Ballin’ On A Budget: How 3 months of US travel has been possible.

Glass Duffle doesn’t make money. Also, I don’t have a “job” or a reliable, steady source of income. I’m no drug dealer or pimp.

But I’ve been traveling around the US for the last three months. A couple people have asked me how I’ve been managing to do this, and while I’ve seen plenty of other travel blogs talk about how they make this lifestyle work, I figured I’d throw in a little about my experience for people who have no clue and are curious as to how it’s all been going down up to this point. Things really started when I graduated college last June.

I graduated with a degree in Advertising from Ohio University and haven’t contributed one thing to the industry since. Going to college molded my core morals and gave me some great experiences in the advertising industry. But it was also four straight years of zero income and increasing spending and debt (albeit minimal thanks to the Templeton Scholarship program at OU). College costs a lot especially when you think about the things you WON’T be doing during your college tenure. Regardless, after graduating Ohio University, I moved to San Diego looking to freshen my life perspective.

When I initially moved to San Diego, I was completely jobless but I eventually found a gig writing for a company that owned a handful of websites, several of which were in the travel sector. After a month or so, I ended up getting promoted to editor and took control of the company’s Las Vegas travel bunch. And in case you’re wondering, no, that job does not pay well. I’d have been better off financially serving tables at a restaurant, I think.

So, while I was in San Diego, I was living check-to-check trying to manage rent, credit card bills and daily living expenses and it was hard to reconcile that with the time and money I had spent in the previous four years. College, where I was promised to come out better than I went in. That’s not to say I didn’t leave Ohio University a more capable individual. But 90% of what I learned in college happened far removed from the confines of a classroom and a textbook. My most memorable and life-changing moments at Ohio University were experiences that didn’t require desks or professors but just a bit of initiative and curiosity. A college degree is essentially an expensive watch: it looks good, people respect it and it may actually be functional for some, but most people won’t ever see a return to match the initial investment. That’s just how it is in 2013.

Anyway… Eventually, I quit my job to start this blog and begin my travels around the country. I wanted to travel but I quickly recognized that that would take money. I would only last a few weeks with what I had then and with no guaranteed income coming in, a nomadic lifestyle seemed hard to sustain. So I drove my beloved Scion TC, Veronica, from San Diego to Charlotte, NC and sold it to initially fund this project.

Cash from Veronica

Veronica’s contribution to Glass Duffle

Most of my travels up until the last week or so have been funded entirely by the sale of Veronica but I have seen money come in sporadically in the form of freelance projects. For the most part, I haven’t had to spend money on hotels since I’ve been couchsurfing and taking advantage of the far-reaching Bobcat Network. Honestly, Yosemite was the first time I had to splurge on a bed and was basically the drain down which much of Veronica disappeared.

Living this nomadic life has been as much about taking advantage of random opportunities as limiting myself to only the necessities. I eat cheaply, try my hardest to sleep for free, disregard time when it comes to traveling city to city and take every opportunity presented to me, particularly those that pay. I’ve made smart moves for the most part but I’ve also unnecessarily blown huge chunks of cash and been left to regret. It’s still a learning process. But by having a solid network and being attentive to deals, opportunities, happy hours, etc., living nomadically is something that anyone can (and SHOULD) experience in their life.

Author: Eric White

Eric graduated Ohio University in 2012 with a degree in Advertising and immediately went out to San Diego, California to start not using his degree. At the start of 2013, Eric quit his job, let his lease run out and started backpacking North America. Eric has worked with Amtrak, Crowdtap, HootSuite and others, and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA... when not on the road.

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  1. Hit up Elance Eric. I had a steady $112 coming in for a few hours of work.

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    • Yeah, I definitely need to talk to you about that. I’ve only had minimal success on there.

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  2. Eric, I agreed with your point of view toward life. The knowledge and awareness that you are gaining from today living experiences would have a profound impact on what your world will become tomorrow. The excitement of live is ingrained in the constant daring and striving as we find our way to happiness/success. Keep going!

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  3. This is very insightful. Seeking opportunity, as you pointed out, should be the end-goal of everyone. It’s great to have dreams and all, but who really takes the time to sit back and identify the opportunity all around them? If you want to be successful, you need to give up sleep…when you sleep, you are missing opportunity. If you want to be successful, you need to get out of your comfort zone…when you’re comfortable, opportunity is not so obvious. Finally, if you want to be successful, you have to get out in the world and do what you love; for that reason, you will be successful, my friend.

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    • You get a gold star for the best comment on GD. I may actually steal some of that for a post in the future. Thank you Sir Shreds-A-Lot.

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  4. Does buying shots for every stranger at the Pub fall under the category of “unnecessarily blowing huge chunks of cash”? Karma smiles upon you brother!
    Beautifully written and super inspiring chunk o’ work.

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