Updated Mar, 4th 2013
A little over two years ago I took a trip to Argentina that changed my life. I had travelled before, but I realized there was so much of the world that I hadn't seen yet. While talking with some fellow travellers I met people who were in the middle of year-long trips to various parts of the world. Most being European or Austrailian, I asked how they had done it, assuming they were using some of their crazy-Euro vacation time. One answered simply, "I saved my money and quit my job."
So, it hit me. This was possible. By the end of my 10 days in Argentina I had devised a new plan. At the time, I was working for a start-up that I knew was not going to last much longer -- 6, maybe 9 months tops --and I had already started to think about the next step. And this was it: I was going to see the world. By the time the job disappeared, I will have saved enough to pick up and go.
Three weeks after returning to Brooklyn, three weeks after making my announcement to friends about the trip, explaining that I was going to be a strict budget and wouldn't be able to do many dinners out anymore, I got the call: I was being laid off.
9 months ahead of schedule.
I had seen many friends go through recent layoffs in my industry, and I knew I could count on it being a year before I found another job. So, I got to work: I provided ad-hoc childcare in the evenings, I was a hostess at a bar, and I took on freelance jobs in my field. During that year of treading water financially, I wrote a screenplay for a short film that someone actually produced, I started freelancing on my own working with authors to market their self-published books. But at the end of the year, I realized one thing: I still wanted to take that trip. So when a job in my field was offered to me, I took it.
But six months into the job I realized that I no closer to financially where I needed to be for the trip, and that old adage rang true: you make more, you spend more. I was losing sight of my goal, and I realized I needed a change of scenery to get my head straight. New York, and my life there, was like quicksand, leaving me unfocused on where I wanted to be in many aspects of my life. It was time for a change.
So, in September 2012, I left my friends, a guy, my beautiful (and expensive) Brooklyn apartment, and moved to Boston, where I sought a quieter lifestyle and less distraction. True to my committment to saving money, I found a cheap place to live (I am 36 years old and live with two college seniors). My company has an office here, so I kept my job and my salary and moved with the goal to be on my way in one year's time.
I'm six months in, and while I've saved money, I still feel woefully behind. But I have six months left, and I am going to make them count. Recently I decided that I AM going somewhere come September, even if it's to only half the places on my list. Every decision I've made for the last two years have been about this trip, and it has to happen, and it will happen, on some level. The original plan was Central America, South America, Spain, Morocco, then South East Asia. Right now, I'm looking at cutting the trip in half and only doing Central and South America. I can live with that. But even making those major concesssions, I need to harness control of my finances and make this happen.