As soon as people figure out that I travel for months on end, without stopping, they always ask how I’m able to pay for it. It’s an obvious question to ask and there are a few things I need to clear up. Firstly, no, there is nobody funding my lifestyle, except for me. Occasionally, people will ask if I’m a trust fund baby or if I have rich parents and the answer is simply no. I came from a fairly modest upbringing. Instead of just giving me everything, what my parents did was to educate me very well about life and specifically personal finance.
For my entire life and sometime before, my dad had his own businesses. While I was inspired by my dad to be my own boss, my mom inspired me to save money by finding great bargains. Between being inspired to have my own business by my dad and how to save money by my mom, I was equipped with a great financial education.
This knowledge led to having my own business at age 9. Since then, I’ve done everything under the sun but I won’t get into that right now! The point that I want to get across is summarized by the following quote:
a penny saved is a penny earned
Living anywhere in the world does not have to be expensive. The main reason that I can sustain a life of constant travel and freedom, relies heavily on being able to live economically. I don’t spend money exorbitantly, ever. I calculate everything, and am very careful not to spend when I don’t have to. I’ve learned that a majority of the things I enjoy most in life do not cost very much money. As you know from the article I wrote about selling all of my possessions, I actually feel more comfortable with owning less.
Being the saver and businessman that I am, I’ve been able to stock away a modest savings account. I feel that learning this skill from my parents has enabled me to become the international man of mystery I dreamed about becoming when I was younger. Once you have a decent cushion in your bank account, you will then have a lot more freedom and less pressure when it comes to earning income.
Lets now discuss the most important expenses that are required for this lifestyle of travel, and my actual budget.
Major Travel and Life Expenses
- Transportation (airfare and intercity transit)
- Food and Beverage
- Miscellaneous (visa fees, phone data and other fees)
The most significant on the list is obviously accommodation cost. No matter who you are, whether you’re working a 9-to-5 job, an entrepreneur or an alien, most likely your largest expense will be your accommodation. Even before I started blogging, I found ways to live quite inexpensively and did so in a very high-end fashion. For example, while living in Thailand I was able to find an amazing apartment that had a swimming pool, gym, 24 hour security and an incredibly convenient location in Thonglor (one of the best areas of the city) all for a bargain! Throughout my life, I’ve never paid more than $500 USD a month for my accommodation including utilities. I know this may not be possible in all countries, but with some hunting you should be able to find a deal somewhere. It really comes down to networking and knowing where to look. The point is not to find a place for $500 a month in New York, the point is to do the extra work hunting and negotiating to get the best deal possible.
The second largest cost on the list I’ve provided would be transportation. Typically, if you’re practicing a life on the move, this will be your airfare. I take two long-haul flights a year and the rest are all usually short and inexpensive. For the two long-haul flights, I’ll sign-up for two travel reward credit cards. These are credit cards which offer a sign-up bonus just for spending money as normal. These don’t exist in all countries, but if you are American, then there are tons to choose from.
This year, my first long-haul flight was from Miami to London and then will be from Asia to Chicago. Both are completely covered by simply signing up for 2 credit cards. By eliminating the most expensive flights, I have really reduced my overall budget. In case you’re wondering, those two flights totaled about $800 USD! All for working smart and not hard!
As I’ve said, the remaining flights are quite inexpensive. For example, once I arrived in Europe, my flights only ran me between $20 to $80 USD. Sometimes I’ll take a bus or a train, and this contributes to a very low travel cost.
The savings don’t stop there folks! I will often walk long distances just to save a few extra dollars which I can use for something else and is good for my health. If walking isn’t possible, I’ll go for public transportation.
3. Food and Beverage
The third most expensive item on the list is food and beverage. When I’m not staying at hotels, I cook 80% of my meals. This works out great because I love cooking. After cooking for yourself for a while, one can realize that buying raw ingredients can be very economical as well as tasty! Regardless of what country I’m in, whether it’s China or the US, I never pay more than a few dollars a meal. If I’m not cooking for myself, I’m writing about high-end restaurants or buying local tasty food.
The last item on the list is miscellaneous expense. For me, there tend to not be too many of these, but they include things like visa fees, phone services and utilities. I’ve estimated that these run me no more than $100 USD a month.
It’s quite a simple strategy if you ask me but this is how I’ve lived my life for the last 6 years. My monthly expenses typically run me approximately $1,000 USD and I have lived in 6 countries and traveled to over 41 countries. I wrote another article on how you can fund such a lifestyle which you can read about here.
The main take away from this should be that it’s possible to live this lifestyle simply by cutting expenses. Being a good saver and not splurging on unneeded things will allow you more freedom to live the lifestyle of your dreams, focusing on what’s truly important in life. If you see my income on paper, I might look broke as a joke, when in reality, I live like a millionaire! Hopefully this gives you a bit of insight on how I live my life and how you can do the same.
Cover photo by Iker Iglesias.