What do you do when you turn 30 and find yourself with a stable job, a house, and a nice car? For Lina and David Stock of Divergent Travelers, the answer is: sell everything and travel the world.
Find out how they did it in the following interview!
When you both had full-time jobs, how did you manage your time and finances to travel?
Travel was always a priority for us so we put aside money for travel in our savings. It was easy to save because we both had good paying jobs and always lived within our means, so finding money for vacation was not hard for us.
We generally had no issues planning time off at the same time. David’s job was very flexible so if I had set dates I could go, he could easily make his dates match mine. The biggest challenge for us was not having enough paid days off each year.
You caught the long term travel bug when you honeymooned in Southeast Asia in 2010. What was it that made you start thinking about long-term travel seriously?
I think it was just the romantic notion of it. You know, the whole up and leaving everything for a life of the unknown and the chance to just be an explorer. Honestly, we hadn’t even given it much thought before meeting people that had done it.
My big thing was taking a month off to travel Europe, I never even thought beyond that or about long-term travel. I think it had to do with being settled in our lives, jobs, etc. You know, the normal stuff. We had a good life and each of us had hobbies we loved, so it wasn’t like we were running from something.
When that thought came to mind, I thought why not? Then I researched it and read about others doing it and knew it was just something I had to do. Convincing David was the tough part but he is so thankful I was persistent.
You used to have “the life”. Jobs, a house, expensive toys — the kind of things that most people aspire to. What was it that made you realize that it wasn’t the kind of life you want?
I can say with confidence that it was less about our then lives then it was about just wanting to see the world. I see it as a sacrifice to have left what we had rather than an exchange for a life we didn’t want.
I think it is really important that people follow their hearts in life, you only have one life to live, why should you sacrifice your desires? We looked at it as a chance to have change, do something amazing and live our heart.
The thought of settling down scared the shit out of me, I was definitely not that person that wanted to just settle into a life and wake up in my 60s or 70s regretting that I never stayed true to myself.
The hardest part was giving up the horses — and that is still something I struggle with — but horses don’t exactly travel well!
Eventually we will slow down and establish a base that we can travel from while maintaining some of the things we miss from our old lives.
Before you actually started traveling, you had been telling your loved ones about it for 3 years. But they didn’t take you seriously until you actually started taking steps to make it happen, like selling your house. Did it make it more difficult for you to put your plans into action?
They thought we were absolutely insane and some of them STILL do!
We just stuck to our guns, although we were very secretive about it, telling only close friends and family. Nobody else found out until we put in our notices at work which was two months before we flew to New Zealand on a one-way ticket.
When it came to putting the plans in motion, of course it was difficult and we did second guess ourselves a couple times. We have a dog, horses, etc but it was really the desire of what was to come that kept us on track.
We do not regret one minute of the decision, even today 2 years later. Yeah, some stuff is hard but it was so worth it. I don’t think my Mom actually believed it was happening until we signed the house off. She was in denial. I had friends that were supportive and friends that were like, there is no way this will work out. Well, jokes on them?
On your blog you say you worked hard for 1 year to prepare for long-term travel. How did you do it?
We saved like crazy and literally liquidated everything we owned.
We sold everything down to one truckload of unsellable stuff that we donated to Goodwill. We had rummage sales, and sold valuables on Craigslist and eBay. We had a load of equity in our house and cars, so that helped. We also had a ton of farm equipment — we owned a horse farm — so we sold all that. I sold my excess horse tack and all my project horses. It added up fast.
We knew we were ready when we hit my target goal of $70,000 USD. We exceeded that with our assets, but that was the number that I knew it was going to happen at. Everything else just came together on its own from there.
We haven’t taken any paid jobs while traveling. We travel solely on the money we saved for the travels and now a small income from the travel blog.
You do some travel hacking to get free flights. How much of your flights are paid for by air miles? In what other ways do you save on transport?
We use miles for all of our long haul flights. So when we flew to New Zealand to start our trip, that was miles. We flew home from Hong Kong for a visit and then back to Bangkok, that was all on miles. We flew home from India then back to Spain, that was miles. This past November we flew back from Jordan, also on miles.
Everything else, we pay out of pocket for on budget airlines taking the cheapest flight available.
If it is possible, we do travel on trains and buses a lot too.
How do you save on other travel expenses?
We have two ways of reducing our costs, accommodation and food. We are not picky about either of those things so we utilize that to save money.
We’ve stayed at some pretty sketchy places and in huge dorm rooms. But, we also stay in private rooms at hostels and at small boutique hotels too. Depends on where we are and what the costs are.
We have yet to house sit. Maybe in the coming years we will get into this more, but we find the lack of flexibility in that daunting at the moment.
We are a big fan of renting apartments on Airbnb when we need to slow down and want like a couch and a kitchen!
You’ve mentioned before about how you’re often seen as dollar signs by locals. And you had been ripped off five times in your first year of RTW travel. What’s the “best” scam you’ve come across so far?
Oh, by far the “best” scam was the first one in Bali. The cashier shortchanged me and, when I went back, she pulled the money out of her pocket and gave it to me! Unreal.
Scams often vary by location. How do you deal with this danger when you’re always moving and therefore always somewhere unfamiliar?
You really get street savvy when you live on the road and it becomes second nature to always be watching for scams. There were five successful executions of scams to us. However, the attempts that we sniffed out in time were well over 100.
You just have to keep your wits about you. For the most part they are not dangerous — just petty — and the main aim is to separate you from your money.