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Passionate experience junkie. Lover of the arts and architecture. Want to see and share the world, one village at a time.

Full-Time Travel: How is it Financially Possible?

In the three years I’ve been writing this blog there has been huge growth in numbers of full-time travelers – and those who dream of full-time travel. The dreamers gain inspiration from the many gorgeous websites and talented bloggers who show us what a life-changing experience full-time travel really is.

Travel expands your mind!

Travel expands your mind!

So the question shows up often and goes something like this: “How can I afford to travel full-time?”
I understand the question. Traditionally, in the early 20th Century, travel was for the wealthy – those who donned canvas outfits, complete with high leather boots and pith helmet, and headed out on safari. Or travelers filled steamer trunks with a tuxedo and ball gowns before booking crossing on an ocean liner.
More recently, mid-20th Century, travel might have meant booking a Mexican resort for a week at a hundred or so dollars per night. Or maybe a Parisian hotel at several hundred dollars per night. Adding up the air fare, meals, local transportation, and souvenirs, the final tab was in the thousands – for a week or two.

The cost of transportation is just one piece of the financial puzzle

The cost of transportation is just one piece of the financial puzzle

Even modest vacations these days can mean a big layout of cash because of airfare, lodging in hotels, and eating at restaurants every day.
I understand the question. How can that level of spending possibly be maintained indefinitely? Full-time travel sounds impossible.
But travel is a whole new ball game in the 21st Century. The options for transportation and lodging are many and span every desire and pocketbook. And unlike the past, transactions now are entirely researched and often paid for on the internet, and not always with money, but with “miles” or “points.” There’s couch-surfing and Airbnb, (pay regular people to crash in their extra bedroom or apartment), home exchange, (trade homes with someone), and woofing, (a now generic term for staying on farms, which originated with the non-profit organization World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, wwoof.org.)

house sitting travel

I’m passionate about house sitting — from every point of view.

House sitting is another form of alternative lodging, and indeed most full-time travelers espouse the practice not only as financially prudent, but living like a local adds immensely to their travel experience.
And in terms of transportation, gathering airline miles or points by the gobs or using your blogging status to garner free travel perks, your financial outlay is lessened by thousands.

And here’s a very important fact – one that Conrad and I discovered while traveling full-time for three years:
Traveling full-time costs less money than living in one location. In other words, full-time travel costs less money than paying the mortgage, (or rent), household improvements, car payments, taxes, clothing, entertainment, and all the other things on which you spend money while living in one spot. Without the monthly outlay of mortgage and car payment, there’s a lot more discretionary cash.

Real-Life Scenarios
So in the interest of providing a real-world look, here are scenarios of how full-time travel may be achieved:
1. The Retiree. This can be the easiest scenario because retirees are likely to have:
• A healthy savings/retirement account
• Equity in a home
• Social Security checks coming each month
So there are two choices for folks in this position. You can either rent out your home long-term, (furnished or unfurnished), or sell everything and go. By utilizing house sitting and travel hacking methods of gathering airline miles, etc., travel can be maintained indefinitely with Social Security/Pension payments, possible rent payments, or occasionally dipping into savings.
This may sound to some like the retirees would be lowering their standard of living, but since full-time travel can cost less than living in one place, this is not necessarily the case.
2. The Young Professionals or Middle-Agers. This group is similar to the Retirees except that the Social Security/Pension has not started. For these groups their home is the golden ticket. Renting out your home long-term may sustain the finances for your traveling life. Or if you have large equity in your home and wish to sell it all, that chunk of money can be invested, while you withdraw a portion of the interest each month to pay your way.
3. Twenty-Somethings. Although this group of young people are unlikely to have accumulated a pile of money with which to travel, they do have the unique ability to perform hard-labor-type farming jobs along the way, couch-surf with ease, and don’t require the creature comforts we old folks want.
And of course everyone has the opportunity to start a website, gain followers, and strengthen a social media platform. With a strong platform comes the opportunity for freebies in exchange for blogging about the place/service. Bloggers who raise their status further are sought out by tourism boards to come learn about their particular offerings.
Many full-time travelers run digital businesses to fund their travels. Website development, freelance writing, and other computer-based services can be performed anywhere the traveler goes.
I’ve touched on many concepts in this blog that you may find an abundance of online information – in order to make an informed decision on embarking on full-time travel. They include:
• House sitting
• Woofing
• Travel Hacking – gathering miles and points for travel and lodging
• Working on cruise ships
• Freelance writing
• Appealing to tourism boards
Looking for more? Here are articles to help:

Modern Day Lewis and Clark Unconventional Guide: An article about a comprehensive book on how to finance full-time travel.

Free Airfare 101: Learn how to collect miles for free travel.

Don’t Ignore This One Action if You Want to House Sit: Important tips

Trusted House Sitters Survey Results & House Sitting Tips

Starting a Freelance Writing Career? Here are My First Three Years

My motivation has, and always will be to inspire and offer tips so that low-cost life-changing travel comes into focus for as many people as possible. Travel is simply marvelous, my friends!

Josie

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27 Responses to “Full-Time Travel: How is it Financially Possible?”

  1. Hi Josie – it’s so very true that full time travel can be far less expensive than maintaining a traditional lifestyle. When you eliminate mortgage or rent payments, utilities, car expenses, maintenance and replacement for all your “stuff” you’ve got the dough. Terrific post!
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted..7 Ways Off Season Mallorca is BetterMy Profile

    June 22, 2015 at 3:18 am Reply
    • Thanks Betsy for verifying my theory that full-time travel costs less than traditional living. You of course know!
      Wishing you safe and happy travels,
      Josie

      June 22, 2015 at 6:59 am Reply
    • Great post! There were a few things in here I learned! I always love coming across new blogs to follow! Great job and thanks for your hard work.

      Happy Travels
      Tiff

      January 26, 2016 at 7:24 pm Reply
  2. You are definitely right that full time travel can be less expensive than traditional living. Our 27 year old younger son has fashioned himself a location independent existence. He sold his condo in October and has been traveling and living in Southeast Asia since. He also prefers slow travel and likes to rent an apartment for a month or longer in each place. He supports himself by running several on line businesses and he has one investment property. I admit that the lifestyle you and Betsy Wuebker have achieved seems appealing to me, but Mr. Excitement has a day job he is determined not to quit until he cures cancer. No pressure. 🙂 The silver lining is that he gets invitations to lecture all over the world and I get to be a trailing spouse.
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted..Artisanal Ice Cream – A Visit to La Ibense in Salou on the Costa Daurada in the Catalyunya (Catalonia) Region of SpainMy Profile

    June 22, 2015 at 10:02 pm Reply
    • Hi Suzanne,
      Wow, I didn’t realize your son was traveling full-time. Then of course you know from him that it is possible to spend less money living that way. And of course you travel much more than the average bear — making you darn knowledgeable, too! Thanks for your always thought-provoking comments!
      Josie

      June 23, 2015 at 7:19 am Reply
  3. Some great tips on how it’s not impossible to travel full time for a reasonable price. I admire those who can do it but I’m just not ready to make that leap. Don’t know if I ever will be. I love to travel, but I also love to come home to my own bed. Must be the Cancer crab in me.
    Sue Reddel recently posted..Low Carb Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken and Cheesy Cauliflower GritsMy Profile

    June 23, 2015 at 2:16 pm Reply
    • Hi Sue and Welcome,

      Just like all aspects of life these days, you may do your own thing, my dear! It’s all good. You have to do what works for you. I so appreciate your comment and for reaching out!
      Wishing you safe and happy travels,
      Josie

      June 23, 2015 at 6:17 pm Reply
  4. Great post! It shows that finances aren’t necessarily a barrier to travel at any age. People are often surprised we travel as often as we do, and assume we must have lots of extra cash. But it’s priorities. I would rather travel than the designer bag, second car, or new sofa.
    Shelley recently posted..The Simmons Building – Calgary’s Cool New Dining DestinationMy Profile

    June 24, 2015 at 2:22 pm Reply
    • Hi Shelley,
      Couldn’t agree more. A new sofa doesn’t hold a candle to the wonderful experiences of travel. Thanks for weighing in, my friend!
      Regards,
      Josie

      June 24, 2015 at 6:58 pm Reply
  5. Gosh, you could be a lawyer making the case for housesitting as a way of life. Your financial analysis makes it seem like a no-brainer!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..Cemetery Tourism: Jazz greats jam at Woodlawn Cemetery in the BronxMy Profile

    June 24, 2015 at 8:59 pm Reply
    • So Irene, when will you begin?
      Haha, thank you my friend! I so appreciate you!
      Josie

      June 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm Reply
  6. I’m so tempted by your lifestyle, but haven’t quite been able to give up the idea of having a nest to come home to. I’m glad you’ve figured out a way to make it work for you and Conrad. Traveling full time sounds like a great match for you both. Nice post.
    alison abbott recently posted..Farm to Table Embraced at Luxury HotelsMy Profile

    June 27, 2015 at 4:27 pm Reply
    • Hi Alison,
      Having a nest is a very compelling thing indeed! We do own a condominium now for that very reason. It’s quite lovely and we enjoy having a place for the kids to come visit — which they do often and we love the raucous good times — but Conrad and I get very itchy feet! Travel pulls us to get our there again and again!
      Alison, you need your kitchen in which to devise great recipes we’ve all come to love. You’re my go-to recipe source!
      Thanks for stopping by,
      Josie

      June 28, 2015 at 8:57 am Reply
  7. Hi Josie – great post. We travelled the Americas in a pickup truck and slide in camper from 2006-09. We went home and realised we could travel full-time for a lot less than it was costing us to live day-to-day in Australia. So we set about going again.
    We also feel the need for a home, our own bed, you could even call it a ‘nest’ as some commenters have – so we built our own mobile home this time and have our cosy little house on wheels wherever we go.
    There are solutions for everything!
    Now we just need to find a solution to keep financing this life we love so much – because we are not quite retirees yet…
    Yasha Langford recently posted..More Mountains, Museums, and a City full of Orange TreesMy Profile

    July 6, 2015 at 7:49 pm Reply
    • Hi Yasha,
      I am in love with your story!
      Wishing you whatever you need to keep it going for an indefinite future of enlightening travel.
      Josie

      July 10, 2015 at 7:10 am Reply
  8. Hello Josie,

    I love how you break it down into the various age levels and how that really can be possible depending on your assets and revenues and or potential income stream. Great post.
    noel recently posted..15 stunning views of PragueMy Profile

    July 6, 2015 at 11:01 pm Reply
    • Hi Noel,
      Thanks for your very kind words — I so appreciate you!
      Josie

      July 8, 2015 at 7:31 pm Reply
  9. Erick #

    Hello all,
    Interesting article….. We are a Franco Australian retired couple with a basic retired pension…. We have entertained house sitting for the last 7 months . We have done 10 housesits or about and will add a couple more before going back to OZ early March …. Having added resources or working online woud be a sure plus for us. So, we do without those bonuses….. It is quite possible to travel all year on low budget as in low cost air traveling. For various technical reasons ( Schengen Treaty for one….) , we found out that we had to entertain cheaper destinations such as Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Asia etc….. so we could balance the books. Some destinations are deadly in reason of their strong currency followed by a low buying power.We leave some of you to make a list for the good of the low income community… We rent cars at time from sites offering cheaper opportunities by hiring from private owners. Regional transport in some specific area can help considerably. . From our experience, we found, that two weeks to a month is quite ideal if we want to give us a chance to save some money as to be able to entertain the traveling moves who seem to be the major expenditure…. Travel insurances become a serious problem as soon as the dark hour of 70 years old ring…. It also depends if you plan to spend money visiting museums, historical sites, excursions to some sites etc….. I tried the exercise of living in Morocco for an extended period and save money to repay my credit cards while touring the country. The same can be done in India or South east Asia… As it all adds up, the more house sits you do, the more friends you make. This in turn gives you the opportunity to go back to some of these sits while organizing new ones in regions you whish to visit…. We would be more than interested to enter into contact with people similar to us and share some finer point of low cost moves…..

    November 2, 2015 at 3:50 pm Reply
    • Hi Erik — and Welcome!,

      You’ve really packed a wallop of information and ideas into your comment, and I love it. Thank you.

      My overall sense after reading of your adventures and philosophy, is that the internet made all this possible — and is the place where we come together and share, learn, and evolve. I, and my website, are the lucky recipient of your visit today. I hope to cross paths some more, either virtually or in person.

      Wishing you safe and happy travels!
      ~Josie

      November 3, 2015 at 7:13 am Reply
  10. Great post and blog! I love coming across great new blogs to follow and yours is deff one of them. Thanks again.

    One Love
    Travel Often
    Tiffany
    Tiffany recently posted..So you want to be a house sitter?My Profile

    January 26, 2016 at 7:26 pm Reply
    • Thanks Tiffany and Welcome!
      Always good to connect with other successful house sitters and travelers. Love belonging to this tight — and very cool — community.
      Take care,
      Josie

      January 27, 2016 at 7:33 am Reply
  11. Sam #

    Great post! I’ll add one for the twenty-something group – we more often than not don’t own property yet, so it is easier to just get up and go. Of course we don’t have the financial benefits of renting out (or selling) a home/condo, but the initial leaving is easier, and we’re less tied to a place where we would still own something. =)
    Sam recently posted..6 Types of People Who Will Love Salt Lake CityMy Profile

    August 14, 2016 at 10:48 pm Reply
    • Hi Sam — and welcome,
      I so appreciate your twenty-something viewpoint. And so true. What a great time to take advantage of freedom! Wishing you many adventures along the way . . .
      ~Josie

      August 15, 2016 at 8:31 am Reply
  12. Amen sister! I keep amazing myself at how well I can life whilst traveling full-time, and spending way less than I ever spent to live in one place! 🙂
    Nora recently posted..Financial Travel Tip #129: Save BIG Using a VPN for Flight SearchesMy Profile

    August 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm Reply
    • Hey Nora,
      It certainly is an amazing fact, isn’t it! You embody that truth in your story, your life. Thanks for coming by to share it.
      ~Josie

      August 15, 2016 at 7:41 pm Reply
  13. We belong to the group which rents their house(s) and love to travel for more than three years now without having a ‘home’. Wondering if the need to have a home returns.

    August 19, 2016 at 3:11 am Reply
    • Hi Marcelle,
      So happy you stopped by to represent the rents-their-homes group. And then my favorite part is you asking if you ever want to go home. There’s just to much to see, too much to do! So happy for you and your amazing life.
      FYI: Conrad and I are about to join your group — house rented and setting out next week. 🙂
      ~Josie

      August 19, 2016 at 7:14 am Reply

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