“This is completely an accessible goal no matter what your salary is,” the 31-year-old tells Moneyish.
Mikah Meyer is on his way to becoming the youngest person ever to visit all 417 national park sites.
The 31-year-old is two-thirds of the way through this self-funded adventure — one inspired by the memory of his father, a pastor whose death at age 58 in 2005 made Meyer realize “tomorrow’s not guaranteed.”
Meyer used to think people who did these kinds of projects must be bankrolled by their parents. But now, 21 months into his own adventure — which he’s paying for without help from his family — he’s come to believe this is something most people could do.
“This is completely an accessible goal no matter what your salary is, but it all depends on what type of lifestyle you want to live” after you’ve left your job, he says.
For Meyer, who hit the road in April 2016, the #vanlife has been far less glamorous than the envy-inspiring images on Instagram would have you believe. He eats sandwiches and hummus cups, uses wifi at public libraries and brushes his teeth in parking lots.
Meyer raises money through his website, and by singing at churches along the way (he has a master’s degree in classical singing). Fundraising has been harder than he expected, even after hundreds of media interviews, but one major corporate sponsor he landed, the travel center company Pilot Flying J, is reimbursing the cost of gas he uses on the project.
He acknowledged this project would be much more difficult if he had student debt to pay off — scholarships helped him pay his way through school. But working three part-time jobs to save for the project in the four years before he started, he never made more than $50,000 a year.
To anyone who makes more than that and dreams of getting on the road, Meyer’s advice is to go for it.
“If you’re someone who has a salary of $100,000-plus and you’re working for 4 years, you’re going to be able to save at least double of what I did,” he says.
Find out more about how he funds his project in our video.
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