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How To Travel Full Time (And Make Money)

How To Travel Full Time (And Make Money)

Those who want to know how to travel full time need to ground their expectations.

Full-time traveling has a not-so-glamorous side that is seldomly discussed by travelers, and breaking through this facade is key to knowing if full-time traveling is for you.

Here are a couple of things to consider.

What you need to know before traveling full time:

1. There’s no escaping responsibility.

If you intend to make travel a permanent part of your life, you need to be able to earn while traveling, which will almost certainly mean working and saving money.

Finding ways to fund your adventures, choosing affordable accommodation options, and keeping a budget is all part of full-time traveling, and these are big responsibilities that require meticulous planning. 

2. Loneliness can be an issue.

A traveler with a backpack

Those who know how to travel full time have accepted potential loneliness as a part of the lifestyle.

Unless you’re comfortable with being alone, loneliness can be a real issue for full-time travelers and location-independent people, especially for those the reclusive and less outgoing. 

Meeting people from around the world does offer opportunities for socialization, but chances are, you’ll miss the friendships you made at home. 

3. Falling ill can be a challenging, even fatal experience.

Getting sick, especially if you have no health insurance, can be a real pain.

Fevers, stomach problems, swollen feet, food poisoning, and allergic reactions, especially when you’re all by yourself can be a stressful experience.

This is especially true in destinations with poor healthcare. 

4. Your health will take a beating.

With travel at the forefront of your journey, it’s easy to fall into the habit of choosing the most convenient and affordable food options – and they’re often the least healthy.

Most full-time travelers don’t have access to a kitchen to cook healthy meals, and gym memberships can be impractical and costly if you’re leaving for another destination in a few weeks. 

Globetrotter Lauren Juliff felt the health-affecting consequences of full-time travel in full force, which prompted her to finally quit the nomadic lifestyle.

If you don’t know how to make healthy lifestyle changes to fit your new nomadic life, full-time traveling is not for you. 

5. It pushes you out of your comfort zone.

You’ll risk missing flights, falling sick, getting robbed, being lonely, or falling into a financial rut – the hard parts of traveling full time will no doubt teach you invaluable lessons that will change your life forever. 

You also need to be able to afford to travel full-time before you leave for your journey. That comes with ups and downs. But being out of your comfort zone is a good thing as it can push you to learn more about yourself intellectually.

If reading all of these doesn’t phase you and you still want to know how to travel full time, then congratulations.

You may have the might and mettle to live as a full-time traveler! Now that that the cons are out of the way, here’s how to get started! 

How to travel full time and make money.

Camera, passport, and money on a wooden table

Time to discuss the tricky part of how to travel full time: making money.

Before considering any of these options, heed this hard truth: if you have zero experience in any of the fields listed below, don’t expect to earn a six-digit salary. 

The digital nomad lifestyle requires you to be able to afford to travel full time but is also done with the right expense management. You still need to save money to meet your own personal finance goals for retirement.

Remote work usually doesn’t pay as much for beginners, but if you earn your income from multiple sources, it’s possible to make just enough to fund your travels.

Take note: most full-time travelers take on multiple gigs to tide them over. 

Globetrotter Lindsay McKenzie of FollowYourDetour.com is a blogger, consultant, freelance writer, and virtual assistant all at the same time.

Travel enthusiast Alex Reynolds of LostWithPurpose.com does graphic design, occasional web development, and manages a blog to make ends meet. 

If you want to know how to fund full-time travel, you’ll have to diversify – just know that juggling multiple projects at once can be even more demanding than a full time job.

Here are just some of the best options:  

1. Try online freelancing.

For those wondering how to travel while working full-time, online freelancing is probably the most popular option.

Freelancing platforms like Flexjobs are treasure troves of remote work opportunities for full-time travelers. The only requirement to take on most projects is a demonstrable skill in a particular area. 

Beginners without credentials or a proven track record may find it difficult to win their first project, but once they finally take on a few jobs and collect positive feedback from clients, finding a steady stream of work becomes easier.

Some of the most popular projects in freelance marketplaces include:

  • Blogging
  • Writing
  • Translation
  • Editing
  • Content Writing
  • Web design
  • Data entry
  • Editing

2. Be a travel blogger.

It should come as no surprise that most full-time travelers also become travel bloggers. Traveling the world allows you to generate tons of content that travel-oriented readers love.

Consider writing and taking great snapshots of your journey, and then follow the best practices on how to build a travel website.

You need to think about it as a business, which means your travel blog is your job and career.

Travel blogging can be lucrative if you have the right focus and determination. It’s not easy though. Your blog income will be highly variable depending on the niche of your travel blog.

If you focus on seasonal destinations, you’ll have high and low periods of traffic.

You can monetize your blog in several ways, including affiliate marketing, pay-per-click ads, display ads with Ezoic, or sponsored posts.

As you build your travel blog, you can use it to parlay it into free travel by partnering with hotels, tourism boards, and other brands around the world.

3. Work as a translator.

While polyglots and masters of their own language can find several projects in freelance marketplaces, it’s possible to find temporary gigs offline as well.

Native English speakers may check with schools for temporary job openings.

Taking a TEFL course may increase your chances of finding work. 

If you speak French, check with the Alliance Francaise in your destination to see if they have any projects for you.

German-speaking travelers may inquire at the local Goethe Institute for opportunities. You may also consider visiting libraries and universities for translation opportunities. 

Outside freelance marketplaces, you’ll find several independent websites to work as a translator including Verbling, Speakt, and Unbabel

4. Share your knowledge.

It’s possible to make a good living by being a tutor, especially if you’re very good at what you do.

Here are some of your options: 

Teach how to play an instrument: A great way on how to make money on the road is to teach others the art of music.

Websites like LessonFace hire online tutors for various musical instruments including guitar, violin, piano, horn, and even voice. 

Teach a subject: Are you a math wiz?

TutorMe hires math tutors, as well as tutors for various other subjects including physics, biology, calculus, chemistry, geometry, and accounting. 

Become a consultant: If you specialize in a particular field, companies may be looking to hire you.

Sign up for Flexjobs and connect with clients looking for experts! 

Create a course: Making money out of your skills is the secret to how to travel full time.

Whether your course is in text or video format, you can host it on a website like Udemy, one of the largest marketplaces for online courses. 

5. Work part-time at a hostel.

The hostel you’re staying at may be a great source of gigs as hostel owners tend to be more open-minded about staffing.

Volunteer to teach yoga, organize events, give massages, or cook meals.

Strike a deal with the owner to work in exchange for a free stay or go the traditional route and negotiate payment. 

6. Sell your photos.

Are you a travel photographer?

One of the best ways on how to travel full time and make money is to sell your photos on websites like Etsy, Shutterstock, and 500px.

These sites take a cut out of your earnings, but they’re a great way to earn passive income. 

If you like the travel blog route, you can also pair your travel photography with your website to earn money online.

7. Go busking.

Are you good at any performance art?

If you can sing, dance, play the violin, guitar, or piano, busking is a great way to earn extra cash.

Before starting, however, make sure to check your city laws to make sure you’re not breaking any rules.  

8. Dog sit.

Travelers with a natural affinity for animals may consider dog sitting.

Sign up for websites like Rover and get connected with dog owners. 

9. Look for full-time remote jobs.

Wondering how to travel with a full-time job?

SolidGigs frequently posts and sends a variety of full-time job openings from different companies looking for virtual assistants, account executives, social media copywriters, and the like directly to your email inbox. 

The ability to work remotely is far more common in today’s age than in the past.

How to extend your earnings.

Coins on a map

Those who know how to travel full time understand that every penny counts. Here are the best ways on how to extend your earnings. 

1. Visit affordable destinations.

This is probably one of the most important tips on this list. If you’re looking to extend every dollar, select destinations that are easy on the pocket – and even then, travel on a tight budget. 

To extend her earnings, globetrotter Alex Reynolds travels through South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Nepal which she considers manageable to visit on $15 per day.

You must have enough money to continue traveling. Imagine going to your first destination and running out of money?

Yeah, that’s not how you become a full-time traveler.

2. Stay in cheap accommodations.

Hostels, motels, or even a friend’s house in another country are great places to stay if you’re looking to extend your budget. Even better if you’re traveling in an RV

You could also consider striking a deal with a hostel owner and work in exchange for a free stay, or try “workamping” at a national park to get free space at a campsite. 

The digital nomad life is not always glamorous but that’s the point. You’d rather be working and exploring at your own pace than sitting under fake lighting and reporting to some mid-level manager.

3. Use a budgeting app.

Those who want to know how to travel full time need to understand the importance of budgeting.

Apps like Personal Capital and Wally can help you tally your expenses and take full control of your finances to help you track if you’re going over budget. 

What to include in your luggage.

Luggage items for traveling

What exactly do you pack when you’re looking to travel the world full time?

The short answer: a little bit of everything – emphasis on little.

The trick to packing well is packing smart. Packing lists differ from traveler to traveler depending on their needs, but here are a few must-haves: 

Packing tools.

A rolling suitcase, like the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior, is one of the best choices for people looking to travel for long periods.

Get yourself several organizational packing tools like these multi-functional packing cubes to separate your clothing. 

For holding your cash and cards, you need something secure.

A purse, daypack, or wallet that’s tamper-proof, water-resistant, and with RFID protection are most ideal for long-term travel. 

Clothing.

Your clothing should be versatile, comfortable, and weather-friendly, so do your research about your destination’s climate. 

Clothes with lots of pockets, like the Gihuo Travel Vest and Match Men’s Cargo Pants, are fantastic options as they allow you to lug around essential items.

Convertible clothing like these hiking cargo pants that double as shorts is an exceptional option for long-term traveling. 

Be warned though; if you’re flying around the US wearing cargo pants, your chances of being “randomly selected” for a pat-down and luggage search skyrocket.

Try to pack at least a pair of each garment to ensure that you have a change of clothes while you launder your used items. 

Footwear.

Your footwear choice spells the difference between a smooth sailing adventure and one of utter pain.

Of course, your choices depend on the activities in your itinerary, but if you’re really packing smart, you only need two types of footwear: sandals and active shoes. 

Teva Sandals are known for their durability and are great for beach trips and walking around town.

Merrel’s Hiking Shoes are great for almost any athletic activity, as they’re breathable and moisture-proof! 

Toiletries.

Get yourself a great toiletry organizer, like the BAGSMART Toiletry Travel Bag, to make packing and unpacking easy!

Items to stash in your toiletry bag depend on your individual needs, but make sure to include a travel towel, face wash, shampoo, soap, moisturizer, sunblock, a razor, toothbrush (with toothbrush cover), toothpaste, and floss. 

Planning your accommodation.

Hostel bedroom

1. Airbnb or VRBO.

If you’re traveling with a family or another group, you may want to consider renting from online home renting marketplaces like Airbnb or VRBO to save on hotel fees.

Airbnb and VRBO operate in residential areas, as such, their accommodations do not pay taxes as hotels do. This allows them to offer cheap rates to travelers.

2. Living with a friend or family.

Do you have any friends living in destinations you want to travel to?

If you consider yourself particularly close with this person, consider offering to pay a share of the rent or bills in exchange for a stay at his house or apartment.

Using your connections can be a great way to save on accommodation.

3. RV or trailer.

Those who have learned how to travel full time know that living in an RV or trailer is one of the best ways to do it.

Full time RV travel and living in a travel trailer full time allows you to cook your own meals and sleep in the same vehicle you travel with – that’s hundreds of dollars saved on eating out and staying in a hotel! 

4. Hotel, motel, or hostel.

The trick to booking hotels, motels, inns, or hostels is to use the best online booking portals for the best deals.

Websites like Booking, Getaway, Priceline, Expedia, Hotwire, Orbitz, HotelTonight, and Hilton Honors give you access to the best prices so you can better extend your budget. 

See Related: Warm Winter Destinations in Europe

Getting around.

People in bus seats

1. Planes.

Planes are the quickest way to jump from destination to destination, allowing you to turn a 12-hour bus ride into a trip that only lasts an hour.

Unfortunately, they’re also the most expensive.

Those who know how to travel full time know how planes are the worst choice when factoring in their finances, so it should only be used when you have a very short vacation period, or when you want to get somewhere quick.

If you really must go on a flight, don’t forget to use online booking portals like Scott’s Cheap Flights, One Travel, Skiplagged, and Skyscanner.

For even more savings, use airline credit cards to earn rewards for free hotel stays!

2. RV.

RVs aren’t only transportation options, they offer places to live too. This makes them one of the most economical and budget-friendly transportation options.

If you don’t have your own, consider renting one from rental services like RV Share.

3. Trains and buses.

Trains and buses are some of the most affordable transportation options, making them the go-to modes of transport for those who know how to travel full time.

The affordability comes at a price, however, as trains and buses are often brimming with people and multiple stops can extend the duration of your travel.

Not to mention, long and bumpy rides can be uncomfortable, but as long as you get where you need to, right?

PRO TIP: If you’re staying in Japan for more than a week, the JR Pass gives you the most value while giving you access to all of the country’s non-bullet JR trains!

4. Sea travel.

Boats, ships, and ferries offer convenient ways to travel over the sea, and their prices can vary depending on how luxurious they are.

Seasickness can be an issue here, but if you aren’t seasick, they’re a great option if they allow you to get to your destination faster than other modes of transport. 

5. Car services.

Depending on the car service, transportation fees may vary from affordable to expensive.

Hiring an Uber, tuk-tuk, or another taxi service offers more comfort and less crowding with strangers. They’re also generally a faster way to get from place to place versus public transport. 

In most cities, however, car service fees are still more expensive than train and bus options, so they’re not a recommended form of everyday transportation for full-time travelers. If you’re staying at a destination for a couple of months, renting a vehicle is also an option!

PRO TIP: In some large cities, (particularly European or Japanese) driving around the city center can be a nightmare due to congested traffic and smaller streets – consider ditching cars altogether!

6. Biking and walking.

If safety and time permits, always opt for walking and biking. These are the two most practical modes of transportation for full-time travelers.

It’s earth-friendly and doesn’t cost you a penny! Make sure to have a map with you at all times, and if you have no bike, consider renting one in your location! 

Tips for ensuring a safe and comfortable long-term travel.

A traveler getting a vaccine

Sign up for travel and health insurance.

Those who know how to travel full time understand the dire importance of travel insurance.

If you’re on the road often, the unexpected is bound to happen. 

You can get robbed or lose your passport, personal belongings, or checked-in bag.

Your bookings can be canceled or you may encounter medical emergencies especially if you have pre-existing conditions. Travel insurances can help with all of these matters, making them an essential purchase for all travelers. 

Travel insurances like World Nomads, World Nomads Scuba Diving Insurance, Travel Insurance, Aardy, and Aardy Health Insurance offer wide coverage and offer the most bang for your buck.

If you’re in the process of shopping around, seek help from Insurance Specialists who can connect you with the best insurance agents! 

Get vaccinated.

Vaccines are essential in protecting travelers from diseases, at home and abroad.

If you’re traveling around the world, make sure to research what vaccines you need and get them! They could save your life and the lives of others.

Get a credit card.

Lugging around paper money all the time can be impractical and dangerous, this is why credit cards are often the choice of travelers who know how to travel full time. 

If you’re averse to using credit cards, you may opt for a prepaid currency card like the Travelex Money Card, which may be topped up with over 10 currencies.

This card may be used at millions of locations, particularly establishments that display the Mastercard logo. 

Related Resources

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Booking Flights
Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.

You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.

Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
Looking for Extra Travel Perks?
Check out these best travel rewards credit cards to enjoy extra rewards points that can be redeemed for flights, hotels and more. In addition, several of these cards will help you enjoy some amazing travel benefits like lounge access, travel credits, upgrades and more.
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