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Planning a Year of Travel w/ My Wife

My fiancée and I are going to take up our savings and travel Europe for as long as time allows. Since we will be free of car and student loans there's no stresses left behind and we'll have about $25,000 to work with. Any suggestions on long term travel or making that budget stretch far? We'll be bringing good backpacks, packed light of course, with a small tent to give us some cheaper camp options in warmer times. Also planning to bring a netbook, under 3 lbs, to keep in contact and schedule as we go. One way tickets to Dublin for starting are already booked. Any tips or insights would be great, thanks!

Posted by
1633 posts

Travis, and fiancee, go for it. Go on this adventure before life's other adventures fall into place--work, kids, etc.

I would also suggest leasing a car for your European part of the trip. We find less expensive accommodations in the towns on the outskirts of the big cities or in small towns along the way. We search for "zimmer" signs. These accommodations have bedrooms, usually with the bath down the hall, in a private home. The bedroom usually has a bathroom sink with towels and the typical European king bed--basically two twins pushed together. We prefer zimmers over pensions and gastehauses, however, they are not always available in every town. We really enjoy talking to our hosts and always have wonderful breakfasts. Also, by leasing a car, you will be able to find campgrounds. We went camping when we lived in Germany and always had fun. Some campgrounds have swimming pools. However, the weather wasn't always cooperative--rain. For other inexpensive accommodations, check out www.couchsurfing.com Quite an interesting way to meet people and stay somewhere for free. Have a great time making lifetime memories!

Posted by
15681 posts

Visas. Upon arriving in the Schengen area, which is just about all of western Europe except for the UK and Ireland, you are allowed to stay up to 90 days in any 180 day period. The UK and Ireland allow up to six months.

If you want to stay longer than that, you need to get an extended visa.

You will also need to show that you have enough financial resources to keep you going without having to work. If they think you'll be looking for work, they may not admit you. Overstay your visa, you could be fined and banned from entering for up to 10 years.

Posted by
23465 posts

First off, while $25,000 sounds like a lot initially, it is not. Even at the current great exchange rate you are spending about 55E a day. It would be very hard to cover food and lodging for two people on that budget. And there is nothing there for sightseeing and local transportation. My son and new wife flew to Japan and came home from Germany on a five month trip and that is about what they spent. And they spent a lot of time on low costs countries in the far east, Turkey, etc,. Their target was a $100/day and they can close but they exceeded when they got into Europe. This was on top of a pre-paid around the world ticket so they had no additional long distance travel costs other than local trains and buses. My guess is there you will need close to twice that amount if sticking to western Europe.

You will need some type of min medical insurance. You need to authorize someone at home to watch your financial -- credit cards, bank statements, etc. You cannot safely manage your financial affairs via public wifi or internet cafes.

And, of course, the fore mentioned Schengen Zone of 90 days out of 180. That needs to be carefully planned and controlled.

Posted by
8 posts

I've looked into some travel medical insurance and was planning to get that purchased before departure. We're thinking to starting in W. Europe but moving through it pretty quickly in favor of more affordable Easter Europe and Asia. Physicals and immunizations will be done in advance, except for ones that need to happen closer to our eastern travels. I do plan to keep an eye open and take up work if it presents itself though, but I've looked at various work visa requirements and know that in some countries the steps and time required will not make it possible.

Posted by
55 posts

For a bit a reference,

My wife and I traveled for about 6 weeks over last summer through Europe. We budgeted about 80-90 Euros a day, and we came close to that all said and done. Staying in hostels and budget hotels (low budget) we found that a cheap hotel was almost always 60 Euros, and a hostel was almost always 30 Euros/ea. So it was the same either way, and therefore didn't allow for much budget options beyond that. You can make the 25k stretch by renting longer term apartments in one or more places you plan to be. I don't think you can stretch it for a year though, 30 day Eurorail passes add up. Best of luck and have fun!

Posted by
576 posts

I always wonder, too, if people think about what happens when they get home after spending all of their money on a great adventure. Have they put aside money for an apartment deposit/utilities deposit/car down payment? Is there money left over after the big dream trip to start a new life together in "the real world"? A year traveling together sounds like a wonderful, romantic escape. But marriage is a long term commitment and after all the fun money has been quickly spent, then what? It has been my observation in life that the most well adjusted, happily married couples spend only a small percentage of their income on travel and entertainment, after first meeting other financial obligations, including health insurance and having a decent emergency fund for life's unexpected detours. The fact that a couple expects to live on $25,000 a year in Europe (with no other back-up money) leads me to believe that they will soon be greatly disillusioned and don't have a firm grasp of financial reality. If it was realistically feasible to live on LOVE and $25,000 a year,with no visa issues, a lot more people would be throwing caution to the wind and living in Europe for a year! It does sound like a nice dream!

Posted by
8 posts

Good points but come on Terry give me some credit here ;) This is just a post about my travels, not my finances and life goals as well. I was speaking only of our trip specifics but upon return we're keeping 10,000 or more to have when we get back and the US Air Force will be helping us along after I start grad school next August while my wife continues in the design firm world. I want to have some adventure, but only because I know we are secure enough now and upon return that we can do it.

Posted by
3580 posts

Campgrounds are often outside the city some distance and may involve a bus trip, which will cost some. In your place I would aim for 6 months spring to fall and camp out a lot. It is possible to save a lot by shopping for food at grocery stores, skipping restaurants, staying at hostels for the free breakfast, taking buses rather than trains, enjoying free museums, parks, outdoor entertainment, etc. Walk, walk, walk.....

Posted by
576 posts

Travis, I am very happy to hear that you have firm plans in place for your return and a nice nest egg saved for future expenses. I think you sound very mature and responsible. And pardon me for sounding like a mother! I just want everyone to clearly think things out and start married life in the best possible way. I wish you the very best for a great trip and a long happy life together.

Posted by
333 posts

Do it, Travis. Wish I would have done it when I was younger and we still might if we can find a way to support ourselves.

As was said before, a flat rental may seem initially expensive but when you take in the cost of eating in restaurants and daily per person hostel rates it may make more sense financially to rent a flat for a month or two in each country you want to visit.

Figure out visa options before you travel. The UK gives you 6 months, you'll get 90 days in the ROI although they are not part of the S-word agreements. You may want to try to apply to get an extended visa for Ireland if you plan on staying there. They can be a bit more lenient and if you show financial means to support yourself without having to work they may give you an extended stay visa

The UK and ROI immigration will drill you on where you plan on staying however so make sure you do have some sort of plans in place. One way tickets may raise a red flag and make sure you take documentation of bank accounts, travel plans, etc.

Posted by
1358 posts

Do it. When else are you going to have the opportunity to do something like this? I'm sure it'll be a lot of work, but you'll get some great memories and experiences.

There's some slow travel websites out there, I'd check those. They'll have some info on long-term rentals and transportation options. Best of luck to you guys.

Posted by
62 posts

While I don't think 25,000 will last a year, you can make it last awhile and you'll have a great time I'm sure! I would plan on 50 euros a day per person (or 100 euro total) plus any transportation costs (train, plane, buses, etc). Obviously much of Asia will be cheaper.

Here is a link with cost estimates for different locations http://www.thetravellerslounge.co.uk/currencycosts.htm
This person recommends about $2000 a person per month to cover everything.

Posted by
11507 posts

From what I understand, leasing a car is alot cheaper sometimes then train travel, in western Europe anyways. I think I would look at leasing something like an camperized VW Van,, and then you could sleep in it sometimes, and use cheap hotels every week or two for a break. I am sorry I can't be more specific, but if you are looking at staying 2-3 months in Europe then it makes sense to me to look at a car,, you can almost always stay and and eat cheaper outside big city ( tourist) centers.

Posted by
1568 posts

I would suggest the following:
Extra battery for your notebook.

Garmin GSP in order to make Google Tracks. Of course you would have to d/l maps for Europe, etc.

The new Kindle. You can download countless books before you depart.

Travel towels. You can cut up one for face cloths.

Iomega has tiny portable hard drives to back up your apps and doc.

Headlamps.

Money Belts.

Copies of: passports, credit cards, ATM front and back. Each person keep a set and leave a set at home.

Carry a copy of the telephone #'s for CC and ATM with you.

Travel combination locks for all openings on your luggage.

D/L Sykpe on your notebook.

Here are links for reviewing and checking out hostels:

http://www.bug.co.uk/reviews/hostels/index.htm

http://www.hostelz.com/

http://www.hihostels.com/web/membership.en.htm

Stay safe and enjoy your trip of a lifetime.

Posted by
1568 posts

This link is for a couple that went around the world for their honeymoon. From Almaty, Kazakhstan on 4 August 2008, with the finish on 2 May 2010, in Prague, Czech Republic. I followed each day....very interesting.

They are on bikes. Their journal and pictures are worth seeing.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=RrzKj&page_id=71861&v=xv

Go for it Travis. As I stated before, it will be a trip of a lifetime.

Posted by
159 posts

Travis, I would love to be able to follow your adventure...post your blog address when you leave.

Posted by
8 posts

Will do, I'm going to keep a regular blog and probably do a youtube channel for video updates as well. Thanks for the replies, suggestions, and support so far. My fiancée has studied in Ireland and France, and visited England, but overseas will be all new to me!

Posted by
1574 posts

Travis:

So far most of the comments have been about Europe. There are a number of things you haven't told us or maybe haven't decided on.

Is this a round-the-world trip?

What is your breakdown in time between Western, Eastern Europe and Asia?

Where is your last stop in E. Europe and 1st point in Asia? You will almost definitely have to fly this leg.

Similarly if you plan on spending time in India, your next leg will require you to get on a plane. These tickets may not be all that cheap.

Also, you last leg from somewhere in Asia to home whether over the Pacific or back through Europe is not going to be cheap. If you add rough estimates for these flights and subtract from your $25,000 will leave you with a lot less money to manage for the rest of the year.

You really need to start planning some of the details to figure out how long your money can realistically last. One other item that will eat up $ will be visas if you are going to hit a lot of countries in Asia.

Do also check out other travel forums especially ones that deal with round the world travels to figure out how to stretch your $s further.

Posted by
149 posts

Hi Travis, Go for it. Many years ago when we were married just a few years, we went around the world on the cheap and were gone for 9 months. Camping in Japan, lots of time in central Asia, India to Germnany by bus, an ancient Volkswagen van in Europe, etc. All of this was in 1975 (we are married 37 years now), and I don't exactly know how much money we spent, but I think it was about $8k (1975 dollars). The point is, under "normal" traveling we would never have visited Japan, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, and many European countries in one trip. But this adventure, along with many travels since, are a part of our "being", and we both believe travel money is money well spent. In 1975, we spent about the price of a new car on our adventure. In the years since, we always have bought used cars and spent the savings on travel. Have fun and don't worry when others tell you that your not being practical. Charlie Robinson, Lodi, California

Posted by
149 posts

Hi Travis, Go for it. Many years ago when we were married just a few years, we went around the world on the cheap and were gone for 9 months. Camping in Japan, lots of time in central Asia, India to Germnany by bus, an ancient Volkswagen van in Europe, etc. All of this was in 1975 (we are married 37 years now), and I don't exactly know how much money we spent, but I think it was about $8k (1975 dollars). The point is, under "normal" traveling we would never have visited Japan, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, and many European countries in one trip. But this adventure, along with many travels since, are a part of our "being", and we both believe travel money is money well spent. In 1975, we spent about the price of a new car on our adventure. In the years since, we always have bought used cars and spent the savings on travel. Have fun and don't worry when others tell you that your not being practical. Charlie Robinson, Lodi, California

Posted by
19 posts

"It has been my observation in life that the most well adjusted, happily married couples spend only a small percentage of their income on travel and entertainment"

After 30 years of my husband and I traveling and entertaining together I cannot condone this statement. We come back from our trips like we've been on a honeymoon again. Never quit, Travis. Go--have a great time and plan to go again!

Posted by
576 posts

Pearl, didn't mean to offend you. My husband and I, married over 31 years (together for almost 38 years) also love travel and go to Europe every year. We,too are still madly in love and act like honeymooners. That being said, we still make sure our children are well taken care of (2 in college this year, one private) and that we are extremely financially stable before we spend money on my favorite thing in the whole world, travel. Maybe it's different here where we live, but we have been surrounded by countless young couples up and down our street who seemingly had the world by the tail, with a "go for it, you only live once, do it while you are young" spirit. My husband and I marveled at their fantastic trips, fancy homes, etc. It's been sad to see so many dreams and marriages disintegrate, though. Fully half the homes on our street are now in foreclosure (all young couples). They could not afford the affluent life styles they felt entitled to, living on credit cards, having no emergency savings. I think it's great to live well and "go for it", but only if you can actually afford it. If you spend money you can't afford, as did these young couples in our neighborhood, others are left paying their bills.I often think that delayed gratification is a dying virtue in our society.I clearly see that restraint isn't popular on this thread and I didn't mean to rain on anyone's parade, but to just offer the suggestion of prudence. Travis has stated that he still has savings for after his trip and firm plans, so I think that he is being responsible. I laud him for figuring out both how to have a happy life AND pay his own way. I'm sure it's possible to find happy couples without mortgages and children who spend the largest share of their incomes on entertainment. In my life, however,(only speaking for myself)the happiest couples I know are the ones who don't suffer from financial stress and spend only extra money on vacations.

Posted by
8 posts

While preparing for starting married life soon (2 months left!!!) we've started becoming all to familiar with having to walk that fine line of being responsible and also not worrying so much that you never have fun or relaxation. For out time overseas we've been trying to prepare and think ahead but not schedule the whole thing so we can still flex w/ things as they come.

Posted by
9041 posts

I watched my parents put off traveling, waiting til my step-father retired, paid this off and paid that off, etc. Well, retirement came and my mom got a bad case of MS. The "can't walk most of the time" kind. Travel plans took a big hit. They have told me numerous times that they wished they had done it differently.

Living overseas makes it easy for me to travel, but it is still an expense. There is no nest egg saved up, no retirement funds, but while the kids were growing up, I took them on trips whenever I could, or sent them with friends or family, with me paying their expense. We went to Turkey, Morocco, Belgium, and Greece and they got to go to Barcelona, Croatia, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Malta, as well as a few trips to the US. I think they were always happy about traveling and didn't regret not having money for fancier things. We don't have a car, live in a little apt. and because my daughter has gotten her high school diploma here, she can attend university for extremely low costs. Medical bills are covered with our mandatory health insurance in Germany.

My point? Go for it Travis, you will never, ever regret doing this. You only go around once in life, so grab for the gusto.

Posted by
129 posts

What a fabulous plan! Not sure if you can be gone for a whole year on 25K (I'm spending about 10-12K for 2 this summer for 80 days with 2 weeks free in Paris), but I'd love to hear if you are able to make it. Probably camping will help you out immensely, and I highly urge you to lease a car. The idea of renting a vanagon is a great idea since you can probably sleep in it, though not sure where you'll be able to pull over and sleep. Also, stay very true to your budget if you are making rez from the states. It's hard to not get swayed when you see a slightly nicer apartment for 10E more since it has a kitchen, AC, and private bathroom instead of the kitchenette with AC and shared bathroom. Good luck, and happy travels!!

Posted by
4535 posts

To be gone for so long, I'd caution you to be prepared for travel fatigue. After about 3 months, if your money holds out that long, you will likely get tired of living on the road, eating out for every meal, sightseeing every day. Everyone is different, and I'm not saying don't do it, but just plan for it. Will you take time occasionally to just chill? Will you rent an apartment at some point to settle in for a few weeks? Will you meet up with friends or family?

Your other challenge will be balancing the need to stretch your budget with the need to avoid fatigue. Hostels, camping and picnicing will lower your daily costs but can wear people out after a couple months. In many hostels, you won't even sleep in the same room as your fiancee. Yet hotels will cost you 100E or more a night and blow your budget fast.

You mentioned your fiancee has studied in Europe before. Just be aware that living in Europe for study will be a very different experience than long-term travel. I have experience with both.

Having said all that, good luck and enjoy what will be a life-changing experience!

Posted by
576 posts

Travis, good for you, being young and already understanding the concept of walking the fine line. Balance it what it's all about. And Jo, I, too have seen people not live their lives to the fullest, always saying they'll do what they want later, when they retire. Life is too short to put off your dreams. I guess we've always adjusted our dreams to suit our reality. If we didn't have much money, we found more more modest ways to travel. We could have as much fun hiking and camping as a luxury vacation. Travel habits should be sustainable. If you can adjust the rest of your budget (smaller home, older car, few expensive restaurant dinners) to to afford travel, then go for it. At the end of the day, the financial scales must balance. It's great to "go for it" in life, as long as there is a plan and it doesn't cause later financial disaster. With 2 sets of our neighbors, we wondered how they could be so young and travel for 3 and 5 months each. It didn't end well for either of them. As long as you're willing to scrimp and save in other areas to make travel a priority, you have a plan and a sense of balance. If you live it up without compromise because you're only young once, and you end up on public assistance, moving your family back into your parents house, you have not achieved balance. I know these examples sound extreme and several years ago I would not have imagined such scenarios. But they are all around us now. I think you can be both a dreamer and a realist. Again...balance.