We all dream of traveling more, am I right? With the popularity of making bucketlists and watching travel shows on Nat Geo the world is begging to be explored.
Nick and I have traveled quite a bit in our adult lives. Most of our travels have been trips that we worked to save up for and then took time off in order to go. Simply put, it has always come down to prioritizing the allocation of our resources to travel rather than other things like nice furniture or expensive watches.
A year ago we got the guts to pull the plug on a stationary life and travel indefinitely. Turns out sustaining a life of travel requires an entirely different level of budgeting, research, and creativity to pull off. Who knew?
One of the most frequent questions we get asked when people find out we are traveling full-time is, "How do you afford it?" To that I extend a sincere thank you for the inspiration to focus my writing on budget travel!
I get it. Traveling full-time is uncommon in American culture, but it is becoming easier. Thanks to the availability of research tools on the internet our world is becoming smaller and more accessible every day.
For me personally, I utilize two methods to afford full-time travel: I have dramatically decreased my monthly expenses, and I
sold both kidneys create income from a variety of sources while I'm on the go. That's it.
This post is going to list some of the practical things we do in our daily life to decrease unnecessary spending and allocate more money to our travels. You will see affiliate links below for some of the products and services we use and love. By using these specific links you will be helping to support this blog. Thank you.
Diversify Your Income
This is the first step, in my opinion, to getting on the road more often. Having multiple streams of income, in varying amounts, has made it much less stressful for me to unplug and go explore.
There are heaps of ways to earn extra income in your spare time by getting a side hustle going. And who knows, maybe one day your fun little side hustle can be your full-time income, giving you the freedom to work independent of any certain location.
Here are some ideas (I've done, or currently do, all of these): refer friends to shop with your Amazon.com link, monetize your YouTube channel, pick up remote freelance work online, start a blog (yay, you're reading mine!), sell your photos and videos to stock footage companies, find temporary jobs in the places you travel to, or make smart investments with the money you already have.
Being able to earn an income while traveling takes a lot of courage, discipline, and hard work to pull off, but it's totally doable. The amount of time I spend "working" has increased dramatically since we started traveling (oh, you weren't expecting to hear that?), but I love it.
Shoot, if I can do it (one of the least disciplined people I know) then anyone can do it if they want it bad enough.
Sell Your Stuff
When we downsized our lives to hit the road in July 2016, we sold and gave away almost all of our belongings. Bye bye 2200 square feet of STUFF, helloooooo minimalism.
I made a scary but necessary decision to get rid of my car because we were moving into a travel trailer. We are now a one-vehicle family. I've never not had my own ride before and trust me it has it's pros and cons.
Being without a second car payment, a second insurance payment, and all the associated maintenance costs is liberating. I haven't missed it at all.
The bigger items in our home, like our televisions, were sold to bring in some extra cash. To save time because we were moving so quickly, everything else got dropped off at a donation site. You don't have to give away your stuff for free though.
If you have a lot of used clothes in good condition, you can sell most of it online. Poshmark is a bustling online marketplace where you can make fast cash for your clothes and accessories. Use code UATPM at this link to sign up and receive a $5 credit.
thredUP is also a great website to sell your clothes on. You send the clothes to them, and if they're top-brands, or on-trend you will get a pay out right away. Use this referral link for a $10 credit.
If you have old textbooks laying around, sell them to Amazon and get up to 80% back! Like you're ever going to open those books from your Liberal Arts degree again. Here's a link for their awesome textbook buy-back program.
If I could go back in time, I would sell a lot more of my stuff online instead of giving it away. Don't be an idiot like me, learn from my mistakes. Besides having extra cash to travel more, the space you create in your life by purging unneeded stuff is priceless.
This was a biggie for us. Spending $5-$10 a month on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Spotify, gift boxes, product clubs, etc, adds up quickly! As soon as you realize you can do without that stuff on a daily basis you've just found extra money in your pocket for future exploring!
The key is to not think of it as missing out. If you're used to watching every new TV series, or listening to commercial free music, stretch yourself to fill that time with something else, or (gasp) deal with the commercials. Volume DOWN!
Instead of listening to music on demand, we listen to a lot of podcasts now. Instead of movies and TV shows, we play cards, hang out with friends, read books, or ignore each other while I write this blog. #sorrynotsorry
Make Your Own Coffee
It blows my mind how much money people spend on their daily caffeine habits. Just drive by any Starbucks and you'll see 20 dollar bills flying out of peoples wallets all day long.
Don't get me wrong here, I don't even resemble a human being until I get caffeinated. (Sorry honey for anything I say before having my morning coffee.) But guys, the price for a cup of home brewed coffee is a fraction of what you spend at a coffee shop, and usually a fraction of the calories as well.
If you spend $5 a day (that's being conservative) on a fancy coffee drink, Monday through Friday for a year, it adds up to $1300! WTF!
That same $1300 could get you a round trip ticket from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand and 10+ days of adventures. Think about that!
Allocating that money to travel instead of the small everyday luxuries you're accustomed to could change your life.
Do it yourself! This is huge for me. I no longer spend money on getting my nails done, my hair colored, or my my eyebrows waxed. (R.I.P. gorgeous french manicure) I'm perfectly capable of doing those services myself for a hell of a lot cheaper.
READ MORE: How Much Does it Cost to Travel in India?
I'd rather be out exploring the world with my plain nails, less than perfect eyebrows, and basic hair color, than sitting at home totally put together but no money to experience life with. If you happen to be one of those women who affords full-time travel and all of the above and more, you are my her, and I bow to your perfectly pedicured feet.
Nick is a DIY-er to save money as well. True story. He's been known to YouTube his way through major projects like replacing a truck axel or fixing an electrical box.
Is there anything you regularly spend money on that you could do yourself for cheaper? I try to be practical about this, duh, keeping in mind that time is money. So, needless to say you won't find me sewing my own clothes any time soon.
Learn Cheap Ways to Travel
Lately I've been reflecting on why I love to talk about budget travel so much. It's not because it's glamorous, that's for sure (did you see the pictures in this post?). And I don't do it to brag.
I like to discuss the cost of travel because I feel it can create a crucial paradigm shift for people who believe they can't afford to travel.
Traveling cheap is a skill. It's a mindset. And there's no single correct way to do it. Traveling on a budget requires tons of research and practice.
Nick and I have developed techniques over time that we use to budget travel and are constantly improving upon them.
Of course I have written about a few favorite websites to book cheap travel. We've also shared our most helpful tips to save money while traveling. It's impossible to exaggerate how much time I have invested into learning how to travel on the cheap.
There are so many resources online to stretch your dollars further when you travel, so don't be hasty when researching and planning for a trip. And regardless of your budget, get out there and see the world, it's waiting for you.
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