But if travel bloggers have taught us anything, it’s that you don’t have to be rich to travel. I reached out to a few full-time travelers to learn how to fund traveling around the world. Here are their best tips for making long-term travel affordable.
1. Wondering how to fund traveling around the world? Start saving
For most people, travel isn’t a regular expense in their budget. Unlike rent or groceries, you’ve got to prepare for unusual costs such as plane tickets and lodging.
So before hitting the skies, set a savings goal and stick to it. It might take time, but you’ll have the idea of an awesome trip to keep you motivated.
That’s what kept Thea Wingert, co-founder of the travel blog Zen Travellers, saving for four years. Now, she’s about to leave on a 14-month trip around the world.
“I will be funding my trip with savings,” said Wingert. “I saved at least one-third of my paycheck since 2014, racked up points through travel-hacking, [and] kept living costs low.”
To meet a savings goal, it’s important to first establish how much you need to set aside. Only then can you determine how much you need to save on a weekly or monthly basis.
Budgeting apps such as You Need a Budget or Mint could help you track your cash flow. Or you could use a simple spreadsheet to keep a budget. You’ll probably also need to find ways to cut down on spending.
Alexis Chateau, a lifestyle blogger at AlexisChateau.com, took drastic steps to save money.
“[I] gave up my apartment and sold and bartered all my belongings,” said Chateau. “That provided me with enough savings to get started.”
She stayed with friends and family and saved the money she was previously putting toward rent. After a few months, Chateau was ready to embark on a new life of full-time travel.
Although you don’t have to go to this extreme, you can take steps to reduce your expenses. Over time, you’ll save enough to cover travel costs. Plus, you’ll avoid the temptation of taking out a personal loan as a quick fix for covering your travel expenses.
2. Make the most of travel rewards credit cards
Most frequent fliers don’t pay for air travel or hotels entirely on their own. Instead, they make the most of travel rewards credit cards to help with costs.
Travel cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One’s Venture, allow you to earn points on your purchases. These points can then be used for travel expenses.
Some credit cards also reward a one-time bonus worth hundreds of dollars if you can meet a minimum spend goal within a few months of opening your account.
“Look for credit cards that offer generous sign-up bonuses as well as a first year without a fee,” advised Wingert. “Put a reminder in your phone to cancel the card before the free year is up so you avoid paying for it.”
Wingert also suggested taking advantage of referral bonuses.
“Many cards offer referral bonuses to both the person doing the referring and the person receiving the referral,” she said. “My husband earned an extra 10,000 points [on an American Express Business Gold Rewards Card] for referring me. By doing similar things with other cards and bonus programs, we have over 100,000 points each to use on our trip around the world.”
What’s more, some of these credit cards come with perks such as rental car insurance and travel insurance.
Of course, you have to be able to use the credit card responsibly. Only by paying off your balance in full will you avoid interest charges every month.
“Credit cards are an amazing way to rack up points that can be used to score freebies or big discounts on travel, but they’re not for everyone,” said Wingert. “If you struggle with paying off your balance each month, for example, it is likely not the best strategy for you.”
But if you can find a credit card that offers rewards — and use it responsibly — then you could get help funding your trips.
3. Make money through online freelance gigs
If you decide to travel for a long time, your savings won’t last forever. That’s why travel bloggers recommend making money online while you’re abroad.
“Your laptop or other device is the key,” said David Bakke, personal finance expert at Money Crashers. “You can make money by blogging, utilizing affiliate marketing, offering a virtual consulting service in an area where you’re an expert, or [doing] general Internet marketing.”
If you’re worried you don’t have the skills for online work, try taking a course online through Udemy or another learning marketplace. Once you figure out your niche, you’ll find there are plenty of ways to make money online.
4. Teach English online while you travel
Another option is to teach English online to international students.
“If you’re a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree and some teaching or tutoring experience, you are eligible to teach English online with many companies,” said Nicola Wynn, an English teacher and traveler who blogs at See Nic Wander. “Most companies offer flexible scheduling so you can choose to work as much or as little as you want while traveling.”
Lauren Kubik of Long Lost Lauren also takes this approach to finance her travels around Thailand.
“I am teaching ESL [English as a second language] online and luckily it’s a huge help and my main gig right now in Southeast Asia,” said Kubik. “I have done this since July 2017 and on average make about $300 to $500 per month.”
Being a native English speaker might be all you need to snag an online tutoring job. To boost your credentials, you could also get your teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) certificate.
5. Get a part- or full-time job in another country
If you don’t love online work, you can combine work and travel with a job in another country. International schools all over the world, for instance, hire native English speakers as on-site language teachers.
You could also search for part-time local jobs once you arrive at your destination. That’s what Jen and Ryan Ambrose, the travel bloggers behind Passions and Places, do.
“I’m a yoga teacher and have taught in the places we’ve visited, and Ryan has done photography and social media for local businesses on a work exchange basis,” said Jen. “For us, the key has been to use a mix of approaches.”
Bakke similarly recommended looking for offline gigs to make money in other countries.
“There are plenty of offline options available, such as working part-time jobs in the country you’re visiting, landing a teaching or translating job, or even couchsurfing, which doesn’t make you money, but lets you eliminate lodging costs from your budget,” said Bakke.
He added that the costs of living abroad might be a lot lower than what you’re used to at home. As a result, you won’t need to work as much as you might think while you’re traveling. A part-time local job teaching, translating, or managing social media might be all you need to fund your travels.
Find ways to reduce travel costs
Although saving and making money is important as you learn how to fund traveling around the world, don’t forget about lowering your overall costs.
Housesitting can help you get free lodging while making a connection with a local family, for example. You can also travel to inexpensive destinations where your money goes far (think Berlin over London or Bangkok over Singapore).
In the end, there are lots of ways you can bring travel into your lifestyle without breaking the bank. You might even decide to hit the road indefinitely and become a full-fledged digital nomad.
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