Next question up is ‘How.’ How am I going to do this trip? How can I afford it? How do I have the time to do it? How do you write such stunning intros on your blog? 🙂 I’ll try to answer each of these questions, except for maybe the last one, in this post.
Alright, we’re going to try a video post. If you’d rather just read this one, the transcript (ish) is below.
Obviously the biggest functional question when considering such a trip is, “How do you get from place to place?” This question never warranted much consideration from me. The trip was always going to happen on a motorcycle. Though traveling in this manner is not always the most convenient or comfortable, it is exceedingly functional. Unless you have a magic carpet, there is arguably no cheaper way to travel. The small size also allows access to places that are unreachable by other methods of transportation.
I’ve used a motorcycle as my primary means of transportation since I was 17, so I have an ample amount of experience on two wheels. Though there is no way to control what other drivers do, I feel like my riding methods will allow me to optimize my chances of safety.
Perhaps some consideration should have been given to hitchhiking, since that is the method of travel for the fictional character in the song. However, I always hate waking up missing a kidney, so this option was dismissed pretty easily.
There are still a few ‘Hows’ about transportation that I have not solved, the most notable one being how I will get around the Darien Gap, which is the impassible, mountainous jungle region between Panama and Colombia. As of this moment, there are no reliable ferry services, to skirt this region. Thankfully I have some time before I head that way, and I feel confident a solution will be found.
Moving on to one of the most common ‘How’ questions: How can I afford this. The short answer is that I’m just really lucky, but I suppose I should expand on that answer a little bit. I don’t think people talk about money enough. Asking someone how much money they make is perceived to just as rude as asking a guy how big his…garage is. But I like to talk about money, if for no other reason than to encourage others to speak candidly about it as well.
By American standards, I’ve never made a lot of money. I’ve never grossed more than $30k in a year and the last two years I’ve been under $20k. However, I possess quite a bit of discipline when it comes to money and have saved faithfully ever since my first job. I’m thrifty enough that I’ve never really needed to make a budget, but I do follow some rules:
- Stay out of debt. Student Loans are the only thing on which I pay interest. Anything I buy is payed for with cash.
- Don’t eat out very much. I eat a lot of beans, rice, potatoes and oatmeal, stuff that is cheap and relatively nutritious. My roomates affectionately refer to my eating habits as the “Dust Bowl Diet”
- Cohabitate. Having roomates ever since I was in college has saved me thousands and thousands of dollars over the years. I know you’re thinking: “Wait, there are people who can stand to live with this guy?” Surprisingly, yes. I know some very patient and considerate people.
- Spend on experiences rather than things. This rule was learned from watching how my parents manage their money. Nice things are not only expensive at the outset, they often come with a recurring cost of ownership which can really add up over time. Experiences can be expensive, but the memories are often priceless.
- Put your money to work. I try to get my hands on my money and get it invested as soon as possible. Compounding interest is one of the most powerful forces in the galaxy. Sitting on cash is waste and should be avoided.
So those are all good rules, but I must also acknowledge that I am extremely blessed/lucky/fortunate, whatever word you would like to use. There are many financial factors that are out of our control, but they have all worked out beneficially for me. Staying with the earlier theme, let me list the ways:
- First of all, I live in Nebraska. I don’t think people from major metro areas can comprehend just how low the cost of living is here. For example, I currently live in a 5 bedroom house in a great neighborhood and our rent is $1200/per month. That’s cheaper than a studio apartment in some places.
- I’m healthy. Medical expenses can strike at any time and strike hard. They have yet to strike me. I could easily have an illness or accident that completely depletes my savings. I’m very thankful for my health.
- Wise council. My parents never gave me long lectures about money, but their actions spoke very loudly. Just by observing them, I think I was able to form an accurate view of finance’s place in one’s life. This firm foundation has allowed me to avoid any serious financial pitfalls. Just another reason I am very thankful for my parents.
I’ve tried to estimate costs for the trip and it is really difficult. Right now, I’m aiming for somewhere around $15k to complete it all. After a couple of months on the road I should be able to estimate more accurately. I’ve never spent that much money on anything before, but I believe that it will be worth it. The experience will belong to me forever.
There are many more ‘How’ questions to answer, like “How will you get clean”, “How will you prepare food”, “How will you pack your bike”, etc.., but I think I am going to wrap it up for now. Thanks for watching. Have a great day!