One Year Lived: A Club Thrifty Review

One Year Lived A Club Thrifty Review - picture of woman overlooking edge of boat toward sunset

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What would you change if you were given a chance to do things all over again? Better yet, what would you do now if you had the time and the means? Perhaps these aren’t the questions we should be asking at all. Maybe, just maybe, we already have everything we need to conquer all of life’s great experiences. Maybe we should stop making excuses and experience life before it is too late.

In his new book, One Year Lived, Adam Shepard challenges the deeply rooted reservations of what Americans think is possible as he sets out on a life altering, year-long journey around the globe. While it is normal for young people in other countries to stuff their backpack and embark on a worldwide adventure, we have a strictly regimented view of what society expects from our young people – finish high school, head to college, find a good job, and get married. Experiencing all that life and all the world has to offer is often left to those who are in retirement or terminally ill. Shepard believes this is holding our youth back, and encourages them to drop the excuses and just go.

Here at Club Thrifty, we have talked about work/life balance. We’ve got a bucket list of our own, and we are trying to get to the point where we can start checking things off as soon as possible. Shepard seems to share our  philosophy, though he scoffs at the term “bucket list” itself.

In One Year LivedShepard states that, “This list belongs in the present. This – right now, today – this is our time to live, yours and mine. Quality years ahead, presumably…I needed a year to live.” What follows is an incredibly inspiring one-year odyssey where he fulfills many of the things on his own list – including riding and elephant in Thailand, hugging a Koala in Australia, bungee jumping off a bridge in Slovakia, and making love on a beach in the Philippines. He proves that you can start completing your list at any age, and on less money than you probably thought.

Of course, no journey can be made unless you have the financial means to do so. In his first book, Scratch Beginnings, Shepard explored poverty in America – struggling to work his way out of self-imposed homelessness with only a sleeping bag and $25 in his pocket. No doubt, this experiment taught him many financial lessons and aided his attempt to travel the world on a strict budget. Before he set out, Shepard saved up his money for two years. Yet, by using pretty specific money tactics he was able to spend less on his worldwide travels than he would have spent living the entire year here in the states. He believes that you can do this to. Here is how:

One Year Lived Money Techniques

1) The American Dollar – You may be surprised how much your American dollars are worth abroad. Shepard’s trip took place in the middle of the “Great Recession,” and the dollar still had great purchasing power. If you are able to steer clear of some of the pricier resorts and are willing to live as one of the people, your money will go a lot further.

2) Travel to Countries that Fit Your Budget – Traveling to some countries is just more expensive than traveling to others. Countries like Switzerland are going to cost you a lot more scratch than places like the Czech Republic, but the sights there are just as swank. When traveling to expensive places, you either find creative ways to make your money work or simply avoid them all together.

3) Defining Your Priorities – What are your goals for your travels? What are you hoping to accomplish? Shepard talks about how a trip of this magnitude requires sacrifice, both when saving for the adventure and during it. He set two rules during his travels that helped him keep his spending in check. The first was that he would not buy any souvenirs. He had neither the money nor the means to transport them. The second was that he would only spend moderately on alcohol. Boozing it up is expensive and can be a budget killer. So, if your goal is to leave town for a week and get hammered, try a booze cruise. If you want to travel the world for a year, you’ll probably have to avoid whetting your whistle at every local watering hole.

4) Watch Your Food Budget – Eating out every day is expensive. A formal meal three times a day is going to be a huge budget buster. Sure, you want to make sure that you experience all there is to offer – and that includes the food. However, you can easily eat cheaply by buying local favorites from street vendors or by cooking for yourself.

5) Pack Light – You aren’t going to be able to make it around the world if you are traveling with everything but the kitchen sink. Take only what you deem to be absolutely essential. Everything else, you can find along the way.

6) Plan CreativelyPlanning your trip is extremely important. Shop around for flights and entertainment options. For instance, Shepard was able to bungee jump in Slovakia for seventy-five percent less than he could in New Zealand.

7) Make Saving Fun – Sacrifice sucks…that’s why it is called sacrifice. Still, you’ll need to sacrifice in order to save for a journey on this scale. This may mean eating out less. You may need to find roommates. Designer clothes may have to wait. Delaying gratification can be a tough thing for many of us Americans to learn. However, if you find ways to keep your eye on the prize and make saving fun, you’ll have an easier time staying on track.

One Year Lived is an inspiring, badass journey that challenges you to reevaluate the boundaries of what you think are possible in your life. It smashes the perceptions that traveling the world is too expensive and has to be delayed until retirement. Shepard proves that, “…if we are smart with how we save our money and smart about how we spend it, we can live some pretty amazing experiences.”

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  1. I like the concept of not waiting for retirement to enjoy life. I first read about that as a formal idea in Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Workweek, but it sounds like this guy has some cool thoughts on it as well. When our kid(s) get a little older, I’m really interested in trying to spend a year abroad as a family. I think that even with children, you have plenty of opportunity to see the world and experience different cultures. Like you talk about above, you just have to figure out how to make it work for you.

    1. Yeah, this guy let’s us share in a really cool adventure. I also love the 4 Hour Workweek. Great book. This book is much more of a personal journey rather than a “how to.” Make sure to check it out (for free) using the form!

  2. I think travelling to a country that fits your budget is a great tip. On our trip we went to Mexico and Grand Cayman, and I will tell you the cost of living / prices were very different! I couldn’t imagine vacationing/travelling to Grand Cayman unless I had a lot of cash to spend on the trip.

    1. It is amazing how far your dollar will go in some places and how little it is worth in others.

  3. I really do like the idea of travelling to countries that aren’t as expensive. We don’t travel as much right now with the little ones, but there is a huge difference between a lot of countries. I have a younger brother who travels a lot and has been able to do so because he goes to less traveled places like Eastern Europe because his money goes farther there.

    1. I would love to check out Eastern Europe someday! I think that would be a ton of fun…even if I don’t speak any of the languages.

  4. We always overestimate the cost of traveling long term. Since you aren’t paying for a flight every week, you can generally get by on much less than what you live on in the US.

    1. This stuff isn’t anything new to you, is it? 😀 With kids, it makes it a little tougher for us to live this sort of lifestyle, but we still try…

  5. Looks like Adam must have done the rounds in the PF community as I’ll be reviewing his book next week. I’ve only read the first few pages, but so far it looks interesting.

    1. I think he has 3-5 PF blogs doing this. You’ll enjoy it Glen! I’ll be excited to see your review.

  6. My wife and I are about to spend 2 1/2 weeks abroad. Most of the trip will be in Ukraine where she is from visiting her family so no hotel costs. We will also be visiting one of their family friends in Holland and taking a day trip to Paris. Basically all we need to do is pay for the airfare and incidentals while we are there. That alone saves us a lot of money. Plus the purchasing power of the dollar in Ukraine is very good.

    1. Awesome! I hope you guys have a great trip. I wish we were going with you 🙂

  7. My wife had a boss who said “When you are single and young there is really no excuse that you cannot travel abroad ever year.” We are no longer single and not as young as we used to be and find that even to this day there really is no reason we cannot travel abroad every year if we wanted to.

    My wife and I are currently working on one of our mid/long term goals of visiting a winery in each state (and yes Alaska does have some wineries). It is going to take some time, but it is something fun to do in each state. Now I just need to find someone who can make me a wine rack in the shape of the US

    1. I had no idea that Alaska had wineries.

      I love the point your wife’s boss made. Really, that is a wonderful thing that we are trying to teach our own kids. Now that we have our debt under control, our traveling budget allows us to do a lot more than in the past.

  8. Yep. We did something similar, but different. My goal out of college was to be a CEO when I turned 30. That worked out. Then the company I worked for got sold and we had (a) the time and (b) the means to take time off/retire. But, I had already been around the world by that time, and my country of choice was the USA.

    Isn’t it funny: the only people that love America seem to be immigrants. I always wanted to live in America for a while, just to meet real people. But if, when I met people and they asked me what I did for a living, and I said “nothing” they’d think I was a drug dealer or something. But if I said “student” and still did nothing, well, that of course is totally OK. 🙂 (I know, only a geek would have “be student” on his bucket list!)

    So, rather than embark on bucket list adventures which might sound romantic and all, my trooper wife and I had about 5 years of living the dream and seeing the entire country, and then went back to join the rat race and screw up again like regular people. 🙂

    1. Ha! I’m glad you decided to screw it up like the rest of us.
      One of my dreams is to travel the country in an RV. I’d love to do that, but it will have to wait until the kids are older. Of course, we could do it in chunks rather than all at one time…I may have to talk to Holly about that one…

  9. My son spent a month traveling after he graduated from college. I wish I would have done that when I was young, but I was in a hurry to go to work. It was also at the height of the Vietnam War and there were far less choices.

    1. Honestly, I wish I had traveled more when I was younger too. I didn’t see the value in it then like I do now. I wasn’t that interested at the time. Now, it is probably my biggest hobby – beside my family and this blog.

  10. You guys beat me to it. I will be throwing up a review of his book tomorrow. I was inspired by it and Adam is from the city I live in. I enjoyed reading it and it makes me think about the “norm” that we live to today. Great read and nice review.

    1. Thanks Grayson! We’ll stop by to check out your review as well.

    1. Cool beans! Make sure to pick it up for free using the form above.

  11. I love perspectives and actions like this author – sounds like an awesome book!

    1. I really enjoyed it. Make sure to get your free copy using the form above!

  12. Sounds like quite the adventure. And though I get the motivations for his journey, i don’t share them. I graduated high school, college, got a job, got married, and recently had a kid. I haven’t taken a whole year to peruse the world, but I also feel like those things are filppin’ awesome, especially marriage and being a dad. I definitely plan on traveling extensively, and am a proponent of taking advantage of the now. But I guess my motivations are a little different.

    Now, if I was still single, I might try out an adventure such as this, and it sounds pretty inspiring for sure. Getting out of a traditional view of how you should live your life is great! And though I may fit the mold in a lot of ways, I make it a priority for it to not become stale. So maybe we do have the same motivations…? Either way, sounds like a great read! Thanks for sharing, Greg.

    1. I’m like you. I love being a dad and husband. I wasn’t into traveling when I was young. I wish I had realized how awesome it was back then because I would have done it a lot more. We are trying our best to live in the now, and I think this book provides a great reminder to do just that. You should check it out if you have time!

  13. I’ve done a lot of reading on the young expat scene. There are some fascinating people traveling the world on a tiny budget. Vanessa and I thought about teaching in Korea for a year, but other things happened and I got the great PhD offer… Funny how life works out. We still want to travel though. I’ve never been out of the States…

    Thanks for the book and giveaway. You rock!

    1. No problem. You rock as well! Enjoy the book!

  14. My Mom encouraged me to travel when I graduated – I just took a tour, but I’m glad I did. And I did more before I bought a house and got married – that’s the time to do it!

    1. Totally agree! Once you get a house and/or kids, it’s much harder to make those big trips!

  15. I can’t wait to read the book. I used to want to do that, but the need to travel for a year has passed. I actually like being home and only need two vacation trips and two visits to see my family each year. Maybe someday we’d like to take a month to drive across the US or up to Alaska. Maybe boring, but more that I thought possible a few years ago. I now think anything is possible with the right attitude.

    1. Greg has this dream that we are going to rent a motor home and drive across the country one day. Maybe =)

  16. Nice giveaway! I love books! I love my current job, but when the time comes to move on, I’ll be ready to have my own adventure!

  17. Sounds like an interesting read. I’m not really one to travel the world. However, I never really thought to purchase food on vacation and cook it myself, unless I was camping. We may have to try that.

    1. We always buy and cook our own food on beach vacations. It saves a ton of money!

  18. Mr. Bonner says:

    Mrs. Bonner and I got in some great trips abroad before having kids. In a couple years we think we’ll be ready to take the little guys. It sounds so easy to say it’s only two more years away! We’ve already got a rough plan to rent a house in Tuscany or somewhere thereabouts for a couple weeks. I can’t wait to start traveling again! In the meantime we’re having fun exploring the area around us during road trips.

    1. Unfortunately, we didn’t do a lot of traveling before the kids. However, we have a similar plan to yours and hope to start taking the kids in the next few years!

  19. I have found that the cheapest place to travel is traveling nowhere at all. If I get bored while using up my vacation days at home, I’ll just check out my credit card statements online

    1. Ha! Well, you’ve got us there Mario. We are homebodies too, but we do love to get out every once in a great while.

  20. This was an awesome giveaway! I´ve just downloaded the book, looking forward reading it!:-)
    Gap years to travel the world are quite common in Norway, I´ve never done something like that, but I know a lot of people who`ve travelled for longer time periods. I have done some travelling though, and I have a goal of travelling to a new country every year! 🙂

    1. Super! Glad you like it, and we hope you enjoy the book!

    1. It is a fun read. We hope you’ll check it out!

  21. It looks like One Year Lived is a very inspirational book. It would be awesome to travel. In fact, I love to travel on a budget but I would also like to save for my retirement.

    1. If you do it right, you can probably do both! Good luck, and thanks for stopping by.

  22. Looks like I may have to go book shopping, Adam seems to have an interesting perspective on life, thanks for sharing his work!

    1. From the little bit I’ve talked to him and from what I’ve read, he seems like a pretty cool cat. Enjoy the book!

  23. Sounds so inspiring! I’ve found that I’m happiest when I’m living in the present, regardless of what I’m doing. Doing the thing I’ve always wanted to would make it all the more amazing, I imagine.

    1. Living in the present can really take a lot of work, can’t it! We’re making a conscious effort to try and do that more.

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