While Becky and I have been saving aggressively for the past few years with financial independence (FI) as a goal, we’re still several years from being able to walk away from work completely. Despite the fact that we haven’t fully achieved FI yet, the amount of savings we have accumulated does give us plenty of different options to consider.
Some people refer to this as FU money, which at a bare minimum would be considered some financial stage beyond living paycheck to paycheck. Or in other words, if we lost our jobs tomorrow, we wouldn’t be scrambling to figure our life out as various bills piled up in the mailbox. We’d have the opportunity to take a deep breath, evaluate our various options, and very deliberately choose our next step in life.
According to FI180’s recent post on various FI milestones, we currently fall somewhere between the definition of “FU Money” and “Lean FI”.
Why does all of this matter? Well, Becky and I are considering making a huge life change and possibly taking a short break from being the responsible adults we’ve been portraying in real life all this time! In fact, the question we’ve been considering most recently is:
“What if we both quit our jobs, packed up everything we cared about, and took off on an epic road trip across the country?”
That question alone has so many different ideas and implications, that this post will only begin to scratch the surface, but the more we talk about it, the more likely it seems that this could be a real possibility for us in the near future. How crazy is that?
I can barely believe it as I type this out, but I plan to at least capture our current high level thoughts below.
Where to Even Begin?
I guess a good place to begin would be why we would even want to consider a crazy road trip across the country. The best answer we’ve come up with so far is “Why Not?”.
There are a ton of amazing locations scattered across the US that neither of us have had the chance to lay eyes on in person, not to mention there are plenty of friends and family scattered across various states we haven’t been able to spend any time with for a while. Living across the country definitely has it’s downsides when it comes to regularly interacting with family, although social media and Skype/Facetime/etc definitely help.
Part of the reason also comes back to it just sounding like a lot more fun that our current full time jobs. We’ve taken numerous vacations over the past several years, including our honeymoon that lasted a full 3 weeks, but the excitement quickly wears off as soon as we’re back into our routine. I don’t feel like we ever have the chance to fully unplug and reset ourselves.
I wouldn’t say either of us is burnt out at this point, a whopping 4-5 years into our current careers, but there also isn’t much pleasure coming out of the average work day. We’re certainly content with where we’re at right now and feel great about our progress towards FI and a potential early retirement, but why shouldn’t we see if there’s more out there?
Plus, we have the savings to comfortably cover a year’s worth of expenses (plus more that will hopefully continue to grow while we’re away), so it’s not exactly a huge risk financially.
Regardless, I’m sure we’ll get some strong opinions on both sides once we decide to share this plan with family and friends…
I Can Already Picture Some Pointed Statements:
- “A gap in your resume will severely hurt your future employment options!”
- While I’m sure this is true in certain fields, I’m predicting our respective professions of software developer and nurse will still be in high demand after a year. I don’t think a year off will hurt my prospects much at all and Becky plans to keep up with her continuing education which should make transitioning to a new job more seamless. In the end we would be making a bet on ourselves, two educated responsible young adults, to make it work one way or another.
- “Why wouldn’t you just keep working to reach full FI first?”
- This is a question I imagine I will get from the FI community, but from almost no one that I interact with in real life. I think most consider a person’s 20s to be the opportune time to try something crazy like this, financial picture aside. Some in the FI community on the other hand, particularly those that already suffer from one more year syndrome, would have a hard time justifying leaving good paying jobs well before FI. Also, I’ve seen others encourage “mini-retirements” or other alternative working options, so what we’re planning on doing certainly isn’t unheard of. For us, 5+ years of continuing the grind just seems like an eternity when we haven’t even been working in our full time careers that long yet, but I imagine that statement probably sounds ridiculous to those that have been working for decades.
- “I wish I could do something like that.”
- Some might take this as an opportunity to start preaching the gospel of financial independence and the freedom of saving money, but I’ll probably just focus on staying grateful that we have the opportunity in the first place. If anyone presses for financial details, I would have no problem breaking it down in more concrete terms, but most people aren’t looking for a financial lecture.
Those are 3 that I’m almost certain we’ll get in some form or another, but I’m also confident there will be many more, probably several we didn’t even anticipate. All that matters is that we’re comfortable with the decision we’re making and hopefully we’re able to communicate our own excitement about it to others at the same time.
There Are So Many Details to Consider!
Packing up and taking off across the country isn’t something I would try overnight (although that is alluring in it’s own way), so there will likely be a transition period while we still work where we hammer out some of the bigger details before hitting the road. Some of the high level items we’ll certainly need to consider include:
- What do we do with our current house? Rent it out? Sell it? Something else?
- What about all of our stuff? Sell most of it? Storage Unit?
- What about the dog? Bring him with? Find friends/family that would be comfortable watching him long term?
- How do you get mail as a full time traveler? Earth Class Mail?
- What address will we put down on all of our accounts?
- Where will we be sleeping most nights? Hotels? AirBNB? Camping? Our car?
- What about health insurance?!?
Not to mention dozens of other questions racing through our own minds as we slowly formulate this idea into a tangible plan we might have a chance of pulling off.
I haven’t even gotten to the big financial aspect of the whole trip! How much will it cost us to get rid of our permanent address and hop around from location to location for months and months? Almost half of our current annual spending is tied directly to living in Seattle right now, but I have no idea if we’ll undercut that or go way over bouncing around the country.
Plus there is always the option of trying to make a little money while we’re traveling as well!
That’s Enough For Now
Right now we’re laying the groundwork and starting to work through some of the more important details of actually executing this trip. It’s not a 100% certain thing by any means, but we also haven’t found any great reasons to not at least give it a shot.
There’s also the important logistical question of when we would start the whole thing. Probably within the 12 months, but that has it’s own set of considerations as well.
So far, I’ve purchased Nomadic Matt’s book titled How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Revised: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter. It seems mostly geared towards international travel (which we may or may not fit into the whole adventure), but I’m sure I’ll pick up some good information either way. Vagabonding is another book I’ve heard recommended by various sources, so that one will probably be purchased/borrowed next.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea. Do we sound like crazy people or does this seem like something that could impact our lives in a profoundly positive way? Let me know below.
Update! Planning for the Gap Year is well underway, be sure to check out more details in the following posts:
- Gap Year Planning: Pre-Trip Logistics – Part 1
- Gap Year Planning: Many Mediocre Health Insurance Options