How Two Teachers Can Afford to Take a Teaching Sabbatical to Travel

As I mentioned in our last post, when other teachers hear that we are taking a sabbatical, they ask two questions:

  1. How were you able to do this? ( You can find that answer here: How to take a teaching sabbatical to travel )

2. How are you able to afford to do this?

While each person's financial journey is different, I can tell you how we are able to afford taking a year off of steady teacher pay to travel. 

How two teachers can afford 
to take a teaching sabbatical to travel: 

1. We downsized to a semi-tiny house with vacation rental and exchange potential. 

It wasn't like we had a big house to begin with (1,092 square feet), but we knew that we needed to downsize in order to cash in on the equity from our first home to be able to make this dream happen. We had to sell half the stuff we owned to fit into this tiny cabin, but we honestly don't feel like we are sacrificing anything at all because the setting of our cabin is idyllic and living with less is truly life-changing. 

If you want to downsize or sell your stuff to be able to afford to travel without feeling like you are sacrificing anything, I recommend reading The Life-changing Magic of Tying Up by Marie Kondo. As you can tell from the content of this blog, it truly changed our lives

When we downsized, the amount we got back in equity from selling our larger home was almost enough to cover one of our salaries for a year. 

Now for the rental potential on our new place. If we were hardcore, we could have sold our house and not bought another one until our return. But we are pretty much the opposite of hardcore; we like our adventure with a healthy dose of security. While we live in a very low-cost area (East Tennessee), we knew that it still wouldn't be financially advantageous to be renting out apartments in Europe while paying a mortgage for an empty house back home.  Therefore, we actively looked for a place that was tiny, less expensive than our former home, and had a "cute" factor. 

You can check out our listing here: Little Cabin by Indian Creek 

If you've never used Airbnb before, then you are missing out! This is how we plan on finding accommodations for our entire trip! You can save $40 off your first booking by using this referral link:

At the time I write this post, we've already had our first renters! We put it on there for the dates of our anniversary just to see what would happen. This happened to be Memorial Day weekend, so it got rented right way and we spent one night at the famous Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC! However, while this was an experience to stay here, we both agreed that we should have just gone camping and made a little money from our rental. We just didn't fit in well with the $500 for a spa treatment and $100 for a meal crowd, ha! Lesson learned! 
Be sure to follow our Instagram at TeacherTravelSabbatical

We hope that we are able to rent our cabin out enough while we are away to at least cover our $500 a month mortgage, but we would be thrilled if we actually made a little to help offset the higher cost of living areas we will be staying at while in Europe.

  *UPDATE* Find out if we met our goal here: 

If you think Airbnb would be a great way for you to make some cash for teacher travel, we would love for you to use our host referral link here:

Another option we have is finding exchange partners through While we were working toward paying off our student loans, home exchanging was the only form of travel we did. Back then, we lived in a very normal, nothing special house (the one we downsized from) and were still able to find three exchange partners over two years. We exchanged for Savannah, GA, Florence, AZ, and Little Switzerland, NC...for FREE.  (will link up an entire post on past experiences with home exchanging soon!)

Our Tennessee home exchanged for an Arizona home 

Whether you are taking a sabbatical or not, home exchanging is a great gig for teachers since we tend to have time off during the time families are looking to travel. is the site we went with because it has its own "teacher filter" where you can connect with other teachers looking to exchange.

Since it will take a while to gain reviews and matches on this site, I suggest trying out the home exchanging way before you plan your sabbatical. Since we are huge advocates for teacher travel and home exchange, we have partnered up with and you will find their advertisement to the right of this post. If you are intrigued by the idea of home exchanging, it would rock if you used the link below to check it out! They offer a two week free trial so that you can get a feel for the site and see the interest in your area.

2. We rarely shop and drive old, paid for vehicles. 

When we first got married, I really, really, really wanted a vintage camper to fix up and go adventuring in. I found one on Craigslist for $450. SCORE!!! We then proceeded to buy my husband a new truck so that we could pull our $450 camper. DUMB!!! On the "stupid scale" of our marriage, this one is way up there. I LOVED that camper and we really did take it so many places, but we realized that we were paying a $450 a month truck payment for a camper that was only worth about double that after I fixed it up. So, in one of the hardest sacrifices of this journey to being debt free and having money to travel, we sold the truck and the camper. Four years later, it's still hard for me to look back through the pictures of that camper I loved so much. But when I think about of the adventuring we will be doing in Europe, I know that it will all be worth it.

It's kind of hard to see, but the chalkboard on the back says, "Teachers out for summer" 😍

Aaron went from driving this extremely nice new truck to a 1984 Ford F150. Her name is Old Red and we paid cash for her four years ago. If you add that up, we have saved 21,600 on car payments alone. Think about how many places you could go on that amount of money!!!

I drive the same (now paid off) car I "awarded" myself with when I graduated college (If you are reading this fresh out of college, don't do this!!! You will be able to realize your dream of travel so much faster if you don't!).

As for shopping, neither of us like to shop and our tiny house has no room for more stuff, so we rarely shop. Back when we were working hard on getting out of debt, I did a "no new clothes for a year" challenge. That was about three years ago and I've only bought a couple of new pieces here and there since. When I get tired of my clothes, I sell them or exchange them at consignment stores and only buy second-hand items. I find that I can be much more creative this way! I used to recommend Thredup for this because it's SO easy to send your clothes in, but they started charging 9.99 per each bag you send in, so the amount of exchange I'm getting now is way down. Whomp, whomp. 😒

I don't know what I used to spend on new clothes, but I confidently say it's down to around $200 per year now (shoes and all!). Not many clothes can fit in our backpacks anyway!

3. We both started Teachers Pay Teachers businesses 

Our drive to get out of debt prompted me to do a Google search of ways teachers could make extra money. Though there are tons of ways out there, I was drawn to TpT because I'm an artistic person who constantly seeks an outlet for my creativity. I started way before Aaron and to be honest, I kind of lost my mind on it. I was obsessed and while he was supportive, I could tell that Aaron didn't quite understand why I was pouring hours and hours into something that I was making little to no money at. I worked after school every day for at least three hours. I encouraged him to golf more so that I could have extra hours of alone time to work. I worked every weekend. I had my nose in social media constantly trying to build an audience. I had my eyes glued to the forums constantly trying to learn new tips and techniques. It was all-consuming for about two years of my life...and for very little money. Ever wonder what it's like to work an extra full-time job and get a $10 deposit at the end of the month? I do! 🙋

But then, something finally clicked and my little sales graph started to grow. Once Aaron could see that my hard work was finally starting to pay off, he decided to start designing resources for TpT as well.

Since he hasn't been able to put as much time into his store as I have, his store is still quite small, but between the both of ours, we will be able to cover some cheap Airbnb apartments in Europe.

You can check out our stores here: B's Book Love (mine) High Mountain History (Aaron's)

If you want to sign up for your own store, I would love for you to use my referral link! I will get a tiny kickback in return!

4. We plan to teach online while traveling 

Aaron has been teaching summer online classes for about three years now earning an extra $3,000 or so each summer. Not only has these classes helped us to save more, but they have also given him valuable online teaching experience. Because of this, more online teaching jobs are opening up for him while we are traveling. I too have set myself up for online teaching by learning how to design digital resources and putting all of my classroom lessons on Canvas (an online LMS). While I don't have any online teaching experience yet, I do have LMS and technology experience which will go far in searching for online teaching opportunities.

5. We use credit card points to book flights 

We owe Davy Ramsey everything for our debt-free journey, but we aren't purists. The truth is that credit card companies make their money off of people who carry a balance. Don't be one of these people. If you can use your credit card exactly as you would a debit card, then you can earn some serious points for travel.

Once we settled on an airline that best fits the needs of our dog (Virgin Atlantic), we signed up for their credit card which gained us 20,000 travel points. When you combine that with the points on our regular card we use for grocery shopping and cellphone bills, our entire airfare will be paid for with points. I'm NOT an expert on point hacking, but I've listened to enough podcasts (Extra Pack of Peanuts) and read enough blogs (Nomadic Matt) to know that you shouldn't ever have to factor in flight costs when traveling.

We would love to keep writing posts like this one to help other teachers place themselves in a position to take an opportunity like this as well.

 You can ask us questions via our Instagram page @TeacherTravelSabbatical , email, or leave a comment on this blog post!

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  1. Yes yes yes to #5. Credit cards are only a problem if you don't pay them off. For a long time I didn't know you could carry a balance because my parents just said don't ever spend more than is in your bank. I love earning points.

  2. This was a fabulous post and you guys know this is totally on my radar! Thanks for sharing. I'm working on my own post about teachers and travel because it's such a same more of us teacher-couples don't take advantage of it!

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