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“How Can You Afford To Travel So Often?”

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“How can you afford to travel so often?” is the question I am asked most frequently, by travelers and non-travelers alike.

The simple answer is that I save well, and I budget even better. I’m also extremely good at math. At the same time, my income isn’t particularly high — and I pay for almost 100% of my travel. (The question I get asked second-most often is “Do you get paid to travel?”)

The takeaway here is if I can travel extensively, you can travel extensively. Indeed, you shouldn’t be asking “How can Robert afford to travel so often?” — you should be asking yourself why you can’t!

How Much Income Does It Take To Travel?

The biggest bullshit myth about travel is that you need to be wealthy to travel extensively. Would you believe me if I told you that my average monthly income since I started traveling has been less than $3,000?

In fact, I believe that a net income of $3,000 a month is a good target to set if you want to travel long-term. In my experience, it is possible to travel basically anywhere in the world on $100 per day, sometimes less. And $100 x 30 is $3,000, so you see my logic.

Of course, you can travel the world on even less than $3,000 per month — did you read my article about how I traveled for three months on less than $50 per day?

Then there’s time. If you want to travel long-term, time is even more important than money. My biggest secret to traveling is not having a high income, but rather that my income is location-independent — I can earn money from anywhere in the world!

Want To Travel More? Sell Your Car

I haven’t had a car since September 2009, just before I moved to China. Assuming a car note of $300, $150 in insurance and $150 in gas, I have saved $600 per month, or a whopping $19,800 as of June 2012. At $50 per day, that amounts to 396 days of travel!

Selling your car is a great way to save more money for travel, but you should also make sacrifices elsewhere in your life. Obviously, you should keeping eating at nice restaurants and drinking in fancy bars to a minimum. But some sacrifies need to be more fundamental.

People who want to travel long-term shouldn’t rent a single apartment, for example. Before I moved to China, I was paying $850 per month in rent and approximately $250 per month in utilities — or $1,100 per month, just to put a roof over my head!

After I returned I moved in with roommates, and was paying just $450 in rent and $100 in bills, or $550 vs. $1,100 per month. Each year, living with roommates (rather than alone) saves me $6,600, or enough to travel continuously for 3-4 months.

Budget Travel Best Practices

Adhering to a travel budget takes discipline, but setting it need not be hard. In general, I set a budget of $50 per day in developing regions (i.e. India or Southeast Asia) and $100 per day in developed countries (Australia, Europe and the U.S.).

“But Robert,” you’re probably asking, “What if I want to do an activity one day that costs more than $100?”

The answer is simple: If you spend more than your travel budget one day, you need to spend less other days to compensate for it.

Let’s say, for example, you decide to tour Australia’s Great Ocean Road, which costs about $100 on its own. Let’s also say that on that day, you spend $70 eating, drinking and on your hostel bed. You’ve exceed your travel budget by $70 — that’s 70 per cent!

But not to worry! Let’s say you’re in Australia for 20 more days. Come on, do the calculation — you see that? You would only need to save $3.50 per day in order to compensate for your overage. Budget travelers don’t have to be cheap, but they do need to be smart.

Do You Get Paid To Travel?

The simple answer to this question is a resounding “No.” Rather, I get paid to write and use the money I make writing to fund my own travel, during which I write more to make money for my next trip.

Last year, for example, I traveled for approximately 120 days — and only four of those days were paid for by a third party!

The problem with”getting paid to travel” is that you spend your entire trip adhering to a program designed by someone else. You don’t get to have your own experiences (you might not even get a lunch break!) and that defeats the purpose of traveling, for me anyway.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. My current trip to Norway was kindly sponsored by Innovation Norway in New York. But in general, I avoid seeking out “sponsored travel,” even though the popularity and credibility of my blog afford me such options.

About The Author

is the author of 485 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!

  • http://waegook-tom.com Waegook Tom

    You’re totally right about not having to be rich in order to travel, Mr Schrader. I think we’re so used to having travel presented to us as flashy, all-inclusive resorts that the alternatives don’t even occur. If I ever splash out I do as you say here – cut down a bit on other days. Fortunately over-spending on a night out and the resultant hangover means I’ll never want to do much the next day anyway (hello, coffee shop or hostel room with a movie).

    Great tips as always – hope this inspires someone to start saving for the trip they’ve always dreamed of!

  • https://plus.google.com/116480057469316097585?rel=author Robert Schrader

    Me too Mr. Waegook Tom! I hope your Busan ideas come to fruition!

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  • http://www.dottingthemap.com Hilarye

    I feel ya. I recently wrote a post very similar. Maybe I was subconsciously copying you, I’m not really sure. But it drives me nuts! Drive a crappier car and go out to eat less and I bet you could go to Europe for the summer too!

  • https://plus.google.com/116480057469316097585?rel=author Robert Schrader

    Well since you are successfully traveling, much of writing I’m writing is probably what you’re already thinking!

  • Kar Cheung

    All my travelling experiences have been short week long trips around Europe, or slightly longer trips to Asia…My main drawback from long term travel is; as you said the finances involved…Maybe this will finally give me the courage to do what I’ve always wanted and take the plunge..

  • https://plus.google.com/116480057469316097585?rel=author Robert Schrader

    I hope my site can inspire you, Kar! Inspiration is my #1 goal in writing this blog!

  • http://www.living-my-life-in-reverse.com Andrea

    Robert, you are my new inspiration! After traveling through Europe and blogging every day last year, I decided THIS IS IT! This is what I want to do with my life. Now, making it happen is the real challenge but finding sites like yours that show other people ACTUALLY living it makes me keep going! Off to read more of your blog!

  • https://plus.google.com/116480057469316097585?rel=author Robert Schrader

    Kudos to you for also charting an independent path! If you would ever like to talk about the business of blogging, do let me know!

  • Cynthia

    Hi Robert, this is my first time hit your blog and i looooooovee it!
    I think i’m classified as middle class in developing countries, where fund is still the setback from traveling to developed countries. not like people from US who can travel cheap to asia, and without complicated visa application. for us travel to US or Europe should be really well planed.
    anyway, I have question on financial issue. Do you have a financial plan for your retirement life..after you could not travel anymore? and can you still save up for emergency fund or invest for buying property?
    basically, how to financially plan your freelance life?

  • https://plus.google.com/116480057469316097585?rel=author Robert Schrader

    Hi Cynthia: These are some great questions! I think the issue of being middle class in developing countries is interesting, because of how fast average per-capita income in countries like China, India and Brazil is growing — incomes in the US are stagnating or even falling.

    As far as retirement, my goal is to start saving once I’m 30. For now, I am just living life as if I don’t have any left past tomorrow!

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  • http://unwireme.com UnwireMe

    You’re absolutely correct that it doesn’t take a lot of money to travel the world. It is even cheaper when one slow-travels and takes advantage of discounted long-term accommodations.

    Good post :)

    -Rich Polanco

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