We are in our third year of full-time travel and recently realized we can keep doing this indefinitely without either of us ever holding a conventional job. We don’t work remotely or even make a dime from this blog.
How do you afford it? Without fail, this is the first question everyone asks when they find out we travel full-time.
We’re Incredibly Privileged
The first answer is pure luck – we have access to America’s economic infrastructure and are able to travel freely to most places with our American passports, without which this lifestyle might not be possible.
Lower Cost of Living Abroad
First, long term travel costs less than you might think. Because we have total flexibility, we can avail ourselves of cheap flights and long-stay discounts on Airbnb. Weekly discounts often give you the 7th night free and a monthly can be 30-40% off. We also alternate between expensive countries like Australia and cheap countries like Serbia to even out our expenses.
What we’ve found is that the cost of living in most countries is significantly lower than in our home city of Boston. We end up spending less on living and travel expenses combined than we would on rent or a mortgage payment at home, while maintaining a comparable standard of living.
What kind of standard of living is that? Not lavish but not too budget either. We book one-bedroom apartments on Airbnb, occasionally a studio or hotel room for short stays, mostly fly economy, go out to eat a few times a week, cook at home the rest of the time, work out at the gym, go to movies, and visit tourist attractions. We also carry global medical coverage and visit the dentist routinely. Occasionally we take a guided excursion but usually we travel independently and rent our own car. It’s really quite similar to the life we had in Boston, minus the office. In lieu of going to work, we spend an extraordinary amount of time walking, grocery shopping, and reading every day.
Numbeo’s cost of living comparison between Boston and Budapest, for example:
Second, we started to create a passive income stream before we started traveling and have continued to grow it. After our first year of full-time travel, we were breaking even but wanted to change that, so we went home and got back to work investing in more real estate so we could travel longer. Little by little we’ve built a portfolio of stocks, rental property, and an Airbnb. These days we basically just live off the cash generated by our Airbnb and leave the rest to grow.
Before that, we spent a lot of years working, saving, and investing. I worked 11 hour days and half a day on Saturday for seven years, saving about 80% of my after-tax income. Aaron has always worked for himself, mostly in real estate and e-commerce. We both lived below our means and invested the rest, which we continue to do. Perhaps even more important than saving, investing is the key to creating a long-lasting income stream.
This is just a brief response. If you want to know more on any one point, let me know your questions and I can try to answer them in future posts.