so how much money will you need....?
Updated: Jan 25
When I tell people I am leaving for a year to volunteer around the world, their head often cocks to one side in that “I don’t understand” position! So many questions… How do you plan for a trip like that? How do you pack? How do you find your volunteer opportunities? How much money will you need?
I have found this process of discovery to be so enjoyable, and have promised people a blog on the various resources I’ve discovered while crafting my journey. BUT a major disclaimer also needs to be named. All of the advice I am getting from veteran “free living” folks, is to plan less… So with that thought in mind, here are some resources that have helped me loosely plan my odyssey!
My initial thought several years ago when I started considering this journey was to work abroad for an NGO. After checking into USAID, World Health Organization, etc. it quickly became apparent that international travel does not equate to international skills. Duh. Pretty pompous of me to think that I could transfer my skills so easily…
It was over coffee with a colleague when a door opened to possibility.
In casual conversation he shared that his sister and brother in-law spend 5-6 months each year working for various Bed and Breakfasts around the world. Now for many of you that may sound horrible, but I have been an AirBnB host for over four years and have LOVED the experience. In fact, I have played around with the notion of owning my own Bed n’ Breakfast/Yoga Retreat Center for several years, so the thought of going on site and getting some hands on experience sounded perfect. How did they get their contacts around the world, I asked? He wasn’t sure, but said he would find out and in fact did. This is the first resource that opened the volunteer door for me!
That’s it. This platform is well respected, well maintained and is similar to the AirBnB platform in that it is a depository of businesses/non-profits/families that need volunteers all over the world. I felt like a kid in a candy shop when I fell into the site. How many new things could I learn…!? How can I help others!?
The other thing to note is that I’m clear about one thing - that my traveling is not just about hitting the tourist sites. I have developed some loose parameters and one of them to spend at least a month in a country and spend time in community. I want to understand how people live and thrive, so volunteering in a community was an answer to a proverbial prayer!
Another friend and her husband have ventured out into the volunteer world and have had great luck with www.TrustedHouseSitters.com. They travel to a destination and live in someone’s home while the owners are on vacation and house sit and maybe pet sit. That’s it. Free lodging. There are so many ways to travel cost effectively… It’s become a bit of a game to figure out the best fit!
www.woofing.com – this is an older site that connects volunteers to farms around the world.
www.skiplagged.com – say you want to travel from NYC to Denver and the price is $500. This site may find a $400 flight from NYC to LAX with a layover in Denver. Voila. $100 saved.
www.kiwi.com – a great search engine for cheap international flights.
Scotts Cheap Flights – this is an email alert notifying you of really cheap flights that must be booked in 24 hours. This site supports the spontaneous traveler or wanna' be!
www.yogatrade.com – this site connects yogis to teaching opportunities around the world!
But how have I saved enough money to travel is a question I often get. This one makes me chuckle as just recently I was told about www.mrmoneymustache.com and discovered that intuitively I had started to live as he preaches. LOL. I sold my car three years ago in an effort to reduce my carbon footprint and became a bike commuter. An amazing positive side affect of ditching the car (in addition to being healthier, calmer and more) is that this has literally saved me thousands of dollars a year.
I became very clear that I didn't need more stuff in my life and very specific about "wants" vs "needs."
My purchases have dropped dramatically, not to mention that my life has grown exponentially larger, but that’s another blog. I’ve had two side gigs for many years which helped to fund my kids’ college education which allowed me start maxing out my 401K contributions, HSA contributions, etc. Now, the side gigs bring me great joy (AirBnB and teaching yoga) as I am not one to believe that our jobs should be a burden.
25x your annual spend – check out Mr. Money Mustache to find out what that means!
There are lots of travel blog sites on line that can assist with packing lists, security questions, travel insurance and general how to's. Most of these sites are run by millennial's that have taken to the road and have turned their passion into a full time gig. www.nomadicmatt.com is an example of one of many out in ether land.
One last piece to share in this post is about the credit card points game. You should assume I’m yelling this point. DO NOT INTERPRET THIS TO MEAN YOU SHOULD ACCUMULATE MORE DEBT!! This technique is only for those with the discipline to pay off credit card debt 100% every month. In fact, if you don’t pay off your credit cards every month, I’d recommend you stop reading this right now and go back up to the paragraph on Mr. Money Mustache. This tip is merely a way to manipulate the credit card system and take advantage of the points that are offered to entice you to sign up. I’ve started to dabble in this and have my ticket to Sydney for free and 2-3 other tickets lie in the points cradle. www.thepointguy.com is the expert I’ve found that provides the most up to date info on what offers are pending out in the credit card world.
These are but a few of the resources that have found their way into my world through the help of others. I hope you find an idea or two that may help nudge you on to your next journey!