You might ask, “How can you afford to stop working and travel for an extended period of time?” My simple answer is, “Because we want too.” You can do anything you set your mind to! It’s just a matter of deciding that you really want to do it and then making the sacrifices to make it happen. And for us, it isn’t about too much sacrifice.
Mike and I are environmentalists. We built the house we now live in ourselves. I designed the house and Mike built it and we really make a great team. I incorporated passive solar design principles, the exterior walls are insulated concrete forms, and the floor is polished concrete. Our sole heating source is in-floor-radiant heat which is powered by an on-demand water heater. We don’t have air-conditioning because we are so well insulated that we don’t need it! This makes the house very affordable to heat and cool, even in our hot summers and cold winters. All our lighting and appliances are energy efficient, our faucets are low flow, and our only irrigation is for our organic vegetable garden. We take pride in the fact that our house sits lightly on the earth and on our pocket books.
We have an inexpensive lifestyle compared with your average first world family. We very rarely buy anything new. I would say 95% of our family’s clothes are second hand (but damn we look good!) When we needed a new toaster, I waited three weeks until I found one for $5 at a garage sale! We live close to town so most of the time we walk instead of drive. We have basic cable and we record the few shows we watch to avoid the unpleasantness of commercials. We have a rule of eating no meat at home to lesson our impact on the environment and this has allowed me to buy all the organic produce I can find. The area we live in is bountiful in the summer and we pick local and organic fruits and vegetables and freeze them for winter. I would say our only budget breaker is that we go out to eat way too often. But what can I say? We love good food!
By leading voluntary simplistic lives we can keep on paying down the debt we incurred from building our house. Then, come spring, we will fund our trip with the money from our house sale.