How Did We Afford A Year Abroad

After people express the astonishment and excitement that something like living abroad for a year is even possible, the very next thing we always hear is “how did you afford that?”.

Before we get into it, we want to make sure you realize that the cost of the Wander Year program is pretty comparable to the cost of your monthly living expenses depending on where you live. So really, you’re already affording it.  

When you sign up for the Wander Year program, you’re just trading the cost of your lights, water, gas, rent, wifi, and cable for one payment to someone else to take care of those things on your behalf AND you get vacation every day - BONUS!

Alright, since that light bulb is on, let's talk about how our Wanderists did it! I’ll break down how a few of our Wanderists were able to afford a year abroad:

  • Kim and Khalif convinced their companies to allow them to work remotely and travel.

  • Patricia worked remotely for her employer as well, and they were the ones who offered it to her!

  • Amber had savings but she also rented out her condo and took on some freelance work throughout the year.

  • Karen sold her house and used part of the proceeds to fund her trip.

  • Chanda kept her expenses really low and saved aggressively before take-off. She also started driving for Uber before we left the US to make some extra cash.

  • Melissa launched a business on the trip and worked remotely for clients all over the US.

Can you do some of these? Absolutely!  How? Well, the first place we suggest you start is Can I Afford the Wander Year Experience.  Once you have an idea of the “real cost” of the experience, you’ll likely want to focus on what you can do for work.  We have a great FREE course on becoming location independent and still making money called Design Your Life.  The course outlines how to land a remote job, how to become a freelancer, and how to propose remote work to your current employer.

Check out our detailed blogs about finding remote work - Remote work: What, Where, How? and Answers to your Top 5 Questions About Remote Work

Another place to go is Where I Found More Money for Travel to get into how to start stashing up extra dough for your side trips, souvenirs, and tattoos in each city ;-).  

Good luck! We hope to see you on the next Wander Year.

Can I Afford the Wander Year Experience?

Among the big decisions you have to make to prepare to embark on this journey, the financial decision is likely the biggest. 

Let's break down what you really need in order to afford to participate in the Wander Year Experience. 

The total cost of the program is $29,400. We have divided this cost up into an initial fee of $3,000 and equal monthly payments of $2,200.

There is also a deposit of $2,000 paid along with your initial fee.  That $2,000 will be refunded to you upon completed of the full year experience less any fees incurred on your behalf outside of the program benefits.  For example, if you just happened to break a lamp in your apartment in Thailand, that cost would come out of the deposit. 

Now, all of this you already know if you've read the How It Works details or checked out our FAQs.  If you haven't gone through those details yet, we strongly recommend reviewing both. 

We view the cost of the program as a replacement of your monthly living expenses.  Based on our research, on average people spend about $2,000 - $2,500 per month on rent/mortgage + lights + electricity + water + cable + internet.  Instead of paying all those bills each month, you make one monthly payment to us, we cover all of those things AND you get to live and work on vacation every day for a year.  Along with that you get a few activities, events and excursions every month, a Community Manager to take care of everything for you, and a group of awesome people to travel with.  That's A LOT more than what you're currently getting for your living expenses, right?

We'd like to go a little deeper than the cost of this experience and help you decide how much you need throughout the year to cover your personal expenses such as:

  • Meals and groceries
  • transportation within the cities
  • side trips
  • activities and excursions not included in the itinerary
  • personal care items
  • souvenirs and gifts
  • baggage fees, upgrade fees, etc

In general, our Wander Year Alumni have spent anywhere from $600 - $1000 per month on their own.  Huge range right? That's because it's truly based on each individual.  We had some VERY frugal folks who set pretty aggressive budgets and people who often splurged on things like housekeeping service, fine dining experiences, and side trips.

Also, keep in mind any other things you'll need to pay for like:

  • Storage facility
  • Mail forwarding service
  • Cell phone bill
  • Travel Insurance
  • Health Insurance 
  • Taxes

If you're planning to not work while you're on the trip, we suggest having savings and monthly passive income (i.e. rental income) that totals at least $36,200. 

If you're planning to work, your take-home pay should be (after taxes) at least $36,200. 

Those amounts include the program cost as well as the minimum amount you'd spend each month on your own. 

We shared some great ideas to help you find more money for long-term travel.  These should help with your personal expenses while on the trip and each of them can be started now to prepare. 

If you need some help becoming location independent (securing a remote job, becoming a freelancer), catch the replays of our free webinar series on several topics to help you do just that. 

We'd love for everyone to join us for a Wander Year Experience.  We also want to be sure you're honest about whether or not it will be financially challenging for you.  Your year abroad should be spent being adventurous, having fun, pushing yourself past your comfort zone, reigniting your passions, discovering who you truly are, and being part of a global community of exceptional people.  We do not want financial concerns to negatively impact your experience. 

If you've crunched the numbers and feel you're ready for a year abroad, GREAT!  Go ahead and request an invitation to join us!

If you're not quite sure you can make this commitment just yet, that's fine too.  You may want to consider our one month UpRoots to some incredible destinations. 

In either case, we are excited that you're taking this step towards designing a life you don't have to vacation from.  If you have any questions, shoot us an email at

Are You Too Old For a Gap Year?

The concept of a gap year is a funny thing. Especially when you’ve reached the age of 35. By that time in life, you should have it all figured out, right? A career, a life partner, maybe a little one or a furry friend? My story is a little different.

  One of the best views of Medellin, Colombia is at Pueblita Paisa

One of the best views of Medellin, Colombia is at Pueblita Paisa

I grew up on the south side of Chicago. Both my parents are attorneys and instilled in me early on the importance of education and hard work. We were like The Huxtables on the block. College and graduate degrees were the expectation, not the exception. I graduated from Dartmouth College in 2003. The economy was still reeling from 9/11 and I was jobless. Here I had been sold that an Ivy League degree was the passageway to promise. I soon learned smarts coupled with hustle is where the magic happens. 

I started my career in radio at Clear Channel Communications with three of the largest urban radio stations in the city of Chicago. My mother and I bumped heads about it often. She wanted me to go to medical school. I wanted to be a marketer. I was a pop culture junky growing up and I knew that I wanted a career in media & entertainment. 

  Brunch from 150 feet in Prague, Czech Republic

Brunch from 150 feet in Prague, Czech Republic

Clear Channel was a great foundation but I wanted to be where all the movers and shakers are. I set my sights on New York or LA. I had interned at Sony Music in NYC between my junior and senior year of college so returning to NYC seemed logical. I started researching TV marketing gigs and applied to one at Viacom. They flew me out for an in-person interview at Spike TV. I was only a coordinator at the time but I thought I was CEO status with that free airplane ticket. I got the job and landed in NYC in 2006. 

Over the next decade, I worked in some of the top media companies around. I started at Spike but moved over to ESPN where I spent the majority of my career and eventually landed at Vevo to learn all about digital video. The media landscape had changed fast and furious in that time but I had the best training ground possible.

But, there was something missing. I started my career in sales marketing but, after a decade of working in the field, I needed a break. I was in a pattern of work, play, work. I remember heading home during rush hour one summer month and thinking to myself, “There has to be a better way.” 

  Paragliding over the Andes Mountains in Colombia

Paragliding over the Andes Mountains in Colombia

That became even more clear to me when a good friend of mine passed away in a fatal car accident in Panama. We were the same age. It was a wake up call. I had to ask myself, “If you were to be taken from this earth today, would you have done everything you wanted to do?” The answer was no. 

I started saving. I had made the decision that I was going to move to Paris for a few months to get my life sorted. It worked for James Baldwin so I figured it had to work for me. Then, a friend told me about a program called My Wander Year.

It was a gap year program for adults that would allow you to to live abroad for a year while traveling. I was sold by the concept immediately and I was even more sold when I learned the person creating it was an African-American woman, Libryia Jones. 

  Doing it for the gram in the Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Doing it for the gram in the Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

My Wander Year turned out to be the best gift I have ever given to myself. I lived in 4 cities for 3-months each (Prague, Chiang Mai, Capetown, and Medellin). I had my own apartment and access to co-work space for half of the year and roomed with another Wanderer for the latter. I met digital nomads across all parts of the globe. You would be surprised how many exist.

I also did a ton of solo travel (at my own expense). It’s much cheaper to travel to other cities when you’re based in the same region. That $50 roundtrip ticket from Prague to London is still one of my favorite things in life!

Taking a year abroad has helped me to grow stronger as a marketer. I am more solution-minded and resourceful than ever before (not speaking the local language will make you figure some things out quick!). I also find that my creativity has increased (living amongst various cultures will do that). Over the course of the year, I started my own boutique digital marketing agency. I service small to medium sized businesses on digital strategies that drive profits. It is a grind but I find myself more excited about what lies ahead. Am I making what I was making prior? Absolutely not. Am I more fulfilled? Absolutely. The money will come. 

  So many great photo ops all over Cape Town, South Africa

So many great photo ops all over Cape Town, South Africa

If you are thinking about taking a gap year, I highly recommend it. It is one of the most life-changing things that can happen. Even at 36 (almost  37)!


Amber Laws is a Wander Year alum, Digital Marketing Strategist, and a curator of general dopeness at Muse List

Answers To Your Top 5 Questions About Landing Remote Work

Answers To Your Top 5 Questions About Landing Remote Work

You hop onto Facebook and YET ANOTHER “Quit your job to travel the world” blog post pops up. You roll your eyes and wish there was a dislike button cuz this just ain’t real life for you.   

You would love to travel the world, but you need things like health insurance and a steady paycheck because student loans and adulting.  Plus, you're just not about that backpacker life. 

Last year, we wrote a pretty comprehensive guide to landing a remote job.  It’s hands down, our most popular blog post to date.  But we’ve learned a lot since then and we’ve got more to share. 

This time, we want to address the questions and comments we hear most often from people



So you want to work remotely?  Well so does almost everybody.  What makes you different from everybody else?  I’ll tell you.  Everybody else just WANTS it, you’re going to go after it.

What’s more is you’re going to go after it with intention and vigor, armed with valuable information thanks to this here blog post.

This is a big topic, let’s break it down:

Where I found more money for travel

Where I found more money for travel

Whoa man, if I had a dollar for the number of times I've been asked how the Wander Year crew could afford to travel for a year, I'd have all the money I need for a trip around the globe!

All of our situations were pretty unique.  Some of us have worked throughout the year, some were aggressive savers, some sold assets, some raised money for the trip.  No matter your situation, there are things you can do to afford to travel long-term.

This post is broken down into four sections: saving, cutting back, making extra money, and managing your finances. Let's go get this money, shall we?