I had so so many people asking me this question:
“You are a full-time traveller – how the hell do you afford that?”
I found it so fascinating how many people actually consider money to be the number 1 thing to worry about when it comes to travelling. And apparently, money is also the number 1 reason why so many people just don’t take the decision to pack their things and go on an adventure of self-discovery. The lack of money is connected with insecurity and therefore causes fear. Because it is not fun to travel worrying about your bank account 24/7 – you won’t enjoy anything you do. Stepping out of your very cosy comfort zone can be a real challenge. And most people confuse travelling with vacations – but it’s a very different thing. I want to share with you some hacks I use to afford full-time travelling:
1. Change Your Perspective on Money
First of all, I want you to understand something. Travelling is not expensive. Travelling is not unaffordable. Travelling is not just for rich people. Everyone can do it, you just need to change your perspective from going on a 5-star hotel vacation to backpacking with a budget. How much money do you spend monthly on rent, food, your car, your family, coffee, clothes, transport, going out with your friends and so on? Believe me, if you decide to go on long-term travel you won’t need any of those things, and like this, you save a lot of money which you can use to survive on the road for a long time. Because in most countries, you spend much less in a day than staying at home.
2. Save Up & Make a Plan
Before you even start to travel, it is kinda obvious that you need a money base to start with. That means, saving up some cash in order to ensure your survival. People often ask me how much money they should save up before going on a big journey, but really that depends on so many things – where you go in the world, how long you will be away and which travel style you choose (budget or luxury). A minimum you should ensure is the flight to the country/continent you want to travel to and back. I used to always book a one-way ticket but always ensured that I had enough to fly back home at any given moment. And, according to your lifestyle, ensure that you always have some emergency money in your account.
But the key here is also to stay flexible, once on the road. I never plan my route too detailed, I leave some room for spontaneous changes – because once you talk to your fellow travellers, you will get a lot of secret tips & must-sees that you will not find in any travel guide.
3. Move Around Wisely
To find the best flight is a biggie because you can save a lot of money there. I mostly use Skyscanner or Google Flights to research flight prices – the key there is to be very flexible with the dates and airports. For example, if you are flying out of Europe, you should always check the biggest European cities for cheap flights. Because within Europe it’s usually super fly and cheap to fly or even take the bus. Therefore I mostly do not choose a direct flight but sacrifice some time and sleep to get to my destination. And due to low demand, the cheapest day to travel is Tuesday. Once in the country, I choose to travel by bus, which isn’t the most comfortable but for sure climate-friendly & cheapest option. And within a city, I prefer to walk or take local transport to expensive taxis. Another thing to take into account is the travel season. Depending on the country, you should research which time of the year is the least expensive to travel to.
4. Spend Consciously
I met so many people travelling that literally threw away money. They spent more than 100 euros a day on excessive partying, way too expensive excursions, useless souvenirs or overpriced restaurants. You have to become aware of the fact that if you are travelling long-term, you are not on vacation. That is one thing so many people confuse about, they think that I am on holidays for 2 years. But travelling is work. You have to organise, plan ahead, network and do a lot of self-work (if you choose to). I learned to spend my money on essentials like transport, accommodation & food wisely.
5. Cook to Share
One big tip: Cook yourself! Go and explore the local markets – I really enjoy going on the hunt for new exotic fruits & vegetables, and trust me, you will be so proud of your own little meal creations! Cooking in your hostel or Airbnb will also connect you automatically with other travellers. Remember to cook always a little bit more so you can share it with others! I actually have a whole list of dishes to try out because I got so inspired by other backpackers & their creations. In hostels you will also almost always find some free food & leftovers from others, so you can get really creative every day! Also when you go out during the day, always take some snacks with you like nuts & dried fruits, muesli bars, crackers or fresh fruits. And don’t forget your own water bottle – to save money and to avoid plastic bottles. And don’t forget to try the local street food – delicious & cheap! I use Tripadvisor to find cheap eats in every city.
6. Explore on Foot
When it comes to excursions, I also learned to select very carefully. Fact is, if you are not only on vacation for 2 weeks, you cannot take part in every field trip or activity there is – you will end up broke. And honestly many of them are just tourist traps. If you really want to get to know a culture and its people, go on a walk through the city, talk to the locals and discover the hidden gems. In every city, you can find “top free things to do” (check out Lonelyplanet for that) like free museums and art galleries. For everyone that loves walking, I especially recommend doing the Free Walking Tour in every city.
7. Sleep for Free
When it comes to accommodation, the most popular choices are hostels, b&b or Airbnb. But there exists another option that many people don’t know about: Couchsurfing. CS is a super nice platform with people from all over the world, where you can find hosts and sleep on a stranger’s couch for free. Right, it doesn’t cost a penny. And you also get to know the culture and people on a whole other level, as you will be living and sharing with them. I had the most incredible (and also some very weird experiences) experiencing doing Couchsurfing all over the world. If you don’t like the idea of sleeping on a couch, you can use CS also to meet up with a local for a coffee and make new travel friends.
If you are looking to work while travelling, Woofing & Workaway are your top options. On Woofing, you can find thousands of organic farms all over the world that are searching for volunteers to help them with their work. Workaway offers not only farm stays, but all kind of different jobs, from the receptionist to painter, from marketing to teaching – whatever skill you have you can find work there. I personally did digital marketing for a hostel in Costa Rica and volunteered at a Krishna temple in Colombia. In exchange, you get accommodation & sometimes even food for free. It is an excellent way of learning new things, applying your knowledge, connecting with other travellers & saving a lot of money.
9. Work Remotely
Besides saving money and volunteering, there is also the option of actually making an income while travelling. If you are more of a digital nomad and want to work a remote job, then I also have some tips for you. Because that is what I did during my years of travelling, to ensure a constant income. I worked for the publishing company ICS as a freelance journalist – and they are always looking for writers. Another super common remote job is teaching English online e.g. with Teachaway. More informal is practising English with students from all over the world using companies like Vipkid or Cambly. Other popular remote jobs are coding (if you have the knowledge), website building, social media marketing, accounting or translation. Remote jobs are an excellent way of having an income while being totally independent time and location wise. These websites are also offering great remote jobs for digital nomads: Workingnomads, Jobspresso and Angellist.
For all the passionate writers among you, I am on two different platforms where I publish and promote my writing work. These two platforms actually pay you for publishing your own articles, depending on your reach. The first one is Medium, where you can earn by joining the Partner Program. The second platform I joined recently is Vocal, where you can win grand prices by entering writing challenges.
I hope these 9 tips will help you to step out of your comfort zone and finally take the decision to start your journey to discover this beautiful world in all its shapes and forms!
Thank you for appreciating my art!