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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.