Yes, You Can Save Enough Money For Long-Term Travel

Long-term travel is a dream for many. However, it doesn’t have to be. After reading this blog post, you’ll know exactly what it takes to travel long-term! Ever since we made the switch to full-time RVing, I’ve met many people who travel full-time. I’ve met people who don’t work and live off of enough money…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: March 19, 2022

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Long-term travel is a dream for many. However, it doesn't have to be. After reading this blog post, you'll know exactly what it takes to travel long-term!Long-term travel is a dream for many. However, it doesn’t have to be. After reading this blog post, you’ll know exactly what it takes to travel long-term!

Ever since we made the switch to full-time RVing, I’ve met many people who travel full-time. I’ve met people who don’t work and live off of enough money to travel for an extended amount of time, those who are retired, those who find odd jobs on the road, those who work while traveling, and more.

I’ve met some really interesting and awesome people who travel full-time, and they really prove that anyone can make long-term travel possible.

It all depends on how badly you want it.

And, yes, you can do it with a family too. If you don’t believe me, read Becoming an RV Family – How We Travel Full-Time With 4 Kids and 2 Dogs.

Yes, I understand that not everyone wants to travel long-term, but if you do, then continue reading.

While on the road, I’ve met the following people:

  • There was a couple who were near retirement age but decided that they couldn’t wait any longer. So, they bought an RV and started working at campgrounds in exchange for free monthly stays.
  • There were people who work from their RV but still have a traditional employer. They work Monday through Friday from their RV – all they need is internet.
  • A person who traveled in order to find antiques and other items to resell.
  • Several bloggers who write full-time (it’s what I do as well!).
  • Filmmakers, photographers, graphic designers, virtual assistants, etc.
  • People who worked at hotels and campgrounds and worked as they traveled.
  • Rock climbing and river rafting guides.
  • Retirees.
  • Those who work their butt off a few months a year and travel freely the rest.
  • My sister did some long-term traveling and au paired at the same time.
  • And much, much more!

The majority of the people I have met are not bloggers or online freelancers. Everyone does something a little different, so I’m sure you can find something that will fit your situation.

Below are several ways to save enough money for long-term travel. It may not be easy, but it will be well worth it!

 

Figure out how much money you need

First, you should calculate how much you need to live on while you travel. While you won’t be able to do an exact calculation, you will be able to estimate the average expenses by researching your destination(s). This can give you a good idea of what you will need each month to survive and have fun.

Everyone travels differently, so no two numbers will be alike. You’ll want to determine how cheaply or luxuriously you’ll want to travel in order to figure out your monthly budget number.

After you figure this number out, you’ll want to determine the amount you need in your travel fund. To determine this, think about things such as:

  • How many months you’ll be gone.
  • Where you’ll be traveling to.
  • If you plan on going home while on your trip to visit friends and family.
  • Whether you’ll be keeping your home and/or car.
  • How quickly you’ll travel.
  • What you’ll do while you travel.

 

Put money into savings before you spend it

After you pay your monthly bills and set aside money for retirement, the next thing you will want to do is to put money aside for your long-term travel fund. This means that you should put money aside before thinking about your budget for food, entertainment, etc.

This will allow you to save more money and cut back on unneeded spending because you’ll have less money each month to spend. This will cause you to think more carefully about each dollar you spend.

I also recommend looking into Digit to save money easily. Digit is a FREE service that looks at your spending and transfers money to a savings account for you. Digit makes everything easy so that you can start saving money with very little effort. Plus, when you reach certain savings amounts, you receive funny texts from them, which can make your day.

Read more at Pay Yourself First – How This Simple Trick Can Help You Save More.

 

Follow a budget

Budgets are great because they keep you mindful of your income and expenses. With a budget, you will know exactly how much you can spend in a category each month, how much you have to work with, what spending areas need to be evaluated, among other things.

This can help you to save as much money as you can for your long-term travel fund before you leave.

Read more at The Complete Budgeting Guide: How To Create A Budget That Works.

 

Pay off debt

While traveling, you will not want to have to worry about your monthly debt payments. By getting rid of your debt before you leave, you’ll be able to travel with less stress, and you’ll be able to have a smaller monthly budget.

Read more at How To Eliminate Your Debt.

 

Create a vision board

Making your long-term travel goal visual is a great way to find motivation and make saving money fun.

Having your financial goal displayed in front of you can make it that much more real, plus it’s nice to have a constant reminder of what you’re working towards.

Various ways to make your financial goal visual include:

  • Create a graphic that demonstrates your financial goal. I did some research and found a blog post on A Cultivated Nest about many creative ways to do this.
  • Keep a picture of your goal on hand. Having a picture of your long-term travel goal will keep it on your mind. You can even go all out and create a vision board on Pinterest or on a poster board that shows all of the destinations you want to visit.
  • Start a blog. Blogging really helped me with my financial goals, because I could easily look back to see how I was doing, and the blogging community was very supportive. Plus, because everything was public, I felt like I had to keep myself accountable. If interested, you can start a blog for cheap with my easy tutorial. Another positive would be that you could start a travel blog!

 

Work while you travel and be location independent

There are plenty of ways for anyone to make money while traveling. And, while some of you may think this is just a thing of dreams, I am here to tell you that it is real! I am location independent, and I know many others who are as well.

You can:

  • Run a website. This is what I do to make money while traveling, so, of course, I had to include this one first. Like I always say, I never realized I would be earning as much income online as I do now. Everyone has to start somewhere, so know that it’s a possibility for even you. With blogging, you can make money through advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, reviews, partnerships, ecourses, ebooks, and more. You can read all about how I earn a living online in my monthly online business income reports, where I describe how I make over $70,000 online each month.
  • Freelance write or become a virtual assistant.
  • Sell products or services. I’ve heard of some who sell items they collect while traveling, those who create crafts to sell at local craft fairs, and so on. If you decide you would rather sell items online, you can sell your products on sites such as eBay, Etsy, Craigslist, and countless others.
  • Housesit. Housesitting usually means you’re working for free, but sometimes you do get paid. If you aren’t getting paid, it’s a free place to stay, and you may even stay in some very nice homes.
  • Work remotely. Some employers allow their workers to work from anywhere.

Learn more at Make Money While Traveling – Yes, It’s Possible!

 

Find jobs in the places you are visiting

There are many instances in which you may decide to stay in a city for a long amount of time. Whatever your reason may be, there are many things you can do in order to earn a living.

You can try one of the options below:

 

Work like crazy

Whether you want to beef up your travel fund or if you don’t want to have to worry about working while you are on your long-term trip, you may decide to work like crazy before you leave.

To reach your savings goal even more quickly, you may even want to find side jobs or start a side business.

Doing so can allow you to save as much money as possible before you leave for your long-term travel.

Related articles:

 

Sell your car

If you’re going to be gone for a long time and won’t be traveling via your car, you might as well sell it.

You won’t be needing it.

We know some people who travel full-time and kept both of their cars. They just drive separately everywhere they need to go, even though they really don’t need both cars. I’m assuming many people do this because they are attached to their cars.

However, why create the extra hassle? Save your money instead!

 

Get rid of your home

The above also applies to your home. If you’re not going to be home for a long time, then you might as well sell it. You can move everything you have into a storage unit or even get rid of it all.

We sold our house in 2015, and it was the best decision ever. We can now travel freely without the worry of tending to a home.

 

Make your dollars stretch

You may need to make your dollars stretch before you go and while you are traveling. By saving money, you may be able to travel a little bit longer, and it can even get you into the mindset of stretching your long-term travel dollars.

Some of the things you can do include:

  • Make friends and couch surf.
  • Stay in hostels.
  • Watch your food spending.
  • Cut back on memberships.
  • Sell your car.

Read more at: 30+ Ways To Save Money Each Month

 

Hack your travel

Since you’ll be traveling long-term, you may want to find a way to save money on your trips. Travel hacking may allow you to travel for cheap or even free in some cases.

I know someone who churned several credit cards for their bonuses and saved up a ton of points before they left for a full year of travel, and they were able to get all of their flights for nearly free by doing this.

This can be a great way to spend like you normally would while earning points for free travel.

Learn more at How To Take A 10 Day Trip To Hawaii For $22.40 – Flights & Accommodations Included.

 

Travel slowly

There are pros and cons to traveling slowly or quickly.

Traveling slowly is what I prefer, as this way usually allows you to travel more affordably. It’s more affordable because transportation costs are typically what eats up a travel budget. Plus, because you won’t be in a rush to move to the next city, you will have more time to enjoy the places you are visiting.

However, traveling quickly means that you may be able to visit more places. If you are in a time crunch, then this may be a better option for you. Or, if you are able to work remotely, then this may be possible.

Traveling slowly is also great for long-term travel because it may be easier for you to find a temporary job if you are going to stay in one place for a few months.

Are you interested in long-term travel? Why or why not?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. There are a lot of tips for any kind of travelers, thanks for sharing !!!

  2. Mrs. CTC

    Wow, this really is a road map to long-term travel! Traveling with our family is actually the main objective for restructuring our finances, indefinite traveling would even be more appealing.

    There’s nothing like stories from other people who’ve done the same to motivate you to pursue your dreams, so thanks for sharing.

    Now I’m off to make a moodboard ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. David @ Thinking Thrifty

    I totally love the thought of this lifestyle. It’s exactly what I’m aiming for in the long term, I’ve got my 15 year plan to financial freedom so hopefully it won’t be all that long before I’m a digital nomad just like you. Thanks for the tips!

  4. I love the idea of a vision board. It sounds hoaky or maybe the least important, but I believe it’s probably the most important because it keeps your goal in front of you at all times. The more focus and intention you have, the more likely you are to achieve your goal!

  5. We have a plan to travel slowly once our kids hit college age. They are only 5 and 7 now, so it will be a while. Still, we’ll probably be ready to retire or work very part-time by that point. Our plan is to stay in different parts of the world for a few months at a time. Fortunately, all our work requires is wifi!

    1. Yes, I’m glad that all I need is wifi!

  6. Ree Klein

    I’m chomping at the bit to try full-time RVing. We bought our 34′ RV last year and have taken it to Oregon and Michigan. I love traveling in it and think I could do at least a year if not more.

    We could do it if we sold the house but we live in CA and I know that we could never afford to come back if we wanted to. It’s not that I’m so in love with CA, in fact there are a lot of negatives to living here but it’s been my home forever and most of my family is within easy driving distance. (Not that we see each other that often!)

    Renting the house out is another option, but I really don’t know how the math works out on that and whether or not it would supplement us to the point where we could live off what we get. Probably not.

    In two years, things will change and we’ll have more options so we’ll probably just wait it out until then but when I read these posts it makes me all excited and I just want to leave now!

    Thanks for that ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ree

    1. It’s funny, me and my husband don’t see this full-time traveling thing ending anytime soon. We LOVE it!

  7. Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions

    I think when we head out on the road next fall (after the youngest goes to school) that we’ll just do trips to see some sights we want to see (some of those bucket list places!) After that I like the idea of slow travel though! I would just want the kids to be more settled in their own lives before we take off on bigger adventures. Great food for thought here!

  8. This reminds me a lot of Vagabonding. But an updated and more in-depth version. I re-read the book while we were in Costa Rica (because I like torturing myself, I guess), and I was struck by how relevant it still is even though it’s nearly two decades old. Plus, the old technology references made me smile. I guess the moral of this story is it depends on how badly you want it, right? You’re a glowing example that it can be done really well with hard work and talent. I think I’m going to either cut summer school in half next year or opt out entirely so we can travel more. I’m not ready to leave the classroom just yet, but I figure I should take advantage of my schedule a bit more!

    1. Yes, it definitely depends on how badly you want it ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Lindsey

    I would love to be able to take off and just travel for months or years on end. Sell everything we own the whole nine yards. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get the BF on board with that, so instead we’re just looking into take a few BIG trips a year. This year we plan to travel to orlando, las vegas, williamsburg, nassau, and so much more. We have been saving aggressively all year for these trips and every month it’s like a mini vacation!

  10. This list makes complete sense. Some are easier pills to swollow than other, but that all depends on the person. It will be a life change (to sell your car, house, live on the road, etc.) But how exciting to do that while still enjoying an income stream. I love hearing that you and your husband and enjoying the RV life!

  11. Paige @ Live, Laugh, Budget

    I have always had the plan to retire early and buy an RV to travel the country. I love the idea of traveling full time, but I’m not sure how it would be able to fit my life at the present time. As of now, my job is not location independent but I’m hoping my blog will be changing that in the future. Thanks for inspiring those of us unable to make the switch to RV life for now.

    1. RV life is a ton of fun! Hopefully you can do it soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Absolutely agree!

    I did a gap year after university and it was the best thing ever. I’m now married, have a tween and a corporate job, but I still travel. So far this year I’ve been to 8 countries!

    The two most important tips I think are to save & save and have a budget, but don’t worry if you over-spend here and there, equal it out on something else instead!

  13. Amanda-LivingFullyandFree

    Dream goals in this post!!!! I can not wait! My husband already agreed we could do this if my side hustles allow me to one day quit my full time job.

    Amanda

  14. This is the same as people who are too afraid to move to NYC because of the costs. I always tell them, if you’re willing to make it a priority and accept certain trade offs, you can absolutely do it. You can do anything!

  15. If you’re really focused on making travel a priority, then you can do it! Teaching English in South Korea is another great option. I know many of the people that teach there are able to save around $1000 USD per month. There’s lots of blog posts about people saving 10-15K from one year of teaching there!

  16. Love your ideas! We are working hard to downsize and make our family more mobile…it’s hard! I didn’t realize how attached to stuff we were until we started this process. But selling it will help us save up money to reach our goals sooner!
    Thanks for the inspiration to keep going~Karina

  17. These are great tips. I really like the idea of a vision board for mapping out your goals – but I’m a visual person, so maybe that’s why I like it so much! In the future, this might be what I want to do; retire early and travel! I love reading about your lifestyle. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. Adam Doolittle

    Fantastic, in-depth article. We recently became full-time RVers and acted on many of these very same suggestions before and after hitting the road. Now, we’re having a blast full-time RVing and blogging about it.

  19. Antonio Carter

    Careful planning is almost the answer to everything…it seems like. My family never took vacations growing up so this is a new plan for me to take in. I will be implementing these ideas with my wife!