HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

This is NOT one of those posts that will tell that all you need to do to afford traveling is to skip your morning latte. I also won’t tell you that travel is cheap…because TRAVEL IS NOT CHEAP.

I will, however, tell you that long-term travel is 100% possible. Read on to find out how we afford a life of travel, learn from mistakes that we’ve made, and get tips so you can put your long-term travel plan in place.

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

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Tip #1: Decide that a life of travel is REALLY what you want

Being is a traveler will define you. It will mean, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that experiences are more important than things. Sure that sounds nice, but really think about this new lifestyle. Can you live a life where every purchase must be carefully considered? Where new friends may soon be thousands of miles away after it seems like you just met them? Where family “back home” misses you daily (and truthfully, you’ll miss them too)?

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Tip #2: Save NOW!

(Change to “Get out of debt and save NOW” if you are in debt)

Alisa and I are just a regular couple who worked corporate jobs. After several years of it, we got sick of the daily grind and decided that we (and humans in general) were not meant to sit behind desks our entire lives. We wanted to see the world, to explore, to experience new things. We are both grateful, however, that we had the experience of working corporate jobs for a few reasons:

1. It allowed us to save money
2. We learned that corporate life was not for us
3. We can say “Hey, we tried it…” (mostly to appease our parents)

I’m not saying you have to go the corporate route, but you should not leave the safety and comforts of home without a “travel fund” to get you to your first job as a traveler. ALWAYS over-estimate…include all flights (or a car purchase if that makes more sense), stopovers in places you want to visit along the way, food, booze, and of course, the ever-intimidating first month, last month, and security deposit of your new apartment. Then double it.

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Tip #3: Realize the “Cycle of Money” that comes with long-term travel

The more you travel, the more you will want to travel. It is inevitable. In order to do that you will need to earn money along the way. The “Cycle of Money” means that you will settle down and work to build your savings up and fund your next round of travel…which will deplete your travel fund thus ensuring that the cycle continues.

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Tip #4: Learn at least one skill that is universal and can earn you money around the world

For me, this is bartending. When I knew that I was going to quit my corporate job, I reached out to a friend who owns a few bars in the city and asked if I could start bartending on a slow night. After a few years of travel, my bartending resume is impressive and usually lands me a job anywhere we go.

Alisa is much more versatile, as she has several universal skills up her sleeve. Depending on the location, she can and has worked as a waitress, hostess, tour guide, and crewmember (on a sailboat).

This is your opportunity to find work that doesn’t always need to feel like work. What gets you excited? Is it working in hospitality? Working with children? Teaching English to foreigners. Or perhaps this is your opportunity to follow a lifelong dream of being an instructor…whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, scuba diving, skydiving, or any number of jobs that will redefine what it means to “go to work.”

Just remember, even the “coolest” jobs have their ugly sides…I’ll get to that in Tip #8.

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Bonus Tip: Start a business

As a traveler, you’ll be free to UNLEASH THE ENTREPRENEUR inside of you. Today’s technology allows businesses to be easily run from a laptop, and if you have something to sell, it’s never been easier to reach a global audience. If this interests you, I cannot recommend Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week highly enough. Read it.

Alisa and I are always working on this, whether it’s our internet business that helps people find discounts and events at bars and restaurants, Alisa’s new photography business, my craft beer adventures, and so on…traveling affords us the time to work, have fun, and dedicate time to our own projects as well.

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Tip #5: Settle down in AWESOME places

You are a traveler by choice, so make sure you’re living in the places people only dream of (or take their 1-2 week vacations to)! Alisa and I have lived on a tiny island in the Caribbean (aka “heaven on earth), a tropical beach-town in northwest Australia, a postcard-perfect lakeside resort town in New Zealand, and are now living in one of the most popular ski destinations in the world.

Sure, the point of settling down in between bouts of travel is to save money…but the point also needs to be the enjoyment of life. Every day needs to be an adventure…wherever you are and for however long you are there!

Lastly, these kick-ass places to live are usually great places to find work and make money (just make sure you are there at the right time if jobs are seasonal). Rent is also pricier in these locations, but you should be making more money as well.

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Tip #6: Always have some sort of Health Insurance

Cost-saving is the main concern here. We learned the hard way how costly healthcare is without insurance, so we now always make sure that we have at least basic coverage for emergencies wherever our travels take us. Remember that things can go south with your health without cause or warning, and:

1. Always shop around plans to find exactly what you’re looking for at the best price
2. Find out exactly what the plan covers, including pre-existing conditions
3. Beware certain requirements, especially for “travelers health insurance” plans, such as being out of your home country for six months of the year

Bonus Tip: Always look for government subsidies

Different governments off all sorts of health-related services and even discounts on insurance. Do your research and potentially save a ton of money.

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Tip #7: Set a minimum amount you never want go below in your bank account.

If you hit that minimum then you should be prepared to stop traveling, work and earn back your necessary travel fund before you continue your travels

Learn from OUR mistakes! Alisa and I loved traveling through Australia from Sydney to Perth but BLEW through money the whole way. We were not indulging or eating out, but constant driving calls for a lot of gas money (on top of a used SUV purchase, groceries, etc. especially in an expensive country like Australia). After several months of hemorrhaging money, we stopped and had to work our way out of the hole.

 It’s MUCH better and offers more peace of mind to earn the money you want to use for your travels BEFORE you spend it!

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Tip #8: Remember that the grass IS greener on your side

This traveling adventure sounds great, right? But don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s all rainbows and lollipops.

Perhaps it’ll be your new responsibility of mopping the floor after your shift, that routine of working with tourist after tourist (asking the same insane questions everyday, like “Do you really live here?”), not knowing exactly where you’re sleeping on a particular night, or the constant buying and selling of vehicles/moving and renting apartments…something will have you daydreaming back to your past, salivating over that big paycheck you used to get for sitting at a computer all day.

But then you’ll bounce back to reality, realize that you are living the life YOU want, enjoying every short day on this earth, and perhaps even pop a squat on that green(er) grass under your feet and just chill…savoring that sweet realization.

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Tip #9: Planning is good, but doing is better

Alisa and I are both planners by nature. If you’re the same, imagine just hitting the road with no firm plan, no jobs lined up and no apartment waiting for you. This will be your new life…at least it should be.

As an outgoing traveler, you’ll meet so many helpful people along the way. New friends and acquaintances can lead to a great job that will never make it to Craigslist (or any other job listing site), a great apartment that’s about to become available, and the best local tips for things to do, see, eat, drink and more!

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Tip #10: FEAR is your enemy

and COMFORT is a close second…

Don’t let the unknown prevent you from exploring the world and living your dream. Be open to new experiences, transform the unknown into an adventure and embrace the new person you will become.

Ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Usually it’s not nearly as bad as you think. You can always go back to that life you left behind.

Also, remember that comfort, at least at the onset of your travels,  is something you need to give up to get the most out of life. It is really hard to leave a well-paying, not-so-demanding job. Everything adds up: The steady paycheck, the familiarity of your town or city, your routine. But let’s face it…

You would not have made it to Tip #10 if you were happy with your current routine.

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“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
-Annie Dillard

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

HOW TO AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL

Please share YOUR tips or mistakes that you’ve made during your travels, or ask any unanswered questions that we can help you with!