It doesn’t seem possible, but it is completely true. Traveling 365 days every year is less expensive than traveling just five or ten or fifteen days per year. And the reason for that is simple: living at home requires a huge amount of overheard that doesn’t exist on the road.
If you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself. Tally up your five largest monthly expenses – such as rent/mortgage, car payment, state income taxes (by traveling full-time we get to choose our state of residency and ours, just so happens, doesn’t have an income tax) – and then multiply the total by 12. If you’re like most people in the U.S., the number you’ve calculated is somewhat greater than a realistic full-time travel budget.
When we first started planning to travel full-time, we cut our expenses as aggressively as we felt we could. As you can see on the title graph, we successfully cut our spending by a quarter. At the time, we didn’t think we could cut more without seriously impacting our quality of life. But a funny thing happened when we set out on the road: our spending fell by another quarter.
The thing is, we didn’t try especially hard to economize on the road. We weren’t frivolous, but we probably could have cut our budget by another quarter by being more choosey about where we stayed and by staying places longer. And if we traveled more often in low cost parts of the world instead of staying almost exclusively in the U.S., we easily could have cut our expenses further.
Things we used to spend money on but no longer will:
|Rent / Mortgage||Car Payment(s)|
|Homeowner’s Insurance||Automobile Insurance|
|Property Taxes||State Income Taxes|
|Home Furnishings||Home Maintenance|
|Lawn Care||Cable T.V.|
|Internet Service||Gym Membership(s)|
|Work Clothes||Clothing of almost any kind|
How is it then that nearly everyone considers travel an expensive luxury? Partly because vacation travel and permanent travel only bear passing resemblance to one another. Vacation travel is almost by definition an excuse for extravagance. Fancy hotels and elaborate meals are an important part of “getting away” from your everyday experience. But when your everyday experience is travel, those things quickly lose their appeal.
Moreover, the pace of travel is completely different. Harried vacationers looking to pack every possible experience into their one-week trip will pay for conveniences that we often can do without. We won’t grab a cab when the metro will do. We’ll cook our own meals instead of dining out. We can wait around for discount or sometimes even free admission to places.
We also don’t feel the vacationer’s need to pay for every last thing. Some places and things just aren’t worth the price of admission. With our surplus of time, we don’t usually worry about missing the nearest “once in a lifetime” opportunity because we know another one is just around the corner.
Perhaps more important is the fact that the price of our travel experiences don’t come on top of the cost of our ordinary life; they are our ordinary life. We don’t need to make room in our budget for both rent and hotel. Our hotel bill is our rent.
And for the truly budget conscious, couch-surfing, house-sitting, and boondocking opportunities can reduce that hotel bill to zero. So while many people wonder how we can afford to travel full-time, we often wonder how so many people can afford not to.
Other articles to help you get out there:
How Much Does Long-Term Travel Cost
How to Build a Mobile Business
How We Saved for Travel, and For Everything Else Too