While we could have created a Kickstarter campaign or put feelers out for sponsorship money, that just didn't feel right to us. This is our dream trip, an extended vacation if you will, so we didn't feel it was right to ask for anyone to pay for it but ourselves. As for ways to save up enough money for a 4-month trip, here are a few of the things we did:
1.) Create a separate savings account.
A long time ago, we made a separate sub-account with our bank titled "travel." This is where all the money we saved up would live and only to be used for preparation items or the trip itself.
We may not have much in savings, but being motorcycle and outdoor enthusiasts we have quite a bit of "rolling stock" around we could liquidate. It's amazing how much money we all have tied up in "stuff." This was probably the hardest task for me, emotionally, but the fastest way to reach our goal. Through hours of work cleaning, photographing, posting, and haggling, we were able to sell our beloved Toyota truck, 4-wheel camper, dirt bikes, riding gear, and some other items, This put a HUGE dent in the total amount we needed to save. I kept telling myself each time someone drove away with one of our vehicles that we could always get another one when we come back, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Easy to justify when you think about it.
3.) Cut down on spending.
We realized that in order to actively put money into our savings account, we'd have to make a few changes. These included not eating out so often (also good for our health) and cutting back the purchases that aren't needed for the trip. We just have to keep telling ourselves, "I'll get that [new phone, pair of shoes, power tool, etc.] when we come back."
4.) Rent out our house.
This one was a big deal. Not only does renting out our house help pay a part of the mortgage while we're gone, but it also puts someone there taking care of it and watching our cat. As far as trusting someone to do all that, we got pretty lucky, and a friend/coworker was looking for a place to rent at about the same time we announced our trip. In fact, he was even able to move in before our departure and will stay for several months afterward to further help with saving up for (and recovering from) the trip.
Those were our biggest tactics for coming up with the money, and it has been pretty successful so far. As of the time I'm writing this, we're just about to our goal. After this post about saving money, we'll have plenty of posts coming up about spending it. Stay tuned as the Willsons support the economy.