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 Lived, Shepard 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 Creatively – Planning 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.”