Recently we’ve received a lot of emails asking us how we financially supported our travels since we decided to take the plunge to live an unconventional life. I realize that we’ve written a lot of inspirational pieces about following your dreams and pushing yourself to step outside your comfort zone, but we haven’t given real practical advice in quite a while. So we decided it was time to share some of our tips and tricks to living an unconventional life.

The Journey

Our journey to becoming full time travel bloggers was not a quick and easy one. We had many failures and set backs along the way. It took time for us to find what we wanted to do with our lives and what would make us happy. We knew way back in 2003 and we wanted to be together traveling the world forever. I realize that many people have that dream, but we felt it deep in our bones. It was more of a yearning than a fantasy. When we were traveling, we felt at home. We knew that on the road was where we were meant to be.

In 2004 we were like many backpackers traveling around South East Asia, but unlike the many others out there, we were already brainstorming with ideas of how we could continue to travel for the rest of our lives. We knew we wanted more than just a one year escape. We didn’t have the answers yet, but we knew that we couldn’t keep working at our current jobs for the next 20 years hoping that we’d one day be able to retire and finally live our dreams.

So we started making plans.

How to Start your Unconventional Life of Travel 

1. Changed our spending habits

camping

Enjoy the Great Outdoors for Cheap when Camping

We used to spend a lot of money on things that didn’t better our lives. We’d buy $4 lattes, go out to dinner several times a week and we’d buy new designer clothes. The more popular the brand name, the better. On the weekends, we’d drop $200 on a meal and not even blink at the cheque and then we’d go to movies spending a good $50 on tickets and popcorn. Well, all that changed when we decided we were going to put away enough money to sustain us for a year while we decided to become professional adventurers. We ate at home, and cooked at home. We made our own gourmet coffees, and instead of going out to the movies all the time, we rented. When we wanted to go to the bar, we instead had a glass of wine at home and invited friends over, it was much more affordable.

For activities, we were now doing free and exciting things on the weekend like mountain biking, rock climbing or snowshoeing. We didn’t drop cash at the bar or on expensive meals or weekend getaways to a suite in Niagara Falls anymore. Instead, we went camping and spent our time outdoors. It was much more fulfilling and a lot easier on our pocketbooks.

Note: At this time in our lives, we still didn’t know how we were going to become full time travellers, we just knew that we wanted it to happen one day and that we had to be ready when we finally figured it out. By having a nest egg and by not having anything tying us down, we’d be ready to jump at any opportunity.

2. We downsized.

empty storage locker

Getting rid of everything once and for all

People have often said to us “I wish that I could do what you do, but I don’t have the finances to support my travels” Well, if  you really truly want to travel. It can be really easy to save and build a nest egg. We sold our house and most of our contents and went back to renting an apartment. This freed up a lot of our income to put towards our travel savings fund. Getting a small one bedroom apartment that included utilities, cable and parking helped us plan our monthly budget.

We also went down to one automobile. We used to drive two cars on a lease, but when the leases came due, we let them go and bought a used car. Our monthly payments were less and our insurance cost less too because we no longer had to pay for collision. If our car was damaged it didn’t matter because we paid next to nothing for it anyway. We drove that car for the next 10 years, it was only this summer that we got ourselves a new car.

3. We Kept All Options Open

Like many people, we knew we wanted something more in life, but we didn’t know what it was that we wanted. We were frustrated. I remember always saying to Dave “If I only knew what I wanted to do with my life, I know I’d be successful.” The problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. The only thing we both knew was that travel was to be a part of it. So, we studied all things travel. We went to seminars talking about Teaching English as a Second Language, we went to travel trade shows, we watched travel shows like Pilot Guides and Don’t Forget Your Passport.

Tried Everything: Adventures Galore

Tried Everything: Adventures Galore

We took up as many adventures as we could. We learned how to rock climb, mountain bike, scuba dive and snowboard. We became avid campers and built our adventure gear arsenal to an impressive list where we actually started to look the part of Adventurer! We said to ourselves, “one day maybe one of these skills would come in handy.” At the time, we didn’t know it, but all those skills eventually came in handy. We used to call ourselves “Jacks of all trades and Masters of none.” We had doubts, of course we did. We thought, maybe we’re wasting our time and energy trying new things all the time, but we knew that we had yet to find something that we truly loved. We enjoyed everything, but we didn’t have the passion that some of our rock climbing or scuba diving friends had for one particular sport. They found their passion and all they wanted to do was climb or our scuba diving when they went to a destination. They couldn’t care less if they saw the local culture or witnessed incredible landscape. They wanted to explore under the sea and that was great! It just wasn’t for us. We wanted it all. We wanted to be able to climb in one location, dive in another and shop at the market in yet another. It was our Jack of All Trades mentality that eventually lead us to becoming travel bloggers.

Our lack of focus helped us become true explorers.

4. Focus on Strengths

Knew we had a strong relationship, previous work in Film Business, Camera Experience

We knew we had a strong relationship, previous work in Film Business, Camera Experience

Once we decided that we wanted to have the word “Adventurer” on our business card, we made plans on how we were going to make that happen. After exhausting all possibilities we decided to focus on our strengths. We had been working in the film business for a long time and learned from the successful people around us. I watched TV hosts promote themselves and create their brand and identities and Dave picked the brains of photographers and cinematographers on set. We knew that we were good at self promotion and that we knew the TV business well, so we decided to sell an idea. We knew that we would have to do something epic to stand out from the crowd. In 2008, backpacking around the world was becoming very popular. When we did it in 2000, not many people were leaving their jobs to travel the world, but now it seemed to be that everyone was taking a sabbatical. If we did something epic like bicycle from Cairo to Cape Town people would take notice.

Canada’s Adventure Couple was born and we had a dream of making it a TV show. We hired a publicist, sent out press releases and announced our epic journey. We knew we loved traveling together and that we had the mental stamina to succeed in this race down the continent. If we could place or become a part of the EFI Club, we would get noticed. It turned out well because Deb won the women’s race and Dave joined the EFI Club!

5. Have a Plan

At the Start of the Tour d'Afrique in Cairo

At the Start of the Tour d’Afrique in Cairo

We invested a good chunk of our hard earned money into this cycling race. We saved for a year putting every penny away and buying new bikes, training and investing in the entry fee and flights. We didn’t want to take part in an epic adventure only to return to our jobs and resume our lives. We made a plan that within two years of signing up, we’d be traveling full time. We had to figure out a way to keep the momentum going. We tried pitching a TV series that had a lot of interest, but eventually failed. That didn’t deter us though, we had made a lot of TV appearances and were becoming minor celebrities in the online world, so we decided to nurture our 15 minutes of fame and turn it in to something bigger.

Drawing on our nearly decade of travel experience, we created a blog that had a focus. We decided to focus on being inspirational and to show people that happy couples are not obsolete and that marriages can last and that the opposite sex can have fun together. Right from the beginning of creating ThePlanetD, we knew what our message was going to be. We wanted to show that adding a bit of adventure in to your every day lives can help you feel more fulfilled. We wanted to show people that if we can do it, anyone can. It took us a long time to figure out our purpose, but we never stopped searching and if you really want to change your life, you can do it too. Don’t let age, money or fear stand in your way, if you want something bad enough, you CAN make it happen.

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62 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to Live an Unconvential Life of Travel: Tips to Getting Started

  2. Brian

    What’s amazing about all of these kinds of stories is how different they are with respect to their specifics and yet so very similar in their general approach. For the most part everyone who has ever done something like this tells a story of having a dream, shedding material things, and relentlessly working toward their goal. The execution of those steps all take different paths – some people write books, or barter web development services, or create promotional travel videos, or whatever – but they all basically had to first let go of the familiar and then chase after their dream with dogged determination. I know, because that is our story too.

    Congrats you guys. Happy travels.

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  4. Lunaguava

    The reason we were able to leave the comfort of regular paychecks a little over 6 months ago is encompassed in your first 3 points. The last 2 are a bit of a work-in-progress, but it’s always encouraging to read about your success. Keep up the stellar work! Good luck!

  5. Don Lachance

    Awesome post, i'm just getting the bug for travel at the ripe age of 60, my wife has always loved to travel, but me not so much. I've just subscribed to your newsletter and i'm looking forward to reading more of your articles.

  6. Renuka

    Couldn’t agree more with you! More than saving and budgeting, I think the passion to travel should be there. Like I am very bad at saving, but I still manage to travel because I really want to!

  7. Nora Motter Stark

    Congrats on hanging in there and making your dreams to travel full-ltime come to fruition! AWESOME!!! We share the same deep passion for traveling and try to save our money to go to Europe about once a year. Our friends ask us the same kind of questions or take little "jabs" at us about the financial part and often ask how we can afford to do this. We tell them travel is "our addiction" and to feed our habit, we do many of the same things as you….such as eating at home and making lots of soups from scratch, only getting basic cable service, driving older & easy/low maintenance automobiles with great gas mileage, no big screen TV's or fancy electronics/phones, working from home, buying most of our clothes from second-hand stores, no beverages except for water when we go out for dinner, saving all our spare change, etc. Once we are on our adventures, we really enjoy staying in simple accommodations like small hotels and hostels, having "picnic" lunches and dinners with local foods from the grocery store and 'self-guiding" our trips with well researched itineraries and utilizing public transportation, whenever possible. All of this really adds up in the course of a year and equates to literally thousands of dollars!!!! We gladly sacrifice and make these relatively easy lifestyle changes, to have that money to travel!!! Best wishes for many more adventures, Cheers :)

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Great advice, thanks for sharing Nora. You make a great point about water only when eating out. I think the most expensive part of the bill is often beverages. You can always go home afterwards to enjoy a glass of wine at a fraction the price. We don’t way to live like Paupers, but cutting back can make a big difference. I say, don’t cut back to the point of making yourself unhappy in life, but definitely cut back on the little things that you can do without. Best to you too!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Agreed, it is never too late to get the travel bug and change your life. It’s a whole new world, you dont’ need to be 20 to follow our dreams.

  8. Carl Joe Wright

    You are not a failure though at first you fail. But I can say that you became a successful traveler and writer. You are right at first it is difficult. It takes a lot of perseverance and dedication.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      You said it Carl Joe, we didn’t have instant success, but when you know what you want, you will keep trying until you succeed and we have no intention of stopping. There will always be ups and down, but we’ll keep on working at what we want for the rest of our lives.

  9. Laura

    Thanks for this post. Great to hear some behind the scene stories.

    I left my home country a year ago, to move to London and last week I left London to travel the world – starting in Sri Lanka, where me and my boyfriend are at the moment.

    It´s scary and amazing at the same time to follow your dreams. I will keep follow your adventures here :)

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Wow! Have a great time in Sri Lanka, it’s one of our favourite countries. And congratulations to traveling the world! Well said to, it’s scary and amazing all at once, but that’s what makes you feel alive. Being comfortable can be very boring. A little fear keeps like exciting.

  10. Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries

    Beautiful & Inspiring post!

    There’s a point when you just gotta let it all go and dive right in, even if you have no idea what you’re diving into. I left my old work life behind to move down to Mexico about 9 months or so ago and I’ve never been happier.

    Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t take a ton of money. It’s just as you said you need to change your perspective, your spending habits. It’s amazing how freeing it can be to not worry about little things like a tv(that’s what the internet is for), brand name clothes(you know you don’t need those $200 pair of jeans), or dining out all the time, even if that only means Mickey D’s. After that the money starts stacking up. ;)

    If you wanna travel the world or just become an Expat the only thing stopping you is you, do whatever you can to achieve that dream!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Congratulations Devlin. Wow! It must be amazing living in Mexico. That is something we’d like to in the next year or two. Spend an extended period of time in Mexico. And you hit the nail on the head. Dropping a few of the extra expenses seriously helps the money add up. We had a lot of fun while still being able to save money, jut by changing our habits a little bit.

  11. Don Lachance

    Great Escapes , oh yes I have a number of interesting trips to choose from. I find it fascinating and also confusing when it comes to planning my travel, so I've opted for an unconventional way of travelling that can fund me while I spend time in the air, or on a beach.

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  13. Katherine Belarmino

    Very inspiring post. Traveling is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle and it is wonderful that you are now able to reach so many people to inspire them to add more travel into their lives through your adventures.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thank you Katherine. That has been our goal in recent years. We want to let people know that it is possible. For so many years we didnt’ think it was possible to change our lives. Now that we have, we want to inspire others to take a chance and follow their dreams. If two regular people like us can do it, anyone can.

  14. Poppy

    Very cool post. Reducing down to one car is something I know our family needs to do if you want to start saving a significant amount, we’re just finding it so hard to bite the bullet on that one!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      I know that it can be difficult to go down to one car, especially if you have kids and have to pick them up from sports or dance or hockey practice. It does save a lot of money though. Between car payments and insurance, it’s literally hundreds a month!

  15. Sussan Morris

    Firstly congratulations for hanging on and living your dreams. Here I would like to speak about one of my uncles who loves to trek even at this age (he is in his 60s). He’s a quiet man. The only time I get to see a gleam in his eyes is when someone talks about travel… and I shout out in my mind…”I get that oldie..”

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Sounds like you have an amazing uncle! I know how he feels, I can feel excitement come over me whenever I get the chance to talk about our own travels.

  16. Real African Tours

    This is an eye opening post. Makes one realize that we can all achieve so much with just the right strategy and not necessarily resources. Inspiring and it made me start booking amazing tours. The journey is the destination!

  17. Deia @ Nomad Wallet

    There’s really no need to clip coupons to save money; it’s not that effective anyway. The best way is to do what you did: downsize, minimize transport costs and cook. I love how you slowly realize what you want to do in life. It’s all about the journey!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks Dela. You are so right, downsizing is key. So many of us in North America live beyond our means. I think back to how little I lived on fresh out of college. If we all kept living simply, we wouldn’t have the burden of all the money problems. For some reason, people feel that as they age, they need to have more ‘things’ and that just weighs them down. We are now in a good financial situation after 6 years of pursuing our dreams, but we have no desire to go back to buying a bunch of things again. Life experience is what we are loving.

  18. Curtis

    Great post! Great ideas! Thank you!

    We left the rat-race and have not looked back. Who wants to be “normal?” Life is a journey not a destination. Live it! Take care.

  19. Oliver

    Interesting read indeed! I think turning your lifestyle pretty much upside down and opting for a life on the road requires a certain balance. The biggest hurdle might be the monetary one, but it’s probably the same with all big plans and achievements: mindset matters! I think someone who can tick of the first points on your list is probably almost on the way… :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks Oliver. You are right, all big decisions in life require balance and yes, any big plans whether travel related or not can follow these simple rules. It is possible to change your life if you are willing to sacrifice a little to achieve your dream.

  20. Celia

    LOVED this. Luckily, my boyfriend and I were students when we discovered our love for travel so we didn’t spend a lot of money or lived in an expensive way. That made it pretty easy to take the leap – and we’re actually able to have a better life than we did in Denmark and still spend less. :)

    Very interesting post, though! And lots of great tips that we need to follow up on. Especially about gaining more recognition and create a brand like you guys have! So inspirational.

    We kicked off our nomadic lifestyle with a bike journey as well – around Europe in 3 months on city bikes, normal clothes and no training. We made it and had an epic journey. :)

    Thanks for sharing your advice.

    Celia

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  23. Events Management

    Thanks for this blog and for sharing with us. Me and my husband are planning for a trip to African countrie’s and its first time for us where we have to visit many countrie’s, so I am nervous about the planning that how do I mange everything but your blog gives me confident about the trip. Thank you so much.

  24. Jeff

    That is a very inspirational story! My wife and I have managed to carve out a life of travel by working in Denali National Park 8 months per year and having four months off. Many of the resorts and tour companies are seasonal up here and it is perfect for travel.

    I just need to cut out those $4 lattes and I can do even more…

  25. Marie @ Budgeting for Travel

    Looks like a very happy couple! You two are living with your dreams. I owe you a lot, very inspiring story. Thanks for sharing the tips, I find it really useful. You can manage to save and budget together. Congratulations!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thank you Marie! Glad we could inspire you. If you really set your mind to something you can do it too. At one point in our lives we didn’t think we’d ever be able to travel the way we wanted to and yet here we are now. If we can do it, anyone can too!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Ha! Glad you liked it. That’s Dave’s signature pose. At least lately, ever since we downsized, he does a lot of jumping like that.!

  26. John

    Thanks for laying this out there. You guys and your adventures are always a huge inspiration to us! Love #3 “We kept all our options open” as we try to live by that same motto. It really makes things so much fun and introduces you to some crazy and exciting experiences of a lifetime. Happy travels!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks John, I’m glad that you are living the life you want as well. We agree, keeping options open is very important. YOu need to be willing to try something new and be open to new experiences. It opens up a whole new world.

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