Here Are Seven Crucial Factors to Think About If You Want to Be a Nomad

2023-03-28 16:26:37 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

I was completely crazy when, in 2017, I decided to quit my job and take a few months off to travel in search of deeper meaning and motivation in my life and work. I apparently started a trend when I resigned a few years before the Great Resignation.  

I had every intention of taking a career hiatus; I had planned to travel for three to six months before getting back to "real life." Instead, I fell in love with full-time travel and, four years later, I've visited 27 countries across six continents, all while living on my original budget for the first two years. If you've read any of my other articles, you know that the pandemic stranded me in New Zealand for two years at a pretty penny.  

Increasing numbers of people are abandoning their careers in favor of wanderlust. People can choose to work alone or in tandem. What may have started as a few "crazy" people abandoning ship is now widely held as the norm due to the pandemic. Some nomadic individuals simply need a change of scenery to recharge their batteries, while others are choosing to work from anywhere in the world thanks to technological advancements in the field of remote work. Others are retired or soon-to-be retired and planning a world tour as their next adventure.

How do you afford it? is the question I get asked the most by would-be full-time travelers of all stripes. I coach people on how to travel the world without going broke. If full-time travel is something you're considering, read on because I have some suggestions that might help you save money. It doesn't matter if you're retiring, quitting your "day job," or going remote: all these suggestions are useful.

Troll statue outside Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand. Permanent nomads are cautioned by a sculpture outside the Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand, to avoid stomping all over their savings.
Photograph by Heather Markel (Credit:

Make a Financial Plan

Having a travel budget is essential if you want to travel full-time. There are many moving parts, and many of the solutions will need to be tailored to your individual circumstances, resources, and objectives. So, to help you plan an affordable trip, I've compiled a few suggestions.

1. How long are you planning on being gone?  

The length of your trip is crucial. Money, of course, will go further in a shorter time frame than it would in a longer one. If you're going to be away from home for three months and only have $10,000, you'll have a lot more flexibility with your spending than if you were gone for six months. Determining an appropriate travel budget requires knowing your desired timeframe. That's not even the start.

Two, where do you hope to go on vacation?

Next, decide on your destination and the currency you'll be using for your trip. The majority of the world is more accessible financially if your home currency is the US dollar or the Euro. Southeast Asia and some of South America will have jaw-droppingly low prices. However, a trip to Africa, Europe, or the United States will cost significantly more. Where you go has a significant impact on how far your money can go.  

What Mode of Transportation Will You Be Using?

How will you get around: by plane, rental car, train, bus, or boat? Your travel expenses will vary depending on the mode of transportation you select. The more open you are to taking buses, the less money you'll have to spend on transportation. Bus rides can be rough on the body, so it's understandable that some people would rather not take that route.

Fourth, don't sugarcoat your travel habits.

You may be accustomed to staying in five-star hotels and dining at Michelin-starred establishments on business trips away from the office. Unless you're independently wealthy, you won't be able to sustain a lifestyle of constant travel like this for very long. (And if so, congratulations!) ) Adopting a more frugal way of life will buy you extra time abroad if that is what you are after. You must make a decision here.

I've slept in rooms with roaches and lizards, used public restrooms, and carried all of my belongings up stairs by myself. However, that isn't for everybody. My heart belongs to the road, so I do my best to keep on it. Don't pretend you don't like luxury travel if you do. Worse than not enjoying your trip at all is traveling in a manner that you despise.

Author in desert of Namibia. Heather Markel, the author, having fun in Namibia
(Photo by Heather Begins / Heather Markel)

When you hit the road permanently, your currency will lose value. The longer you stay in one place, the more bottles of shampoo and olive oil and other unnecessary items you end up buying on Amazon. You want to minimize cost and baggage weight when you travel. Since you'll probably be carrying your own bags, packing light can be easier on your back and your wallet because excess baggage is often charged. You'll shift your spending habits from focusing on trinkets to those of investing in memories.

5. Put Away Some Money

It's possible that you'll need to pad your savings before you leave, but figuring out how to do so may seem daunting. Years ago, I enrolled in a Financial Planning 101 course, which educated me on the importance of both spending and saving wisely. Olivia Mellan has written a number of helpful books on personal finance that are worth considering. Despite their age, I found her words of wisdom extremely instructive, particularly in regards to recognizing problematic patterns in one's personal financial behavior and developing strategies to address them.

The more time and money you have to spend abroad before having to return home, the better. Now is the time to define your travel objectives and determine whether a given purchase helps you get closer to those objectives or further away from them. Saving money can begin with eliminating "nice-to-have" and recurring expenses. Then, you can watch your savings account balance rise.

Get Cheap Airfares

You can save a lot of money on airfare if you plan ahead. You probably already know that flights with layovers can reduce your travel costs significantly, but that they will also add significant time to your trip. The cost of air travel can be reduced to almost nothing with the right credit card. Other great ways to save money on airfare include:

The dates of your trip should be flexible. Generally, midweek flights are much more cost-effective than weekend ones. Recent travel from New York City to Florida on a Wednesday saved me $300. I've also noticed that I'm more likely to receive an upgrade during the week than on the weekends.

You can find out about incredible airfare discounts and mistake fares by using apps like Secret Flying (or following them on Twitter). It's important to remember that buying a mistake airfare carries the risk of having your ticket disregarded.

Spend Less On Lodging 7.

Since you'll need a place to sleep each night, finding ways to lower this daily cost is essential if you want to travel full-time for more than a few months. Staying in one place for longer than a week can help you save money. It is at this time that most sales begin. If not, try talking to the hotel or property manager about a possible discount for a longer stay.

House sitting is a convenient way to avoid paying for lodgings. When you house sit, you get to use someone else's kitchen, which cuts down on your grocery bills while you take care of their pets. If you're an animal lover, you'll have great company on your trip. However, I know from experience that it can be difficult to leave some of the pets behind. The most well-known of these is Trusted Housesitters, but there are also pet-sitting services located within individual countries.

Building a solid reputation is a major benefit of using a global housesitting service. Locals may list on a country-specific site, but this will depend on factors like price competition, member availability, and local demand.

Couchsurfing and Host A Sister are two alternatives where you can stay for free at someone's house for a night or two. Renting out your current residence while you're away is a fantastic way to generate income for your trip.

The Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. The Three Sisters, an Australian rock formation located in the Blue Mountains.
(Photo by Heather Begins / Heather Markel)

Anyone can enjoy the lifestyle of a full-time nomad.

Clearly, anyone can go on extended trips, but doing so calls for careful preparation and forethought. The best ways to save money, earn money while traveling, and how long you can keep going all depend on your specific situation. I risked it, thinking my funds would last between three and six months. The more I explored and embraced this way of life, the longer my savings lasted. My initial savings plan has seen me through more than two years. Anyone who desires to do so can adopt this way of life.

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