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The Raven 5 Aug 2009 23:22

Money; Americans vs the Rest of the world regard money and travel
 
Ok, the title and subject may strike a nerve on some people, I didn't know how to put it any other way but my concern and questions are honest as well as legitimate. I don't want this thread to turn into a display of bad temper by my comments as it would in other forums I belong so please keep the reply helpful.

I am an American, by birth not necessarily by choice. I was raised by a patriotic Vietnam vet and ex-hippie in the typical ideals of an american, that bigger was better, capitalism trumps over common sense, and that we are the best country in the world. That being said, I know all three are basically not true. Smaller is efficient, common sense prevails, and that in all countries, peoples are pretty much decent, the governments just can't get along and like to fear monger.

Now to get on with my questions and concerns. In all my reading, most recently, Lois Price's books, it always seems to be the European, or Aussies that are doing the real adventuring, going away overland for months at a time, running the Dakar, sailing the world, doing the stuff that makes life worth living. It seems that when ever something great is done, or a record is broken, it a Brit or German, very rarely an American. It also seems that these groups also have, what, to me seems like a lot of money to do these things with.

Being an American, I had the typical load of credit debt, major student loans and a high interest house mortgage. I've since paid off and disposed of my my credit cards, and lowered my mortgage. However, just yesterday, I was reading on this forum that budgeting for a south american trip is about 20k USD, OUCH!! how do you guys do that? 20K is half of my student loans and I'm 30, in the prime of my life? We want to sell our house and just travel, but get distressed by the cost. Debt is no longer an option for us. So what do we do?

I'm not jealous, or bitter, just inspired by others being able to do these things. I'm not concerned with having a retirement nest egg, health insurance, or something to leave my kids as we are not having any. We just want to be free and be able to feel as though we did something with our lives.

Feel free to be as critical as you want, I made my bed, lay in it etc etc, I want to hear the raw truth so that I know where to go from here.
If you are uncomfortable posting your reply publicly, please PM or email me. I look forward to you responses.
:helpsmilie:

JMo (& piglet) 5 Aug 2009 23:57

I think you hit the nail on the head at the end of your 4th paragraph: "We want to sell our house and just travel..."

Unless you are very rich, or at least very well paid with the opportunity to take extended holiday time off, most people have to make pretty significant sacrifices to lead the sort of life you describe.

Some have been able to make a living from it (either while they are away, or once they return - like Lois Pryce in your example), but almost every one of them will tell you there were tough choices to make before them made the leap... just as almost all of them (even Nick Sanders) will tell you it was SO worth it once you get on the road...

Some get it out of their system and stop, rebuild their old lives (or more usually create a new and usually better one because of their experience while living outside of 'the system'), some just continue to travel...

I can appreciate how little annual holiday (sorry, vacation x) time US citizens typically get, so taking anything more than a week or two break is tough if you are holding down a regular job... and this is usually the biggest sacrifice you'll have to make, as I presume if you are in a relationship/marriage that your partner wants to go traveling with you too?, and you can always rent your house out for a period to cover mortgage costs?

You don't need masses of money in the bank, but you do need a bit of a safety net - if only for emergencies... while a cheaper bike, camping more often, and fundamentally having the luxury of taking your TIME all helps to reduce costs...

It's certainly not impossible!

xxx

ps. If you enjoyed Lois' books, then I imagine you are familiar with her husband Austin Vince and the guys from Mondo Enduro/Terra Circa? - if not, watch those DVDs - they went round the whole world for less than the price of a BMW GSA!

The Raven 6 Aug 2009 00:54

Thank you for your reply,
We just did 2 weeks and 3115mi in the canadian maritimes for under $1000 ttl. Camping did save quite a bit, as did not eating out. We could have probably done it cheaper if we traveled at a bit more leisurely pace, and ate cheaper lunches we averaged about $60 day for both of us, but some days were as high as $100 if we had to recover from a stoning of hail, or a cold rain. We both feel as though riding like this is not a sacrifice, in just those 2 two short weeks, our nightly tent, became our home. The road our escape. if we did not like our neighbors, or the campground, we were only there for one day and it was behind is. There was no better way to physically see that the future was ahead of us, our past behind than on the bikes. For a week following the trip, we were up at the crack of dawn, eager to keep moving. A stationary life is not for us.

I cut my teeth over on ADVrider, but once I started adventuring out further and further, the appeal of overland travel outweighed the discussions of weekend adventures over there. I was fortunate enough though to learn about the important things like simplicity sometimes outweighs luxury, my wife and I both ride KLR650s due to the simplicity, reliability and ease of keeping track of the idiosyncrasies of keeping one type of bike's bits in order.
I am trying not to finish Lois's last book, (just about at the end now) as I hate finishing books because I wish they would go on forever!!!:clap:

Though, I have heard of Mondo Enduro, but will be saving that for our long cold winters we have in the northeast. Due to a suggestion on Ms Price's website, I have ordered the Adventure Motorcyclist's handbook, I am expecting it tomorrow so I will at least have something to jump to once I'm done with the other book.

AtlasRider 6 Aug 2009 04:44

I also was shocked when I heard about the $20K estimates from others for an AK to AR trip. I am planning a trip myself and I am budgeting $40 a day. Camping 5 days a week and eating cheap. I wanted a BMW 650GS, but instead I went for the simple KLR650 like you. Keep things simple I told myself.

I went on a 10 day trip a couple weeks ago, and after I got back I really couldn't imagine bringing much more than I did for a 10 month trip (some more tools probably).

The kind of traveling people on these boards do is exhilarating and exciting, but I think in the back of a lot of people's minds it is scary, and over preparation is the symptom of this fear.

With any luck I will be shoving off for my adventure next year June :)

markharf 6 Aug 2009 07:47

Quote:

Originally Posted by shadowraven (Post 252307)
OUCH!! how do you guys do that? 20K is half of my student loans and I'm 30, in the prime of my life?
:helpsmilie:

There's the real issue: you're thirty, not 45 to 60. Most of the bikers I meet riding around odd points on the globe are approximately my age, 53. There's a reason for this. In your case, you're in the prime of your life, but not the prime of your earning power. At this stage in your life it's either house or trip; later on, you may have other options.

Of course I'm aware that I'm making ridiculous oversimplifications and crude generalizations....but I think this is a big part of what you're wondering about.

Safe journeys!

Mark

Warthog 6 Aug 2009 09:03

Like you, I also struggle with the financial side. Like you I'm young(ish!!) at 35. Our first major trip was to South America. It took two good jobs, 2 years' saving up, and only renting a flat to be able to do it. To be fair that did include buying a bike (£6K).

So we saved up about £12K for a three month trip (!), but that did include kitting the bike up, kitting ourselves (we were camping newbies), shipping us and the bike over from London to Buenos Aires etc and covering the rent in our absense (we loved that flat).

Bottom line is we had a daily budget and we were pretty sensible. When we got back we still had about £3K left over.

What I'm trying to say is, big budgets aside, it can be done comfortably for less. Camping helps, but choosing you target countries also helps. Some are more expensive than others. Then think if you are crossing the USA as part of the trip, so be it, but if it's just to get to Central/South america, work out if its cheaper to ride it or ship it to the Southern Borders... etc...

I have since moved to Estonia from England and working as an English teacher has meant a HUUUGE pay cut, but plans are still underway for a Sibreia trip in the future (3 years from now?). We simply have to consider cheaper options along the way....

Once you start saving and see the amount grow it becomes easier to decide not to buy this or that and just put the money in the pot! And if you need to sell the home, then sell it: you can always buy another! Or rent it out as a furnished fixed period let...

Good luck with your saving, and enjoy the trip! :thumbup1:

MotoEdde 6 Aug 2009 14:53

A couple things to note...
  1. NO need to apologize for your being American...it's a consequence more than a choice.
  2. American's have done quite a bit of adventure...but not as well known. Hell, part of the reason may lie in the fact that in Europe...Holidays are more generous...and that enables quite a bit!
  3. 20k for going down to S America...is ridiculous...I went travelled for 1 year...and spent ~$25k...including shipping my bike twice...air travel, gear,laptop, lodging, meals, bottled water, bike maintenance, etc. Of course I was camping 5 out of 7 days a week. Honestly I found it more convenient to camp than to go in search for lodging.
  4. You can be in your 30s, have debt, own a house...and leave for a trip-I did.
  5. If you found it worth taking on debt for education purposes, why not for personal growth? At the end of the trip...you will be better prepared from a personal(intellectual, emotional, etc.) point of view to move on to the next phase in your life.
At the end of the day...I'd rather regret something I did, than something I didn't. But the choice is yours...and what you value. That's where trip planning honestly begins...

Geoff van de Merwe 6 Aug 2009 17:00

I agree with MotoEdde,
There's no reason to be embarrassed because you're American (or any nationality for that matter). Be proud of what your country has achieved. Sure, consider other people's criticism, but don't let it shape your life if you're in disagreement. I've met countless Americans travelling or working in places during times when the hordes of mainstream backpackers from other nationalities you mentioned were scarce. Morocco when the War on Terror had just started, then again in Egypt & Sudan when the 2nd Irag war started. The majority of them were being great ambassadors for their country by quietly getting on with their lives.

As far as travelling goes, Europeans especially are forced to travel outside of their borders if they want to go very far at all. USA is a BIG country, travelling from the west to the east coast is the equivalent of travelling from London to Dakar. So demographics explains the 'apparent' lack of US travellers around.

Getting out and doing that long trip has got nothing to do with nationality - although for some it's easier as their cultures are more emersed into it - it's about who you are and how badly you want to do it.

The Raven 6 Aug 2009 20:23

Oh no, don't misunderstand me. I was born an american, and hope to retain my citizenship, perhaps gaining a dual-citizenship at some point to allow me to enter a couple countries like Cuba for example. We are a heavily policed state, with many laws, and just as many lawyers. We do have our freedoms, and a rich history for which I am quite proud.

The ambassadors you experience outside of the country, are there for a reason, that they already are willing to experience the world and accept people for who they are. We have fortunately gotten a decent president after 8 years, I just hope he can do something to bring things around.

I've done a little bit of traveling, mostly short stays in Spain, Morocco, Gibraltar, Mexico, and at most Canada. My wife a bit more with a year in Manchester on a year abroad in university.

To respond to another poster; debt put us in this situation, I find my college degree in environmental studies useless where I currently live, so hopefully I will get to use it on the road. I would love to work with an NGO for a bit while traveling and assist with some agricultural projects etc etc, but for now, my student loan debt is is a burden and not worth the trouble. Until I can afford to travel, I'm not willing to add any more debt. I don't know if it is like that elsewhere, but excessive debt load is what has caused the financial issues worldwide. I am a part of it, but took no bailout and have restructured everything to a favorable outcome. Step two is get rid of all debt and travel for a while.
:mchappy:

DLbiten 7 Aug 2009 02:49

To try to answer this with out getting to political not going to happen but you may want look at the medium pay Americans make ($35,000 last I have seen) vs the EU. Not the average, the top 1% wage people blow the statistics way over for the USA.
Many EU travelers do not worry about there health on the road there state health insurance is cheap and can cover them the USA has nothing.
33% of Americans will get 2 days or less off the EU gets much more like 30 and there work day is often shorter as well. 14% of Americans will get 2 weeks off. There is no law in the USA for any time off (unlike most of the world) taking any time off can get you fired in the USA.
Regardless what the wold press will tell you most Americans are over worked underpaid on the edge of a brake down and have little hope of it getting better any time soon. We fill the void with junk and food making us fat and owned by things so we are easy to control. Add to that no healthcare where getting sick can bankrupt you and taxes that are given to help the rich get richer and to other nations to help there leaders do the same to there people in the trillions of dollars.

But on a lighter side $20,000 for a down and back to South America is on the upper end you can do it much cheaper. Smaller bikes faster when it is expensive slow where life is cheap. Do not look at all the Junk people cram on there bikes and think you need any of it. a few bags for your stuff will do gust fine.
To help you save cut up the cards you have (but save one you may need the cash if you get in a real bind) pay down the house and refinance it so the payments can be covered by rent and pay the rental agency + a bit of gas money for your self. Get rid of all that junk you have. The less you stuff own the less the stuff owns you.
Think about getting different line of work environmental is grate its green and all that but no one spends a dime on it. I gave up on Hazmat my self people only care about it when the EPA is fining them and there on TV.

Make dam sure your wife is in with all this It will do you no good paying off credit cards at the same rate she is charging them up.

Go to HU meeting there is one in North Carolina, August 20-23 and one in California September 24-27 this year. (or you can get one going in the North East)

Books to read:
Adventure Motorcycling Handbook by Chris Scott
Everything You Need To Know Motorcycle Touring By DR. Gregory W. Frazier

The Raven 8 Aug 2009 11:37

Well,
The first paragraph hit it on the head. If it were not for falling into those things, we would be better off. Fortunately I see that, and I'm making great headway to get out of it.
I've bought the Adventure riders handbook, read that it takes a 1 years prep to do the south American trip...that is hopeful as I was under the impression, that people would call their pals on the phone, say "I'd fashion a trip to Ushuia next month, you up for it.....SURE!!! lets go" Obviously, this is not the case, there is planning, saving and genuine sacrifice. Just yesterday, I started an adventure fund, dropping $500 in an envelope, it's not much, but it'll pay for about 8000mi of fuel on my KLR650!! Extend that out now 1 year and the trip does not seem too impossible!!

ornery 8 Aug 2009 16:22

going
 
Hey 'Shadow'....nice post. I too sometimes think of ?HOW? to come up with the $ to make 'the' journey....then I remember that all of my life has been a journey. I spent most of it living in bunkhouses and old cabins, etc. My only real regret is not doing more of it on a motorcycle.:scooter:

Life is always about choices....at 30 you now get to make one! I made it...to adventure on life. Live every day as if it was the last one. Take ALL the 'offramps ' you can find. Every back road offered.

There is a price....at 52 I see it. Low income, failed relationships, no children, no home owned....lot's of financial insecurity as senior citizen time approaches. Then I realize that I have acquired a 'lifetime' of skills :smartass: and savvy. I do believe if they dropped me into the middle of 'any:palm:where', I would be fine.

Yes..it seems insurmountable right now....the $ I mean. I find that reading can be a curse as well as a blessing. There is always somebody that can show you how NOT to do something or how HARD that thing may be. One poster noted that you really DON"T need a lot of 'stuff'. He was absolutely right. Take some things and GO! You CAN do just about anything! Money does come...just seek it out. Not WEALTH, but the money to move on.

Sorry....I didn't mean to be philosophical or anything, I just wanted to point out that after you procrastinate and plan...the real thing to do is just.....get up and GO!

I have a lot of fears about my own future, but then I just suck it up and go anyway:clap:...after all, I never saw anybody going to the grave with a moving van!:eek3:

The web, and especially this site, offer a huge way to travel inexpensively. Contacts are the best way to go! I have a huge book of 'destination friends'. My place has a bunkhouse that sleeps 5...covered parking and more. Hubb and ADV travelers are ALWAYS welcome. Limited funds? Let me know, we'll work it out. Food? There's always something here! Repairs? Plenty of duct tape and zipties here! (I know...I am a KLR guy myself:blushing:)

Best advice............quit counting your pennies and such, sell what you don't love and GO!

The heaviest burden you carry in life are regrets. Nothing worse than sitting on the porch, in the twilight of your life, thinking about what might have been.

Be Well, Bill

*Touring Ted* 9 Aug 2009 21:54

$20,000 USD for South America ?? Thats living a life of luxury....

You could travel for less than half of that if you don't mind camping and cooking cheaply.

It's all about disipline which I wish I had when I was there but I say again..

I think you could have a long, fun and exciting trip for $10,000 USD, comfortably... that would have you staying in cheap but cheerful hostels or campsites and cooking for yourself or eating at the cheaper places the locals use.

Watch Mondo Enduro or Terra Circa and you will see that a lot of fun can be had without a lot of money !

As for where to get the money... Start selling anything you don't need or use on Ebay, put some cash away in a savings account.. cut out the crap you waste money on and put that into a travel jar intead.. You will suprised what you can save and put away, if you're determined. Don't be in a rush ! Its very rare that people can do long trip every year. Most of us are lucky to get away every 2-3 years.

I travel for 6 months then come home and work/save for 2 years ! I still have debts and loans, you just need to save enough to cover the payments while your away and a little more to cover them if it takes longer to find work when you return...

Its a plan I think I will stick to for a while... Give it a go :)

:thumbup1:

markharf 10 Aug 2009 06:06

Quote:

Originally Posted by tedmagnum (Post 252668)
$20,000 USD for South America ?? Thats living a life of luxury....

You could travel for less than half of that....

Although the consensus on this thread is as tedmagnum says above ($US20k = luxury), the drift on "that other thread" seemed to be that a hundred dollars a day was a reasonable Americas budget, hence $US36,500 for a yearlong trip. Sounded a bit plush to me, but lots of people appear to be thinking along those lines.

Personally, I'm looking at $18k for a full year, with opt-out possibilities after 8 or 10 months. I think this is entirely realistic and lends itself to the occasional splurge. It doesn't include buying and outfitting a bike; nor does it allow for the possibility that my bike will grenade and be rendered worthless at some point. But I think everything else is adequately covered, give or take.

As to savings concepts, it's a truism that what really matters is controlling your spending rather than your income. Assuming you're working at all, it's almost always possible to chop bits and pieces from the spending side of the ledger. These add up rapidly. Then, if you're at all like me, you need to put the money you just saved somewhere out of reach. Don't touch it for anything short of a life-threatening emergency.

Don't know if that's helpful, but sure hope so.

Mark

QuadsAcrossAfrica 11 Aug 2009 04:53

Well I am American
I broke a Guinness World Record Welcome to www.quadsacrossafrica.com
and that was my second adventure
WELCOME TO JOURNEY TO ESCAPE REALITY was my first.
Oh and I recently raced the Baja 1000

so I would say that it is not true that Europeans are the only ones having the adventure, maybe they are just the ones talking about it :cool4:


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