Life as a full-time traveler is exciting, complicated and interesting. Let’s be honest, perpetual travel seems like a farfetched idea for many, but yet it is more than just a dream. Many people enjoy this lifestyle around the world, simply because they decided to make travel their priority.
Full-time travel is awesome but it’s not perfect. Like everybody else, perpetual wanderers face life challenges, they just learn to deal with them on the road. In this three-part series guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about full-time travel, the good, the bad, the logistics, what to pack and more. So if you think a life of travel is for you, read this guide first.
How can I start traveling full time
There are a few things you should know before you start traveling long term. First of all, I absolutely do not encourage quitting your 9 to 5 job on an impulse to start traveling the world. This kind of decision simply cannot be made on an impulse. Traveling full-time is not always easy, it’s challenging and confusing sometimes. If you think you are ready to take the leap, read on. But first, here is what you need to do before you start traveling full-time.
Have a plan
You simply cannot go into full-time travel without a plan. There are many things you need to think about before you take the leap. Where are you going to go? For how long? How much do you need? How are you going to survive on the road? Do you want to sell everything you own? These are just the basic questions you need to ask yourself before you go anywhere. Talk about your plan with your friends, read blogs and other people’s stories, and ask for professional advice.
Sell everything you own
Selling everything you own is the best way to get a large amount of money to start traveling full-time. I know it’s hard to imagine selling all your possessions and living out of a backpack at first, but you will quickly realize you don’t need material possessions to be happy. You can easily sell your stuff on eBay, Craigslist or organize garage sales. If like me you don’t own anything in the first place, then you’ll have to work a few months/years and save enough money to go on your adventure.
Decluttering is your very first step towards total freedom. The whole process will be freeing and beneficial for your bank account. Also, by selling everything you will save money on storage cost.
Be debt free
Ok if there’s one thing you can’t have when you travel full-time, it’s a debt. I had nothing to sell when I first left home, but I also was lucky to have no mortgage or car payments. Having a debt will just be too stressful when combined with the fact that you might not know how to make money when you start traveling full-time.
Even though, I’m pretty sure there are people out there who travel with debt and it can be feasible I just don’t personally recommend it. Mostly because when you travel your life is just too unpredictable and like I said, I wouldn’t be in the best mindset if I traveled with a debt. So pay off your debt before you leave your home.
Take the leap
The third thing you need to start traveling is just courage. A lot of people think that because they don’t have a lot of money they can’t travel when in reality they are just scared to take the leap. I know the fear of the unknown is what holds most people back, but that’s what makes the adventure exciting and worth it.
Just think about it this way. What do you think you will regret the most later in life: Staying home stuck in your 9 to 5 job or traveling the world full-time?
Many people travel full-time around the world for years, and if they can do it, you can do it too. Trust me, you are just as capable as them! So don’t worry about what could happen when you start your awesome adventure. Honestly, all you really need when you travel is common sense.
Pros and cons of full-time travel
As I said, full-time travel isn’t always easy. Most people think it’s the “dream life”. Even though it’s pretty amazing, there are also disadvantages to this kind of life. But I’m optimistic, so let’s start with the pros.
Freedom is a feeling sought by many of us and long-term travel gives you just that. Traveling is for me, the ultimate freedom. It’s simple, you go where you want whenever you want. It’s great, and it’s a feeling everybody should experience at least once in their lifetime.
You live cheaply
Most people think traveling is more expensive Than living a sedentary life, but it’s totally not. Actually traveling long-term is a lot cheaper than staying home once you know all the tips and tricks. I’ve been traveling for over 5 years now, and I haven’t even spent that much money. When you travel you don’t pay any bills, you can live in cheap countries and travel by bus or train to save loads of money.
Every day is an adventure
The beauty of full-time travel comes in all the things that you learn every day. You discover new cultures, ways of life, people and monuments. You get to understand the world’s history and why people are the way they are. Also, you don’t live on a schedule because schedules suck, you do what you please and at your own pace.
Your life just feels like an eternal vacation
Ok so I’m not going to pretend that full-time travel is always awesome and every day is full of rainbow and butterflies but there is one thing that I love about it, it’s that it just feels like an eternal vacation. It just feels this way because I’m always abroad, not because I’m never working of course (or maybe a little bit?). But anyway, I love that my life is pretty stress-free, I have no schedule, I get up and go to bed whenever I want and I don’t have to do anything for anyone but myself (which I know sounds very selfish).
You actually live instead of surviving
I’ve always felt like people who lead a modern lifestyle survive instead of really living. I mean, a routine is lethal. The 9 to 5 job is considered by many as modern slavery, and I’ve always tried to avoid this routine as much as I can which is one of the reasons why I chose to travel full-time.
I mean I get to discover new countries, cities, streets, people, cultures, traditions and more every day of the year. It’s a lot more valuable than staying stuck in a routine that you hate. So if you’re ready to live instead of surviving, I encourage you to travel our beautiful world slowly and on the long-term!
You meet amazing people
First of all, you will meet so many people you obviously won’t remember all of them but trust there are people out there who totally deserve to know! I’ve met many travelers in 5 years and they all have their own story and tips, which is super helpful. I love asking people what they thought of a country or what it’s really like because I know travel bloggers and influencers tend to embellish everything, and I’ve traveled enough to know that nothing looks like it does on Instagram.
But anyways, people who travel are awesome simply because they are in a totally different mindset that those who stay back home. And plus you could learn a lot from those who have been traveling for a while, I’m often being asked for tips on how to travel full-time and what are the best places to visit.
Full-time travel is awesome, exciting and beautiful, but it is also hard and definitely not for everyone. Let’s do the cons.
Missing friends and family
Homesickness will probably be the first feeling you get when you start traveling. It hasn’t often hit me but when it did it hit me hard. The feeling of homesickness is stronger when you are alone or when you’re a very different setting than usual. It’s sometimes difficult to travel without seeing your loved ones for a long period of time, and you’ll have to accept missing Christmas, birthdays and other important life events. I found it hard to deal with homesickness when I was in doubt or when something happens when you’re abroad. Full-time travel can be emotionally challenging, to be honest.
Dealing with issues on your own
This is the worst, especially if traveling solo. Full-time travel isn’t always perfect and you will face stressful events and moments of doubt. I found that dealing with problems on your own does make you stronger, but it is also very difficult. I’ve had some pretty bad moments abroad, and honestly felt terribly lost more than once and dealing with those problems on my own did make me more independent. I guess these moments taught me something, but it’s hard. Especially if you’re very close to your family.
Your family and friends don’t understand your choice
Every family is different, but most of the time, people don’t understand why you choose to live a nomadic life. I’ve been traveling for over 5 years, and I’m still dealing with this issue. I’m pretty sure my family still wonders what the hell I’m doing and if I’ll ever get a job and buy a home. At the very beginning, I faced a lot of criticism and skepticism from my family. And trust me it is very hard to travel full-time knowing that literally, nobody supports you. So if you choose this life, just know that it won’t make everybody around you happy, and you’ll have to deal with that too.
You’re being accused of running away from something
The one thing I’m always being asked when I meet people on my travels is “when are you going to go back to real life?”. Honestly, I could write an entire rant about how much I hate when people ask me that. Full-time travel is real life. It’s just a different lifestyle. For the majority of people, you’re just in your own little bubble living the dream.
Basically, you’ll meet people who are going to tell you that being nomadic isn’t normal and that you’re running away from something. I’m not going to pretend I’m not running away from anything. I’m running away from the 9 to 5 job and boring sedentary life that comes with it.
Forget about shopping
As a full-time traveler, window shopping will be all you can do. I try to avoid going into shops because it just sometimes breaks my heart that I can’t buy anything. I know I don’t need it anyway, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to bring souvenirs home and just stuff that I like. When your backpack is your home, you want it to be as light as possible, so you’ll have to refrain from buying a lot of things!
Difficulty to build long-lasting relationships
You will meet many people on your travels. There will be people with whom you’ll want to build a relationship, but then again when you travel full-time you say goodbye more often than hello. It’s very difficult to keep in touch with people you meet on the road even with today’s technologies. Simply because everybody goes there separate ways and lives their own life at some point. You will surely meet people with whom you’ll build long-lasting friendships, but not many.
In reality, you’re homeless
Well, I know this is obvious and scary at the same time, but not having an address or a permanent place to stay means that you’re technically homeless. You don’t have a house or a base, the world is your home. But that also means you don’t have all the expenses that come with a traditional lifestyle, such as mortgages or rents, utilities, bills, taxes, insurances and so on. So you can live cheaply and anywhere you want.
How much does it really cost to travel full-time
That’s a question I’m very often asked as a full-time traveler. Well, it’s hard to answer because everybody’s travel style is different and we all have a different budget as well. Personally, I always try to travel as cheap as possible, without wasting anything. So as far as I’m concerned, and as much as I love traveling I also know there are a lot of ways to travel for free or for cheap so I do my best to use travel resources in my favor.
With that being said, my daily budget anywhere in the world never exceeds $50 per day. So quick math will tell you I spend less than $20,000 per year as a full-time traveler. I’ve even spent as little as $5000 in the entire year of 2016 because I really lived super cheaply and didn’t pay any rent.
Being nomadic is definitely not for everyone. Can you handle not having a home to return to? Can you handle not having a home base? It was hard for me, to think that if shit hits the fan I have nowhere to go except going back to my mom’s house.
Beyond that, the money you need to travel simply depends on the level of comfort you want. If you wish to travel on a budget like me then you don’t need more than $20,000 per year. With that, you’ll stay in hostels, do help exchange or housesit to reduce accommodation cost, and you will probably have to spend some time in cheap regions of the world.
But you will be on the road full-time and on the cheap. If you want a little bit more of luxury sometimes, then head for at least $30,000. It won’t pay for luxury hotels and resorts, but it will allow for a comfortable travel lifestyle.
Is full-time travel going to make me happy
I know many people travel because they think it’ll make them happy. It’s a concept I totally understand, but honestly, I don’t believe traveling makes you especially happier. Yes, it will certainly improve your life and the quality of your experiences, your mindset, and it will open new horizons. And yes, you will feel happier, or at least you will have highs more often.
But honestly, and I know it’s going to sound terrible, after a while you almost lose your sense of wonder and become blasé of seeing always the same things. By that, I mean mountains, beaches, and waterfalls, you know, all the things you came to see. I’m telling you this in all honesty, because it did happen to me a few times and I know it happened to others as well.
When this happens all you have to do is settle somewhere for a while, and wait until you get itchy feet again. But I don’t believe anybody should start traveling full-time thinking it will change their lives and make them happy. It’s not because you’re abroad that you don’t have problems. Being happy is a state of mind, which I believe can only be obtained once we are in peace with ourselves. But maybe it’s just me.
Long term travel is a fantastic experience, one should not go into without knowing what it’s like. It’s a life-changing experience that is amazing, interesting, scary and difficult sometimes. This was the first part of my 3-part series “No BS guide to full-time travel”. Stay tuned for my next posts, where I will tell you about the logistics, and how you can afford to travel long term.
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