Peripatetic is defined as "traveling from place to place, in particular working or based in various places for relatively short periods". A nomad is defined as "a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer". Many other terms can be used to define our location-independent lifestyle, such as digital nomad, vagabond, wayfarer, adventurer, drifter, slomad, and traveler. When I first came across these terms in researching our dream of living abroad, they all sounded foreign and exotic. In all honesty, I Googled more than one. I had so many questions!
I learned it's not as uncommon as I initially thought. In fact, there is an entire network of people around the globe living nomadically. I admit I initially thought people living on the road fell into one of these categories:
Wealthy, trust fund babies trying to find themselves
Broke, lazy backpackers washing their underwear in hostels and working just long enough to make it to their next location
Crazy hippies who gave up their material possessions to promote free love & smoke weed who lived in vans down by the river
Starving musicians and artists hoping to catch a break
Partying gap-year students whose parents were footing the bill
Stereotypes and judgments aside, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many people continue to work full-time, albeit, remotely. Additionally, others are building online businesses while traveling. Another large number have FIRE'd (Financial Independence, Retire Early movement - see Mr. Money Mustache's Blog for resources!).
Overall, I learned many are just like us. They had lived a more conventional life but wanted more.
Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. -Anonymous
It was thrilling to see others had paved the way and I could learn how to make this dream a reality. I joined several online groups to gain knowledge, acquire skills, learn strategies and ask questions. Boy oh, boy did I ask questions. Everyone I encountered online was gracious, helpful, and kind.
It was a bit overwhelming. On one hand, I was elated to learn WE could possibly travel the freaking world; on the other hand, there were so many things we'd need to change. We had many late-night conversations (let's be honest, with multiple bottles of wine) about what was important to us and what we could let go of in order to fulfill this crazy dream. We started believing it wasn't crazy, we just had a lot of work to do!
Our number one hurdle was financing this baby. How can we afford to do this? Although we lived a comfortable middle-class life, we were not rich. We didn't win the lottery. We had to figure this out the hard way. We knew we needed to spend less and save more.
If you're considering worldwide standards of wealth, according to the 2018 Global Wealth Report, if you have just $4,210 to your name, you're richer than half the world's population. A net worth of $93,170 (according to this same 2018 article), makes you richer than 90% of people around the world. That is mind-blowing.
Our strategy to afford this dream came down to the following:
Save as much money as possible by selling unused items, canceling subscriptions, and spending less each month
Utilize coupons, apps, rebates, and cash-back sites
Become debt free
Employ travel hacking strategies to maximize points & miles
Pursue house & pet sitting opportunities worldwide
Saving Money & Becoming Debt Free
Thank goodness we found minimalism around the same time we wanted to save as much money as possible to travel. I read the book "The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own" by Joshua Becker. This book and Joshua's "Uncluttered Course" changed our lives for the better. I believe this course is offered three times a year and if you use code FF25 you will get 25% off the registration if you too want to declutter your life. You get lifetime access to the content and you can repeat the course for free any time it's offered.
We had been feeling a subtle shift in thinking about our "stuff" for a while. We realized we spent so mindlessly but could easily live with less. We lived in a 5 bedroom, 4 bath house, but only utilized about 35-40% of it. We wanted to live with intention, simplify, and downsize. This took time and some areas were harder than others. Four large apple boxes filled with legos from Brad's childhood? EASY to purge! Walk-in closets full of clothes? UGH, we still struggle in this area. Overall, it was so freeing to get rid of all the crap that no longer served us. Ironically, it made room for more - more genuine experiences, more time together, more gratitude for what we have, more joy, more love, and more authenticity in our lives. That's the gratification -- owning less stuff means getting more intangible blessings. We may not be wealthy, but living life on our own terms makes us feel "rich"!
"You aren't wealthy until you have something money can't buy" - Garth Brooks
First step - sell that house! It took several months, but once it sold we had no regrets. We rented a small townhouse for three years, then downsized to a smaller apartment for the last 18 months we lived in North Dakota. No mortgage meant our savings account grew quickly. A secondary benefit we hadn't anticipated but wholeheartedly welcomed - no lawn mowing, snow removal, general upkeep, maintenance, and cleaning for hours. With this extra time, I took on a seasonal, part-time job at the best winery in North Dakota (shameless plug for my favorite peeps at 4e Winery near Casselton/Mapleton, ND). All that money went directly into our travel fund.
Somewhere in my reading, research, and vlog watching, I came across the concept of “voluntary hardships”. This could be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It can also look like staying home to save money vs. going out with friends or taking public transportation vs. driving your car or eating at home vs. eating at a restaurant. Basically, you are giving up luxury & comfort for the sake of learning self-sufficiency, raising your awareness, and saving money. Don't get me wrong, we still had a lot of fun and didn't always choose the "hardship", but knowing there WERE choices and if we took the harder route, we'd likely save more money for traveling, we chose the latter more times than not.
Our current belongings fit in a 10 x 15 cold storage garage. We saved about enough to set up a small apartment "one day", along with some sentimental items and clothing. My sister is storing our few boxes containing valuable items.
With limited public transportation options available in Fargo, we both kept our vehicles until the month prior to our departure. Selling those made us debt free by the time we left!
Travel Hacking & The Crazy Coupon Lady
I've always been frugal by nature, proudly called a crazy coupon lady more than once in my life and Brad jokes that we can't eat out somewhere unless I have a coupon. He laughs, but in all reality, I have saved us thousands of dollars using coupons, rebates, and click-through cash-back sites. (my favorites, with referral links, are listed below)
He quit laughing in 2018 on a trip to Switzerland, which is known to be one of the most expensive places in the world. I was fairly new to travel hacking and wanted to test out using these points & miles. Here is an example of how we spent 11 days in Switzerland and paid only $310.30 total for airfare and hotels:
Thrifty Traveler alerted us to a Delta points deal to Europe for 30,000 miles/round trip each. We flew Fargo-Zurich, round-trip, for 60,000 miles plus $235.92 in taxes/fees.
We used 90,000 IHG points for 3 nights in Zurich (opened an IHG credit card 4 mos. prior with a 75,000 pt. bonus for spending so much in the first 3 months)
We used our Chase Visa points for 3 nights at various hotels (roughly 8-9k points each)
We used a $100 Hotels.com gift card I received from Mypoints.com (15,100 pts)
I saved my coupon app money for several months, which totaled $362.21. We put this toward our last 3 hotel nights.
We stayed in moderately priced hotels and only paid out of pocket a total of $74.38. Most hotels were roughly priced at $125-195/night retail. So our airfare and hotel costs totaled $310.30. It was extremely helpful getting and staying in Switzerland this cheaply.
After research, we found that seeing Switzerland by rail or car was best. Since we didn't want to deal with a vehicle, we decided on a 10-day Swiss Rail Pass. This unlimited pass took us from Zurich to Lucerne (pictured right), Grindelwald, Brienz, Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Bern, Zermatt, and back as well as Konstanz, Germany, and Vaduz, Liechtenstein. These did not come cheap and there was no travel hack around the $420.00 cost for each of us. However, spending this $840.00 didn't freak us out, since we had saved SO MUCH on everything else. All in, our 11 days in Switzerland cost us less than $2,500 (we didn't track our dining/entertainment/etc., so this is a high estimate). It was one of the most breathtaking places we've ever visited and we highly recommend it.
As you can see, those .10, .25, .50, and $1.00 coupons really do add up and travel hacking is a viable strategy. I want to note, however, that credit cards are not for everyone and we think they should ONLY be used responsibly. We would never condone opening a card if you're unable to pay off the balance each month. Going into debt to take a vacation is not responsible, in our humble opinion.
CLICK HERE for an entire post relating to travel hacking as it is a fairly involved strategy that isn't easily condensed into a few short paragraphs.
House & Pet Sitting
We love house & pet sitting. If you're not familiar, there are websites and apps that connect you to others looking for someone to care for their home and pets while they're away. Most of the time this is a free exchange/mutually beneficial relationship, meaning neither party pays the other. For us, it affords us the pleasure of having pets around, living within a community, and not paying rent.
We don't intend to do this exclusively, although we know people who do! We'll utilize Airbnb's, hotels, hostels, and other accommodations in various parts of the world. During our first four months on the road, we've ended up pet/housesitting all but 6 days. We look forward to a month-long pet sit in London but will be renting an apartment once we arrive in Paris for six weeks. It's been a wonderful experience and we hope to continue to find sits that match our needs. It also helps us miss our own baby (Libby, pictured left. Living with Brad's dad and getting spoiled rotten!) a little bit less.
If you'd like to try TrustedHousesitters, our link will get you 25% off your yearly membership and will extend our membership two months for each referral.
These choices were right for us and allow us to travel full-time. Brad's company has graciously allowed him to work remotely. We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have these choices and opportunities. Our journey is the destination and we're delighted to decide each and every day where to wake up and where to go next. We hope to get lost as often as possible because we want the story of our lives to be unique.
At the end of each blog post, I'll add this section to update you in real-ish time about what's happening in our lives. Let me know if you like this section and I'll keep it!
We just finished a two-month cat sit near Sheffield, England. Colin (aka King Colin) & Chilli (aka Chilli Chilli Cheese Fry) stole our hearts and we are going to miss them terribly. Colin played hard to get for almost two weeks, but we earned his trust and I'm going to miss his nightly naps on my lap. Chilli chose Brad as her favorite but could be easily swayed with treats and cuddles to lay on me too. The people of the small village of Thurcroft will also be missed. They took us in as one of their own and treated us warmly. If any of you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Next destination? London for 5 weeks! We are on vacation this week with our son, Noah, doing everything touristy! Noah's adventurous spirit is taking him further into Europe on a backpacking adventure for three additional weeks. We're so excited for him.
Next week we start a month-long dog sit in London. Come March we've rented an apartment in Paris for 6 weeks. Our daughter and her boyfriend will join us for 10 days over spring break -- we can hardly wait to hug our kids!
What questions do you have? We'd love to do an entire blog post answering as many as possible! Leave a comment below or email us at hellofarfromfar.com.
Cheers, Peace, Love, and Kindness,
My favorite coupon and travel hacking sites are listed below. By using my link to sign up for your own account, we both get an extra benefit. The benefits vary per site, but each referral should at least buy me a glass of wine :)
My Favorite Coupon Sites
Other sites I use that have no referral benefits: Checkout 51, Coupons.com
My Favorite Travel Hacking Sites
Disclosure: FAR from FAR participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.