The first question that many people ask about the nomadic lifestyle is how one can afford it. It’s a reasonable question, given how tied most of us are to jobs, loans, cars, houses, and other significant expenses. Considering the relatively high cost of living in Europe, the US, and Australia, it’s easy to forget just how cheaply you can get by in other countries, where daily expenses are a fraction as high and large responsibilities like student loans or house payments are a distant memory.
That’s step one of budgeting for a long-term travel adventure: making sure that you have large-scale, long term expenses taken care of. For many, selling the majority of their possessions is the perfect solution. Your car is only going to depreciate in value and cost you ongoing payments while sitting in your garage; so why not get rid of it and put that cash towards your travels? Similarly, you shouldn’t be paying rent on an apartment you aren’t using, so move your stuff to a friend’s basement and get out of your lease. If you have something larger and more permanent, such as a house that you want to keep, rent it out and have someone you trust manage the property, so that it will pay for itself in your absence.
Free from constraints like these, extended periods of travel are much more feasible. The largest expense becomes plane tickets. Shopping smartly online can help you find a low cost flight, perhaps even hundreds of dollars cheaper than what you would find through a travel agent or a cursory internet search. Be thorough and check back often in order to get the best deals. Flights are generally necessary to start and end your trip, and sometimes for intermediary legs—don’t underestimate the convenience of a long domestic or short international flight between two points while you’re backpacking, as tickets can be massively discounted.
On a day to day basis, you are likely to be very pleasantly surprised how cheap life is. Unless you’re traveling in Western Europe, North America, or Australia and New Zealand, prices for everything from food to transportation to accommodation to gifts to entertainment are remarkably lower. As soon as you set foot in a place like Southeast Asia, South America, or the Middle East, you quickly recognize how possible it is to live comfortably on a budget between $8 and $20 per day. With low expenses like these, staying abroad for longer becomes very feasible. The cost will be lower the more you stay in one place and get to know the best places to eat, book accommodation for longer amounts of time, and appreciate the general vibe of a city rather than pay to see tourist attractions.
Consider finding a form of active or passive income while you travel in order to really push your trip for as long as possible. Freelance writing, editing, translation, photography, graphic and web design, and other jobs are all possible through the internet and can be carried out anywhere. Teaching English as a foreign language is a very popular way to make not only a living wage, but often enough to save up for the next leg of the journey. Other people find positions working for English-language publications, NGOs, tutoring companies, restaurants, guesthouses, or travel companies. There are endless options!
So before giving up on the idea of the nomadic life due to cost, take a moment to consider just how easy it can be. Start saving now, and you could find yourself on the road indefinitely. What could be better than that?