How To Afford To Travel Full Time

how to afford to travel full time

Are you getting tired of the 9-5 grind, working from sunrise to sunset, and feel like you need a break? Do you wish you could afford to leave the cubicle and go travel full time? It seems like an impossible task, but it can be done.

Most of our lives are spent chasing the next step, whether that is the next promotion at your job, a bigger house, or a better car. Imagine if you could take a break from your desk job and just travel somewhere for a few months, a few years, or perhaps for the rest of your life.

Seems like an impossible goal, but I can tell you that it is absolutely possible because that is exactly what I am doing.

So what makes me an expert in this subject? Just my own experience.

I spent years climbing the corporate ladder until one day I realized I had had enough of putting things off for the “right time”.

When you leave the corporate world and have time to enjoy life, it turns out the simple things are the ones that bring the most joy, like spending time chasing waterfalls, camping underneath the stars, or traveling to a new country.

Instead of chasing a bigger salary and fancier things, I started chasing bigger dreams.

So that sounds great, right? But how can that help YOU do the same? Well, it isn’t that hard to do if you follow these simple steps:

 

Plan

None of this will work if you don’t have a proper plan. What is your end goal? Are you wanting to take a break and travel around the US for a few months? Are you planning to move abroad? How much will it cost you per month to travel through South America if that is your goal? Your future doesn’t have to be planned out 100% but a general plan is a must. Write out all the expected monthly expenses and the length of your travel which will help you figure out how much money you’ll need to save.

If you need some help with the planning part, check out my handy check out my handy budget tool that I created to do just that for you. All you need to do is enter some expected expenses and this tool will help you calculate the cost of your trip and how long it will take for you to save up based on your paychecks.

 

Prioritize

Before I left the corporate world I made traveling full time my NUMBER 1 PRIORITY. It has to be, otherwise, it will just be another thing sitting on your bucket list until the “right time” comes around. I realized that the “right time” will never come around and that YOU have to make it happen.

I was the biggest skeptic of this idea until I decided to give it a real shot. Sometimes the biggest obstacles are the ones we create in our minds. If you really want to take a break from your 9-5 to travel full time, make it your number one priority and don’t let yourself be derailed by all the things that come up along the way!

Here is what I am talking about. In order to travel full time here are some things I had to push down on my priority list for later or maybe never:

  • Owning a house ($400,000 expense, I was living in LA after all!)
  • Buying a new car ($20,000 expense)
  • Having a beautiful wedding ($50,000 expense)
  • Going out to dinners ($300/month expense)
  • Personal fitness trainer ($250/month expense)
  • Shopping for clothes, getting my hair done, manicures + whatever-else-girls-get-done expense ($$$$$$$)
  • Etc, etc, etc

If traveling truly is your number 1 priority, your goals and spending will need to change. Work hard and save smart which leads to my next point.

 

Save

The average household income in the US is $51,939. Before I quit my job I wasn’t making much more than that yet over the years I managed to save enough to take a year or two off work without worrying about expenses.

If you want to take time off from work to travel, you must SAVE. Depending on what your travel plans are, you might not need to save a lot, but you do need extra cash for your trip. You want to live in a van and drive around the US? Cool! You don’t need that much cash to do that. You want to go to France for the summer with your family and stay in nice villas? Yup, you’ll need more cash for that, so better start saving now.

Saving is a hard habit to form and even the smallest things can add up. So next time you go to Starbucks ask yourself, “Do I really need this Venti Caramel Fat Free Sugarless Soy Foam Chocolate Frappuchino”? That could go towards gas for a road trip. Or do I need to go to that new fancy restaurant down the street to try out their Porkbelly Burger that costs $20? In Bali, that covers one day in a beautiful 4-star hotel plus food! It’s all about the choices you make.

It’s hard. I remember times when I had to say “no” to my friends and miss out on activities, or go to a restaurant and not order anything and feel embarrassed. I never had the newest iPhone, didn’t drive the newest model car, didn’t have cable TV/Netflix/Hulu, and I drank disgusting break-room coffee at work while everyone else enjoyed their Starbucks. I didn’t say it was going to be easy. But these are the TOUGH choices that will lead to a reward at the end. A potential trip abroad, a new experience or a getaway.

 

Create Side Income

A lot of people feel uncomfortable leaving their jobs without having some sort of side income to fall back on in case the savings start running out. If you are one of those people, there are many ways to create a side income for your travels, but let me warn you, this is not an easy task to do.

Before I left my job I read Tim Ferris’s “4 Hour Work Week” and I was ready to take on the world! It sounded like creating an online business was easy like a piece of cake. However a year later after trying all sorts of things like blogging, social media, writing e-books and more, I can tell you personally that it is not as easy as it seems. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that it is an impossible task and that you shouldn’t try! After all, your chances of success will be a lot higher if you try, than if you don’t.

semi rad chart

Some ways to create a side income online while traveling include:

  • Social media, blogging and partnering with brands
  • Creating online products like e-books, courses, Lightroom Presets (for photography)
  • Selling physical product like shirts, mugs, socks etc.

These are just some examples of how Instagram travelers currently earn money to supplement their travels. The choices are really unlimited and the best part about creating an online side income versus something like teaching English or bartending is that online income won’t tie you down to a specific location for a long period of time and can be done from anywhere in the world. But also because of this reason, the competition for creating income in these fields is so much more competitive than location jobs.

 

Downsize

Is there anything in your life that you can think of that you can live without? If there is, sell it, cancel it or return in. This task is not so easy if your main priority is not traveling. “But I really don’t want to sell my college beach cruiser which I haven’t used in years”. Ask yourself if this item is a necessity in your life, but be honest with yourself. If you haven’t used that item in a year, the chances are, you never will. Maybe consider moving into a smaller apartment or eat Ramen every night (don’t eat Ramen every night. That’s just gross).

Downsizing was tough; I had worked so hard and for so long to live in a cool place, but the reality was that if I wanted to take time off, I had to downsize. I downsized once to save money while I was still working, and then I cut down my rent in half after I stopped working by moving to a different area and getting a much smaller apartment. Currently, I am going through another downsizing period as a preparation for a year long trip through South America. Little by little I have chipped away all of my physical items until I only have necessities left. And it couldn’t feel more liberating!

 

Read Blogs and Listen to Podcasts

Traveling the world and writing about it is nothing new. Many bloggers share their journeys online on how they left their jobs to travel full time. And if you read their stories, many are similar to mine. For example, Expert Vagabond sold his car, canceled his gym membership and ate pasta and rice in order to save money for his trips. The Blonde Abroad left her corporate Finance job to see the world and help non-profit programs. Nomadic Matt found ways how to travel smarter on a low-cost budget so he doesn’t have to be tied to a cubicle job.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel and make the same mistakes when you can learn from the pros that have been traveling full time for years. We all start out the same and sometimes we just need an extra inspiration to get things going.

 

Join Online Communities and Groups

A great way to connect with people who already travel full time is by joining an online community or a group. Most people want to connect with other like-minded people who are going through a similar journey so many Instagram and Facebook groups are designated for just that.  By joining a group like @wearetravelgirls, @girlslovetravel and @womenwhohike both on Instagram and Facebook I have been able to connect with other female travelers, learn from their journeys and pick up many travel tips along the way.

There are Instagram and Facebook groups designated to all sorts of subjects and interests so try to find one that fits your interests, join or follow it and try to interact with other members in these groups. You never know who you might meet or what travel tips you might pick up along the way that might help you travel full time.

 

If you are still unsure on how to get started with full-time travel, just start off by traveling locally and with time branch out to international travel. Sometimes we need to start off with small, realistic goals before jumping into something more extreme like leaving a job to travel full time. And that is TOTALLY ok too. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to traveling. The only important thing is that you get started instead of waiting for the “right time” because that time may never come.

 

People ask me all the time “Oh man, how do you do it? How do you travel full time? I could never do it/afford it/make it work”. It’s almost as if I’m keeping a treasured secret under my belt. There is no secret. All the tips mentioned above will get you there like it did me. THAT is the secret. If you are planning to take a break from your job to travel, go after a hobby you always wanted to try out, or just relax for a bit, follow these simple steps every day and sooner or later you will be able to reach your goal and do the same.

 

 

Related Article:

How I Quit My Job To Travel

 

34 thoughts on “How To Afford To Travel Full Time”

  1. Navraj S Grewal

    Hey Laura, this was both an inspiring and educative article. Hope you guys continue inspiring and writing more such articles.
    I have a suggestion. Why don’t you write some articles based on the actual trips you have taken, places stayed at, activities done and places where you ate. You could give a rough estimate of how much you spent on different heads and few tips from your experiences. Everybody will have a different plan and a budget to go with it. But this would make it very interesting and a rough guide.

    You could also write a piece on how to keep your things safe and whether to carry some cash and which cards(credit/debit/prepaid) to use for what purposes as banks charge different levies in different countries. I have read a piece on this on the net. You could get a cue from that.

    Well these are just some suggestions which I thought would interest readers of your blog which from now on includes me too.

    Thanks once again for a very motivating piece.
    Keep doing well.
    Navraj Grewal

    1. Hi Navraj!
      Thank you for your comment. I am planning to write more informative articles like this one. Most of my articles are about places I have visited locally and abroad, travel guides, tips, and suggestions for things to do, see, stay, eat and transport.
      I do suggest carrying some cash around on travel trips because many places don’t accept cards yet and it’s always faster and easier dealing with cash than cards. For credit card I suggest using Mastercard Barclaycard Arrival Plus which doesn’t charge international fees. I usually call my banks and inform them about any upcoming trips so I don’t run into any banking issues while traveling.
      Cheers and thank you for reading the blog : )
      Laura

  2. Great advice. I don’t want to do anything on such a big scale (I have two kids, so by “don’t want to” I mean “can’t”), but I am hoping to take a full month off next summer to travel (with the kids). You’re so right; if there’s no plan, it’s never going to happen.

  3. Awesome photos and fantastic story! Great article on planning too. How is it going keeping in touch with the people who were close to you before you left on your journey? I’ve been on my trips too and have learned that as fun as adventures can be, returning can be pretty tough when you find the people you were close to before have filled the gap you left with something else. How long do you intend to continue on this path? Do you find it truly rewarding? In hindsight is there anything you’d do differently?

    For a little context I’ve got similar goals as yours. Slightly different plan and slightly different goal, but similar. My form of saving is to invest in things that offer a rate of return, so when I ditch the 9-5 I’m not burning a pile of cash with a limited supply. It takes a bit more work and the reward is longer delayed, but the potential reward is bigger as well. My end goal isn’t full travel, but maybe to cut work to 25% usual amount possibly as a consulting role. Live other places, with some responsibilities, but more free time than I have now.

    Anyway hope you’re enjoying Oregon!

    Michael

    1. Hi Michael! Thank you so much for your kind words! After I left my family and friends in LA, I have tried to keep in touch as much as I can. Some of my friends and family have come to visit me and I have spent more time together with them than when I was working full time in LA so it has brought us a lot closer. As of now, I plan to travel for the next year or two at the least. I am trying to establish some online income sources so if that works out, I hope to travel for longer. I do find it very rewarding. For the first time in my life, I have time to reflect on life, what I want out of it and do some “soul searching”. It was hard to do before when most of my life evolved around trying to climb the corporate ladder. Turns out, I would rather spend my time backpacking through mountains or exploring a new country, but I never knew that until I gave it a shot. I don’t think I would do anything differently. Maybe spend more time trying to establish an online income source before leaving, but it was quite impossible working full time at the time.

      I admire your plan and commitment to cut down on full-time work. The most important part is to understand your goals and it’s great that you know yours. I wish you all the best!

      Laura

  4. Dear Laura,
    I just want to tell you that I really love your post. I do love traveling but the fear of leaving job, things and people has always scared me a lot, along with the big question of money and “what if money finishes?”, and the fear of the future. Btw this is the most inspiring, motivating and good post I’ve ever read. I’ve always looked for this kind of post and info and never found one until yours. So thank you very much! I look forward to many other of these posts!

    Roberta

    1. Hi Roberta! Thank you so much for your comment!

      I was very scared for years to step out of my comfort zone, It took me a long time to gather the courage to leave my 9-5 job, my family and friends in LA. I had the same fears as you, worrying about money and what would happen in the future. But after a while, I didn’t want my fears to stop me from living my life and go for the things I always dreamed of. The worst thing we can do is let the fears win. If the money starts running out after a while, you can always go back to working. All the “what if” scenarios are just our fears telling ourselves we can’t do something. Once you make that change, go for your dream, you realize that life doesn’t just have to be about money or working and it’s ok to let ourselves have fun and enjoy life once in a while. And that is more rewarding than anything money can buy.

      Cheers,
      Laura

  5. This just made me realize how much stuck I’m on planning stage and analysis paralysis for my backpacking trip around East Africa !
    Prioritization is the Key, and that to be 2017’s 1st priority. Thanks Laura.

    Enjoy Freedom,
    Shibrain

    1. Hi Ahmed,
      Prioritization is the key! I used to spend so much time focusing on things that in the long run don’t even matter that much like getting a nice car or a nice apartment. Those things only bring temporary satisfaction, but traveling and experiencing something new brings a whole different type of excitement to life.
      Backpacking around East Africa sounds like an amazing trip! I hope you get to do it very soon.
      Laura

  6. Really inspiring ! Iv been planning this for the past few months, but keep changing my mind. Im living the safe job, with a good job/car, money reliably coming in weekly. But still im not happy. I want to get out and see things, explore, find myself. Thankyou for this article. I will be keeping up to date with your blog.

    1. Hi Rob! There is nothing wrong with having a nice job, car and money. It’s hard to make a switch and voluntarily leave that life. I worked for those things for years but I realized it wasn’t making me truly happy either. Now I have a smaller apartment and I cut down most of my expenses, but I have the freedom to explore and travel. Maybe one day I’ll go back to the corporate life but for now, I enjoy trying something different. I hope you do too one day.
      Cheers,
      Laura

  7. I’m curious….I met you on Instagram(sun_tzu_74).you speak about “traveling all the time”.Do you currently work?How many months do you work?How many months do you travel around the world….?I’m planning a road trip,60 days on the road.A trip trough california,arizona,utah,nevada and your story is really interesting…i’m planning this trip,i took a year about it..Sorry about my english,i’m studying this Language…..It’s time to change life for me too…
    “When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” Stephen Hawking

  8. I love this! Even after making traveling a priority (what I tell people they have to do first in order to travel more) there is a lot of planning and sacrifice that goes into it! I work for myself and might spend a weekend working at home in order to enjoy the next week off. I think outsiders looking in don’t always realize what it takes to travel frequently. It’s not for everyone and I appreciate this post highlighting the behind the scenes! 🙂
    Steph

    1. Hi Steph! I completely agree with you. Traveling takes a lot of time, planning, sleepless nights and sacrifices but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s especially hard when working full time, but it’s not impossible. When I worked full time I traveled every chance I could, but it’s much nicer to have more flexibility. I hope to one day work for myself like you do, and I am working hard towards that goal. It’s great to know that there are other people doing the same and it helps me keep going. Thank you for sharing that!
      Cheers,
      Laura

  9. Really enjoyed reading your blog Laura 🙂 I am not sure if it’s because I am a Gemini, but I like to flip flop between traveling/exploring and staying at home and working. So currently am pursuing a life that is split between being a physician and being a photographer. I have found that in doing so I am able to enjoy both parts of my life more. After traveling for several days I begin to crave my tempurepedic bed and as you put it Venti Caramel Fat Free Sugarless Soy Foam Chocolate Frappuchino 🙂 After spending some days at home I feel the call of the wild and have to strap on my backpack and head off to explore some place I have not been to before. In this cosmos of ying and yang, am finding my moments of zen :))

    1. Hi Sapna! It sounds like you have found the perfect balance in life between achieving career goals and personal goals. I spent so much time focused on my fiance career that I let the “fun” slip out of my life, so I am working on getting that part of my life back. Just like you, after a few days of camping and traveling, I crave the comforts of home as well. Hey, nothing wrong with that! : ) And when I spend a few days at home I am itching for a new adventure. Life is all about finding that perfect balance of things that bring us joy.
      Cheers,
      Laura

    1. Hi, Peter! Right now I am just living off my savings. In the section “SAVE” I mentioned how I was saving for a while until I was ready to take time off work. While I am hoping to start an online business in the near future, for now, I am just relying on my savings. Hope this helps!

  10. Hi Laura

    I found this website after the IG account followed mine, and stumbled across this article. This is probably the most inspiring and realistic article I read about full time travelling, as many of the other ones gave off a false perception of it being very easy. I aspire to be a travel videographer right after graduation next spring, but this gave me a good reality check of the finances i need to buckle down on and the students loans that still need to be repaid. Thanks for sharing your tips on how to achieve these goals, cheers!

    1. Hi Karen,

      Thank you for your comment! I think everyone can potentially travel full-time at least for a little while, but so often today because of social media we think it’s so easy and glamorous. What we often don’t see behind all those perfect pictures on Instagram is years of hard work, sweat, and sacrifices. Unless you already have a way to make income from social media, photography or videos before starting to travel, those first years can be tough. But with the right plan and saving ahead of time, it doesn’t have to be. Good luck to you in your travel journey! Best, Laura

  11. Hey Laura, thanks for this enlightening and truthful write up of your experience of Travelling full time. Me and my partner are planning to quit our jobs this June 2017 and planning to travel the unbeaten path of Southeast Asia for 2 years. But hopefully we don’t need to come back to work and continue exploring the world or find something meaning to do and finance this travel. Wish us luck. Regards, Jon

    1. Hi, Jon! That is so awesome! I do wish you all the best in your travels to come : ) I am in the same boat as you right now. I left my job to travel for a few years and I am financing my travels purely on my savings, but I hope to find something meaningful to do or other ways to finance my travels along the way. All the best to you and your partner! Cheers, Laura

  12. Awesome post! I’ve been saving the past few months for a few trips to Central America and I can’t wait. Are you making your way there as well? I’m currently working on building an online business so that I can try the van life in the spring. When I read your post, it reminded me of the book “Set for Life,” which is what inspired me to really start saving. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Janice!

      I am actually heading out to Central America in about a week or so. We are currently finishing up a van conversion project for our trip and as soon as it’s finished, we’re heading out to that region. Do you have an Instagram or Facebook page? Would love to link up if we happen to be out there at the same time. Feel free to also email me at funlifecrisis@gmail.com.

      Cheers, Laura

      1. Hey Laura!

        I’m starting out in Austin TX from California and then I’ll make my way to Central America. How long will you be traveling there? My IG is @janicelaraine. I’ll reach out via email!

        1. Our plan is to travel around for about a year through Central and South America. Hoping to spend a month or so in as many countries as possible. I just followed your Instagram handle from my personal account @vagablonde_laura. Hopefully, we get to be in the same area at the same time! I always love to meet other fellow travelers.

  13. Laura, my husband and are about to downsize and take a year off to travel, and I was looking into alternative ways that are fun yet also allow me to bring some extra cash in. I enjoy editing, and reading, but I only try my hand in writing occasionally. I am considering starting a blog and I found this article very informative, helping me get started in the right direction. Thanks, so much!

    1. Hi Desiree,

      That sounds so exciting! Where are you planning to travel during your time off?

      Starting a blog can be a great way to keep yourself busy while taking time off work. You’ll learn so much and pick up new skills and with time it’s possible to turn those skills into a side income. I never thought it would work for me but after traveling full time for two years I can honestly say that starting a blog was the best decision I made after I quit my job. Yes it takes a lot of time and often it can be hard work, but seeing results and being able to support your travels with creative income is so rewarding. I wish you all the best on this journey you are starting. Good luck!

      Cheers,
      Laura

  14. Hi Laura! I was wondering, this is something that has been itching at the back of mind for quite sometime. I need more experience with photo content to attract people online. However, my main thing holding me back is my two dogs. I follow several travel bloggers but none of them have dogs. Have you met or seen another others that own dogs? If so, do they leave them behind temporarily, or travel with them? Other than that, I’m willing to minimize my life style. Thank you for all your insights and tips.

    1. Hey Stephanie!

      Yes, most people that we have met on our full-time travels do travel with their pets. We currently travel in a van with our cat and she has been to 10 countries already! : ) Traveling with pets is always a bit more challenging because you have to take into consideration the weather (especially heat) and if your pets are allowed into parks, Airbnb’s, restaurants etc. But it’s completely doable! Many of our full-time travel friends travel with their dogs. Our good friends Max and Lee travel with their dog Occy in a van and share their experiences on their Youtube Channel (here’s a link to their travel channel). I think a lot of it depends on the type of travel you’re planning to do. Vanlife and outdoors is typically more pet-friendly versus flying and staying in cities but really it’s not too hard to do it all.

      I hope this helps answer your questions a bit. Good luck on your adventures!

      Laura

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *