Monday, January 13, 2014

PCT: When You Can't Earn, Save (Part One)

"This looks like a good place to set up
my laptop and edit a few papers."
(Multnomah Falls Recreation Area, OR)

One of the most common questions I get about the Pacific Crest Trail is, “Will you still be working?” I think most people who ask this question can’t visualize what the trail is like. My laptop weighs more than our tent and sleeping bag combined, is fragile, could get damaged by water, and doesn’t have enough battery life to keep it alive for two days, much less a week— and even if it did, we’ll be hiking about ten hours a day, so I wouldn’t have much time for work anyway. And obviously, Zach will be taking a break from Walmart for our trip.

So where does that leave us financially? In the backwoods, hiking away, but still paying bills, for about six months with no income.


It’s no secret that Zachary and I aren’t exactly raking in huge amounts of dough. I’m a part-time writing tutor; he’s a Walmart employee. However, we’re going to try really hard not to go into debt for this trip. There are two main ways we will (God willing!) be able to manage this:

1. We will be living pretty cheaply when we’re on the trail. We may get a hotel here and there for sanity’s sake, but we’ll be carrying shelter with us, and primitive camping all along the trail is free. We’ve already bought most of our food, which we’ll be mailing to ourselves, so we’ll just be filling in the corners at the stops along the trail.

2. We will be eliminating many of our bills before we leave, including:
Rent (we’re moving out of our lovely townhouse— this makes me sad, but we can’t possibly afford to pay a couple thousand dollars while we’re away)
Car insurance/gas/car repairs 

Even with eliminating almost all our bills, there are still ones we will have to pay while we’re on the trail:
Phone (possibly— still deciding)
Health insurance
Postage for mailing ourselves boxes of food (with about 30 boxes to ship, this adds up quickly!)

So, this is all to say that we will still need a good chunk of moolah in order to hike the trail. And since neither of us earns a ton of money, we are pulling out the secret weapon… saving! Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about that.


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