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Money Matters: Minimalist Living On the Road


Liz Keily and her partner Con have recently completed an eighteen – month overland journey from Australia to Iran on their DR650’s. Back in Melbourne, as they are planning new adventures, Liz agreed to share her tips and advice on funding a long motorcycle trip.

– Liz, how did you finance your Australia to London journey?

– I saved, saved, saved for over 2 years- I went without the small things like coffees. I went without the big things like holidays, weekends away, new clothes. I learned to be extra frugal. I bought no new clothes for 2 whole years, apart from anything I needed for the trip.
When it came to being frugal in preparing for the trip, I made do with what I already had and even sourced second-hand goods. You will never have all the top gear on your wish list and if you do, chances are you will never afford to actually leave!
When It looked like I wasn’t going to reach my financial goal in time, I changed jobs and found a house sit so i could save money.
If you have a goal you need to work towards achieving it every day.

We took cheap motorcycles which meant our carnets were very cheap.

– A lot of people decide to prolong their journeys or even stay on the road indefinitely. How would you cope financially?

– I think a lot of people supposedly traveling indefinitely take a long time working towards working out how to do this. Most people actually fly home or stop for a while to get temporary jobs to finance getting back on the road. We did that by flying home for Christmas and getting a short stint as seasonal workers in the wheat industry in Western Australia.

We fully intend to hit the road again, so instead of returning to our old lifestyle, we made changes. Our house is still being rented out (generating some income) and we have organized to get consecutive house sits for over a year whilst we work and save again.

– Some folks save and then travel, some sell all their possessions, and some choose to work while traveling. What’s your take on this?

– It depends upon where you are at in life and also what your values are. We sold most of our possessions except our two houses. We saved a lot before leaving on our eighteen – month year trip. We have to find work sooner or later, but we live frugally on and off the road. There are a lot of people out there financing their trips through rental property. Living as a digital nomad is possible and I do that as well, except it is hard! It is very difficult to earn money whilst on the road.

– Minimalist lifestyle goes hand in hand with long overland motorcycle journeys; do you have any tips for frugal travel?

– Be generous of heart because it will come back to you in spades.

Be happy with gear that is not necessarily top of the range.

Repair and reuse when you can.

Buy fresh food from markets where you can.

Join lots of social media forums where you can make friends all over the world before you travel to their countries. People will look after you everywhere.

Travel slowly – your daily costs will plummet.

– How important is planning? Finding yourself running short on money mid – journey is definitely not a very pleasant surprise.

– The more I travel, the less I plan. Things seem to work out in the end. Everyone has different comfort zones. I have an amount that I call my ‘prudent reserve; and when I am below that amount I feel uncomfortable. Everyone’s prudent reserve is at a different level.

I’d also say, keep your employability skills up. I have jobs I can pretty well walk back into if I need to.

Keep your credit card empty – if you need to you can get a flight home in the case of a real emergency.

If money is short, travel slowly, go to ‘cheap’ countries, camp a lot, make lots of friends on forums.


Liz Keily and Con on their trip

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