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Planning ahead: Work on the road?

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Planning ahead: Work on the road?

Old 07-09-10, 12:15 PM
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4000Miles
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Planning ahead: Work on the road?

Ever since I was unable to finish my cross country Bike and Build trip last summer (tendonitis), I knew I would have to try again at some point. I'm seriously considering and doing some thought-planning to cycle from Madison, WI to Vancouver, BC and then down the Pacific and back (haven't decided what sort of route I'll go with for that though). The kind of plan I have does not involve any real deadlines. I am set to graduate in December of 2011 and hope to find a job that'll hold me over until the weather is decent (early May, perhaps) and then leave. I don't have a set return date, and plan to take things as they come. I may or may not have a traveling partner.

My question for some of the longer distance tourers on this forum - have you had to deal with financial issues on the road? Do you stay in one place for awhile and find a job until you can afford to keep going? Do you rely on the kindness of others? Do you just pack up and go home? My thought is that when money gets low (as it surely will), I/we would settle down in a place for a short while and try to find jobs that'll last a month or so until we have the funds to keep going. What kinds of alternatives to this plan are open? If anyone has done this or something similar, how successful were you?

I will be putting money away for this trip over the next couple of years, so I definitely don't plan to go into it COMPLETELY broke, but given the length and scope, I'm sure that the money will not last the entire time, despite the fact that I'm very much able to live frugally. Please let me know if you have any thoughts!
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Old 07-09-10, 12:24 PM
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How long do you estimate you'll be travelling?

If you go super minimalistic, stealth camping and living on beans, rice and water you can get by on very little money.
This is not everyones' idea of a good time, however
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Old 07-09-10, 12:27 PM
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I would estimate at least 4 months, possibly 6. Possibly longer - who knows? Stealth camping most days is fine with me, but living on rice, beans, and water ALL the time does not - I'd rather be eating good-ish food most of the time and be happy than eating the same food all the time and be miserable. Not to say I need to eat at a restaurant every day, but the occasional burger will keep me a happy cyclist, and fresh produce more often than not will do the same.
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Old 07-09-10, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
How long do you estimate you'll be travelling?
Yeah that really is a deciding factor in how this might work out. I personally think that unless it is a very extended trip, it makes sense to start with enough money to finish. I'd say save up enough before you start unless this is a very long tour (like multi-year or something).

Then again I am an old fogey. When I was 20 or so I might have answered differently.
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Old 07-09-10, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
... When I was 20 or so I might have answered differently.
So very true, staehpj1
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Old 07-09-10, 12:52 PM
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I have friends doing the backpacking thing through Europe right now where they are using job networks to find manual labor opportunities along the way as a way to fund the travels.

Not sure how well that would work in the United States. Seems any place worth working at is going to want you to have a home address, local references, etc. And then comes the issue of taking a job with the intent to quit. Unless it is a seasonal/temp job, it would seem to me that, to get a "regular" job, you would have to mislead in regards to how long you plan to work the job. Unless you find someone intent on helping you make the money you need to continue - which, hell, might readily happen - I would think most employers would think, "Well, the minute he gets enough money, he's out of here."

I find that final idea rather funny given the regular turnover at low-wage jobs. Places just seem reluctant to hire people who they know will stay "for the short term" even if this person will offer top-notch services while employed. Been there, experienced that. Based on my experience, I'd be leery of finding accessible work in some random city.

I'm in my 20s and want to answer differently, but...
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Old 07-09-10, 01:00 PM
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Well, my thought is that if the job thing worked out, it would be something where I/we do farm work or some other manual labor. However, putting the extra money away is also a fair point.
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Old 07-09-10, 03:33 PM
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Presumably you'll be graduating with a degree in something that'll allow you to find a decent job when the tour is over. Not as romantic as working your way across the US, but is a line of credit, guaranteed by your parents or a favorite uncle, a possibility? Not to be used of course until you run out of savings/jobs. Be the gift that keeps on giving until you pay off the loan. Would keep you living frugally for a while after the tour, but the memories of your expedition will last a life time.

BTW, figure on at least $20/day for bare bones touring with no reserve.
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Old 07-09-10, 05:04 PM
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FWIW:

I'd spend a 6-12 months living relatively frugally at home, and save up as much dinero as possible. Assuming you can live on the cheap -- and of course actually get a job, sadly that's not easy right now -- you should be fine for your trip.

Also, while in general I do not advocate going into debt for something like this, I say get a couple of credit cards with decent limits. Just make sure to at least pay off a little more than the minimum, and be disciplined enough to prioritize paying off the CC's as soon as you get a job.

Remember, right now you do not have a mortgage, a strong career path, a spouse and/or children to support (I assume ). Taking off 4-6 months gets a lot harder as you add one or more of the above.
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Old 07-09-10, 09:47 PM
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Here in Australia working and travelling is quite common among the younger crowd (20s) and among the older crowd (50+). The older ones have been termed "grey nomads". The grey nomads are usually people who have held professional positions in offices etc., and have decided that they are tired of that sort of life, so they hit the road and usually follow the Harvest Trail throughout Australia.

These are some of the sites dedicated to both the grey nomads and the younger nomad crowd.

http://www.thegreynomads.com.au/
http://www.greynomadsaustralia.com.au/
http://www.greynomadsemployment.com/
http://www.workaboutaustralia.com.au/
http://jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrail/default.aspx
http://www.pickingjobs.com/job.php?jobid=415

My first job in Australia, back in November/December was in a cherry packing plant on the Harvest Trail route and I got to meet a lot of these grey nomads ... they are lovely people.

Rowan and I have talked about doing this too, and were planning to start in a few months, but the bushfires and my health difficulties have put the idea on the back-burner for a while. Meanwhile we're saving money.

I would estimate about $40/day per person not including things like flights and other extras ... so approx. $1200 a month per person. For 4-6 months, that's $4800 to $7200 per person. If you get a decent job for a year, and can put away $600 per month each, you'll have what you need. I did a 3-month tour of Australia in 2004, and I just saved up the amount I needed for the tour and additional transportation.

If you do want to work along the way in order to get to know certain areas a bit better, I'd look into the US harvest trail (assuming they have one), and also into other seasonal work. I know that in Canada, they hire tree planters from about May to about August. You might be able to do something like that. The mountain resort areas hire seasonal housekeeping and restaurant staff for the summer season and then again for the winter ski season. That might be something that interests you.
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