One of the questions that we most get asked about this trip is: “how can you manage to afford three years of travelling?” Some people think we must have won the lottery, starve ourselves or have rich parents. But this is actually a great question because, believe it or not, we don’t fit any of the above three categories.

So, if we’re not hungry or super rich, how do we do it all then? Combining hard work, clever planning, simple living and a few secrets its actually easier than you think. Read below to find out more.

Trip preparations

Vanda, as we bought her in 2012.

Buying a car already kitted out for 4x4ing and as a mini-home costs a lot of money. Thats why you’ll have to fork out a large chunk of the cost for any trip like ours before you even start travelling.

In our case we already had our car (which cost us the grand total of AUD$6,000) and we took the opportunity to save as much as we possibly could by creating our camper and all the modifications we needed for the trip ourselves.

Michaela in 2015 helping to prepare Vanda’s engine for the trip.

We spent over two years working on the van when we weren’t at our jobs. We got parts second-hand from wreckers, on Gumtree and even from verge collections. We got other bits given to us as donations or part of sponsorships which helped a lot to keep costs down (read next section for more details).

Our handmade camper set up in Vanda – the back is our pull out kitchen, extra storage and clothes cupboards.

We used the limited tools we had or borrowed what we needed from friends and family. Thankfully we also had the competent help of Michaela’s dad. The 2+ years of preparations were not always easy – actually they were mostly very difficult as we made a lot of mistakes and therefore took a LOT more time to get things done.

Although the van isn’t perfect, the set up we built works really well for us and we now are super proud of what we’ve created.

Sponsorship

We knew that our trip was quite unique from the very beginning, and for that reason we also realised we had something to offer to overland and 4×4 companies.

We decided to write up sponsorship proposals and send them to a list of brands that we believe have quality products. In return for a review and logo visibility on the van and our website we asked for products that would be beneficial to our trip.

We never tried to gain paid sponsorship. The products we received in the end added up to about $6,000 – so that was a significant savings for us in the preparation stage, and we were able to get products we knew that we could rely on instead of going cheap.

Below is a list of our sponsors and what products they supplied us with:

 

 

Saving money

We gave up on a lot of things to be able to save for this trip. We saved on rent by living with Michaela’s brother for a while, stopped eating out at nice restaurants, worked extra jobs on the weekends, cut our own hair, sold what we didn’t need anymore and even rode our bikes to work to save on fuel!

We started saving for the trip straight after our wedding in Jan 2014.

After two years of frugal living and working on the van in our spare time we were exhausted! We still didn’t have enough money to make the trip last the entire three years we’d planned and the car wasn’t finished, but as time went on we realised we’d never be 100% ready.

We made the decision to start the trip no mater what. The time was now and we’d never get this opportunity again. We had a couple of years to work things out and find a way to complete our dream.

Making money on the road

Michaela at work in Vanda along Australia’s Great Ocean Road.

To be able to make it the whole way around the globe in three years we need to make some extra money while we travel. We’re trying to do this in three ways:

1 – Working jobs: Michaela films weddings and I’ve worked in web design which are two things we can continue do as we travel. Luckily we also have the right to work in Europe and South America which we can do if we’re really needing the money.

2 – Producing online content: Its possible to earn some money from advertising on our website and social media pages. Speaking frankly, the amount is very little, but as time goes by and as we continue to publish content and make a name for ourselves we hope this figure will raise. We also sell our photos on stock image websites.

3 – Accepting donations: At first we didn’t like the idea of asking people for help in order to complete our dream. However, so many people have told us how much they enjoy following our adventure and have asked if they could help financially. Eventually we realised that people are willing to donate in order to continue watching our videos and reading our blog posts – they love living vicariously through us. So we created a button on our website where anyone can donate a couple of dollars which goes directly to filling up Vanda’s fuel tank with diesel and literally keeps us on the road.

Simple living

Alex cooking in our homemade kitchen.

The biggest secret to being able to make our dream happen however, is by living simply. We’re just a couple of normal twenty-something dreamers with not a lot of money but a heap of creativity. We’ve found travel hacks and budget tips to bring the cost of our travels down as much as possible without compromising on comfort and enjoyment.

We hardly ever pay for accommodation (preferring to sleep in the van on an isolated beach or in a Walmart carpark), generally cook our own food, cut our own hair, do our washing by hand, fix the car and do services ourselves, use public wifi and choose to live like locals instead of spending big bucks on expensive tourist attractions.

Of course we splurge every now and again, and I highly agree with doing so in order to make the most of the trip (for example buying a year’s pass for Australian national park entrances, or paying US $89 each to go to theme parks while in Orlando).

But the majority of our days we spend living simply but comfortably like locals, seeing some of the best and most beautiful places for free while cooking delicious meals for ourselves and making amazing memories.

Eating inside the van in Detroit, USA when it was too cold to be outside.

Sometimes its not always fun – like being stuck in the car when its cold or raining, or when we haven’t had a shower for a few days – but we’re continually re-inventing the ways we do things and improving the quality of our simple, yet rich lives.

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