(Article by Anne Dorko, who’s finally going for her dreams and sharing the dirty details with us!)
You know all those crazy adventures you imagined as a kid? They were so awesome. Then you become an adult. Things like, oh, I don’t know… an overwhelming lack of time and money get in the way of ever experiencing the adventures you once thought you’d have. There are bills and responsibilities. Ick. Ugh. Blah. Meh. But you do what you must.
Every time you think of those dreams, you say “Someday day I’ll do that. As soon as I’m done with this other part of my life.” Guess what. There is never a time when those adventures make sense in the real world. Something is always in the way. Maybe your career. Maybe the timing. Maybe a general lack of money. Maybe something else.
What would happen if you decided to take a risk?
I decided I wanted to find out. The smart move would be to keep the career job, pay off the rest of my debts, and wait before launching off into the type of adventure that I’ve always wanted to have. But I’ve decided that I’d rather live that adventure… I want to do something worth talking about, rather than wait around for silly things like money or the right timing. The right timing may never come.
My Adventure (is going to be awesome)
By best friend and I are going to travel around the USA in my car, living and working from the road, under the name, wait for it… “Girls Be Trippin.” (Cause we’re both girls. Road trippin’ around. Duh.) We’re taking my Ford Focus, and we plan to go couch surfing – with friends and relatives, but also by using CouchSurfing.org.
Unfortunately… while our lodging may mostly be free, the financial outlook is not looking good from the outside in. I recently decided to get a travel friendly computer (the MacBook Air). The computer is awesome. The price wasn’t. Which means, I went from no credit card debt, to a little extra (although I did pay for some of it in cash).
Oh, and I also quit my job just a little while back. And I have an auto loan on my car (thankfully I’m not upside down on that and I haven’t missed any payments yet). And I have student loans. And since I’m a web developer, I have things like domains and hosting to pay for every month for all my personal projects. Let’s look things over, shall we?
My Financials (are a problem)
All of the cash in my bank accounts (including a $1,000 emergency fund) add up to: $2,408.76… yippee! But I owe $4,011.89 to my car loan, and $1,633.16 on my credit card. Hmm. Not so great. My monthly obligations are as follows:
- Student loans: $150
- Cell phone: $50
- Rent: $250
- Web costs: $75
- Car Payment: $188
- Auto Insurance: $140
Here, I’ll do the math for you. Without even including other changing expenses like food, clothing, “fun money” or extra debt payments… that’s about $855 in monthly commitments.
Sure, things like “Rent” won’t actually be rent once I’m on the road, but instead money for gas, storage for things left behind, paying my family for cat care, etc… “Rent” will probably look more like $300+. I won’t have room to be picky, but I’m still trying to make money doing things that I actually enjoy doing. Right now that includes WordPress plugin development, and selling silly songs on Fiverr.
Overall regular income right now? A whopping $220 a month. The math doesn’t add up right now, which is a problem. I’ve taken a few side gigs (photography and web development) and sold a few personal belongings to make ends meet in the meantime, but something will have to change. Something tells me we’ll never be quite as secure as we’d like.
The Solution (is to be optimistic)
As it stands, I can’t reduce my bills any further. I’ll need to find extra income. Here’s a few of my game plans:
- Idea #1: Get the Road Trip Sponsored – Immediate Income Likelihood: Low. I’m doing this road trip with my best friend. We’re going to be blogging, making videos and sharing our adventures for anyone who wants to live vicariously through us. That’s also a great opportunity for anyone who wants to support our adventure and get their brand talked about in association with general awesomeness and the message that you can live the way you want to (…even in this economy). Income Potential: Depending on who eventually sponsors us, this could be anything from donated cameras, to a gas budget, to complete travel expenses covered.
- Idea #2: Sell Road Trip Merchandise – Immediate Income Likelihood: Low. Along the idea of monetizing the actual road trip, we’re going to brand ourselves. We’re both writers and creative types. People might be interested in buying what we produce. Obviously, we’ll mostly be putting out free stuff (like the blog and videos), but who’s to say people don’t want a sweatshirt with my face on it? Or you know, at least some funny picture I draw. Income Potential: Realistically, I’d expect that we could eventually bring in $200 – $300 through merchandise per month. It depends on how big or fanatical of an audience we draw, and how creative we get with merchandise ideas.
- Idea #3: Become a YouTube Partner –Immediate Income Likelihood: Low – Ultimately, I want to be a YouTube Partner. I already publish entertaining videos on my personal channel under the alias “Terribly Serious”, but YouTube is also where we’ll be sharing our travel videos. Both channels have a chance to become a YouTube Partner, which essentially allows us to make money just by sharing videos. Pretty cool, huh? From what I understand, you need at least 1,000 subscribers to be taken seriously by YouTube and subsequently get invited as a Partner. We can’t count on that right away. (But you can help by subscribing to us of course ;)) Income Potential: No idea.
- Idea #4: Premium WordPress Solutions –Immediate Income Likelihood: Not Bad – This idea is already in the works, and slowly growing. I’m going to continue focusing on developing premium WordPress themes and plugins. The more solutions I produce, the wider opportunity for income I have! Income Potential: Currently at about $120 per month.
- Idea #5: Web Development Clients –Immediate Income Likelihood: Good – My goal is to develop and maintain products, but until that takes off I can start accepting clients for web development work again. Income Potential: Anywhere starting from $1,000+ per month depending on length of projects and the budget of my clients and how many clients I’m willing to take.
- Idea #6: Launching An Online Business –Immediate Income Likelihood: Low… but after 2-3 months, Very Good – I’m launching a business with a couple of awesome partners sometime in the beginning of 2012. Until it’s out, it’s top-secret, mostly because I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say. Income Potential: Enough to retire. Or you know, enough to not really worry about employment for a while.
Until then… other income supplements I’ll be looking at:
- Offering services to friends and family with “suggested donations” to support the trip (Within 15 minutes of posting a Facebook status offering a list of services I would offer with suggested donations to support the trip, I got $50. Not bad.)
- Mini services with Fiverr – which you’ve already read about doing on Budgets Are Sexy (This brings about $80+ per month for me with my current gig.)
- Passive income through Google AdSense (I’ve made $100 annually before, but never took this project seriously.)
- Passive income through selling random designs on Zazzle products (I make about $20 every 6 months or so, but never took this project seriously.)
- Getting hired as a blogger (I… don’t know how much this pays.)
- Putting on business web seminars in the cities we visit (Would probably start at around $500+ profits per speaking event. I have an event manager who I’ve helped out in the past and is willing to coordinate that sort of thing for me free of charge.)
- Becoming so influential that people are constantly sending me free things, donating to my causes, and hiring me out of nowhere ;) (Priceless.)
Hint: If you’re ever in need of any of my services (from blogging to writing a song, to design & development and more) just hit me up over at email@example.com – mention you heard of me from Budgets Are Sexy to get the appropriate J$ discount! We also appreciate moral support and new friends, so please, reach out and just say hello if you think what we’re doing is awesome!
Keeping You (in the loop!)
I’ve done an awful lot of talking about how we’ll be blogging and posting videos, and I’m planning for part of that to include keeping you in the loop on our financials. If you’re interested in following us, you can do so at GirlsBeTrippin.com! (Don’t forget to subscribe to new posts on the right side of the site.)
At the end of the day this, is a high risk/high reward type of situation. We may end up crashing and burning on the financial side of things, but I think that you can’t do what you really want until you’re willing to put everything on the line to achieve it. That alone makes it worth it to me. Because whatever happens, I know that I did everything in my power to do things the way I think they should be done.
Anne Dorko is a do-everything, take-life-by-the-horns, big-idea kinda gal (you just can’t put her in a box). Her professional side involves helping small business owners get their businesses online. Her… less professional side involves posting awesome videos and sharing her thoughts in 140 characters or less.
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Good for you Anne! I know you are gonna have a smashing time and the finances be damned. Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and do what you are passionate about. I know, last year my wife and I both quit our jobs and headed off to Thailand with our (then) 1 year old daughter. It is something we talked about for a long time and finally we just couldn’t live with ourselves any longer if we didn’t give it a shot. 8 months later we are still here and while finances could be better, I think the challenge and adventure is well worth it.
Enjoy the trip and who knows what might happen down the road (no pun). It sounds to me as if you have several good projects in the works and all of them lend themselves well to location independence. Rock on you trippin’ girl!
Wow, good luck and all the best.
You should definitely know about girlsgonemoto.com -they are doing a similar thing, filming their adventures and doing random acts of kindness along the way too.
Awesome. Carpe Diem, Just Do It, Follow your bliss…
No one is ever ‘ready’ for something like this. In fact, if you were 100% ready it would not be nearly as compelling.
Some (random) thoughts from my experience traveling the country (with no money)
1. Can you sell your car and pay cash for an older, reliable used one? Liability insurance is way cheaper than comprehensive/collision (which you pay when the bank owns your car). Get an old Toyota (camry/corolla) and you can’t go wrong. bring tools and a repair guide
1b. talk to a businesses about a vehicle wrap with their logo on your car in exchange for a monthly fee. Promise to update your travel blog periodically with photos of you in front of the ad car
2. Pack a tent. There are tons of free or very cheap places to pitch a tent. I dropped in to various spots along the Appalachian trail and met THE most interesting people that way. (Another tip is to start your journey in a southern climate and work north as the heat kicks in.)
1. Happy Hour free buffet. Nurse a beer and eat all the wings/nachos/bar food you can :)
2. Keep an eye out for Church suppers. You meet a ton of people and the food is usually insanely good (Gramma’s Chili)
3. Never eat in a restauarant. Go to a grocery store and fill a cooler with low cost, healthy grub.
Have Fun & Happy Adventuring!
Sounds like an amazing adventure! Hope you enjoy every minute and try not to work too hard!
If I got health insurance along the way I would definitely try something like that in a heartbeat (and dental). Maybe I DO need to move to Canada lol.
Hmmm… Ok… I guess I’m going to be the party pooper of the bunch… but I read this and thought this plan was highly irresponsible. Now keep in mind… this is coming from someone that 6 years ago my husband and I quit our perfectly well paying corporate jobs, sold our house, put our stuff in storage, packed up the dog and set off in our 4Runner around the western US for a 2 month road trip while figuring out what we wanted to do in life. We ended up in New Orleans immediately after Katrina and did a year of Americorps service. All that being said, we had a plan and executed it. I understand the concept of ‘never the right time’ but I’m not sure I agree completely with that. There may never be the ‘right’ time but there is a ‘better’ time. Having basically no savings and no income with your responsibilities higher than your monthly income to me is irresponsible. Depending on others to ‘fund’ your trip is skating your responsibilities IMO. To me a better plan is both of you save hard for a year, pay off your car and then go. Execute your solutions, get a solid plan in place and then go.
Sorry Anne, but I have to agree with bobbi, I’m planing on moving to Australia for a year in just over 2 weeks, and traveling around there, and I have put MONTHS of thought and planning into it, I have no debt, and savings in the unlikely event that I can’t find a job(the unemployment rate there is very low). What you’re doing sounds like fun, but you should have at minimum gotten rid of your CC debt and car loan. There is never a time that feels right, but there does come a time that doesn’t feel so wrong and irresponsible. Good luck.
Sounds really exciting! Good luck and have fun.
@Money Infant – Cool! I didn’t know y’all were out in Thailand :) Do you guys ever run into any of those digital nomads? Sean Ogle or Cody McKibben, etc? I know it’s a big place and all that, but it seems that most of those “get up and go live my dreams” folks eventually end up in Thailand. Def. Google them if you haven’t heard of ’em before.
@Adam – Those chicks look awesome yo – just checked out their about page, let’s go join them! haha…
@WR – That tent idea is key – our videographers for Love Drop ALWAYS tried camping out to save money on their trips (and in return allow us to give out more with the project). I haven’t been camping in years since I was a little boy, but I’d be up for getting back to it again… esp now w/ my beard, I’ll fit in nicely ;)
@LB – That’s the scariest part about it really, not having insurance. Freaks me out!
@bobbi – Thanks for speaking up and taking the other side – I think you bring up some REALLY good points. In all honesty I’d wait another year too and wrap things up, but I also know when you have a seed planted in your brain, it’s hard to push it out for a long time. Who knows, maybe they’ve been trying to go for 2-3 years now and finally just went for it?
@LG – Thank for keeping it real! All of these opinions are great – better to keep both sides in mind for sure.
@Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents – I think she just got started this week I believe! We’ll have to see what she says when she sees this :)
It sounds like a good adventure. If it was me, I would have traded the car for a mini van. It’s still relatively efficient for fuel, and it would provide a secure place to sleep between couches. A quick google search shows how a lot of people have created comfortable mobile living spaces.
I hate to be a party pooper but it sounds as if you have no real plan for making money.
I say do it, I say have fun. I also say, that you too many gaps in your $$ plan and haven’t factored in one single miscellaneous expense. As sure as tomorrow will have an AM and a PM, there will be a slew miscellaneous things that need to be taking into consideration.
I’m afraid I’m also a huge downer on this idea — and only last year I took the huge life-changing crazy risk dropped out of graduate school and spent a ludicrously expensive month in France!
I don’t really get buying the MacBook Air (and I’m typing this on a MacBook air). Or bringing in only $220 when $850 per month is going out. And while I love the idea of going on a road trip without a plan, I think it’s necessary to plan FOR such an adventure: $2400 is next to nothing, I’m actually worried your going to put yourself in serious danger (as in not enough money for basic necessities like food, shelter, medical care, etc).
Why not just postpone this idea for 6 months, pay off most/all of your car loan, boost your savings to over $10,000 and THEN go. It’s not a race.
If you are looking for something cheap to do on the road buy a national parks pass ($80) and you and everyone in your car gets in free to 2000+ federal recreation sites. I have used this before when I rode my motorcycle to a bunch of different places. The only downside is it doesn’t cover camping fees, but those are usually pretty reasonable in national parks.
This would then allow you to have low cost fun around this beautiful country of ours!
I know I’ll be picking another one up in a year or so when the old lady and I road trip everywhere with the new baby.
I agree with a lot of the people here in the fact that you should probably work on eliminating your debt before taking a big leap like that. On the other hand, I couldn’t agree with the decision you gals made more…I feel like I need a way out all the time and I’m might take life by the horns and ride the crazy bull of living for myself and generating my own income. I hate working for the man and my goal is to be done with it in the next couple of years! I wish the best of luck to the both of you! Stay smart with your finances and most of all – HAVE FUN!
Unfortunately, I need to agree with the downer bunch. And I’ve done several crazy trips, but I also had little to no debt, and enough to cash/credit to get me out of trouble should it arise. I like the ideas of coming up with a revenue stream, but generating the kind of interest to make those viable is something that should have been done earlier.
Also, I don’t understand the MacBook Air purchase at all. Granted, I’m not a fan of Apple, but especially since it A) added to your debt, and B) seemingly ignored other, better options such as a netbook, it makes little to no sense.
Finally, I’m guessing there’s no time restraint, but the fact is that from the moment you take off, your monthly bills will only allow about 3 months on your end. Also, while I like this article for its emotion, I’m sad to say that I think this is a better example of when not to do something like when your finances aren’t in order. But good luck! (seriously!)
@Sharon V – That’s a good idea! I used to LOVE minivans growing up – so much room in there to sleep and do stuff, I miss ’em. (But I don’t think I could ever own them ;))
@Keesha – We’ll have to check in with them later and see how it’s going. I agree there will be lots of random charges here and there (tolls? break downs?)
@Bridget – I’d probably do the same first ;) I hope she sees this post soon so she can share with us more!
@Brian – Nice! That sounds like a lot of fun! :)
@Craig – I hope you get out of working for the man too! It’s nice on this other side, hurry up and join us ;)
@George – Haha… yes, pros and cons to a guest post and adventure like this ;)
I could only dream of going on such an adventure, life can be too damn complicated. If only things were a little simpler. I need to be a high school kid again, no cares but where I am going to go with my buddies to drink the few beers we stole from our parents, and how late I can get away with staying out!
Cheers to you for taking the risk! I wouldn’t be so bold these days, but thats just me.
This sounds awesome.
I am jealouse.
You’re bold!! Congratulations on making such a scary choice!
It def. takes balls! :)
Woo! Alrighty – we drove almost non-stop from Phoenix, AZ to Farmington, NM, then to Salt Lake City, UT over yesterday and the day before, so I haven’t had much of a chance until now to sit down and address all the comments here!
First, thanks to J. Money for letting me guest post on here! :)
Now, for the rest…
@ Money Infant – Thanks for all the positivity! That’s great to hear that someone else just went for the irresponsible decision and made it through.
@ Adam – Thanks! That seems like a neat project.
@ WR – Great tips!
Re 1. We’re already on the road so another car won’t do. We considered about getting a different one before we left, but it never ended up making sense.
Re 1b. That is a good idea. I think this first month is dedicated to making it through, seeing who is interested in following our blog, and then seeing if anyone is willing to sponsor – but a car wrap could be a good way to jump start that!
Re 2: We’re going to do option 2 and mostly stay in the southern climate and work our way around :)
Re Food: Amazing tips :) Definitely going to keep that in mind. We would have never never thought of the free buffet or church suppers!
@ LB – Thankfully I’m young enough that health insurance is technically covered under my family, but also shouldn’t be a huge issue for me barring a tragic event. Hopefully you’ll be able to do it yourself soon :)
@ bobbi – There’s a reason that this plan sounds irresponsible… that’s because by all usual reason and standards, it is. I totally understand that. That said, I’m actually pretty resourceful when it comes down to it. As a web designer & developer I can pick up gigs from anywhere in the country and get them done. Between being a freelancer in the comfort of a home vs. being a freelancer on the road, there isn’t much of a difference except for how happy I am with my lifestyle. I certainly am not counting on others to fund this trip, it would just make things a lot easier.
@ LG – Once again, I totally hear you on the “there would have been a more responsible way” bit. To my defense, we did put several months of real planning and preparation into this, it just didn’t include a full debt payment plan. In the last 3 or 4 years I’ve gone from well over $17,000 in commercial debt to where I am today, so what I’m looking at now feels like peanuts to me. :) Not the best view of debt, to be sure, but I have put in years and years of hard work and saving to get down to the level I’m at. We’ve always wanted to do a crazy trip, and in the words of J. Money… we just finally went for it.
@ Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents – Thanks for your encouragement! We’re definitely already having fun :)
@ Sharon – Definitely looked at mini vans. The hard thing is that my car is relatively new and there’s very small chance of it breaking down on us or giving us very expensive issues. It’s hard to trade that in when we don’t anticipate needing to sleep in the car often, if at all.
@ Keesha – Web development is actually a pretty decent gig. I’ve had a 5 year career full time and I typically have at least three or four people inquiring my services on the side at any given moment. Now that I’m on my own, working those jobs should actually pay the bills almost as well as a full time job. The thing is that I’m hoping we’ll find alternative methods of money making so that I’m doing only exactly what I love, instead of needing to work those jobs when I don’t want to. Am I spoiled for thinking that way? Maybe, but I definitely can’t have what I want if I’m not determined to try for the exact lifestyle I’d like to have.
@ Bridget – I do wonder if you talk fondly about that amazing month in France? I’m sure your budget regrets that decision, but the memories and times you had are irreplaceable. I have never had an amazing adventure like this, and for most of my life I’ve been the responsible oldest sibling helping take care of the 8 younger kids. I’ve worked since the day I was legally able to get a work permit, I finished college at 18, etc. etc. etc… so for me, this is about breaking out of the same old, responsible things and doing something insane for myself. All of my great stories (until now) are what happened to my friends and family that I witnessed. Now then… about the Air. Reliable, portable computer that will enable me to work anywhere at any time without going crazy? Priceless. As for the rest of it, like I mentioned in an earlier comment, I’m actually pretty handy at working hard and making money – I’m just hoping for the best that I can find an easier way of it. Right now, freelance web jobs are going to more than pay the bills for the first few months.
@ Brian – Thanks for the tip on the national parks pass! We just picked one up yesterday as we passed the Arches Park. :) Good luck on your new family road trip in a year!
@ Craig – I mentioned earlier in this comment, but where I’m at now is already after years of paying off a LOT of debt. So while being in debt on a trip like this isn’t the best, it’s actually head and shoulders above where I was, say, 3 years ago. We’ve had this trip in mind for a long time, finally started prepping for it around August or October I think, and now we just decided to go for it. I hope one day you’re also able to take life by the horns and ride that bull ;) other than the already obvious financial risks… we’re going to be doing our best to keep things in order! And FUN is why we’re doing this in the first place!! ;)
@ George – While I understand your reserve, thanks for the well wishes :) I think I’ve written enough above to explain where I’m coming from.
@ AWESOME – Life IS too damn complicated! Thanks for the cheers, I hope that one day you can take a less bold but similarly amazing step back to keeping it simple and having a good time.
@ DA & Bob – Thanks! We’re excited.
WHEW! I am sorry if I got carried away in there anywhere. I definitely hear the nay-sayers, but unfortunately no amount of foreboding is going to keep me away… in fact, we’re already on our fourth state in. Tomorrow marks the end of our first week!
My bottom line about the financials is that, no, I would probably not recommend this sort of thing (the way I’m doing it) to someone even 5 or 10 years older than me who has more responsibilities (okay, fine I don’t exactly recommend it as a “smart” option to myself but…) I’m pretty young so even if I am to crash and burn financially, I have my whole life to recover from it – and the stories I make this year are going to define who I become through the rest of my life.
That all said, I have utter confidence in myself as a creative mind, that we’ll be able to find a way to do things on our own terms – and I’m willing to do real work and find a way. I’m not the patient type, so waiting for this trip any longer wasn’t an option to me any longer.
(And yes, web design and development is in fact very real work! For that matter, so is blogging, creating interesting media, and so forth. The entertainment industry is in fact important in our society!)
If people find the Jersey Shore worth watching, I’d like to think that something as epic as this trip would also be worth something :)
I left Australia at 22 (1992) for 5 years. I went to Europe with $500 cash. I ALWAYS found work even thought unemployment was high. I also volunteered for skills, experience, food and bed. Volunteering often allows you to meet lots of people in one go who may have or know of opportunities for you.
I’m a Couchsurfer. Mainly a host. But I surfed in Vietnam and Bali in the past 4 years – both great experiences. Look at Helpx too. It’s kind of like couchsurfing except you give your help in exchange. I host Helpx more the couchsurfers nowdays, different mindset.
I had a 2 Couchsurfers that travelled the world and worked on their computers. They made a living while travelling frugally. I was very envious :-)
You’ll be fine if your open minded and chat to local people along the way. I came back home with amazing experiences and $20,000 in my pocket. You might too.
Those who end up taking the greatest risks end up with the greatest reward. I say, “Go big or go home!” You should approach Ford about a sponsorship for the trip. They are running lots of real people ads nowadays.
Glad to hear you’re out there and having fun already Anne!! That’s so cool :) Do your best to soak it all in and live your dreams!
(And VERY cool story Frugal Down Under – thx for sharing!)
Yo J! I believe Sean can still be found in Portland these days… and everybody only just started coming out to Thailand after I made it sexy in 2008! :D (or in Bali, which Dan Andrews made sexy in 2011!) hehe
Haha, it only takes one to bring the fun! ;) Nice hearing from ya bro, hopefully we’ll run into each other again sometime soon – preferably at a hot party like the first time!