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  1. #1
    going downhill fast maximusvt's Avatar
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    Jobs and touring (and budgets too)

    What kind of jobs do you guys have that allow you to take off for a month/months at a time to tour?

    I've been tossing around ideas in my head about spending a few months next summer doing a tour through the US. I have a 9-5 that's not bad for a desk job but it's just that: a desk job. I'm about through with sitting in a cube in front of a computer day after day.

    My parents have a grad school fund saved up for me and I'm thinking about taking advantage of that starting next fall, and if I play my cards right I could quit my job in spring, take off for most of the summer, and make it back just in time to get started with school. I've been trying to save up money so that I can maybe, actually pull this off.

    Which leads to another question: What kind of a budget does touring require?

    I would be doing the stealth camping/campground thing most of the time. So hopefully not spending anything on lodging most of the time and not spending much on it at all, if I was going to. What is a realistic food budget? What about repairs and replacement gear?

    If anyone's interested the route I have in mind would start in VT and pass through Toronto, Madison and Chicago, for a start and then I'd like to hit kentucky, tennessee, the mississippi delta, and back up through SC, NC, VA and WV if possible. You get the idea. I have never been down south and I have loved delta blues, bluegrass, and appalaichan mountain music for years.

    Thanks for any insight or advice you guys might have for me!
    ...and don't forget to stretch!

  2. #2
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximusvt
    What kind of jobs do you guys have that allow you to take off for a month/months at a time to tour?
    By stereotype most of us touring guys are teachers, since we have the summers off. I was a college prof for a long time. Now I am self employed as a stock market trader. I don't make alot of money at it (it pays the bills, yadda yadda) but I am thinking of just putting a backpack on my back and hiking around the country--in the south in the winter, north in the summer.

    If you wild camp you can reduce the cost of your touring to food and maintenance. I spend alot of money on food and am irresistably drawn to cafe breakfasts (especially at truck stops ); but you can do fine just eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out of grocery stores. Breakfast can be granola/yogurt/orange juice/bread/bagels in some permutation. Lunch tends to be Ham, cheese and italian bread for me. Dinner is pasta cooked at my campsite if I have water nearby; or more sandwiches type stuff if I don't.

    roughstuff
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  3. #3
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Science, baby! If I don't think it up, it don't happen. Plus I've been at my job so long that they give me 240 hours per year, if I don't use it I lose it, and they only let me accrue it to 250 hours. I ain't lettin' nobody take my vacation time
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  4. #4
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximusvt
    What kind of jobs do you guys have that allow you to take off for a month/months at a time to tour?
    I may be wrong, but I believe a fair percentage of the people who tour for months at a time either quit their jobs to tour, or are retired. It isn't hard to cover up a few months' unemployment on a resume.

  5. #5
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    My wife and I are quitting our jobs, leaving our apartment, heading out!
    We've been working 2 jobs each to save up some extra money, but plan
    on camping alot to keep it cheap. Also we'll be in countries where the cost
    of living is much cheaper than in the USA. That helps!

    This is of course easier because we have no morgage, no kids, etc.
    I imagine it will be hard for both of us to do this together any time after
    we start our family (until of course they're old enough to come with us!)
    -az

  6. #6
    End of Hard Shoulder
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    Touring can be expensive...but i think money is more a state of mind than anything else. It doesn't take a whole lot of money to keep your legs pumping. While i'd love to have $5,000 or $10,000 dollars of surplus to just zing around on my bike for a while. I'll take what i can get.

    I don't really have any ties to anything though. I cut them to go touring. nothing is worth more than finding/creating/knowing yourself. not even a 9-5. so while I have my random jobs (mostly bartending/singing/promotional work/acting) I keep in mind what's important, and it makes everything else easier.

    I also don't really do "vacation" touring. I tour to get to something not away from it...and we all know well that touring isn't fun and games 24/7. I can't really put a price on my own happiness or growth. If you really want to go...you will find a way, or it will find you.

    sorry if this was strident and sappy guys and gals...that's just my current state.
    The best shocks are the ones I was born with.

  7. #7
    1 trick pony dogpound's Avatar
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    I freelance, so I work when I have to.
    It's worked out very well for me.
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  8. #8
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    We just saved, saved, saved for 6 years. Now we reckon we have enough to travel for up to 4 years frugally, although that will likely be more like 2 years as we like a few luxuries and donīt want to be out of the job market quite as long as 4 years. We had professional jobs, but not mega-earners. That is to say, slightly above average but no massive bonuses or 6-figure salaries. We just lived very simply, less meat, no gadgets, definitely werenīt slaves to fashion. Also, remember you can live pretty cheaply on the road assuming you arenīt financing a mortgage back home. For two of us, we spend maybe a little under $20/day for food on the road, including a bottle of pop or other treats here and there. Another guy we met going through Canada was spending $12/day on food from a supermarket. You can WWOOF too to cut down costs, if youīre interested in that experience.

  9. #9
    going downhill fast maximusvt's Avatar
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    thanks for your replies, it's interesting to hear how everyone's pulled it off. I have also thought of WWooffing- I actually started a thread on that awhile ago. I have done it before but not by bike.
    I have thought about the teaching profession many times and have a suspicion that it is where I'll end up. My parents are both profs and so are/were many of my relatives. I do know that any job that keeps me in a cube all day is not one I am going to be able to keep up for very long.
    ...and don't forget to stretch!

  10. #10
    End of Hard Shoulder
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    I've heard people also get jobs along the road...though i don't know how viable that is... anyone have experience in this?
    The best shocks are the ones I was born with.

  11. #11
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Teacher Me

    I teach. That gives me two and a half months in the summer.

    When I was a starving college student I toured on the cheap. I never paid for camping - I'd set out my poncho on the ground somewhere in the woods (often in a state park's picnic area) as it was getting dark. I ate tuna fish, beans, canned corn, beef jerky, etc.

    Now I camp and pay for it - mostly in hiker/biker spots on the west coast, with occasional KOA's. I also save some money for motels from time to time - especially if the weather gets really bad, or if there isn't a campground in a good spot.

    When I camp I spend around $30 a day. I eat two breakfasts every day - oatmeal or bagels in the campground, then a second breakfast at a restaurant. Sandwiches for lunch at a grocery store deli, or Taco Bell, or anything I can find. I usually cook my own dinner at the campground. I like to get off the bike around 3:30-ish. Once I get to the campground I don't want to ride anymore, so I don't want to ride someplace to eat dinner. I carry a stove and small mess kit for coffee and dinner - often a can of chili and a bag of salad, or I buy some cooked chicken at a grocery store and mix it with vegetables and ramen for chicken soup.

    If I have to stay in a motel, that adds to the cost per day. And if I stay in a motel I eat dinner in a restaurant. I don't want to use my gas stove in the room. Motels, obviously, add quite a bit of cost to the day. The $30 per day average goes up quickly if I stay in motels very often.

    As I get older and my salary goes up, I have a little more money each summer for touring. When I retire in 10 years, I won't have nearly as much income, but I'll have paid off the house, both cars, and my kids will be out of the house, finished with college, and on their own. I think I'll have enough money for longer tours with more motel rooms. I hope!

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    I'm a computer programmer with a large company. Their HR policies include a provision for an unpaid leave of absence. I've taken advantage of this policy a couple times and plan to again next summer. Folks complain about working for big corporations, but there are some advantages.

  13. #13
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Freelance teacher.

  14. #14
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogpound
    I freelance, so I work when I have to.
    It's worked out very well for me.
    Same here

  15. #15
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirty bodega
    Fantastic thread Maximusvt ! Its inspirational and encouraging for me to hear about how people do it. Especially responses like RoughStuff who sounds like he's a day trader who going to drop out and go walk about.

    .....
    cheers!
    We'll just have to see. I couldn/t be a 'day trader' and walk about, especially in the wilderness...since us day traders often have to watch the SP500 (or the SPYders, as we call them) most of the day. I am right now, in fact, in another window.

    But I could be a position trader and longer term investor. After all I would be hiking and there would be plenty of libraries with the Value Line Investment Survey along the way, where I could do some basic research. That and a blackberry (or a wifi laptop, if i want to carry more weight) and I could hit the road forever. As I have said in other threads, this reduces your cost of living to the cost of food; and that bane of self employment, medical insurance. At least hiking you'd be healthy.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I had a nice, stable, decent-paying job, with a decent company, in a decent city ....... and I could have probably stayed at in that city at that company doing exactly what I was doing for the rest of my life.

    But I wanted more!!

    So I quit my job ... sold, tossed, and packed up all my things (I got rid of probably about half my stuff) ... moved what I had left two provinces over and dropped it off at my parent's place.

    Then I headed off to Australia with my bicycle and some panniers to cycle for three months.

    When I returned, I got a temporary job doing basically what I had been doing before, for the same pay as I had before, for a different company in a slightly different field than my previous job, for 6 months ... I got the chance to learn a few new things! Then I started University to get my Bachelor of Education. During this past summer, I got another temporary job, for the same pay as I had before, for a different branch of the field I'm trained in ... and I got the chance to learn a lot of new things! I'm back in University now.

    Sometimes you've just got to take a chance ...... and the whole temporary employment thing seems to be working very well for me!!

  17. #17
    Senior Member eric von zipper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    Freelance teacher.
    ESL? or something different? Pls. explain.
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  18. #18
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eric von zipper
    ESL? or something different? Pls. explain.
    Yep, teaching English to professionals at banks and other companies. Got no boss (except the wife ), work 3 days a week, and have about 3 full months off each year.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    Yep, teaching English to professionals at banks and other companies. Got no boss (except the wife ), work 3 days a week, and have about 3 full months off each year.

    And that's exactly the type of thing I want to get into ... what I'm working toward right now.

  20. #20
    Sloth Box
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    Freelance computer programming...

    Freelance computer programming works great for this...
    You can "bulk up" on hours when you are working (>40 per week, either by putting in extra hours on 1 project, or taking in multiple projects), then choose weeks or months during the year when you are "unavailable for work" ---> e.g. off on your bike. You just have to align projects to leave a large enough gap in between, and try to keep your clients happy and out of crisis while you're gone. [Helps to be able to recommend another programmer/friend/etc. who can do hand-holding with them while you're gone in case anything unexpected pops up.]
    Another bonus ---> no real physical infrastructure or "locality" requirement for doing your work --> easier to work remotely, or change your work location (to another town/city) at the drop of a hat.
    I have been freelancing for 3 1/2 years, and have taken 1-2 months off each year. Earlier years I wound up in E. Europe for 1-2 months, and took my laptop with me... worked part time, traveled part time. Kind of a "working vacation" that paid for itself. I even once got to upload a final code build while huddled in the toilet of a Hungarian train while crossing the Slovakian/Hungarian border, so as to be able to plug into the only available power socket for my dying batteries, with a Czech SIM card in my phone uploading over a fading GPRS signal roaming on the last Slovakian cell phone tower that was fast receding over the horizon.... BUT ---> magically that build made it through to the US and was the one used to launch the product ;> (Don't recommend it if you're not a panic junky).

    Lately I prefer to keep work and travel more hygencially separated from each other, so this vacation around I'm only cycling, not working.

    But ---> depending on how you set it up, freelance computer work can combine very flexibly with a cycling lifestyle .

    Sam

  21. #21
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    Amanda and I quit our corporate jobs six years ago.... we were in our early 30's.

    We traveled for three years then wrote a book about our travels.... Wide-Eyed Wanderers. We started a publishing company and self-published the book, the only way to actally make money in publishing these days unless you are Dan Brown. The last year was spent speaking about our journey and promoting the book. We've nearly sold out the first edition.

    A few months ago National Geographic Adventure found our web site and wrote and article about us. The article has generated quiet a bit of interest in our web site and now the google adsence advertising on our site generates a bit of revenue.

    So our income trickles in from a few sources. While none of this is making us wealthy we certainly are richer for the experience



    From National Geographic Adventure

    www.VWVagabonds.com
    Mexico, Central America, South America & Africa in a Volkswagen

    By bicycle West Coast of the U.S., Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia

    India by Royal Enfield

  22. #22
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    OP, I think your plan is fabulous. I remember quitting my job to go to grad school...best thing I could have done.

    I'm doing it the hard way....taking time w/o pay. I can't take off months at a time, but, 1 month is better than 1 week. I like my job and my career too much to give it up, otherwise, I would.

    Check back with me in a couple years, though.
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    My wife and I are quitting our jobs soon to tour for around 4 months. She'll then head to grad school. I'd like to do some sort of work in which telecommuting is common. Freelance web design sounds nice.

  24. #24
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    I'm an electrician I work when I want, and leave when I want.

  25. #25
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    I'm "kind of retired" and having worked hard and saved I went and spent the kids inheritance on myself.

    For many years( too many to recall here) I dreamed of South America, I am from England, so off I went to ride Patagonia.

    Reality was better than the dream. Money well spent.

    Now I have to "kind of work" again to finance a ride from the UK to China.

    george
    ---------------------------------------------------
    https://sites.google.com/site/imjibi/home

    Photos of present tour of South East Asia
    http://picasaweb.google.com/georgeidf50/southeastasia

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