I want to take a year (or at least several months) to travel around the world.  If I had a real career, I would call this a sabbatical.  For more on the great benefits of taking a year off from your amazing design career, check out this TED talk by Stefan Sagmeister (and get to see some of his mind-blowing designs):


But seeing as I’ve never really been paid more than a few dollars to do what I love to do (theatre), it’s hard to call what I want to do a “career break” or “sabbatical.”  It’ll be more like a “trip” or another “year of avoiding ‘real’ life.”  My thinking is really: “might as well travel for a year since I have no real responsibilities (baby, mortgage, need for a promotion) yet.”

Usually, when you have time to travel, you don’t have the money.  And when you have the money, you have no time to travel.  And I’m going to try to avoid that.  So I’m going to be saving up (while trying not to sacrifice too much… because really, you should be taking advantage of where you are and what you are doing, even if you think you know your city well enough).

Here are my steps to keeping the savings account well-cushionned and growing.

1- Get a job.  I don’t want to brag, but I have found myself in a near-perfect job situation.  It’s a full-time job (predictable, paid hours), fun (who knew?), the people are amazing and different, and I get to help others realize their dreams of living and working in different countries while getting to live vicariously through them for a bit.  And I’m covering a maternity leave, which means I am not expected to stay for more than a year and I can even talk to my coworkers about my travel plans once my contract is up.  Only downsides: no benefits and I’ll miss this job/my awesome boss.  I’m not even kidding.

2- Move to your dad’s basement. This took a lot of thinking and justification (and near-hyperventilation).  But when I looked at the figures, there was no denying that the savings were worth the occasional weirdness that comes with living with a parent at my age.  The fact that he lives 3 blocks away from my apartment means I saved on moving costs (although moving by foot in November is not something I want to do ever again) and I don’t actually have to change any of my grocery-shopping, gym, or coffee-shop habits.  And my father travels a LOT, so it’s practically like living by myself.

3- Quit the gym. It’s not as if you actually go (and by you, I mean I).

4- Cut out anything else you consider frivolous.  Hairdressers are expensive.  My hair has never been longer and my bangs, I cut myself thanks to my mad skillz (ahem).  When I go to a coffee shop (but yes, making your own coffee is much cheaper) get an americano instead of a cappuccino.  You get less of the frothy stuff, but you save yourself a buck or two. You know, stuff like that adds up.

5- Go to see plays when they are PWYC (pay what you can) and pay what you can for your ticket.  I’m seeing Praxis Theatre’s Jesus Chrysler tonight.

Margaret Evans as Jim with Jeffrey Wetsch as Nate in Jesus Chrysler. Photo By Will O'Hare

6- Ride your bike or the public transit system (if you live in a city that has a public transit system. I’m lucky to be in Toronto, though with the way services are getting cut by our current government, Toronto might not feel so lucky for much longer.)  I’m also thinking of trying out skateboarding or roller skates.

7- Do things that are free. Like go sledding or take a bath.  There are free and legal ways of watching TV online.  In Canada, you can check out the CBC, Global, and CityTV websites.

8- Avoid the bar.  Enjoy house parties instead.  Or host a potluck.  Great time for all, and you get lots of leftovers.

9- Buy bulk foods and make beans your protein staple.  Chickpea and cranberry couscous.  Black bean curry.  Just saying.

10- Get a better phone plan.  They exist.  Maybe.

Happy saving!

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