taking away the expense of a place to stay, makes travel A LOT less expensive! :)

  2. So if I wanted to take a week or two and see some awesome stuff, by myself (because I’m single), and for a reasonable price, what country should I check out? I haven’t done any traveling outside the US and Europe.

    • If you have two weeks, and tickets aren’t too expensive, I would get to Thailand. It really can’t be beat. Great food, friendly people, beautiful culture. And Cheap! It’s easy to travel there and I’m sure you would meet other single travelers. For something closer to home, Mexico is always great. If you want culture, I would check out central colonial Mexico, Mexico City, Guanajuato, San Miguel De Allende. If you want beaches, I’d head to the Oaxacan coast. I haven’t been to Guatemala or Nicaragua but I’ve heard great things about both. Is there anything particular you are looking for in a trip?

      • Hmm, they all sound fun. The one thing I think I’m looking for is adventure. I’d like to see some super old stuff and speak (English hopefully) to interesting locals.

  3. I would say Thailand, if you have the time. Bangkok, Chiang Mai and maybe an island (Koh Samui or Koh Phangan maybe). And tons of people speak English. I would check out the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Travel Forum for sure and see what other people are saying about certain places too. I’m definitely biased toward SE Asia! :)

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