What if I told you, you could travel full time cheap. See the world, living comfortably for a lot less than it costs you to live at home?
Using six simple habits helped us do that! It cost less than $30000 USD for our family of three to travel for a year, all costs included! We did have a monthly budget at the beginning of our journey but found it very distracting. Focusing so much on spending with a strict budget was wrong for us because we needed to be focused on earning.
We didn’t go crazy spending, we lived as we wanted to live and were amazed we could travel full time and not have to forgo the things we love most traveling.
We took seven flights, visiting eight countries, paying rent, buying groceries, eating out and visiting attractions for one-third of what we made working our full-time jobs in Canada! Traveling full-time, doing the things you love for less than the cost to stay at home is easier to do than many would think.
When we left to travel in April 2014 we didn’t have much planned to the last detail. We had $45000 USD in the bank with no online income. There were few commitments, just get to our first destination, Colombia and we’ll figure things out as we go. There are things we would do differently if we were to start from the beginning again.
Colombia was amazing, but it wasn’t for us long term for a few reasons. First off, it was was kind of expensive! Costs to rent apartments were a lot higher than what we wanted to pay, $1000 USD a month on average. That was a major drawback for us.
We will visit Colombia again and explore the places we didn’t see in the three months we spent there, but we know it isn’t the place we want long term residency.
Also, there are the many things we had preconceived notions about before we left that turned out to be false. Like its more expensive to live in Europe than South America and more costly to travel to places in Europe. In our experience, that’s not true.
Some countries in Europe are cheap to live. We spent three months in Bucharest, Romania and thought we wouldn’t find anywhere cheaper. We discovered that wasn’t true either! Spain has actually been the cheapest country we have visited so far.
We have learned about cost of living in other countries in Europe from fellow travelers. We plan to visit Budapest, Belgrade, and Prague because according to one seasoned full-time traveler (and now close friend) cost to live in those cities is so cheap! The cultural vibe, solid infrastructure and overall beauty that exists in these cities are all contributing factors as well.
All in all, we were wrong about some things and right about the most important things. It is substantially cheaper for us to travel than it is for us to live at home in Canada. And where this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, with over a year on the road we can definitely say it is for us.
It still hard to believe we have been traveling as long as we have been! I am so happy we changed the things in our life that we did. We believe anyone can travel more making less money; you just have to look at life differently.
We had to sacrifice some things and work incredibly hard at others to make this life possible, but it was all so worth it! Here are some of the details about life as we know it. How we travel full time cheap.
Stay in People’s Homes for Free
Would you like to live in a lovely home in the mountains of Panama with sweeping views of a lush rainforest? What about a huge house with a pool in southern Turkey or a villa in Spain a short walk from the sea, sounds great, right? We actually stayed in those places free! The time we time we spent in each place was different, but all told it was 9 months of free accommodation. We found these great opportunities housesitting!
Housesitting is the number one money saving practice that makes our travel lifestyle sustainable.
Some would argue the cost to fly to far off places to fulfill assignments doesn’t make housesitting as great a value. In our experience, this simply isn’t true. All of our travel costs have equated to a small fraction of what we would pay to live in Canada owning what we did. With over a year traveling, we have spent less than half of what our mortgage payments were on accommodation for Airbnb rentals and hotel stays when we weren’t housesitting.
Own Little and Travel Full Time Cheap
Owning stuff is expensive, buying it, storing it, insuring it. When you own stuff, especially big things like a home, a car, or a boat, payments are ongoing even if you own things outright. Insurance, maintenance, dock fees, storage fees all add up. To put this into perspective our total expenses for year of travel was roughly $27000 that included all food, accommodation, all forms of transportation (including flights) and incidentals (medications, dentist visits, travel insurance and clothing). Our yearly cost in Canada for just our mortgage, truck payments, insurance, and storage fees was $32000. Our total cost to live while traveling was $5000 less than just our basic bills back home (mortgage, vehicle expenses, and insurance). If you take into account our total yearly costs at home including food, clothing, medical insurance and medications ended up being closer to $47000!
We sold almost everything we owned before we left to travel. Owning less, living a more minimalist lifestyle we can live well on a third of what we used to make financially in Canada.
Living with less makes this travel lifestyle possible and the many benefits like the priceless memories, the time with Makai seeing the world far outweighs any sacrifice we had to make to make this traveling life possible.
Don’t Drive and Travel is Cheaper
Gas, insurance, vehicle maintenance are all costs we don’t have. That’s money in the bank for us. Renting cars and buying insurance for a vehicle while traveling is expensive. Most times what it costs to rent a car equals what we pay for rent for a month. We primarily use two types of accommodation, entire place rentals with Airbnb and housesitting assignments. We only book Airbnb apartments and apply for housesitting jobs in areas where having a car is not necessary. In both cases, we have no problem finding accommodations within walking distance to all we need and want.
Most places we’ve visited have had excellent public transit and truth be told in places like London, Cartagena, Istanbul and Bucharest it is just easier and faster to get places on a bus or using the metro.
Approach destinations Like a Local
Staying outside the tourist zones is cheaper for food, accommodation and everything else for that matter. The cost of living in every place we have visited (with the exception of England) has been cheaper than the cost of living at home. However, if we were to stay in hotels and hang out in tourist spots we would spend the same if not more than what we’d spend at home. Housesitting or renting with Airbnb, living in local neighborhoods instead of tourist areas has saved us a lot! Shopping at markets where locals shop, eating in restaurants where locals eat is not only much cheaper it also helps us experience local culture.
The thing we love most about traveling, experiencing local culture helps us travel for less.
Buy Less to Live well for Less
Do you have a giant fridge? Is it filled with half-full salad dressing bottles, sauces used to cook only one meal, and many things beyond their expiration dates? We used to have one. A big black Kenmore with a bottom freezer drawer loaded to the gills. Then there was our deep freeze, it was always half full or more at all times. We would throw away so much, expired food, and freezer burnt meat because we always bought more than we needed.
It is really eye opening moving into a place with an empty fridge that is half the size of a fridge in North America. Traveling as we do we walk to get groceries, we tend to shop every day or every other day to avoid having to haul loads of bags on foot. We buy a lot less and eat a lot fresher as a result. Our goal is to buy only what we need most times and finish everything we buy.
Not buying more than what need has saved us so much money. The money we used to throw in the garbage at home because of old or expired food.
Don’t Prepare for Every Eventuality
What do you really need? We can tell you, a lot less than you might think! You can make excuses to buy anything if you’re constantly thinking “what if”. Preparing for every possible outcome in life can be expensive and mentally time-consuming. All that time thinking “what if” could be spent actually doing something. Constant preparation holds many people back from doing things in life and it also ends up costing money that could be better spent on other things, in our case traveling the world.
Using common sense and not spending to prepare for every worse case scenario helps us travel full time cheap.
This travel lifestyle takes work to sustain, we need to work to earn an income, but we can make a lot less monetarily and still live comfortably. The work itself takes no more effort than what we put into our former jobs, less in some ways more in others but absolutely 100% more rewarding than working as we once did. There are definitely sacrifices and compromises we’ve made that some wouldn’t or couldn’t make. After a year traveling we can honestly say we love this life and it is truly possible to travel full time cheap.