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.
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.
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 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.
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
• 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
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!