Money Lessons We Learned from Being on the Road for 21 Days

Oct 30 20174 comments


Last year, we made a crazy decision: we traveled Mindanao for 21 days,with a 3-year-old in tow.

It has been a little over a year and, while we miss traveling a lot, we are definitely looking into getting ourselves into a more stable financial position the next time we are on the road. We also had to deal with a lot of changes in the past 12 months including moving in to our new house and living on our own, and welcoming a brand new baby into our family.

Although it may have sounded like we made the craziest, rashest decision ever (I guess we did), the entire experience actually helped us in transitioning to a whole new life on our own. Spoiler alert: it isn’t easy to be an adult!

So, what exactly did we learn, money-wise, from our backpacking journey?

1. Paying cash on ALL transactions is entirely possible.

Last year, we were still in denial of the huge financial mess that we were in. We had credit cards and a mortgage to pay and had no emergency fund to back us up. However, we did learn that it was totally possible for us to spend cash on all our purchases. It was freeing to know that if we were actually dead set on our goals, we did not have to rely on borrowing money from other people.

2. Food is expensive.

Whether you are traveling or staying at home, food will always be expensive. The partner was in charge of that department and he realized how much we could actually save if we prepared our own meals. Even something as simple as cooking your own rice could already save you a few hundreds each week.

3. And so are accommodations.

Paying for Php 500 for an airconditioned room might not seem much but when you’re staying for three nights to a week, it adds up. I guess that basically speaks for all seemingly small expenses you make in life — remember that Starbucks Venti you bought the other day and the day before that?

4. There’s always a cheaper alternative.

Then again, if you are resourceful enough, you can actually find that there are a whole bunch of cheaper alternatives just right under your nose.

We saved a thousand or so after a new friend took us in his care and we stayed in his house for a week (plus we also realized that humans are kind and the world is still a beautiful place to live in 😉 ). We’d cook our food when we can, looked for free WiFi spots to do work, walked around and enjoyed free activities like stay in the park for a whole afternoon to feed the birds and just basically hang out. Doing so also allowed us to get to know a city/town and its people a little bit more!

Also read: 22 Days in Eastern Mindanao: How Much Does Long Term Travel Cost?

5. It’s possible to get away from bills.

In fact, I wrote an entire post on exactly what bills you can avoid if you went on a long-term trip. It’s important to take note though that this is usually applicable for travels that take at least a few weeks; the shorter vacations are usually very expensive.

6. Family finance is teamwork.

It’s pretty self-explanatory. When we were on the road, we solely relied on the money that was coming in from my freelance work. Thus I made sure to communicate with the partner to tell him when we will be expecting some cash in the bank and, in turn, he would also tell me how much he’d spent so far.

7. It takes a lot of work to be disciplined with your money.

Our traveling stint was also what helped us get started with tracking our cash flow. Every night, we’d record our cash in an online spreadsheet. Doing so helped us figure out where we overspent and where we were able to save, and how many days we have to budget the money we currently have.

8. Having no backup fund is scary and exhilarating.

Yep. The travel plan we did last year was not something for the faint-hearted. In fact, I probably would not recommend it again, even to myself. Thankfully, we never got into anything serious and, somehow, money just came in when we needed it. Surprisingly, our daughter got sick about two weeks after we got home (need to travel again, huh?) and we ended up having to borrow money for hospitalization due to the lack of emergency fund and insurance.

9. Passive income is the way to go.

Just because we were on the road for 21 days did not necessarily mean that we were out every single day. Long-term travel is really like changing a home base — you stay in to do your stuff, then you get out and explore the new place. However, if you’d really like to do this and, say, travel for a year, I’d suggest you bulk up on your travel fund or find a way to make passive income.

Our travel last year was definitely something for the books. Sure, it was crazy, rash and very millennial but we didn’t regret a moment of it. Our daughter had an awesome time (and she wishes we could go do it again) plus all those experiences helped us transition to living life on our own in our own home.

Oh, hello there!

Pam is an outdoors-loving millennial momma who loves to hike, trek and camp in the beaches and mountains with her partner and their kiddos. When not exploring the great outdoors, she works with bloggers, coaches and solopreneurs to free up their time so they can work on the things that they love and enjoy the most.