Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

Homeless for a year

Here's @brianshaler waiting for the train. PLEASE hope w... on Twitpic (looks like Twitpic isn’t working right, and I can’t download and upload their photos via my phone.. I’ll try to fix the image when I’m not restricted to my phone)

I didn’t set out to last any specific amount of time. I thought 6-12 months of full-time travel—the much more glamorous way of saying homeless—was doable, considering I had already spent a few years traveling part-time while working. On a few occasions, I had used my 1-week carry-on bag to last 4 or more weeks. I figured as long as I could find a way to do laundry every week, I could travel indefinitely.

The core of the experiment was about living expenses and sustainable travel. Traveling, even on a tight budget, is very expensive. The cost of food, lodging, and transportation while traveling can easily match or exceed your standard cost of living. Full-time travel could thus double your monthly expenses. But what if you were able to eliminate the first part of the equation and only pay living expenses wherever you currently are? What if you could go to Rome for a month and not have to pay for the month of rent and utilities back home?

To keep travel cheap, on a per-day calculation, you need to travel slowly. Going to another continent for one or two weeks results in a very high per-day cost, but you can save on lodging by staying longer (weekly rates are lower than daily rates, and monthly rates are lower than weekly rates) and lower the per-day cost of transportation by putting more time in between flights.

I decided a year ago to try this out. I rented a studio in the Bahamas for 35 days for $600, a room in DC for 4 weeks, a hotel in Germany for a month (which was thankfully reimbursed by a client), a hostel in Budapest for 3 weeks, a mountain-top hotel in the US Virgin Islands for 3 weeks, and a cabin in lower Manhattan (which I had to see to believe) for 5 weeks.

So, 6-12 months. When will it end? When will I “settle down” and return to traveling only part-time, 1-3 weeks per month? It’s an internal conflict I’ve had since the 6th month. The full-time travel is exhausting, stressful, and both physically and mentally taxing. But at the same time, I’m in a position to travel longer and farther than I would otherwise be unable to. Giving up now would feel like squandering the unique opportunity I have. I have never been to Asia, Australia, Africa, or South America, and this would be a great time to do it.

The jury is still out. It could be up in the sky, for all I know. Speaking of which, I am now on my descent into Charlotte, North Carolina. Time to turn off and stow all portable electronic devices.

2 Responses to “Homeless for a year”

  1. December 14th, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Chris says:

    Dude. Very exciting. I can imagine it would get stressful always having to find that next destination. Interesting idea!

    Chris

  2. January 1st, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Paul Caridad Sanchez says:

    Brian,

    Yo! Awesome! I have been on the road for 2 months but I find it cheaper lifestyle then renting a place and doing the normal thing. It might be different when I go overseas.

    Would love to catch up on skype video sometime!

    Hope all is well .:)

    Paul
    twitter.com/wherespaul

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