Author Topic: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?  (Read 25780 times)

RichWard

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« on: February 10, 2014, 09:21:40 PM »
Is it possible to justify traveling prior to being FI?

My girlfriend and I are in debt (student loans and a car loan, no CC), but do not want to put off traveling while we are young: I am 24, she is 23. We both have a substantial amount of student loans, but each make slightly over $50K per year and have been living within our means since college graduation. Without getting into detailed numbers, let's just say that we are in a manageable situation and do not lose sleep over money.

A couple weeks ago, she brought up the idea of a trip to South America near the end of the year. My initial reaction was: no, we can't afford it. However, she had some convincing arguments that we can't just put our entire life on pause until we are out of debt (at least 5 more years).

My compromise was we can only go if we fund at least one-half of the cost of the trip from secondary funds, rather than our primary wages (ie: my plan is to donate plasma twice a week until the time of the trip, sell some books, video games, etc).

Has anyone else done a similar method with any results? Any other ideas on how to not feel guilty by traveling while you have student loans to pay off? I'm curious on a Mustachian's perspective on the situation.

iamlindoro

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1520
    • The Earth Awaits
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2014, 09:35:57 PM »
Bearing in mind that everyone has their own priorities, I would say travel is *certainly* justifiable long before FI, as I travel regularly and still manage to have a savings rate over 50%.  However, if you have hair-on-fire style debt, I think there's no excuse to go on lavish trips.

I don't know enough about the nature of your debt to say accurately whether I would find traveling to be sensible at this time.  How much are your student loans, at what rate, and what remains of the car loan/at what rate?

Cheddar Stacker

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3714
  • Age: 41
  • Location: USA
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2014, 09:39:58 PM »
I like your plan of paying for half the trip with extra earnings (Plasma) - good idea. You need to do whatever makes you happy while getting to FI as well.

Consider doing what you can to avoid the touristy crap and actually travelling. Check out go curry cracker for some inspiration on travel, and read the "Frugal Fatigue" thread that's been going on for the last week or so here in this forum. This will give you some good insight into finding the "Goldilocks" level of savings, and spending on things that matter.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28062
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2014, 09:42:09 PM »
Hell yeah.

The wife and I love to travel.

But we don't stay in five star hotels.  We backpacked around Europe for over two months for only 5k for both of us (counting all costs, including airfare and all equipment, such as camping gear, much of which we still have).

EDIT: Scroll down about two dozen posts in this thread to see some of the travel I did prior to FI...some of which was done with a negative net worth. /END EDIT

You can do it economically.

It's all about what you value.

I would suggest you look at your time to get out of debt, time to FI, etc. and see how far back it sets you, and determine if it's worth it.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 09:48:34 PM by arebelspy »
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3363
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2014, 10:14:15 PM »
Travel is great and is about the only thing I'd put before paying off the student loans. And your idea of paying for half of the trip with "new" money is great.
Go forth young 'stache and travel with my blessings.  :)

bogart

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1056
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2014, 10:17:05 PM »
Besides being something widely valued on this site (whatever weight you want to put in that), travel is something that is MUCH easier (and cheaper) to do before you have things like a house and kids (and pets, for that matter).  No idea where you fall on those variables, but besides what's already been mentioned in this thread, it's worth being aware of what travel as a young, relatively unencumbered adult looks like (and costs) as compared to travel for us older, more tied down folk (I'm not saying everyone who's 20-something is unencumbered and everyone who's older than that isn't, but if you look at averages -- well, you get the idea).

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28062
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2014, 10:24:38 PM »
Besides being something widely valued on this site (whatever weight you want to put in that), travel is something that is MUCH easier (and cheaper) to do before you have things like a house and kids (and pets, for that matter).  No idea where you fall on those variables, but besides what's already been mentioned in this thread, it's worth being aware of what travel as a young, relatively unencumbered adult looks like (and costs) as compared to travel for us older, more tied down folk (I'm not saying everyone who's 20-something is unencumbered and everyone who's older than that isn't, but if you look at averages -- well, you get the idea).

That's a great point, and you can "rough it" (for example, utilizing hostels) much easier when younger.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Daleth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2014, 10:34:34 PM »
I sure think it's justifiable--matter of fact, I visited two dozen countries between the ages of 17 and 25, traveling on the incredibly-cheap (some hitchhiking was involved--always with a boyfriend, though; I'm not suicidal). To the extent it cost more than I had, I put it on credit cards. Then I moved home, lived rent-free with my mom and paid it all off in a couple of years.

And to this day I am quite sure that putting traveling on credit cards, even at a time where my earning power was pitiful due to my youth and my not super-practical college degree, was an excellent decision. I am totally bilingual as a result, to the point where natives of the country in question think I am a native too. And beyond picking up that very tangible skill, it was deeply meaningful, life altering stuff. Folks, this kind of thing is WHY WE'RE ALIVE. It's what we look back on with deep pleasure 60 years later. It is, dare I say, more important than money.

I think what we're all happily cutting back on here is frivolous purchases (expensive shoes, new cars, outsize houses, fat cell phone bills) and unconscious, thoughtless decisions that hurt us financially (living in the suburbs and commuting 40 miles to work each day, etc.). Unlike travel, NONE of those things constitutes a deeply meaningful experience that you'll look back on fondly 60 years later; NONE of those things could even remotely be considered part of the reason we love to be alive.

pdxvandal

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 304
  • Location: Earth
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2014, 10:46:19 PM »
Agree with other posters here.

Wife and I did a three-week honeymoon in multiple European countries before children. We left in late March and bought TWO round trip direct flights to Germany for $375 apiece (including taxes!) from Portland, Oregon. This was in 2003 when airfare was cheap, plus we traveled off-season. My wife was unemployed at the time, and I was making 30k. Not wealthy by any means, perhaps even poor. We stayed in a few nice places, but also hostels. We got the Eurorail passes so no car necessary (which are friggin' expensive in Europe).

While in Paris, I will never forget a family from Ohio whose father said they hadn't been to Europe since their kids were born. And two of their kids were in high school. Don't wait too long. I've been fortunate to visit Mexico five times, Europe five times (three business trips) and the many sights of the United States. I hate buying "things" but always stretch the budget for travel experiences.

Just do it!

LibraTraci

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 67
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2014, 12:27:42 AM »

I do love traveling, but I can tell you that in hindsight, I wish I had postponed the international travel until I had a more secure financial base. 

For me, I did a few trips to SE Asia in my mid-thirties, when I had no debt whatsoever, but also had no savings whatsoever.  Each year time, I probably stashed aside four or five thousand dollars, and then spent it all on airfare, lodging, food, etc.  Looking back, I wished I had gotten all my ducks in a row first (built a solid emergency fund, established 2x my age in thousands of dollars of savings) and *then* rewarded myself with expensive international travel. 

On the other hand, there is much to be done for cheap, like hiking the Appalachian Trail, or doing a "destination" half-marathon someplace out of state you've always wanted to visit.  There are also beautiful destinations such as Zion Nat'l Park in Utah, or Glacier, in Montana. 

There used to be a slogan, "SEE AMERICA FIRST" -- it was mostly a ploy to try to keep America's tourist dollars from going oversees, but nevertheless, it *is* a frugal strategy.

Anyway, everyone's different!  If you suspect that the right thing for you is to travel while still having some debt, it probably is worth it to you!   

limeandpepper

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4500
  • Location: Australasia
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2014, 02:16:52 AM »
Is it possible to justify traveling prior to being FI?

Yes, in my opinion. But as for whether it's possible for you to justify this particular trip, it's hard to say, we don't know all the details.

I'm not FI yet, but I've saved enough money to feel fine with quitting my job to travel for an indefinite period of time. And I have traveled prior to this (shorter trips, lasting up to a few weeks).

I never had debt, but I started small nevertheless. When I first began working, I did short interstate trips by myself, lasting a few days. I also did a couple of international trips. I think all these ones were less than $1000 each. A few years later, my stash had grown; I also met my boyfriend. We did a couple of international trips, each of them cost less than $2000 per person. So I guess I've been working my way up. It's up to you how to best structure things to fit your goals.

JetsettingWelfareMom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 63
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2014, 03:01:11 AM »
Travel now while you're young healthy and unencumbered...you can do it later but it gets more complicated. The experience is, as another poster said, beyond money...set it as a goal, with one side of the goal to be coming up with the money for the trip without blowing your budget (Selling stuff is a great idea!) and the other side finding ways to minimize the cost of the trip (saving on airfare/frequent flyer/credit card offers, hostels, AirBNB, learning to shop, cook, and eat as the locals do, et cetera). I've done the five star hotel/cruise ship/tour bus/no contact with the locals thing in a foreign country...and I've done the exact opposite, going completely native and staying with local families. I like getting to know people, and realizing how kind and good most people in the world are, much better. The first few times eating in a foreign country can cause some digestive upset--no matter what you are eating, or which country you are in, certain ingredients have antibacterial properties, such as garlic, hot peppers, lime and lemon, ginger root, horseradish/wasabi...so make it spicy!

soccerluvof4

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5495
  • Location: Artic Midwest
  • Retired at 50
    • My Journal
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2014, 04:14:28 AM »
We traveled alot before kids because it was alot easier and it seemed we did learn ways to do it "frugal" without missing anything. Now we travel around the country with 4 kids in sports and even over seas, England, Brazil etc... but alot of planning goes into it and we still probably do it for less than half of the other folks that go but no one could tell.  This we embrace as our one splurge but also becomes family time and a way to teach the kids as well how you can enjoy traveling but there are smart ways to do it you dont always have to take the same path as everyone else. Heck we did enough of that for years and see now how much it really cost us in getting to our goals with other things.

mikaty

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 26
  • Location: South Africa
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2014, 04:56:09 AM »
We've done some international travel and we're not FI - we don't have much debt (only a small portion of our morgage left) but definitely not FI.  We love it. It's amazing to experience different countries and cultures.  But last year we made the decision not to travel interantionally for a while - we've been using up all our leave (because once you've paid for the flight you better make the most of it) and as a result we haven't been able to spend our time vacationing with family and friends (since they can't afford international vacations).  Life of course had slightly different plans for us and we'll be doing another trip - to Europe - this year.  DH's company has planned a recreational trip to Germany and spouses are welcome as long as they pay for their own flights - so basically it's like flying for half price.  Addtionally we'll use this opportunity to visit DH's family in Switzerland afterwards, something that we've really wanted to do for a while.  So now it boils down to which experiences we value more.  While we would love to visit more countries while we're there we'd prefer to save some leave to spend vacationing locally with our families.  If we were closer to FI we would probably travel more because we'd be happy to take unpaid leave for both local and international vacations.

RichWard

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2014, 07:21:25 AM »
Thank you all for your input! It's great to hear everyone's stories about when they were in similar situations.

I will talk about the details of my financial situation in a case study this weekend, but for now I think I have justified going on this trip, or any reasonable trip, as long as we can come up with at least half of the cost with "extra" money.

This will definitely not be a "luxury" vacation by any means. We both get a little over 4 weeks of fairly flexible paid vacation per year, so we will be able to take advantage finding the cheapest time to travel (and get a paycheck while on the road!). Both of our travel styles (not that I've done much, but based on our personalities) is to plan one or two primary points of interest, and then go explore based on how we feel each day. We are definitely okay with roughing it, and prefer it over luxury.

I haven't looked at much of the cost yet as my gf and I just started discussing, but I've been told you can do a 10 day trip to Peru for ~$2,000 per person. If that's the case, I have no worries that we will be able to at least come up with $1,000 each in "extra" income.

For the hardcore "roughing" it type travelers, are there any destinations you recommend that you can have a great experience without spending much money? We want to focus on hiking, exploring, etc. No interest in nice restaurants, expensive guided tours (though they may be required/safe for certain areas), etc. Obviously I have a lot to look into, but it's nice to start coming up with ideas.

Thanks again all!

Weedy Acres

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 280
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2014, 08:54:58 PM »
Travel is fantastic, but be wise.  I have trooped through a lot of third world countries with a backpack, and most have cost around $20/day for food, lodging, and transport (except plane tix to/from).  India's dirt cheap:  $10 a day was plenty.  $2000 for 10 days?  Horrifyingly expensive.  If you stay put for longer stretches it's cheaper, but I get bored hanging out in the same place for more than a couple days, so I tend to wander.  Also cheaper if 2 are sharing the lodging; my trips were all solo.

Get yourself a Lonely Planet guidebook (free from library or cheap on half.com) for a country that you're thinking of doing, and read through it to get a sense for how to do it on the cheap.  The biggest thing is to DIY it.  No all-inclusive tours, just take buses to see local sites and on occasion when needed, find the cheap alternatives--which always exist.  There are $200/day safaris and there are $20/day ones.  Both see the same animals.  The difference is only the vehicle you're in, the places you stay, and the food you eat.

sheepstache

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2424
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2014, 09:48:28 PM »
I think if you're really interested in travelling and you're alive to the advantages of doing it while you're young, you might also look into teaching english or the peace corp or something long term like that.

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2014, 12:14:36 AM »
...unconscious, thoughtless decisions that hurt us financially (living in the suburbs and commuting 40 miles to work each day, etc.).

If I can interject a contrary opinion, a 40 mile daily commute for 250 working days adds up to 10K miles a year.  A trip to Asia, or to Europe from the western US, is as long or longer.  So why is one hurting us, but the other an enriching experience?  To some people, living in a non-urban environment might be far more rewarding than willingly submitting yourself to commercial air travel.

train_writer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 204
  • Location: Brussels
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2014, 12:49:58 AM »
I am just a year your senior and, depending on your values, travelling is not smth you want to put off. BUT,
a big but ;), only travel when and where and how you want to. You don't HAVE to travel long and far to be happy. Also, everyone under 50 goes 'off the beaten track', so don't worry as well as don't brag about it. (personal dislike here to some total tools i've met).

So, rather than if earning money through plasma is a good idea, is the South America trip also appealling to you, not only to your girlfriend?

For example my spouse loves going on trips, but he does not feel at ease being away longer than 2-3 weeks. We totally respect eachother on this front so I may travel a bit further with a friend or alone. It takes some time to discover this! We have travelled for 4 weeks this summer together and it was lots of fun, but it meant we both had to adjust a bit (we made a 'break' in our 4-week trip by staying over for a week at a nice house with acquintances nearby, for him, and we did a great hike with maybe-to-many-mosquitos-and-other-risks, for me).

What kind of travelling do you like (hostels, hotels, airbnb, stay-overs, camping, the latter not always adviced in every country)? Do your already have a budget in mind?

Daleth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2014, 08:36:23 AM »
...unconscious, thoughtless decisions that hurt us financially (living in the suburbs and commuting 40 miles to work each day, etc.).

If I can interject a contrary opinion, a 40 mile daily commute for 250 working days adds up to 10K miles a year.  A trip to Asia, or to Europe from the western US, is as long or longer.  So why is one hurting us, but the other an enriching experience?

Seriously?!

Um, because one of them involves seeing the world, expanding your horizons, and creating amazing memories with your travel companion/family that will be with all of you for life, while the other involves sitting by yourself in traffic jams on the highway, cursing because you forgot your iPod/CDs and all you can pick up on the radio is some obnoxious morning talk show. "Traveling" and "commuting" are two different words because they are two different things.

  To some people, living in a non-urban environment might be far more rewarding than willingly submitting yourself to commercial air travel.

It's been said many times on this forum, and wisely I think, that if you spend 2 hours of your workdays commuting and the usual 8-9 hours at work, you're not really "living in a non-urban environment"--you're just sleeping in a non-urban environment, and paying dearly for the privilege. That's why it is so often suggested here that people in such a situation either move closer to work (so they can reach FI quickly and then ACTUALLY live, not just sleep, wherever they want) or find work closer to home.

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2014, 01:32:00 PM »
Um, because one of them involves seeing the world, expanding your horizons, and creating amazing memories with your travel companion/family that will be with all of you for life...

There's no actual world closer than 10K miles from you, where you could create those memories &c, without the discomfort & expense of actually travelling?  Or as today's apropos Shakespeare quote puts it:

Quote
ROSALIND:
A traveller! By my faith, you have great reason to
be sad: I fear you have sold your own lands to see
other men's; then, to have seen much and to have
nothing, is to have rich eyes and poor hands.

JAQUES:
Yes, I have gained my experience.

ROSALIND:
And your experience makes you sad: I had rather have
a fool to make me merry than experience to make me
sad; and to travel for it too!

[quote...]while the other involves sitting by yourself in traffic jams on the highway, cursing because you forgot your iPod/CDs and all you can pick up on the radio is some obnoxious morning talk show.[/quote]

This is somehow worse than having to go through degrading security checks, spend hours jammed in a far too small for an adult human airline seat, deal with customs & immigration bureaucracy, and all the other unpleasantness that's involved in the actual process of travelling? 

Then there's the whole environmental aspect: why emitting X tons of CO2 is a problem if it's done in a daily commute, but not if the same amount is emitted travelling to a distant land for pleasure?

Daleth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2014, 01:49:55 PM »
Um, because one of them involves seeing the world, expanding your horizons, and creating amazing memories with your travel companion/family that will be with all of you for life...

There's no actual world closer than 10K miles from you, where you could create those memories &c, without the discomfort & expense of actually travelling? 

Oh, sure, but what if you've seen the "actual world" that you can get to from your house "without the discomfort... of actually traveling"? Should you just go see it again and again? Also, what if you're curious about foreign languages and foreign cultures? Should you just hope you get reincarnated as a Parisian?!

while the other involves sitting by yourself in traffic jams on the highway, cursing because you forgot your iPod/CDs and all you can pick up on the radio is some obnoxious morning talk show.

This is somehow worse than having to go through degrading security checks, spend hours jammed in a far too small for an adult human airline seat, deal with customs & immigration bureaucracy, and all the other unpleasantness that's involved in the actual process of travelling? 

Yep. Definitely. I'd much rather deal with the TSA, customs, etc. a couple of times a year than deal with traffic jams and the tedium of driving back and forth on the same stretch of highway twice a day, five days a week, for the next year or three or five.

Then there's the whole environmental aspect: why emitting X tons of CO2 is a problem if it's done in a daily commute, but not if the same amount is emitted travelling to a distant land for pleasure?

I doubt that a single airplane passenger's share of the CO2 emitted by a jet flying from here to Italy and back, say once a year, is nearly as high as the annual CO2 emitted by that same person driving 2-3 hours a day during rush hour. But even if it were, here's why it's more of a problem with the commute: because you do not HAVE to have a long, car-based commute in order to work. That's a lifestyle choice you're free to make or not. In contrast, you HAVE to get on a plane if you live in the US and want to visit Italy... unless you have a spare 3-4 weeks to take a boat, which would be pointless anyway because a ship sailing for weeks across the ocean probably emits at least as much CO2 as a 5 or 6-hour plane flight.

prodarwin

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 302
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2014, 02:18:22 PM »
Airline travel produces a lot of C02 emissions.  Just doing some quick math with an online calculator, driving a car (2005 Civic) from DC to San Diego would produce double the emissions of 1 passenger on a flight.  But, if you have someone with you, its the same amount.  Put 4 passengers in a Prius, and you'll blow away the airplane numbers.

Anyway, fly to Italy, with your significant other, and it roughly 30% MORE emissions than driving that commuting in the Civic 10k miles/year (1.97 metric tons x 2 people vs 3.02 metric tons).  That assumes your flight is direct from DC.

Annamal

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 429
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2014, 02:37:18 PM »
Ergh, I hate to admit that my parents offered to pay my airfares if I walked the Camino de Santiago accross Spain (they'd both done it an considered it an important experience), so selfish 25 year old that I was, I took them up on it (and paid for everything else).

I had a reasonable savings nest egg at the time but no real motivation to travel so this gave me the kick I needed .

My parents were utterly right, it changed my life (even if I did get food poisoning and miss 100k of it)I walked 600k accross Spain and came back very different.

3 years later I did it again (entirely self-funded and for 1000 kilometres) and I feel like both experiences were well worth the cost (and I hope my parents will let me pay them back some day).

I also feel like having spent 7 weeks with a great deal of incentive to buy only what I absolutely needed (because I would have to carry it for 25k the next day) made me into a much more mustachian person.


Thegoblinchief

  • Guest
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2014, 02:55:40 PM »
I haven't looked at much of the cost yet as my gf and I just started discussing, but I've been told you can do a 10 day trip to Peru for ~$2,000 per person. If that's the case, I have no worries that we will be able to at least come up with $1,000 each in "extra" income.

The main expense in any int'l travel is getting there. Driving takes more time but if you combine it with RV/camping it can be incredibly cheap. On the other hand, if you read up on travel credit cards with sign-up bonuses, even without "churning", you can probably score free tickets rather quickly by stockpiling points.

For Latin America, read the book Drive Nacho Drive. Others can probably chime in with other travel journals, but that was a great read.

I wish my wife and I had traveled before kids. We were so broke (and pregnant) when married that we didn't even do a honeymoon. Hopefully we'll do a late honeymoon when the kids are older, and a few trips between now and then that double as field trips since I homeschool.

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 603
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2014, 03:30:41 PM »
I would not go into debt to travel, ever.

I wouldn't postpone travel until FI, either, but I would only do (very) frugal travel until debt is paid off. 

If it's going to take 5 years to get out of debt, how much longer will it take you to FI? How long would you be delaying your financial goals by making travel a priority? (you don't need to answer this, but just something to think about)

foobar

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 731
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2014, 03:57:27 PM »
Money is money. Saying it is ok because it comes from one source or another just complicates your life. Thats how people justify blowing their tax refund every year (and they don't adjust their withholding because they want to blow money).

I would go on the trip. It is better to work another 5 years instead of putting your life on hold for 15 while you hoard money.



Is it possible to justify traveling prior to being FI?

My girlfriend and I are in debt (student loans and a car loan, no CC), but do not want to put off traveling while we are young: I am 24, she is 23. We both have a substantial amount of student loans, but each make slightly over $50K per year and have been living within our means since college graduation. Without getting into detailed numbers, let's just say that we are in a manageable situation and do not lose sleep over money.

A couple weeks ago, she brought up the idea of a trip to South America near the end of the year. My initial reaction was: no, we can't afford it. However, she had some convincing arguments that we can't just put our entire life on pause until we are out of debt (at least 5 more years).

My compromise was we can only go if we fund at least one-half of the cost of the trip from secondary funds, rather than our primary wages (ie: my plan is to donate plasma twice a week until the time of the trip, sell some books, video games, etc).

Has anyone else done a similar method with any results? Any other ideas on how to not feel guilty by traveling while you have student loans to pay off? I'm curious on a Mustachian's perspective on the situation.

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1641
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2014, 07:02:18 PM »
Go travel! You have the desire, the health, someone you want to travel with, and enough money to do so.  It may seem as if you will always have the first three....and even more of the fourth.  But life takes unpredictable twists, especially with health. Go and enjoy!

LibraTraci

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 67
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2014, 07:25:48 PM »
I would not go into debt to travel, ever.

[And]  I would only do (very) frugal travel until debt is paid off. 

I agree with this, mostly because I'm old school ("If you don't have the money, don't buy it.")

I just wanted to (re-)chime in to mention that it seems to me that the whole "you can broaden your horizons and learn a different culture" is usually pretty off-base in my experience.  I've only been to two foreign countries (Germany and Thailand), each for over 6 months, and I still didn't feel that I learned much about a different culture.  It is hard to have a deep enough knowledge of a country's language, and hard to know people there well enough to begin to get a feel for what the people are like. 

While abroad, I've mostly encountered foreigners who begin to draw facile generalizations about other countries based on superficial differences they can easily see.  People visiting a foreign country don't seem to fully understand how little they have actually gotten to know a country, how truly couched in their own frame of reference their generalizations are, and how little they had actually penetrated the local culture.     

In Thailand, I sometimes met expats who had been living there for over a decade and when I probed a bit, they could not identify any major Thai celebrities, or hum the Thai national anthem, or properly pronounce some basic Thai, like "hi", "thank you" or "excuse me".  How much less a chance a person has when doing a two- or three-week tour of Japan, or Chile or Madagascar. 

I *do* think it's interesting to do extensive bibliotravel (did I just coin that word?) in lieu of (or possibly prior to) visiting a country.  Have been on a Scotland reading kick lately, and but India is probably my favorite biblio-destination of mine. 

If it helps anyone to save a couple thousand bucks on travel costs, here's a favorite list of mine, detailing fiction books set in various countries:

http://archive.is/vC9ah

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2014, 10:52:06 PM »
I just wanted to (re-)chime in to mention that it seems to me that the whole "you can broaden your horizons and learn a different culture" is usually pretty off-base in my experience.  I've only been to two foreign countries (Germany and Thailand), each for over 6 months, and I still didn't feel that I learned much about a different culture.  It is hard to have a deep enough knowledge of a country's language, and hard to know people there well enough to begin to get a feel for what the people are like.

Second that.  Perhaps it's different if you're an extremely gregarious, outgoing type of person, but most people will not have any entree into the local culture, especially if you're only there for a few weeks of vacation.  Even working in a country... Well, my own experience may not be the norm, since it was a  research institute with an international staff, but as I remember the only actual Swiss person I ever exchanged more than a few quick words with was the department secretary - and that was going in with a pretty fair reading knowledge of the language.  And when it's a language you're not likely to learn, like say Finnish, you're pretty well lost unless the locals want to practice their English.  (And that was with native guide/SO, too.)

sheepstache

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2424
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #30 on: February 14, 2014, 08:37:28 AM »
Go travel! You have the desire, the health, someone you want to travel with, and enough money to do so.  It may seem as if you will always have the first three....and even more of the fourth.  But life takes unpredictable twists, especially with health. Go and enjoy!

Exactly.
You know what?  A lot of non-mustachian people don't travel because of money.  They think 2K is a huge amount of money because they don't understand how easy it is to save that up.  And they think you can't travel for that little amount of money.  So it cuts both ways.

I would agree with LibraTraci's caveats about travel.  Sometimes you have to travel to really get them through your head, though.  The danger of not traveling, if you have an itch to, is that you forever think of it as some magical transforming experience.  Everybody travels for different reasons and ultimately you're mostly learning about  yourself.   Are you more interested in people?  (It's worth noting that quite a lot of my enjoyable interactions have been with other travelers and not just the natives.)  In cultural artifacts?  In geography?  Also it can be a good test of whether geo-arbitrage in retirement is for you.

destron

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 377
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Seattle
    • Mustachian Financial Calculators
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #31 on: February 14, 2014, 08:42:44 AM »
Late to the party, but:

Absolutely, travel now. You will not be able to travel in the same way when you are older. Right now, you can live out of a backpack and stay in hostels, rough it, or just meet people and couch-surf. Just be really, really cheap about it and save even more money before the travel. Once you have a house, a dog, and kids, traveling will be much more difficult and expensive.

Once you are FI, you can do even more traveling the slow way, but don't put it off.

Melody

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1089
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Australia
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #32 on: February 14, 2014, 11:22:39 PM »
Personally I wouldn't travel until the car loan is paid off and any variable rate or hard to defer student loans are paid off. What if one of you lost your jobs and you had chosen to travel instead of pay down debt? This isn't about Traveling before FI (which I fully support and allocate about 10% of my income each year towards, thereby reducing my savings rate) but about traveling before you are financially secure. When you can say "yes, we'd weather an unemployment storm easily" then is the time to travel! IMHO a car loan will make any unemployment storm hard to weather as it's (typically) non deferable. Student loans may be deferable and low interest which might make traveling ok as (some?) of the student loans will not be too risky if you hang onto them (variable ones are risky as would any high rate ones or ones you can no longer defer).

Albert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1254
  • Location: Switzerland
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #33 on: February 15, 2014, 12:17:09 AM »
The best time to travel is while you are still young. Of course I wouldn't go into debt to do it or completely abandon my other financial goals for it, but other than that I believe it's a worthy way to spend some money. 

TomTX

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3665
  • Location: Texas
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #34 on: February 15, 2014, 06:24:24 AM »
We did not travel enough before kids, pets, etc made logistics more difficult.

We did do some enjoyable (US) travel, but really should have done some international travel on the cheap.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2014, 08:07:39 AM »
You're earning money, you're paying down your debt -- but you're a long way from "free" from that debt.  I can see the point in traveling now before you're tied down. 

I'd suggest a half-way approach. 

Set a goal to take a moderate trip (South America may not be moderate) only after you've reached some milestone in your debt repayment.  AND cut back in whatever way possible to pay for the trip -- eliminate meals out, new clothes, etc.  Or find ways to add to your income. 

This makes me think about something a friend said to me recently:  Her sister made some snarky comments to her about her and her husband traveling to Europe -- totally a jealousy thing, but it hit the mark.  She said she'd pointed out that her sister and her husband go 3-4 times per year to see their favorite NFL team play, and they always "do it big"; that is, they drive to the city, stay in a fancy hotel, eat out, etc., etc., etc.  The sister can't see that they spent essentially the same amount on travel . . . yet a trip to Europe seems "big", while 3-4 weekend trips seems "average". 

What type of travel do you intend?  You could have 3-4 short trips (I wouldn't want to do the same trip over and over like the people mentioned above), or you could have one big trip. 
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 08:12:21 AM by MrsPete »

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #36 on: February 15, 2014, 08:17:51 AM »
The best time to travel is while you are still young. Of course I wouldn't go into debt to do it or completely abandon my other financial goals for it, but other than that I believe it's a worthy way to spend some money.
I don't know.  We traveled a bit when we were newlyweds (all driving trips, all moderate motels and camping), but we had no debt other than a small mortgage. 

Once we had our kids, we did not travel.  It seemed a monumental feat with two small children, who were most comfortable at home.  Plus, we had less "spending money" once we had the kids.  So we stayed home during those years and saved, saved, saved. 

Suddenly -- it really did feel sudden to me -- we had our house paid off, we had decent bank accounts, and we had kids who were old enough to ride nicely in the car and appreciate travel.  So we travelled rather extensively while our girls were in middle and high school.  And since we had no debt and money in the bank, it was guilt-free.  We have so many memories of the places we went while our girls were that age. 

Now we're paying for college, so we're skimping on travel, but in just a few years we'll be empty nesters, and we'll get back to traveling again.

Given the chance to do it again, I'd repeat it just the same way. 

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6984
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #37 on: February 15, 2014, 07:16:34 PM »
Besides being something widely valued on this site (whatever weight you want to put in that), travel is something that is MUCH easier (and cheaper) to do before you have things like a house and kids (and pets, for that matter).  No idea where you fall on those variables, but besides what's already been mentioned in this thread, it's worth being aware of what travel as a young, relatively unencumbered adult looks like (and costs) as compared to travel for us older, more tied down folk (I'm not saying everyone who's 20-something is unencumbered and everyone who's older than that isn't, but if you look at averages -- well, you get the idea).

That's a great point, and you can "rough it" (for example, utilizing hostels) much easier when younger.
Extremely good point.  Now, I've known some pretty amazing people who travel frugally with kids (one woman had three kids and her hubby is a marine biologist - they went EVERYWHERE, and on the cheap, and never checked a bag).

Anyway, take it from me - I'm in my 40's, two kids, youngest is 1.5, traveling with 2 kids, especially one this age, is expensive and a PITA.  It was easier when we had just the one and he was this age. Not sure if it's so much harder because we're older or because there are two or both.

We staycation now.  Trying to talk my hubby into a camping trip this summer (all the way to Sequoia, woo!  A 5 hour drive!)

Pre-kid we went to Europe, Hawaii, Caribbean (yes, with college and car debt at the time).

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 603
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2014, 09:30:06 AM »
Mrs. Pete,  I hope to do exactly as you have.

We did moderate, inexpensive travel before kids, never with debt (actually, we celebrated becoming debt free by our first ever trip together that required airfare and rental car), but now that we've got small kids, we're stay-cationing it.  I want my kids to be old enough to enjoy travel (at that point our mortgage will be history) and to have our retirement funding in a really good place.  Seems like the truly mustachian way to go about it.

It seems like a slippery slope to justify vacations/travel because you're young ... while carrying consumer debt & student loans.  That sounds awfully normal to me. 

I also think the argument about traveling while young is a little bit ridiculous.  You do realize that when you're 35 or 40 you're not suddenly incapable of walking/hiking/backpacking, right?!
« Last Edit: February 16, 2014, 09:32:01 AM by Carrie »

warfreak2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1140
  • Location: UK
    • Music by me
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #39 on: February 16, 2014, 09:40:53 AM »
In your early 20s you are likely to be fitter and healthier than in your late 30s. That means you can walk further and sleep in less-comfortable places. I don't imagine I'll be able to get a good night's sleep on a sofa when I'm 40. You're more likely to have children who you'd have to leave at home for months while you were away, that doesn't sound free. Also, you don't have to pay rent if you're abroad for a long period of time, but you do have to keep paying your mortgage.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28062
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #40 on: February 16, 2014, 09:52:09 AM »
I also think the argument about traveling while young is a little bit ridiculous.  You do realize that when you're 35 or 40 you're not suddenly incapable of walking/hiking/backpacking, right?!

The wife and I, while backpacking through Europe for over two months, slept in beds 10 days (2 hostel nights we paid for, 8 night sleeping at family or friends houses).  Out of 63ish.

The other 50+ nights were spent sleeping on trains, on benches, in parks, in a parking lot, on the ground, next to a cemetery, etc. etc.

10 days with a bed.  50+ without.

No, I don't think I'll do that again.  It was amazing, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but our travel as adults aged 35-40 with kids will be very different than our roughing it travel as young 20-somethings.

You may think the argument is ridiculous, as there are many things you can do as a 35-40 year old that you did as a 20-something.  And while that is true, there are also other things you might not do, that you'd be willing to do while younger.

So I personally don't think the argument is that ridiculous.  ;)

In your early 20s you are likely to be fitter and healthier than in your late 30s. That means you can walk further and sleep in less-comfortable places. I don't imagine I'll be able to get a good night's sleep on a sofa when I'm 40.

+1.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 603
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #41 on: February 16, 2014, 09:56:42 AM »
Ha!  Y'all are probably right.  Sleeping anywhere other than a bed doesn't sound like much fun to me.  (But I was that way in my 20's too -- no thank you to sleeping on the ground --- the couple of times I did it camping I was miserable...)  Maybe it's related to age a little, but personality too. 

LibraTraci

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 67
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #42 on: February 16, 2014, 10:32:03 AM »
It seems like a slippery slope to justify vacations/travel because you're young ... while carrying consumer debt & student loans.  That sounds awfully normal to me. 

I also think the argument about traveling while young is a little bit ridiculous.  You do realize that when you're 35 or 40 you're not suddenly incapable of walking/hiking/backpacking, right?!

Yes, I was starting to feel like I was reading a series of Facebook comments.  :)

It surprises me a bit that travel has become almost an entitlement in people's minds.  In my parents' generation, I can't recall a single one of them taking a trip to China or South America -- it just wasn't something you did.  Even honeymoons were often humble -- I get a good laugh remembering that my parents honeymooned in the Pocono Mountains -- i.e. a 5-hour drive away from home. 

My brother did some traveling after college -- waited tables for months (living cheaply and sharing an apartment with roommates), and then went to China for a month or two.  Came back and did it all over again to fund his trip to India.  It's about your priorities, though -- he first priority was to travel, so he socked away the money and did it. 

sheepstache

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2424
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #43 on: February 16, 2014, 10:47:21 AM »
It's hard to say for sure since my lifestyle has changed but in some ways I've gotten more robust as I get older* and I suspect other people are much the same.  With a bit more body fat, I don't get cold as easily and short term hunger isn't as uncomfortable.  (I'll never forget hearing about a friend of a friend who was a body builder with very low fat % and died from dysentery while traveling.)  I have more muscle and so more endurance and greater ability to carry a bag without messing up my back.  I might not sleep as deeply but going without enough sleep doesn't leave me a total zombie any more. 

Plus I have more general knowledge and cultural context for the things I see. 

And for females, being older may mean fewer men aggressively hitting on you.

*By which I mean 30s rather than 20s.

SnackDog

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1284
  • Location: Latin America
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #44 on: February 16, 2014, 11:06:13 AM »
I traveled all over the world during my 20s.  The trick is to get others to pay the airfare, at the very least, if not hotel and some food.  I did this by working on international projects while a student. I think got project funds for travel to do research and attend conferences.   I firmly believe everyone should travel extensively at the youngest age they are able to do so independently. The horizons which are broadened as a result will determine the future trajectory of your entire life.

Albert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1254
  • Location: Switzerland
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #45 on: February 16, 2014, 12:35:08 PM »
35-40 is not that old yet, most people are still physically fit and healthy at that age but if you wait till your 50-ties there might be limitations to what you could do. True also about not willing to rough it so much in 30-ties as in 20-ties. I'd be ok with sleeping in a tent or in a train for few days, but more than that and I wouldn't find travel enjoyable any more.


As for our parents and grandparents generation not traveling as much, the reason is that traveling now is vastly cheaper than in the past. I remember few years ago I was flying to NYC with Air France and in their inflight magazine were was an article about their first intercontinental routes in late 30-ties. They've found one of the passengers from those days still alive. The guy flew from Vietnam where his parents were colonial administrators to France to attend high school. It took five days to cover the distance and costed about 17,000$ (one way!) in today's dollars. A ship would have been much cheaper, but would have taken 6 weeks. Not much long distance traveling for ordinary people under such circumstances...

steveo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1944
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #46 on: February 16, 2014, 12:54:52 PM »
It surprises me a bit that travel has become almost an entitlement in people's minds.

I find this attitude towards travel a bit funny as well. I also personally cannot justify travel prior to FI and even after FI I would assume that I would work to pay for travel as a fancypants expense.

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #47 on: February 16, 2014, 01:10:47 PM »
It surprises me a bit that travel has become almost an entitlement in people's minds.  In my parents' generation, I can't recall a single one of them taking a trip to China or South America -- it just wasn't something you did.

True.  Really, the only way you travelled to foreign countries is by enlisting in the military.

Not to get political, but it was something of an eye-opener to read about Obama's travels to Africa as a young man, and realize that there's a large part of the public who don't think that being able to do that puts him in the privileged classes.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28062
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #48 on: February 16, 2014, 01:28:16 PM »
It surprises me a bit that travel has become almost an entitlement in people's minds.

I find this attitude towards travel a bit funny as well. I also personally cannot justify travel prior to FI and even after FI I would assume that I would work to pay for travel as a fancypants expense.

I wouldn't call it an entitlement, as Libra did, but I do think it's something more and more people emphasis as "worth it."

In other words, the point of FI to me is all about deciding what's important to you and spending money on that, and cutting everything else out.

Thus I don't spend on a cable bill, eating out, large house, etc... But I do spend on, and plan to spend on, travel.

The same seems to be more and more true of others, often other people in the frugality circles - travel is something important to them.  That doesn't mean they think they are entitled to it - quite the opposite, they work hard to be able to do it, not as an entitlement - but that it's something they value over other consumerism spending.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Albert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1254
  • Location: Switzerland
Re: Can Traveling Be Justified Prior to FI?
« Reply #49 on: February 16, 2014, 01:36:58 PM »
Vacation travel IS a luxury and we would be ok without it, but it's also something many of us could afford and find pleasurable so why not?