I know that full-time travel is a dream for many. However, it doesn’t have to be just a dream.
We sold our house, moved into an RV, and started traveling around four years ago, and last year we sold the RV and are living on a sailboat. In the past few years, I've met many full-time travelers. There have been people who have saved up 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 along the way, and they all really prove that anyone can make full-time travel possible.
But, 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 living in the RV and now sailboat, I've met so many amazing people who are making full-time travel a reality. These are people like:
- 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 full-time traveler who did so to find antiques and other items to resell.
- Several bloggers who write full-time (it's what I do as well!).
- People who have circumnavigated the world by boat.
- 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.
- Those who work their butt off a few months out of the 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 has their own way of doing things to make full-time travel work, so I'm sure you can find something that will fit your situation.
Unfortunately, many are afraid of the cost, but if you want to be a full-time traveler, there are definitely ways to make it work.
Here are 13 ways to make full-time travel a reality.
1. Figure out how much money you need.
First, you should calculate how much it will cost you to travel, basically that’s how much money you will need to live on. This will be pretty similar to making a monthly household budget, but some of your expenses will be different and will depend on how you are traveling. 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) and mode of travel, like RV, car, sailboat, etc. 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 calculate 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.
Knowing your financial limitations with travel is a must. If you are traveling with someone else, it’s important to find out what their expectations are with full-time travel so you can come to an agreement on how you will plan and afford to do so.
Brooke and Buddy recently wrote a great post for me that explains how easy it is to overspend on full-time travel. They spent $43,486 to RV for one year! They share their budget, how and why they went over it, and if they would do it again.
2. 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 travel fund. This means that you should put money aside before thinking about your budget for food, entertainment, etc.
Related article: Pay Yourself First – How This Simple Trick Can Help You Save More
This will allow you to save more money for travel, and because you will be taking money away from the extras (like going out to eat, buying new clothes, etc.) you may actually get better with that unneeded spending. Learning to cut your budget and spend less can really help you in the long run, and it will cause you to think more carefully about each dollar you spend.
Personal Capital is also a great way to help you stay on track for your travel goals. Personal Capital allows you to combine all of your accounts in one place so that you can see whether or not you are on track for your financial goals, whether that is traveling full-time, retirement, and more.
3. 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 save as much money as you can for your travel fund before you leave. If you aren’t already using a household budget, starting one to prepare for travel will actually help you in the long run by showing you how important they are and getting you used to using one.
You may also find that you need to cut your budget to make full-time travel a reality. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to cut your budget.
4. Pay off debt.
While traveling, you will not want to have to worry about your monthly debt payments. And, I definitely recommend getting rid of your debt before you leave – you'll be able to travel with less stress.
Also, if you are able to get rid of your debt before you start traveling, you will actually lower your travel budget all together, and it can offer you more options for working and traveling. Now, not everyone works while they travel, but some choose the digital nomad lifestyle as a way to balance it all out – that’s what I do!
Paying off your debt and lowering your monthly budget also means you won’t be as stressed out about finances while you’re traveling. You can hike, camp, explore islands, small towns, etc. while you travel, and it’s so much more enjoyable if you don’t have that debt hanging over your head.
5. Create a vision board.
Making your full-time travel goal visual is a great way to find motivation and can make saving money fun.
Having your financial goal displayed in front of you makes 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 goal.
- Keep a picture of your goal on hand. Having a picture of your full-time travel goal will keep it on your mind. This could be a picture of the RV or boat you want to buy, a picture of one of your destinations, and more. You can even go all out and create a vision board on Pinterest or on a poster board that shows all of the places you want to visit, motivational sayings, etc.
- Start a blog. Blogging really helped me with my financial goals. It made it easy to look back and 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 and maybe even make money along the way
6. Work while you travel and be location independent.
There are plenty of ways for anyone to make money while traveling. 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.
- 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.
- Freelance write or become a virtual assistant. Working for other online business owners and bloggers can be a very rewarding thing, and it can help make your travel dreams possible.
- 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 to sell items online, you can sell your products on sites such as eBay, Etsy, Craigslist, and countless others. If you are selling products while you travel, you may need to consider how inventory will work, like where you will get it from, where you will store it, and more.
- 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. If you are interested in seeing if your company allows this, make a plan and meet with your boss to talk about the possibility.
Learn more at Make Money While Traveling – Yes, It’s Possible!
7. Find jobs in the places you are visiting.
There are many instances when you may decide that you want to stay put for a while. Maybe you just really like a certain spot, maybe you are trying to lower the cost of your travel, or maybe you are having work done to your vehicle. 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:
- Bartend or work at a restaurant.
- Work at a hotel, motel, campground, or hostel.
- Help out on a farm.
- Work on a cruise ship or yacht.
- Au Pair – Read How To Become An Au Pair And Travel The World.
- Teach English.
8. 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 traveling, you may decide to work like crazy before you leave.
Wes and I are cruising on our sailboat, so I am working like crazy to get as far ahead as possible on my blog posts and plan as much business stuff as I can. There have been a lot of crazy work weeks, but I know it will be worth it to relax a little once we get to our next destination.
If you are motivated to reach your savings goal even more quickly, you may 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.
9. 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.
We sold one of our cars before we started RVing and just kept our Jeep. When it came time to move onto the sailboat, we did decide to keep the Jeep, but Wes’ parents are storing it and taking care of it for us. While there are still some expenses related to keeping the Jeep, we really love it and did a lot of work to it to make it an awesome overland vehicle.
For many though, keeping your car can just create extra hassle, extra expenses, and extra stress. Save your money instead!
Plus, car sharing has made it really easy to ditch your car. I use Uber and Lyft whenever we need to get somewhere farther than our fold-up bikes can take us.
10. Get rid of your home.
All of the same advice about your car 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.
On the other hand, if you think you’ll be back soon or just aren’t ready to let go of it, you can always rent it out on AirBnb. We love using AirBnb, and we’ve stayed in several places that were owned by people who were full-time travelers.
If you decide to use AirBnb or rent your house out another way while you travel full-time, you will want to factor the costs you may incur because of that into your travel budget. These would be things like a cleaning service, a property manager, and so on.
11. Make your dollars stretch.
Full-time travel can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want it to be. Making your dollar stretch for travel is something you may do to prepare for traveling and/or something you do along the way.
While you are saving up to travel, being as frugal as possible will help you save more money and start traveling sooner. It means you are cutting extra spending, wasting less, and being in control of your wants and needs. Being frugal really means that you are adjusting your expectations and living with less, and you can read more at Change Your Life By Becoming A Frugal Freak.
Being frugal can also help you as you travel. You will likely have to downsize and live with less while you are a full-time traveler, but being frugal can also help you stretch your dollars as you go.
Some of the frugal things you can do while traveling include:
- Make friends and couch surf.
- Stay in hostels.
- Watch your food spending.
- Cut back on memberships.
- Sell your car.
By saving money, you may be able to travel a little bit longer, and it can even get you in the mindset of making this a long-term thing.
- Why I’m Not Sad That I’m Frugal
- Real Life Frugality
- The Power of Frugality – You Shouldn’t Just Focus on Earning More
12. Hack your full-time 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, but it’s not something you will want to do if you are unable to manage your credit cards responsibly.
Lots of people are talking about travel hacking these days, and it isn’t just people who are wanting to make full-time travel a reality. There are also a lot of concerns about whether or not travel hacking is a scam. Personally, I love it, and we use our rewards for everything. But, you have to be responsible and not get in over your head!
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.
13. Travel slowly.
One thing people always ask us about is where we’re headed to next and when we’ll do so. It’s like everyone assumes we’re waking up, traveling to the next place, and repeating that everyday. That would be exhausting!
Traveling slowly is what I prefer, as this way usually allows you to travel more affordably and is less tiring. It’s more affordable because transportation costs are typically what eats up a travel budget. This can be true even if you aren’t a full-time traveler! If you are traveling for extended periods of time, you probably won’t be in a rush to move to the next city, you will have more time to enjoy the places you are visiting, etc.
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 or are location independent, then you may be able to afford to travel quickly.
Another benefit of traveling slowly for long-term travel is 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, and that can help you with your overall travel budget.
Are you interested in full-time travel? Why or why not?
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