I Travel Full-Time: Here’s How I Afford It

You don’t have to be wealthy to travel the world.

There is an unspoken dream that floats through the minds of people who love adventure: Quit the nine-to-five rat race and embark upon a life of full-time travel. Though most people laugh this off and simply return to their ordinary lives, I am not most people. In fact, a few years ago, my fiancé and I made the decision to pursue traveling full-time.

People often ask us how we are able to afford such a lifestyle, and the truth is that although non-stop traveling may seem expensive, it actually costs far less than our old lives. Since doing so, we’ve been more financially stable and happier than ever before.

That being said, there are still ways to ensure you are successful on the road, both in life experiences and in your budget. Here are five tips that any serious nomad should explore before hitting the road.

Sell Everything

The first step to becoming a full-time traveler is deciding what kind of lifestyle fits you best. For me, the idea of living in an RV was the most appealing, so I knew from the beginning that we would need to massively downsize our lives.

When you’re on the road, items you don’t use regularly are simply unnecessary space-fillers. Because of this, one of the first things that my fiancé and I did was completely clear out our home of all unnecessary items and embrace minimalism. This allowed us to get an idea of what our future would be like and get used to the lifestyle before we moved into our RV, which was a transition unto itself.

Create an Income Flow

The next step was to create a career that wouldn’t fall apart on the road, could ensure secure and consistent payment, could be accomplished remotely, and took very little time to complete compared to the average office position. Being a writer meant that my best option was to freelance for several media outlets, ones that I knew paid well and would regularly accept my work.

The key to full-time travel is to recognize opportunities when they are presented to you and then be able to monetize them. Getting paid to write about the traveling I was already doing was a no-brainer. On top of freelancing, I also started my own side gig of creating wood-burning art, a craft that I could complete on the road and that helped generate extra income each month.

Review Your Travels

Most travelers simply share their experiences with friends and family, or perhaps they post some items to their social media accounts. However, whenever I stay at a hotel or visit a location, I pay attention to every detail and write articles about my experiences and impressions.

In fact, I am actually paid by many hotels to review how they engage guests so they can build better relationships with their customer base and attract even more visitors. Many locations even pay me to visit during certain times of the year and then write articles about my trip.

For example, I’ve written about the best places to spend 4th of July weekend or the coolest underground tunnels in Los Angeles. These articles encourage tourism which, in turn, boosts the local economy or a company’s revenue.

Utilize Travel Resources

When on the road, there are countless amazing resources that can really help you out when you are in a bind. I use travel apps like TripCase, Roaming Hunger, and Road Ninja to not only keep track of my desired destinations, but also to find local eateries, great food trucks, and other events and locations I wouldn’t have known about on my own. Free WiFi Finder is another excellent resource.

Using these tools, I am able to enhance my trip – usually on a budget – and never find myself lost or struggling on the road, which can lead to unexpected delays or expenses.

Stick to a Budget

One of the most crucial elements to full-time travel is to plan your budget accordingly. For me, this means finding as many free or extremely low-cost camping spots or overnight parking lots as I can. As a rule of thumb, I tend to steer clear of most KOAs and other camper-centric accommodations. Instead, I look for truck stops or for no-frills camping areas that still offer the basic amenities.

In addition to this, I also seek out as many low-cost – or free – activities as I can find. Not only do they provide free entertainment, they also provide a viable income stream for my writing, as well. For example, a few weeks ago, I was in Oceanside, Calif., and found many free things to do in San Diego, which led to several paid articles.

Stability through freedom: That’s my end goal for life on the road. Most everyone craves independence and choice, but it takes that first push forward, that first sold item, and that first mile to truly make that freedom a reality.

And when traveling full-time, every penny counts. So being financially smart on the road leads to a longer and more prosperous trip. Use these five tips to hit the road knowing you can be free – and financially stable – at the same time.

Join the Discussion

8 Responses to “I Travel Full-Time: Here’s How I Afford It”

  1. Frannie

    How do you get paid to review places? Would love to learn more about that!

    • Samantha Donaldson

      Absolutely! So, I began by outreaching online and offering multiple locations and companies my reviews as well as using the Matador network which is a great resource! From there, I correlated my review outreaches with my destinations and it all just started to click!

    • A Late Boomer

      Me, too, I post reviews all the time. I’d LOVE to earn money doing that, even if it was just “walking around money.”

  2. Carolyn Marshall

    I would love to have this lifestyle (especially abroad, if I could make that work). I have several chronic health conditions that can generally be managed quite easily with medication. What do you do for health insurance and medical needs?

    • Samantha Donaldson

      It’s funny you say that because both Joel and I suffer from Asperger’s and he also has hyperthyroidism and A-Fib! We have doctors located in our original hometown of Boise that are notified about a week before we run out of medication on where we will be by the time we’re out and they send the meds to the nearby Wal-Mart for us! As for visiting doctors on the road, if anything is terrible, we just go to the ER but we also have multiple doctors our main doctor is friends with across the nation who have been more than happy to help when we are nearby! Great question, though!

  3. Joe

    Samantha – I really enjoyed your piece – and was interested in learning more. When I selected the Website link above to see your travels, it brought me to, http://boisepulsemusic.com. Perhaps this is your website, but I was expecting to learn more about what you and your fiancé do as writers. Can you tell me if there is another location to learn more, or if this was a mistake? Thanks!

    • Samantha Donaldson

      Hey, Joe! Most of what we so as press is seen in the sites we write for or own but we will have a site up soon called thenomadder.com due to demand for more details about our travels that will document road life and our jobs in detail so definitely stay runed for that!

  4. Jessica Kurrle

    You can check out a bunch of different programs that teach you how. Full disclosure, I work for this one but they have a lot of success stories and don’t just teach you how to write, but also how to pitch and how to focus on topcs that sell etc… Check them out. http://www.greatescapepublishing.com

    Travel writer program: https://www.greatescapepublishing.com/program/travel-writing/