It is the most asked question on my social media channels for sure! How do you afford to travel for so long? Understandable! My Instagram profile literally says how many days I have now been continuously on the road and as of March 2021 that is 3,000 days. So how to afford to travel the world? This is my story...
In 2008 it all started for me when I left my home country to take a leap of faith. Back then all I knew was I wanted to dive in the deep blue hole in Belize and I wanted to learn Spanish in Central America. I quit my job and left the Netherlands to chase my dreams.
It took me exactly one year to travel through Central America, South America, Australia and South-East Asia, collecting stamps of 22 different countries. With a bag full of experiences I returned home and knew one thing for sure: I want to travel the world indefinitely! But how do people afford to travel?
One of the most valuable tips I can give you straight away is to start traveling to affordable countries! Therefore I wrote an article about the best cheap countries for backpacking! Click on the list to see if you find your dream destination in and between.
This article is written as one of the first blogs, back in 2016, when I started my travel blog, but updated along the way! Things have changed a lot throughout my journey around the world...
A great article for you to read is my first year as a travel blogger, explained in numbers. All the free trips, all my 40 (free) flights displayed on a map, how I got on MTV, met the King of Bali, stayed in a $3,000 per night overwater villa in Maldives and much more.
If this is inspiring to you please help me in return by sharing the link of this article on Facebook or Pin this picture on Pinterest! Thanks a lot...
Becoming a travel blogger and making money traveling
From die-hard backpacker to travel blogger. Curious how I make money from travel blogging? Click on the link to learn more about how I do it. When you are interested about becoming a travel blogger yourself, then I definitely recommend you reading this article.
The story below is my personal story about how to afford to travel full time... it all started much before there was even social mediaand the first couple year I was just a traveler, not doing anything with blogging but slowly I started earning money online. Traveling is my passion, blogging wasn’t and isn't to be honest. But when my travel blog started to make money, the game of blogging suddenly became much more interesting!
But let me assure you that I never started a travel blog because I wanted to turn it into a cash cow! It all started from a passion for traveling and to help other chasing their dreams!
MUST READ: How To Travel The World On A Budget! The best read to get to know more ins and outs about my early travel days!
To be honest I didn't take blogging really serious until June 2017. Blogging is a lot of work and serious business. It is not just writing stories and putting them online. You will need to attract an audience. Most people thingk that blogging and social media is the same, BUT IT IS NOT!
Social media is a complete different world and what you see on Instagram has little to do with my blog. However, there is obviously a connection. I was lucky enough I got addicted to Instagram in 2014 already, right when it was about to become a thing.
From 2012 till 2016 I basically traveled around the world without a plan. I just wanted to have fun in life! I can tell you that worked out pretty well. Here are some of my best travel adventures from around the world. Click on the link to read about my 30 favorite travel adventures from 5 years traveling around the world. This article was written in 2017.
Some of my most memorable travel adventures and journeys in 2018 were:
- Self guided canoe trip in Sweden with my dad
- Visiting Maldives 3 times in 1 year
- My African dream destination: Namibia
- Tiger Safari in North India
- Riding on top of a train in Bangladesh
- My first cruise ship experience
- 3-week Balkan road trip
- Road trip to the Altai Mountains in Siberia
- 2 week road trip in Hungary
- 1 month in Georgia
Some of my most memorable travel adventures and journeys in 2019 were:
- Syria, a country torn by war.
- Pakistan, a long lasting dream fulfilled.
- Kurdistan, autonomous region in northeast Iraq.
- Langtang Valley Trekking in Nepal
- 3 months in Yucatan, Mexico
- Caribbean Island Vibes in Antigua & Barbuda
- Inaugural Cruise of the Sky Princess
Some of my most memorable travel adventures and journeys in 2020 were:
But the seed for all these travel adventures was planted many years before... when I was living in Aruba in 2006 for 6 months. My Caribbean life thought me many lessons and eventually resulted in a trip around the world in 2008. When I came back in 2009 from my first 12 months long trip around the world 3 years past by. No big trips, just a normal life and an office job at the Dutch government. Although saving as much money as I could, I still squeezed in short trips to Asia, USA, Middle East and South Africa.
Although those were some amazing holidays, there is nothing quite like a big trip! The urge to start another trip around the world became bigger and bigger and eventually the time was there to say goodbye again.
It was December 2012 when I quit my job for the 3th time and left for a trip of a lifetime. I saved enough money that would last me a couple years traveling around the world and of course with the knowledge I had from my first trip around the world in 2008. Here is some inspiration for first time travelers that are looking to go on a big trip:
Little did I know this trip around the world would turn into what I call a lifestyle nowadays and that I would be traveling continuously around the world for more than 3,000 consecutive days, until I had to take a little break because of this crazy global pandemic. That little break only lasted 10 weeks though and between March 2020 and May 2020 I didn't travel and stayed in Holland at my family.
But the most important:
What started as chasing my dreams... led to the job everyone is dreaming about: a full time travel blogger!
This is a photo from 2013 when I visited Myanmar for the first time! On that day the balloon company launched their brand new balloons for the first time. Magical morning in Bagan. I will never forget about my backpacking days... those days before social media even existed!
RELATED: Check out the Traveltomtom adventure travel gear list and see what I carry with me around the world.
Full time traveling is not like a holiday
First of all I want to make clear that spending time abroad is not always a vacation, so when people think I am on a holiday they are wrong. A holiday is far from my reality and there are some huge differences between travelling and being on a holiday. A traveller’s life is not always as excited as it seems. There are days that I don’t do anything, just work or be on my phone.
When I post a picture on my social media that doesn’t mean that I am right there at that moment. It happens that it is raining as hell and I post a picture from two days ago when it was beautiful weather. Displaying a more realistic travelers lifestyle are my Instagram stories in where you can see the normal life of a traveler. The good, the bad and the unfiltered.
Taking the cheapest crappy flights, sleeping in airports, saving money on food by eating tuna cans, buying the cheapest bottle of wine. Just like a real long term traveler would: save money so you can travel more!
I often joke about the fact that I became a master in spending money wisely, but actually I really think I am. I think it is the key to success in the long term travel industry. You can only spend money once, so when you are travelling you constantly gotta ask yourself the question: is this worth it? My rule is simple: does it make you happy without regretting it later then you should totally go for it! Maldives on a budget? Everything is possible, read it here!
The more you travel the more experience you will gain in the field of spending money wisely. For sure I did some stupid things, but I learned from it. It is like trial and error. Obviously I don’t ask myself the question if the money is worth it anymore, it now all comes down to a feeling! I know what makes me happy without having regrets and on top of that I know what is NOT worth spending money on. Souvenirs for example! LOL
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How I afford to travel long term
A good example is spending money on food. When you travel alone you are going to meet loads of people and you will end up in restaurants for dinner all together. This is great fun, but when these restaurants all are double the price of the ones down the road what are you going to do? Are these fellow travellers worth spending double the price on a meal? I often disappoint a lot of people by telling them I pass and I will grab my own food.
How do people afford to travel full time? Make the right financial choices!
It sometimes can even be bananas, bread, tomatoes and a can of tuna from the supermarket. It sounds pretty boring and sometimes arrogant, but I am willing to stay on the road for as long as possible and I can only spend my money once. I simply don’t want to spend it on meet ups with people I probably wont ever see anymore in my life anyway.
The same applies for going out and drinking alcohol, which consumes most of the travel costs for an average traveler. Be smart, think twice before going out! Is it really worth it or is it only a good night out when you get drunk? Back home you are not going out every other day either, so why would you do that while travelling around the world full time?
I think it’s a dangerous combination if travellers meet up with friends on a holiday. I definitely had the best time whenever my best friends decided to come on over. They for example came to Thailand for 23 days. In total we spend about $1,800, where an average month traveling solo in Thailand costs me only half of it! Your bank account won’t be happy with these meetings, unless you make your friends aware of how to afford traveling the world.
Where to go traveling the world full time
Different parts of the world obviously require different types of travel lifestyles. Check out these backpacking destinations for beginners where I think adapting to a travelers lifestyle is easier. You are going to be surrounded by likeminded people in these countries.
Imagine yourself in Scandinavia. You think you will go out eating 3 times a day? You can try, but you probably won't be away for that long. Though in Asia, where you can find meals for about $2 you most likely will never cook yourself.
In for example Thailand I go out eating 4 times a day at simple places or I grab street food (one of the reasons to travel to Thailand). Life in cheap countries is good and uncomplicated, but even there you will find places to splurge. A good decent restaurant will cost you only about $8 and for most people that is cheap as hell!
For most travellers it is not a question if they can afford it, the question is are they willing to afford it! More travel tips about how to travel the world with no money in this link.
How do people afford to travel: travel on a budget
A lot of travellers set sail and they know precisely what’s their budget per day. They are trying to stick to that and it is of course not a bad idea to keep your travels within proportion. Though it is not my style! For all my tips for budget traveling click here.
I think budgets are limiting full time travelers. Travelling is about freedom and if you limit yourself you are not free to do what you want. When it comes down to spending money I think you should do what you feel like doing at that moment, regardless your budget!
What I mean is that if I want to go to out in an expensive sky bar in Bangkok (one of the top things to do in Bangkok) I know I am going to spend a lot of money. But I wont stop myself from doing it if I really want it. The key lies in the days after! If you just make sure you are going to have simple and cheap days in the week after, it shouldn’t be a problem. Full time travelers mostly have a lot of time and these cheap days are vital to survive. Watch movies, stroll around the city or spend time on the beach. Just do something that does not cost money!
Finding the right balance is a vital part of how to afford traveling the world full time.
So do I have a set budget? No I never even thought about it to be honest. I do know what I am spending on average over a longer time! Only roughly though, because I don’t want to think about money that much when I am traveling!
I have been trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal where I spent about US$180 in 15 days or a homestay in Guatemala for 7 days spending only US$55 including food. But on the contrary I went to the World Cup 2014 in Brazil where I spent about US$4,000 in 5 weeks or 5 days Hawaii, which cost me nearly US$1,000. Was it worth it? Hell yeah!!!!!
How I afford to travel
From the beginning of the days I started to explore the world I prioritised experiences over things or comfort. I don't hold the secret for traveling full time it is all about choices you make. You can work abroad and live large, or you can live sober and travel full time with your savings.
Traveling full time all comes down to what you are willing to sacrifice and in my case that is a lot! In the beginning days of my travels around the world I lived off my savings and reduced my costs to a minimum.
For how long you are going to be traveling the world depends on how much money you have. But that is not the only thing! If you want to make a trip around the world then expect to have a lot of transportation expenses. But do you decide to stay in one continent, suddenly the lifespan of your trip doubles.
You could decide to stay only in Asia where life is cheap and travel costs are reduced to a minimum. Flying around in Asia is pretty cheap with plenty of cheap flight for the grab. Staying in the same place for a longer time also helps you not spending that much money. In 2013 and 2014 I used to live in Koh Tao, a little island in Thailand. I rented a nice apartment for one month, I went out eating about 4 times a day, the beach was around the corner, I hiked around so now and then and went to the gym mostly every day. What did such a month traveling full time cost me? About $800 USD!
Yes, spending money wisely is an art!
Travel to cheap countries
Thailand is a cheap country to travel, but not as cheap as it used to be. Nowadays there are cheaper countries in Asia: Iran, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal to name some. Imagine you are able to save up to $20,000 USD to travel the world. Regarding the above stated example that would make you stay on the road for about 20 months! That is more than 1,5 years.
I met people who were travelling around the world for one year spending not more than $500 USD a month. How do people afford to travel like that? But imagine cycling through Vietnam for 4 weeks, staying overnight in a tent, using couchsurfing or sleep in local homes on invitation. It will probably be hard to spend more than US$10 a day actually. When there is a will there is a way!
As I said before it all comes down what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice. Do you really want to eat a tuna can and a piece of bread for lunch? Or want to sleep in hostels and noisy dorms? Travelling is not all glitter and glamour!
Working while traveling
There are many opportunities to gain some extra income while travelling. I don’t need to tell you that working while traveling can keep you on the road for a long time. Work for free accommodation or for free partying is common as well. It is very common among young travellers, but I never did anything like this. Until the end of 2016 when I moved to Sydney I did not work while traveling.
I did some volunteer work in for example Costa Rica where I spent a couple weeks helping to protect sea turtles on a remote island.This is one of the experiences I listed in my blog with travel adventures from around the world. End of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 I made my way to Australia though to take a break from traveling. Read about my Australian Dream in my Australian Working Holiday Visa blog.
Although I have never really worked during my travels here is a list of jobs that don't require a work permit that I compiled to help you to afford to travel full time.
In the beginning of 2017 though travel blogging became a thing and very little by little I started to make some money from travel blogging, it was at least something. Making money being a travel blogger seems like the best thing ever. But that is not reality! If you have to survive from your travel blogging income you will most likely end up sleeping in the streets the first couple years. day, months, years I spent behind my Macbook and on Instagram. For what? At that time it was all uncertain! Will I ever make enough money from travel blogging...
On of my fist blog ever dates from 2016 and is about how to become popular on Instagram. Definitely not the way it works nowadays, but a good example of how I started: investing hours into something uncertain. I keep the article up there to remind me how much I changed as well. I wasn't a great writer and still find it hard for me to express myself in my 4th language, but I improved a lot.
My story about the first 4 years around the world is simple: I saved enough money and knew how to spend money. Never did I think I would become a professional travel blogger! It was just a matter of leaving my comfort zone and looking for an adventure, which was making me happy and still does!
When I read articles about how people afford to travel it was always about making money online and along the way I learned how to do that. Making money from a travel blog is a long process, but it is possible!
Several adventures came my way and loads of them were not planned. I met hundreds of people along the road and made loads of friends. It has been a roller coaster ride ever since and it seems there is no end to it in the near future! Spending my money wisely and spending it in such a way that it makes me a happy traveller is my secret. Of course it became easier with the years going by and my blog starting to make a good income.
Still I think the key to traveling full time is that you are passionated about it otherwise it is hard to stay on the road for so long. Nowadays I try to keep up with my weekly adventures and as much as I can I launch new travel blogs. More and more am I inspired by taking the unknown roads into faraway lands. My trip to Syria in August 2019 opened my eyes once again about how little we actually know about what is going on the world.
I travel to learn, I travel to become a better person!
I really hope my travels inspire you to take a leap of faith and chase your dreams. I love to interact with my followers for as much as I can! Let me fuel your wanderlust by sending you to my blog 30 things I only experienced because I traveled. In this list I sum up to most amazing things I did while being on the road. From hot air ballooning to world wonders and from chasing the worlds biggest waterfalls to learning foreign languages.
How I became a full time travel blogger
Nowadays things changed and I am working hard to live of my blog. Generating an income from blogging is extremely hard in the first years and not something that you will establish in a couple months. It is taking me more than a year now and I am still working many hours to realize a decent income. I will write more travel blogs about what I exactly do behind the scenes and how I survive in this little nasty world of bloggers. ;)
Now you have read how it all started and how I was able to afford to travel click on the link or the picture below to read about my travel blogger salary and best of all an honest inside in how a travel blogger makes money. No bullshit, the truth about making money.
The below article was written in March 2018, but for every beginning blogger a very helpful insight on whether to start a travel blog or not.
Things have changed a lot since I wrote that article in 2018! Basically right after, in April 2018 my travel blog gained authority, got traction and went through the roof. In 2019 Traveltomtom was listed as one of the top 50 biggest travel blogs in the world with more than 15,000 unique DAILY visitors! That is almost half a million unique visitors per month!
When you then manage to monetize that traffic into real income you can be assured that it is a great income for traveling the world!
I really hope this article was an inspiration for you! If you would like to help me could you please share the link of this article on Facebook, Twitter or pin it to Pinterest for me? Thank you so much... A small thing for you to do, which can make a big difference for me.