Almost Fearless

The Economy is Falling Apart, Should I Travel?

Economy, Inspiration, traveling, travel advice, economic downturnWhen my husband and I sold all our belongings and committed ourselves to traveling full-time, we were lucky.  It was 3 months ago, and while the economy wasn’t great, we didn’t have to make our decision against the backdrop of an uncertain financial future.  I just checked my retirement account (401K invested in mutual funds) and it has dropped 20%.  I’m not worried, because I’m confident  things will bounce back well before I need those funds and I’m invested for the long term.  But it is a little unsettling.  I had to wonder, if I was planning my trip now, would I still do it?  The short answer:  absolutely.  If you’re starting to get cold feet on your next trip, (whether RTW or two weeks abroad) here are some things to consider:

1.  You can’t control what will happen to you, even if you stay. You work 9-5, do a great job, and then get laid off.  Or no raise for a year.  Or added responsibilities to cut costs.  If it’s going to be rough, there isn’t a lot to be accomplished by skipping your travel plans and sticking around.

2.  This too shall pass. Remember 2001?  We were all high  on the dot com euphoria when suddenly you couldn’t get a job coming out of school with an MBA.  Things got better overtime, and this crisis will pass too.  Chances are you could return  to a better job outlook than when you left.

3.  Traveling is way more fun than hanging out in grad school. After the dot com crisis, everyone I know started polishing up their grad school applications, figuring that they could hide in academia until the economy turned around.  Now armed with thousands of dollars worth of debt, and bleak prospects for PhDs, I wonder if they would have been better off hiding out in Thailand instead.

4.  If you have planned financially for your trip, the market shouldn’t impact your decision to go. I’m making a big assumption here, that you have the cash in place or a plan to work on the road, but if that’s the case, whatever happens back home isn’t going to have much impact once you’re on the road.

5.  Traveling overseas is often cheaper than living at home. If you did get laid off, living in another country is cheaper alternative to the high cost of the US.

6.  You have a great excuse for gaps in your resume when you do come back. If the worse case scenario happens, then lots of people will have gaps in their resume as they try to find new jobs.  I remember when my husband and I were both laid off in 2001, we were unemployed for 8 months (freelancing on the side).  This was a non-issue when we tried to find work, as it was so common for folks in our age group to have similar experiences.  HR folks get sick of hearing about lay offs, so they just stop asking.

In some ways, this is the best time to travel. Has the economic crisis changed your plans?

Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”



  • It hasn’t really changed my plans for traveling long-term. We’re paying off debt so that we can afford to travel a whole lot more.
    I agree with your point about it being cheaper to live abroad, if you have savings and got laid off, why not ditch your apartment (and its rent) and spend 3 months somewhere cheaper? Who knows, you may find somewhere you’d rather stay 🙂

    Austins last blog post..Off The Beaten Path: Irish Road Bowling

  • It hasn’t affected my travel plans…yet. And I’m hopeful it won’t. We live in Canada, so I’m hoping there is some buffering afforded for that, but we will certainly still be affected. My only concern is that our home is on the market and, of course, we would like to get as much as possible. But our plan is not in jeopardy so far. Thank you for the insight Christine – all very good reasons to stay on the path!

  • Hi Christine! It absolutely has NOT changed my plans. Am taking the leap next month! I already made my reservations back in August and will be traveling for 2 months (Nov to Jan)… and then coming back in January but still hoping for a second, longer 6 month sabbatical next year (around april/may). I’ve saved for it, so definitely not backing out… if anything this whole mess is making me want to go even sooner!! 🙂 Oh and absolutely agree on all your points above. Great post as always! I might email you for tips on blogging as I launch my own blog next month to catalog my adventures!

  • Thanks so much for this post. You’ve got some great ideas there.

    I just wrote an article for my readers on the economy and how it is affecting expats and travelers. Mind if I link to your article?

  • […] To read the rest of their post click here […]

  • Nope, hasn’t changed my plans at all. I’m still planning to leave in March (for 12 months), and if anything it’s increased my resolve – I’d rather spend the year enjoying myself than be stuck at home having to read depressing news about the economy every day. Plus with interest rates being high in the UK my savings are going up even faster than they were!

    Geoffs last blog post..6 months to go

  • I keep joking with Jeff about how it sure was a fine time for me to give up my guaranteed for life, can’t fire me, comes with a pension job. But in all seriousness, it hasn’t affected our plans at all, and I don’t regret leaving my job. What the market will be like when we come back, I don’t know, but there’s certainly no point in thinking or worrying about it now.

    The crashing stock market is a reminder, however, that if you’re planning a big trip or some other large money suck, that you should relocate that money from the stock market into something more secure. It would certainly suck to be ready to leave for your trip and realize the $25,000 you had a few months ago is now $5,000. As for the retirement account, well, let’s all just hope that by the time our own retirements come around, the stock market has not just rebounded but is on fire.

  • Great post Christine! I linked to it in my last blog post.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any travel plans, but if I did, you bet I’d still go. If only to save money! You can live very comfortably in SE Asia, South America, and Central America on $25 a day. Here in the US, that doesn’t even cover my rent and utilities.

    Donnas last blog post..Travel and the Economy

  • I don’t have any serious travel plans…Nebraska this weekend, but that’s not serious. If I did, and it cost a significant amount of money, I would be very hesitant. I’m not saying anyone else should be, but there is more pain coming. Credit card debt is the next major problem, along with a big drop in consumer spending. This will probably be the worst downturn anyone 40 or younger has experienced, and anyone older has forgotten about the 70’s/early 80’s or we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    Travel, but have both eyes on your financial position.

  • Well, here is hoping I still have my job when I get back home next week, and then I will tell you if the economy has changed my plans for more travel… like a potential six month stay in Brazil teaching english sometime next year? Oh, and to court a Brazilan of course while I`m at it 🙂

    Anthonys last blog post..Aconguazutiba Update 2

  • I do plan on traveling despite what’s going on with the economy.It’s all a matter of getting the cash to do so. That is getting tough. But I’m willing to do what I can to get the funds.

    MikeCs last blog post..Go to a GWAR Show!

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  • Think about it: it’s a great time!

    I’ll admit that most of your individual situation in your job is probably unaffected by outside economic variables, but you probably won’t be giving away much upside potential while being unemployed in a downturn.

    Most of the upside potential (raises, promotions, new jobs at higher salaries) would come during better macro-economic times as companies use external variables to justify changes like that.

    And then once (if?) the recession pasts, it’ll be easier to fund a job anyway…

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