On this episode of Two Frugal Dudes, we’re looking at affordable world travel with Trinity and Bonnie, who retired at age 43 in 2016, when they retired, sold everything, and started backpacking around the world. Visit them at 43bluedoors.com.
Trin and Bonnie’s Journey
Bonnie grew up in a frugal household, which sparked her entrepreneurial spirit. Her hard work paid off and she was able to graduate from college with no debt. A few twists and turns later, Bonnie found herself starting over from scratch. It was around that time that she met Trinity.
Trin grew up in the Philippines and went through college there. He worked in IT and various odd jobs until he turned 27 when the opportunity arose to go to the USA.
Both Trin and Bonnie kind of expected to be working until they couldn’t work anymore. Eventually, a conversation arose about retiring early. Around the time they turned 41, job dissatisfaction led to the decision to leave work by age 45. They left at 43. While on the road, they discovered the FIRE movement. Their first year on the road cost around $10,000.
Bonnie and Trinity are an anomaly in the financial independence world, as they’ve never had a formal budget. They took a high-level approach to determine how much money they made each year, talked about must-pay expenses, and ensured there was enough to cover it in the joint banking account every month.
For some, a formal budget is an excuse to spend. It ultimately comes down to what works for the people involved.
Learning How to Spend While Traveling
The key to spending while traveling is paying close attention to what you have versus what it costs to live. Some areas, particularly in South America, are far cheaper than others. It’s also beneficial to be open to working odd jobs to supplement your journey.
Being frugal isn’t about restricting yourself; it’s about prioritizing. Make a list of the things that are important to you and stop spending money (and time) on the things that don’t make the list.
While traveling, Airbnb is often the cheapest way to find decent, safe accommodations. It’s important to be adaptable. Change your habits to reflect the place you’re going in regards to spending and lifestyle. To have an authentic experience, live like the locals.
The biggest challenge thus far has been not having an address or phone number for tax purposes.
Safety with money is also a great concern, as many areas in South America use only cash rather than credit cards. Visiting ATMs to withdraw money, as well as carrying cash around, can be a task. Trin and Bonnie also check out machines to ensure that nothing on the ATM is loose to determine if a scanner has been added.
It’s also smart to add a daily withdraw limit, whether or not you’re traveling, in case of a mugging (as well as to limit yourself). A lot of safety while traveling is common sense– not traveling down dark alleys at night, etc.
Foreign ATM Fees
Even if your bank doesn’t charge ATM withdraw fees across borders, the bank from which you’re withdrawing might. Bonnie recommends all travelers get a Charles Schwab account, as they reimburse you for fees incurred. Also, withdrawing money in the local currency helps offset conversion fees.
It’s a good idea to set up automatic bill payments while traveling as well, to ensure that everything is handled at home without having you struggle to figure it all out.
Bonnie and Trin blog regularly on their site, 43bluedoors.com to give valuable insights into their travels, to help other wanderlusters pursue their travel dreams. They also tie in financial freedom tips to help readers think differently. Profits from the blog are donated to girls who have been rescued from human trafficking.
Where Our Money Went
Kevin was just on a four-day cruise for a conference called CoderCruise in the Bahamas. He spent some money on the cruise, but it was a business expense as he was a speaker. Kevin and his wife were able to keep costs low, spending around $200 on extras.
Sean’s mother-in-law came to town, and his expensive barbeque meal (mentioned in a previous episode) changed from a dream to an unfortunate reality. Ultimately, the food was good, but not as good as the final bill would indicate.
Show Links & Related Episodes
Disclaimer: Kevin and Sean are not professional financial advisors. Do not take any advice they give without first speaking with a professional and performing your own due diligence.