How I planned (and executed) a 1 Year Round-the-World Trip in my 4 Years of College
In High School I went to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for 10 days during my Junior Year. It was with my school, through our Bio and Spanish Depts. It was my first time outside the US and I saw a lot more poverty than I was expecting. People had a different standard of living in these countries, and my curiosity to explore other lands was born.
Freshman Year of College
I started out in college super excited for the next 4 years. A few weeks in, I thought it might be cool to head to Copacabana Beach for a week or two after I graduated- as a vacation and reward for graduating.
I don’t know why I was thinking this right as I started college- but I was!
And I don’t really know why I thought of Copacabana Beach- it might’ve been because the World Cup and the Olympics were slated to happen there in the next couple of years, so the location had a lot of screen time on SportsCenter.
Over the next few months I decided it would make more sense to explore other places around Copacabana, instead of just flying back home at the end. I was paying the full price of the flight to go down there, but I could decrease the (Ticket Price/# of Days Exploring) term if I visited more places.
By Winter Break of Freshman Year, I settled on me visiting 12 different countries each for a month. I would stay in 1 city for the whole month. I picked countries I thought would be cool to go to, and ones that I could hit while moving East from South America.
I thought that would be a cool challenge to try to plan and accomplish over my 4 years of College.
I spent a lot of time during the Winter and Spring reading everything I could find about traveling.
Sophomore year I spent more time planning my trip. I started reading about using Credit Cards for Airline Miles. This would allow me to get free flights. I didn’t feel like paying for airline tickets.
I also settled on an amount of money I thought would make sense for a 1-Year RTW Trip: $50k
That was the amount of money I was trying to save for my trip. Pretty easy, I thought…I have 2.5 years to get it, and I already have a full ride to college. I looked at different “Standard of Living” Values between the US and the countries I would be visiting in order to come up with that number. I did a little bit of estimating for housing and airplane tickets, but not much.
I also read more bloggers to see their tips and tricks for traveling the world (asking them if my $50k estimate was accurate, along the way). And I read a lot more about cell phone use abroad.
My Itinerary stayed basically the same. I still had the ‘1 City, 1 Month’ Plan for each Country.
I worked at GE my Spring Semester of Sophomore Year, and I did some more work on some other startups. I figured if the startups were making money by senior year then that would help for my trip.
I spent the summer before my Junior Year planning a 3D Printing Event in my city. I put the Event on at the end of September.
About a month later, I got in contact with a guy on LinkedIn in India who was doing a special GE Program for College Grads. I saw that he did lots of 3D Printing stuff….so I wanted to learn more about how he got into the program.
We Skyped in Mid-November, talking about 3D Printing and GE stuff. Towards the second half of the call, we started talking about my trip. I told him I was going to be spending a month in Bengaluru (Bangalore) for my time in India. He said: “NO WAY you’d get bored there within a week!”
And I thought about it, and I said “Man it would stink to be bored for 3 out of the 4 weeks I’m in a city.”
And then he recommended I pick 2 cities in each country and divide my month between them. I thought that sounded like a good idea. Even better, I upped it to 3 cities.
So for the rest of Junior year I planned the trip for 3 cities in each country- meaning I would be in each city for 10 days. I thought that was a much better alternative than trying to do 4 cities in each country at 7 days each.
For the rest of November and December of Junior Year I did much more accurate cost estimates and figured I needed to earn $30k to be able to bring $20k on the trip with me (after taxes). I figured I would spend about $10k on airplanes and housing, leaving me with about $10k (or about $1k per country for food and ‘play money’).
I hadn’t really earned any money by this point ($3k in the bank), and it was only 1.5 years until my trip :0
1 month later in January for Winter Break I flew out to CA alone, for my first time. I wanted to see CA, and practice flying alone for my trip, and see my Aunt who lives out there.
Even with living with her and her helping with food and rides, I still spent $1000 in my 1 week in San Jose and San Fran.
This was NOT GOOD because my planned budget was $1k per MONTH in these other countries, and I just spent that in one WEEK.
Upon getting back to NY, I applied for A LOT of jobs, ferociously. All of them I found through Craigslist for only $9–11 per hour (gotta start somewhere).
I got jobs as a Janitor, Sandwich Maker, Tutor at School, Lab Tech, Local Tutor, and as an Accountant. I also started a CAD/3D Printing Consulting Company for some extra income.
I worked all Spring 35–55 hrs per week and finished my Spring Semester with $10k in my Bank Account.
AND this was after paying taxes and after spending $1000 to visit my girlfriend in Colombia during Spring Break (I met her during my CA solo adventure)- not bad.
So now I had my 3 cities per country planned out, and I was starting to make money for my trip: things were looking up.
I did more 3D Printing work out-of-state at HP over the summer and came back with a total of $16k in my pocket in August before Senior Year.
I decided to spend $1500 to get my teeth Straightened with Smile Direct Club during the fall. Although it was a big chunk of change, I felt like there was a good ROI to having straighter teeth with all the YouTube and Social Media stuff I was planning to do on my trip.
I also had to spend money on getting my car fixed and I was down to $13k towards the end of the semester.
And that Fall I barely worked at all.
There was a good reason for that though.
In August I got hired to do 3D Printing work in my city for $35/hr, which was super awesome!
I worked with these guys in the Spring and I was getting 15–25 hours with them every week…I was expecting the same for the Fall = lots of money.
So I stopped trying to get hired for Craigslist jobs bc working for $9/hr makes no sense when I could get called in to do work at the $35/hr job. The work for the $35/hr job wasn’t on a schedule, I just came in when they needed me (which was a lot the prior spring).
So I took my extra free time to practice making YouTube videos, or do other Social Media things and all my school work, and research and prepare for my trip more.
And then after September and October passed by it was the beginning of November, and I’ve done almost 0 hours with the $35/hr job- so I’ve made no money for the Fall.
And not only did I make no money, but I wasted my time not making money at other jobs bc I thought I would get called into the $35/hr job more.
So now I’m 7 months out from my trip and I need to make $17k from a bunch of Craigslist jobs: that’s like $2500 a month I’d have to make. The math doesn’t work out with $10/hr Craigslist jobs.
So in November I started going door-to-door selling festive candles for the Xmas season for $6 each.
(Ironically, my boss at the $35/hr job had a huge stash of these things from buying them in bulk from when he was in South Africa. He said I could buy them off him at-cost to go and sell bc I told him I needed a way to make money for my trip.)
BUT as soon as I had started selling those, the greatest miracle in my life happened: The Snapchat Spectacles Bot came to NY.
I did good though: $50k in sales and $15k net. This made my shrinking bank acct go from $13k to $28k in 1 month.
And after Xmas-time I really didn’t care about money too much. I had enough to be able to go on my trip, and that was good enough for me. I did still sell Spectacles-and then I moved on to selling Airpods and NES CLASSICS and Nintendo Switches throughout the Spring (no more Craigslist jobs for me!).
The rest of my spring was spent applying for credit cards to get free airline miles. I ended up getting $4k in free fights in only 1.5 months! Definitely a big help for my Round-the-World Trip.
I also spent a few thousand on buying buying supplies and Airbnb housing for the first few parts of my trip.
Now all that’s left to do is graduate 🎓🎓!
So it took 4 years to learn/do all of this, but now I’ll know it for the rest of my life- meaning cheaper, easier vacations for me and whoever I go with :)