As some of you may know, Shane and I have been planning a year-long trip to Italy. You heard it, we are saving up, quitting our jobs, taking Italian classes, and have already booked a one-way ticket to Rome. Arrivaderci!
This idea kind of seemed like fate. Shortly after I met him, I found out that he just wanted to go, to travel. The thought, lets be honest, probably made him more appealing as I was already in a weird state of limbo and transition.
Ever since I traveled across something like 13 countries in 6 weeks during the summer of 2011 with my best friend Katie, I have had a terrible, terrible travel bug. A series of unfortunate-but-fortunate events after the completion of my Physics degree led me jobless and careerless back to Fort Collins, Colorado, where I would grow and learn to love myself but also feel a bit stuck. With an income just enough to get by and no career in sight, I moved to Vail at the suggestion of my brother Spencer who was moving there for the winter season during his period of structured transition between school and career. It also just so happened to be closer to Shane. 😉
We got closer, moved in with each other, and at some point around June 2014, maybe May.. we decided that we would travel long-term one year from that point. Don’t ask me why a year, or why one year from then, or anything else about the specifics of how this happened because I can’t really recall any details. It just happened. I don’t know at what point it became official or at what point we stopped daydreaming, but it did. And I am eternally grateful to have found someone that wants to embark on this adventure with me.
Basically we decided to save up as much as we could and make that last for as long as possible overseas. I started out with a personal goal (to this day I think Shane still does not have any specific goal, probably because he is able to save up more than me anyways) of $700 per month, translating into about $8000. I am proud to say that, while there were months where it was hard and unexpected challenges arose, with the help of Mint.com (which I recommend everyone be on ALWAYS) I have saved up $6800 and am a couple weeks in front of my $8000 goal. This does not include the plane tickets which we have already bought, or my end-of-season bonus at work. I do believe that equates to about $1000 ahead and more money for travel. YIPPEE! Boy do I feel accomplished.
Let me tell you, that was slightly challenging because we live in Vail and everything is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. It was definitely do-able though, and we did not live like paupers.
My dad would probably be shaking his head that I am using it for travel instead of paying off my student loans. Death of responsibility. So it goes. Sorry dad!
For everyone wondering HOW in the world we will be traveling on such a low budget in Europe, I invite you into the realm of help exchange. There is a wonderful sight called HelpX.net that is essentially a database full of people that want you to come and stay and share meals with them in exchange for help around their house, garden, hostel, boat, you name it! Free room and board in exchange for some work around their place. They have full profiles that helpx-ers can browse and e-mail if something looks good. There are over 600 hosts in Italy alone! I plan on learning how to make wine and olive oil. Hosts generally want helpers to stay anywhere from 1 week to 2 months, it is really a fantastic way to travel with your budget in mind while really being immersed in Italian life. Or any country’s life for that matter.
In the meantime, I have been scoring travel blogs continuously in my free time. Shane and I have just finished an Italian course. We are beginning to use our Rosetta Stone that my parents graciously bought us after finally accepting that our journey is actually happening. With our move out of Vail exactly 2 months away, this is definitely a reality.
Do you have any budget travel tips? Things you wouldn’t get caught without abroad? Places we must see in Italy or anywhere else you really love? Tell me in the comments!