How to Blow $100k Chasing Your Dreams

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You didn’t miss read the title, there isn’t an extra zero in there. Sometimes I wish that number was wrong, or we didn’t do such a good job keeping track of every penny we spent. But then again I wouldn’t want many of those pennies back, we spent them. We spent them doing the things we love. We spent them experiencing the world to the fullest. Sure we could have been cheaper, we could have jumped off a few less things, gone a few less places, tried one less traditional dish, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to see the world.

How to blow $100k Chasing your dreams

Every last penny, Quetzal, Peso, Lira, Euro, Kwacha, Bhat, Dong, Reil, Dirham, Cordoba, and Rand we spent got jotted down in our little red book. It’s pages are now full and the edges a little ragged, but it has to the decimal point every bit of money we spent on our round-the-world trip. After two years of travel we spent exactly $99,987.34. Since we calculated that number I am sure we have spent the remaining twelve dollars and change. There we said it, we just blew $100,000 US dollars traveling the world. 100,000 little pieces of paper, gone.

How to blow $100k Chasing your dreams-6

Like I said, yes, we could have been cheaper, but we weren’t. We wanted to see a big chunk of the world, and we did. We touched down on 6 continents and 46 different countries (and a few repeats).

country map route highlight-final

The first three months of our trip we spent in Central America and were some of our cheapest travel days of the trip. That would soon change as we breezed through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru which had a much higher price tag. From there we crossed the Pacific ocean to find ourselves in Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia. Our time in Fiji and NZ were some of our favorites, but they put a dent in the budget with transcontinental flights and $8 per gallon gasoline prices. Spending nearly a year in Asia over two separate stops helped level the budget. Also slowing down and using Chiang Mai as a base to explore the region helped too.

Koh Lipe-9

This figure also includes all of our gear and technology. As you might have noticed we have a lot of camera gear worth more than I want to add up. We need this stuff to make our pretty pictures and tell our story to the world.

Best Camera bag for travel - DSLR best DSLR camera bag - Photography-2

Where our money went least far was of course Europe. We spent 4 months in Europe during the summer of 2014 when the Euro was way stronger than the dollar and we felt it in the wallet. Another 4 months traveling the amazing, yet pricey, the continent of Africa, but I wouldn’t give any of these days up.

Namibia Cheetah farm RTW african safari-12

In fact, I wouldn’t give up any of these last 730 days. I might do a few things different here and there, but we wanted to see all of these places, and we did. It was $100,000 well spent.

Now for the other question that always comes up when talking about financing a trip of a lifetime, ‘how do you guys afford to travel’. Simple, we just took the money out of our imaginary trust funds. Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough to be born millionaires and paid for our travels from our hard earned savings.

Let’s back up a few years to see the events that transpired to lead us to blow $100,000 to travel the world. Here is a step by step of the last 6 years of our life.

Step 1:  In 2008 the US economy was in a big slump and we both had good secure jobs, it seemed like the perfect time to get a great deal on a house. We were living the “American Dream.” A nice house, cars, and plenty of money to spend consuming a bunch of stuff we didn’t really need. Along with the American dream, we had high paying demanding jobs in order to finance it all. We worked for almost a decade and got completely burnt out in the process. 

Step 2: Fast forward to the end of 2011, with lots of working and a little bit of travel in between. We were just a few months away from our wedding in Jamaica when we took a trip that would change everything. We went to Belize on a whim and ended up having a conversation that would change our lives.

Step 3: Save every last penny for about two whole years, and start planning the trip of a lifetime.

Step 4: Get rid of everything you worked hard for the last 10 or so years. Whatever you can’t part with move into your parent’s house (thanks mom and dad).

Step 5: Say goodbye to everyone you care about to go explore the world.

Step 6: Visit 46 countries on 6 continents. Stay gone longer than you even planned. Stay exploring the world for over 2 years.

Step 7: Explore everywhere you go to the fullest. Jump out of planes, swim with great whites, dive WWII Japanese shipwrecks, pick coffee beans in Colombia, get wet in the world’s largest squirt gun fight, hike 50 kilometers through the Guatemalan cloud forest, and so much more.

Step 8: Realize you have spent $100,000 traveling the world.

Step 9: Realize you are completely fine trading $100,000 for 100,000 memories.

47 thoughts on “How to Blow $100k Chasing Your Dreams”

  1. I inherited 100k after taxes. I’m in my early 50s. Here is what I would have done and still gotten the same trip … I would have taken the 100k and invested it in very moderate risk funds. For the next 10 years I would added 10k to the fund (easy to do because you take 10k and subtract whatever interest credit you received and pay the difference) … THEN you have 200k after 10 years.

    Take 100k and travel the world (10 years older and 10 years wiser) .. and you return to the original 100k you were given … use THAT to build your retirement next egg and compound interest over a few decades.

    You could have had the same world trip .. I would have just executed it differently and perhaps a little less rash. People can work a lifetime and never save 100k. And it’s easier to make money when you have money.

    Not criticizing the trip in anyway – just the execution of it. Like I said, people can work a lifetime of savings and never reach 100k. But once you have it you realize how quickly you can double it with patience and a savings plan.

    Reply
    • Hey June – congrats on inheriting $100k, I worked my ass off for mine working 70-80 hours a week, so I’ll spend it how I want, thanks! I wouldn’t change a thing and I would do it all over again tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow – as the saying goes ‘tomorrow isn’t promised’ – to anyone, and 10 years from now certainly isn’t. No matter your age I would not advocate putting off the opportunity to travel.

      Another thing that isn’t promised is making 10% annually on your investments, especially in the very volatile world that we live in. A couple years from now when the economy collapses again hopefully you have some of that money you were given. Hopefully, you get to take your trip one day!

      Reply
  2. How much longer are you guys going to be on the road? From what it says on the “about us” section, you had corporate jobs in the US. Do you ever think you can get back to it after your travels are over “if” ;)?
    As a woman that has travelled a lot along with my husband, we long for stability. Not just financial but a place where you can raise a kid. But I don’t want to lose our wanderlust neither being a nomad family with home schooled children. (No offense to anyone, just my opinion)…Such a tough situation as a travel nomad.

    Reply
    • How much longer are we going to stay out? Well, that’s a good question. One we ask ourselves all the time and our parents ask us even more. We’re not sure, but we have plans to be on the road through the summer at least, and let’s be honest with ourselves probably the winter of 17′ too. Ideally, we’d like to keep this up as long as we can, but at a slower place. Live somewhere for a few months at a time and see the world that way.

      Having kids is the biggest factor in when all these fun and games will have to wrap up, or at least change significantly. I wish I had some better answers for you, but I think we are in the same boat.

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  3. “Wow” is the first word that comes to mind! Someone at a gathering in Los Angeles, near the end of December (2015), suggested I read your blog in view of my upcoming mission. I lost the link I was given…but gratefully found it in my text messages I sent to myself! Technology is wonderful!

    In 1969 – 1976, I traveled the globe, much of it hitchhiking, even in many of the, now, very dangerous countries (which I’m sure were dangerous even back then, but there’s something to be said for naivety!) We had no internet, no connection with the world at large, and often completely isolated from anything and everyone in unknown and/or unexplored wildernesses. In fact, I lost all of my camera equipment and film (not developed, darn!) when I was robbed in the middle of nowhere in central India in 1970 where I was left for dead on the side of the road. Long story, and happy ending – except for everything I lost of course!

    I would not trade my journeys for anything! Yes, I wish I had the photos – but then I lost all of my photos from later world travels in a storage unit. So in the long run, it is always the amazing memories of the people, places and things we saw, and experienced, that is important. And they will be with you for the rest of your lives…in our hearts and souls!

    However, the “now or never” aspect thankfully is not playing a role in my life. At 66 I will be embarking on the Journey of 1000 Days…my second epic journey of this lifetime (not including all of the major and extensive adventures over the past several decades (e.g. 6 months in South America and the Galapagos Islands, 3 months in southern Europe, 6 months traveling and videotaping interviews for 6 months across the Soviet Union just before the wall came down, etc…also before the internet…)!

    Anyway, right now, I am in process of releasing everything I own, and at 66 that’s an unbelievable amount of “stuff” (how do we accumulate so darned much “s__t”?), so that I can jump into my mission, and leave a legacy worth remembering. Your blog is inspiring me more than words can say…because this journey, unlike my many year sojourn decades ago, can be documented and saved digitally every step of the way. And the world gets to experience it with me! Just as it is with you!

    Thank you for all that you are doing to inspire others to take a leap of faith into a possibility of greater adventures in their lives…or at least to be able to live vicariously through you if they just aren’t able to embark on this kind of journey themselves, for any multitude of reasons!

    Okay, I’ll stop for now…but I’m sure you’ll see me a lot, since your blog is, to date, the most noteworthy I have visited and explored to date!

    Reply
    • We are glad you found us too! Your travels in the early 70’s sound amazing! I would have loved to see the world then, before all the technology and modernization. But, I guess all you can do is enjoy the time you’re here, which it sounds like you have done a lot of.

      We are just short of 1000 days by about two months, and we only planned about half of that, so who knows how long you’ll go. As for getting rid of your stuff, release as much as you can, we should have done a better job of that instead of leaving some of it ‘incase’.

      As you are in your planning phase if you have any questions or just want to talk travel send us an email or a facebook message. We are just relaxing on the beach in Mexico between trips. Then it’s off to the middle east at the end of the month!

      Happy planning and ‘de-junking’!

      Reply
  4. $100,000 isn’t so bad for two years and all the traveling you experienced. It’s nice to have a partner in crime. It’s tough to find someone to tag along for every vacation. I’ve been traveling for the past nine years, with a one year break of going nowhere (my choice). I work full-time, so I travel on holidays, vacations, etc., which makes it costly. I haven’t traveled to as many places, but I blew about $150,000 for my travels (most times it includes my sister’s expenses). Your story of $100,000 for two years would make a good book. I’d blow a $100,000 for two years of travel. It would save me $50,000. 🙂 Good story! Cheers

    Reply
  5. You hardly blew that 100,000…you savored every bit of it! So many people spend that same amount in a few years doing nothing of great importance…just existing in fancy places keeping up with Jones. You’ve done it right!

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  6. Congrats you guys!! You both worked incredibly hard for the experiences and the memories you’ve now made, and that’s money well spent!! I’m sure you would do it all over again as well, because in the end, I truly believe the only thing we regret in life are the things we didn’t do.

    Thanks for sharing such an open and honest post about how much you spent!

    Reply
  7. This is a great post! We are in the process of planning our family gap year with our two kids, leaving Florida behind for 14+ months. Although we have a decent sized budget due to some wise financial decisions we’ve made over the last decade, I would love to have more of a down to earth budget & save the extra away for when we return home.

    I look forward to reading more about your journey!

    Reply
    • What an experience for your 2 children! How old are they? You will realize soon into your travels how little you need to have a great time on the road, you will start staying in guesthouses for $15-30 a night, and loving street food. Save the money to travel longer or take off longer from work when you return.

      Safe travels!

      Reply
  8. This was super interesting to read as my boyfriend and I are now 7 months in to our 1.5-2 year RTW trip, and like you, we keep track of every single penny! I was just wondering if this number includes the dollar value of sponsored activities/accommodation/etc.

    Reply
  9. Eeeeeeppppp that’s some hefty numbers! Good work on keeping track though, documenting my spending has helped budgeting heaps!
    Stoked to see where the next set of adventures take you 🙂

    Reply
  10. I’m with Gabby from The Globe Wanderers on this, good to see you guys aren’t afraid of saying that you actually spent a lot of money – we all travel differently, and not everyone wants to always look for the cheapest option and miss out on some unique experiences just to be able to boast the smallest budget! So are you back home now? What is your next step? Save another 100K and go again in 2 years?! 😉

    Reply
    • We are back in the US visiting with the family for a month and then we are off on a 4 month US road trip. We haven’t explored our own country yet, and that is about to change! We are still figuring out what we will do when the travel fund is depleted….

      Reply
  11. Wow that’s a fair amount of dosh! Really refreshing to read a different take on travel than the many ‘How to travel the world on 20p a day’ style posts…. yes travel may end up costing a fair amount financially…. but living the same dull life day after day would cost your soul a hell of a lot more. Did you earn money whilst on the road or did you travel purely on savings? Seriously impressive either way… you guys are an inspiration! 🙂

    Gabby

    Reply
    • There are some days you can do $20 a day but you can’t do that 365 days a year…and anyone that tells you that you can is LYING! We have earned some money while traveling, some freelancing projects here and there. Safe travels!

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  12. It’s a lot of money, but you guys have the right attitude and the memories and experiences that you’ve had over the last two years is something that cannot be given a price tag.

    Was great meeting you both in Chiang Mai and let’s hope that we all find that perfect beach house in Mexico next summer 🙂

    Reply
    • Come on Florence we all know we will be meeting again SOON very SOON! I need a good dose of Irish in my life. Miss our crew in Chiang Mai. Safe travels in India!

      Reply
  13. Wooooow!
    That is a lot of money BUT there is nothing better than traveling the world and creating all the memories! You are definitely richer than you were before your trip!
    I love your blog and all the beautiful photos you post on IG! Keep up the great work!
    Danka

    Reply
  14. Wow that is quite a big chunk of change, but I’d agree well worth it. Your adventures have been amazing, and you’ll defintiely be glad you do this now, then put if off until later.

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  15. It seems like a lot of money when you put it like that, but $25K per person per year is actually not too bad — especially for the kinds of experiences you guys had! 🙂

    Reply
    • When planning this trip we would have hoped for this number to much lower, but we experienced somethings we could have never imagined…money well spent

      Reply
  16. I think you did amazing…2 people, 2 years for only 100,000$ not many people live in the states for that amount, That is 50,000 a year /for 2 or 25,000 a year per person! That is all your expenses, and you didn’t have a mortgage, utilities, car payment etc. I commend you both for doing this and sharing all you have done. Happy to have shared an evening with you in Hanoi.
    Babette

    Reply
    • Once you put it that way, we saved a good amount of money traveling! How are you doing? That food tour in Hanoi is still one of the best ones we have done in all of our travels. We can’t wait to explore the U.S! Safe travels

      Reply
    • I thought it was a lot too, but then realized we would have spent at least that just living a BORING normal life back in Wisconsin….so well worth it indeed!

      Reply
  17. Inspiring post! The experiences you have enjoyed are beyond priceless! Stories like these are what got us started and keeps us going! Congrats to you on all your past and future travels! PS – Don’t skip Michigan on your way thru the US! 😉

    Reply
    • So glad to here we have inspired you. Where in Michigan are you? We are just across the lake in Wisconsin! We might come home from Niagara Falls through Michigan actually. Safe travels to you!

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    • One would be cheaper but not exactly half, having 2 people is better for room rates & sharing meals too. I know we could have spent less, but we wouldn’t have done/seen/eat as much!

      Reply

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