Once we told all our family and friends that we were taking off on this trip, we got the same questions: how are we pulling this off? Are we rich? Are we crazy? And just about everyone said they wish they could do the same thing. Well, you can. And no, we aren't rich.
Our plan of attack
- Stop spending money on superficial shit. Cancel gym, premium cable, our NYT and New Yorker subscriptions. No more mani and pedis and $250 haircuts for Venessa. Cut down on restaurant/bar outings, and by far, we saved the most money by taking our lunch to work every day
- Put aside at least $1,000/month toward what we already had saved (more budget info below)
- Sold everything in our apartment that wasn't of emotional value
- Found someone to take over our apartment lease
- Packed up all our personal items (books, clothes, mementos, more books) and drove from Brooklyn to West Palm Beach to store this stuff in our parents' garage. A cheap storage unit works too.
And now, for the budget...
Of course it's much easier to live with $100/couple/day than it is $50/person/day because you can share things like beds, taxis, toiletries, bottles of wine. What we overspend in Paris, we'll make up in Morocco. It also helps that we have some income coming in at various stages (Paul had a freelance law job in NOLA right before our trip and Venessa is leaving for a week in the middle of our adventure to freelance for Penguin Random House at the American Library Association conference).
Keeping it cheap
We highly recommend Couchsurfing (google it). Before we left NYC, we hosted a girl from Paris. Meaning she stayed on our couch for four days, experiencing NYC with us as her tour guide. Couchsurfing is free, and you don't have to sleep on a couch (many people offer up their spare bedrooms). It's a way to see a city through a local's eye and to experience what it's like for them on a day to day basis. You can meet friends of friends, and it allows you to do/see things you wouldn't otherwise experience if you were staying on your own in a hostel (examples from us to come!).
We're also using Helpx (google it), similar to Workaway or WWOOF. You work a few hours a day in exchange for a place to stay and food to eat. We haven't tried this yet, but stay tuned.
There are also hostels which are great for your first night in a city. They are usually cheap and have 24-hour check in. Airbnb is another great option. It is usually the same price of a hostel (if traveling with 2 or more people) and offers more privacy, quiet and cleaner conditions. The downside of Airbnb is that it isn't as easy (but still pretty easy) to get a last-minute booking.
Other quick tips:
- Carry a water bottle and fill up wherever you go
- Time bathroom breaks and hit up wifi when you stop for meals or coffee
- Picnics! Buy a baguette, some local cheese and meat, and a bottle of wine and head to a park. It's awesome and a fraction of the price
But don't be too cheap and pass up a great experience in order to save a few euros. The point is to enjoy your trip not endure it.