Traveling long term is a dream for many of us. To experience the freedom of the open road, and overcome the fear of the unknown, all in the name of feeding that animal inside of us, called wanderlust.
With the help of technology and the jobs that are increasingly becoming more flexible, or pay to travel, ability to cast-off, and explore the far corners of the earth has never in the history of humanity been more within reach. In fact, it has turned to a cool trend, enticing the young to quit their regular lifestyle and jobs across the world.
While it is certainly a good sign to join this bandwagon of long-term travel, not many are aware of what it takes to make this come true, especially saving money. So we are bringing the 10 practical tips to save money traveling long-term.
1. Plan Your Travels & Savings Well
The first question that you need to ask when you think of long-term traveling is the way you want to travel.
a. You can go on a round-the-world trip, flying around the globe spending some time across all the continents.
b. Or you could travel slow – staying in each country for months/weeks or become a digital nomad – build a lifestyle that enables to live, work and travel (maybe slow travel) from anywhere in the world.
Once you identify how you want to do it, the next logical step is to figure out how much money you would need, and by when, so you can earn/save the amount well ahead.
Although every little detail cannot be planned, at least have a skeleton of your travel plans in place, which will not only help you give a realistic picture of what to expect but also allow you to plan accordingly and figure out ways to get the most out of your savings; which is one of the most important parts of planning.
By keeping a close eye on your “travel fund” savings, and constantly working out ways to increase it, on top of the regular additions with each paycheck, you develop this discipline which will help you while “on the road”.
There are two sides to that coin:
You will know how much you’ll have in your travel fund in x number of months or years because you are scheduling methodically.
Second is that this approach can be extended to monitor & track your other expenditures leading to better financial planning overall.
And how can you maximize your savings? The next tip will tell you that.
2. Make Changes in Your Lifestyle
Going on short trips with a base is totally different than traveling long term. Because, in this case, all you need to follow the above approach of having a fixed amount every month to go to a destination during your long weekends/holidays.
But if you are switching to traveling long term, over time, you’ll realize that it becomes essential for you to make changes in your lifestyle.
Each of us has different ways of indulging or self-pampering, which we consider harmless and innocent spends, but they cut away a major chunk of our earnings. If it is unnecessary shopping for some, for others it is too much of spending on dining and alcohol.
So what’s your indulgence?
Identify those, and start taking control immediately. Whether you prepare your own lunch to bring to work (you save money, and control what you put in your body). Or cut back on your “fancy” take-away coffee habit. Although socializing is fun and necessary, dialing down on going out for drinks can help you add to the travel fund (think about what that $8 drink can buy you in Chiang Mai)
Rent a place in student neighborhoods, where the rents are cheaper. Find economic ways to commute to your workplace. Take advantage of discounted items when shopping – You get the idea right?
Check how the cost of living varies in every country on Numbeo, which gives a detailed data on cities worldwide.
3. Keep a Watch on Your Spend
Continuing on what we said above, the moment you keep a watch on your expenses, you’ll become better at judging between your wants and needs. Shopping for groceries is a need, but dining at expensive restaurants three days in a row is not.
By making a switch in your lifestyle and watching your spending habits, you’ll go a long way in saving, for which you will be thankful when you hit the road.
4. Selling Off is a Good Idea!
Your new found habit of identifying your wants and needs can be extended further to check your possessions. If you are planning to travel long term without a base location, then ideally you should get rid of your things – whether it’s your car or your favorite furniture, consider them as means to earn some cash, instead of just hoarding them.
Look further to scan things that might look unimportant or worthless, because you never know what people are looking for on eBay! Make a list of the items, and get rid of them one by one. Believe us, that in itself is very liberating, and the added cash in the travel piggy bank is the sweet bonus.
Recommended read: 5 Ways To Save Money as a Digital Nomad When the Cost of Living is HIgh
5. Have a Fallback Plan
It is an important transition you are making, from taking short trips to being on the road for long. So you have to be equipped to handle any unfortunate/unforeseen events that may occur – whether it is health or finances or family.
You might fall sick. Or, plans or jobs that might be secure today, can disappear or fail unexpectedly. You don’t want to panic or go broke in a strange country. So have a plan B to tackle these situations, which will act as your cushion just in case like having a second job, a passive income stream in the form of interests from deposits, a temporary & cheap place to head back to stay for a while until you can travel again, health insurance, etc.
When You Take The Leap & Hit The Road
1. Spend Time on Research
By research, we don’t mean the one that you do while shortlisting a destination, but an advanced and intensive research after you arrive there.
You’ll most likely spend more time at each destination now that you are traveling long term, and it is necessary that you know how to leverage the local transport to minimize your costs or which restaurants are cheap and best. Figure out if traveling in groups helps as well, and when choosing accommodations, go beyond the online listings and do what it takes to save the most.
2. Choose Cheaper Destinations
This looks both obvious, as well as unlikely to happen every time, but opting to travel and work in affordable destinations will certainly help you be there and explore for much longer.
South and Central Asia are the cheapest regions in the world that are beautiful to live and travel through. Plus, when you are starting out, and are on a shoestring budget, it makes sense to choose these countries.
Recommended read: Top 10 Destinations For Digital Nomads in 2017
3. Befriend Locals & Live Like One!
The best way to immerse in a country and its culture is to ask locals. They are your best bet to live and travel cheaply too. Network and connect with as many people as possible because it costs nothing to be friendly or make new friends, and it is nice to get to really know people.
And when you start talking and going out with them, you’ll know how to get that cheapest ticket or beer, how to navigate without getting scammed, how to make the most of the local holiday seasons for accommodations and so on. And always strive to learn as much of their language as you can, be it just a few words, or the ability to carry a conversation.
4. Master Travel Hacking Skills
There are many ways to travel cheap, and if you are a frequent traveler, you should already be familiar with at least a few of them. Using travel miles to book flights and accommodations, opting for Couchsurfing, and volunteering are some of the ways to save a lot of money. Luckily, you can try most of these around the world easily. So starting putting these to practice when on the road.
5. Work While You Travel
Unless you have saved so much money that is worth your lifetime or you have won a huge sum in a lottery (both of which are unlikely!), you’ll end up working while traveling at some point in time or the other.
But the question is what do you want to work on, that will let you earn money as well as travel? Fortunately, the opportunities to achieve this are only growing, and here are some of the popular ways to work & travel:
Work remotely – Run a business that sells products or services – You can be a web designer or an artist or an author, identify what you are good at and put that to use. Or start a website of your own and learn ways to monetize. You can even work as a virtual assistant or as a freelancer for fixed hours.
Or take up these other physical jobs like teaching English, become an Au Pair, house-sit, or work in hostels/farms/cruises – the options are limitless and many as long as you are disciplined and open to try & learn!
Well, these are very concise and practical tips that are easy to adapt. Hope this helps!
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Have fun, and remember that in the end, you will only regret the chances you didn’t take!