Travel On the Same Money You Spend Watching TV?

Transatlantic crossings are a fantastic travel bargain.

Transatlantic crossings are a fantastic travel bargain.

When Peter was notified that his company was downsizing, he was home recovering from a broken ankle and I had just completed my second glorious week of graduate school. This news was an unwelcome shocker.

He felt that if he didn’t volunteer for the layoff, it was quite possible he would be let go anyway. But accepting the layoff meant we needed to rethink every plan we’d made for our future.

I hadn’t worked since 2010, when my business partnership sailed to the proverbial Antarctic and I’d spent the next two years on a lonely iceberg of depression and doubt. Graduate school was to give me a new career and a fresh start. How would a layoff alter those plans? A week of number crunching revealed the naked truth. We’d have to take out a loan to pay for tuition and that cost wouldn’t return the investment for several years. Facing reality pushed me to the difficult decision to withdraw and abandon that dream. Now what?

Ironically, it was Peter’s broken ankle and subsequent surgery that gave us extra time to regroup and, ultimately, led to a crazy idea. Travel.

Couch time

Cooped up watching The Travel Channel, he wondered aloud about the cost to sit at home dreaming about exotic places. Curious to know the answer, I dug into my computer for the household budget spreadsheets that I’d kept over the past 10 years. Then I did some analysis.

“Did you know that, on average, we spend $170 a day to sit at home watching TV and wish we were someplace else?” I asked. “Maybe we could actually BE someplace else on that amount of money.”

We examined if, on a modest pension and Social Security, we would even have that much available. We did not. But, if we could rent out our house and cut almost all of our other bills, maybe we’d squeeze by…

So we decided to try. We turned in the cable box, cancelled cell phone contracts, sold both of our cars, and eliminated insurance. We stacked our belongings into a tiny storage unit and let out our condo on a 12-month lease. We packed our bags.

Then we set sail, literally, on a 16-night journey to Europe via a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Legend of the Seas. (Average cost per day to travel to Europe in style on a cruise ship, BTW, was $166! More detail on that super deal in another post.)

Since departing on April 15th, we’ve been to the Azores, Amsterdam, Belgium, Copenhagen, England, France, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden. And we aren’t planning to stop any time soon.

In the next few weeks, we’ll update on how we are doing against our goal to leave the couch to travel and experience the world on less than $170 a day.

The possibilities are endless but we will have to be creative and open to opportunity.