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How I Can Afford My Life Of Constant Travel

Me on the Great Ocean Road

I’m confused.

I’m simply confused as to how it’s possible that I have so far failed to properly explain how I’ve managed to travel/live/work abroad nonstop for 12 years straight (and counting).

The questions are still pouring in every single day: How do you do it? How is it possible to travel for so long? Where does the money come from?

And while I thoroughly enjoy communicating with readers (I’m being completely serious and encourage you all to continue sending your emails to me as often as you wish), the fact that these very questions are on the minds of so many of you out there has led me to believe that I need to do a better job at providing the answers.

While it’s true that I’ve already written plenty of posts on the matter, clearly all of these posts, even as one collective entity, still fall well short of proving that a life of travel is not some crazy fantasy but a perfectly reasonable and easily attainable lifestyle option instead.

I’ve even referred to other travelers who are out there living a similar nomadic lifestyle, but apparently, that hasn’t been enough either.

So what am I to do?

How do I prove, once and for all, that you do not need $500,000 or even $50,000 in your bank account, that if you are able to scrounge together $500 bucks, there’s little stopping you from becoming a full-time nomad. I’m not joking here. After all, this is exactly what I’ve done myself. Okay, I first left home with $1500 to my name but that’s not exactly a fortune either.

I’m not going to give up trying, so here’s another attempt to show you how I’ve managed to live a life of constant travel.

The following is a brief summary of the past 12 years of my life. It is a timeline of sorts that details where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing and where my money has come from at all times. Ultimately, it shows just how one ordinary person has so far managed to fund 4,195 days straight of traveling and living abroad.

Dead Cities in Syria

THE TIMELINE

December 25, 1999:

  • Left home and flew to Bangkok with $1500 in my bank account
  • Planned to spend 3 months traveling around Southeast Asia

March 2000

  • Decided to officially extend my trip despite having only $500 left to my name
  • Taught English in Chiang Mai, Thailand, earning approximately $150 USD per week (more than enough to live well in this city at the time)

October 2000

  • Returned to the US with $300 in my account (after paying for the flight home)
  • Spent 2 months in Boston working as a high school substitute teacher
  • Saved $2500 during this time

January 2001

  • Returned to Asia and spent 12 months traveling through Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia
  • While in India, volunteered as an English teacher for 3 months in exchange for room and board
  • Stayed with friends for 3 months in Thailand and taught English once again in Chiang Mai
  • Lived with friends for 2 months in Australia, which kept my expenses quite low
  • Returned to the US with no money at all

February 2002

  • Through a contact, I applied to work on board cruise ships
  • Landed a job as a Tour Staff with Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Worked on board two different ships during one 8-month contract
  • Saved $8000 during this time and then decided not to return for another contract

November 2002

  • Traveled to Australia for 4 months

February 2003

  • With $4000 in the bank, I spent two months living with a friend in Los Angeles
  • Found a short-term job at an advertising company through a temp agency
  • Worked for two months and left LA with $5000 in the bank

April 2003

  • Traveled to Thailand, Bangladesh and India

Norwegian Cruise Lines

September 2003

  • Landed a job as a Tour Manager for Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • Worked two contracts on board ships located in Hawaii and the South Pacific
  • Traveled to Europe during my 6-week vacation between contracts
  • Saved $20,000 by the end of my second contract

July 2004

  • Spent 7 months traveling to Europe, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan

March 2005

  • With $10,000 still in my account, decided to work two more contracts as a Tour Manager for Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • Saved an additional $20,000 during these contracts
  • Traveled to Europe during my 2-month vacation in between contracts

December 2005

  • Traveled for 8 months to South America, Europe and India

La Boca, Buenos Aires

September 2006

  • Was offered a job with Cunard Line (cruise line based out of the UK)
  • Worked as a Tour Manager on board the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liners
  • Spent 18 months with Cunard, saving over $3300 per month
  • Traveled through Europe, Caribbean, Mexico, the Middle East and SE Asia during my vacations in between contracts

April 2008

  • Traveled back to India for 3 months

July 2008

  • Worked one final two-month contract for Cunard Line, saving an additional $6000

September 2008

  • Left Cunard (with more than enough money saved up by now) and moved to Australia
  • Spent five months in Melbourne working on creating online streams of income

December 2008

  • Sold my first eBook online
  • Continued working on promoting my eBook while creating a second eBook to sell
  • Began earning some income through affiliate marketing

February 2009

  • Spent six weeks in Thailand
  • Volunteered and traveled in India for six weeks
  • Visited Italy for a few weeks

Tuscany, Italy

June 2009

  • Traveled through Central America and Mexico, finishing the trip by renting an apartment in Sayulita, Mexico
  • Continued working on my online projects
  • Income from my online projects reached $1000 per month for the first time

December 2009

  • Moved to the Caribbean coast of Mexico and rented an apartment in Playa del Carmen, where I spent more time working on my online projects
  • Officially launched WanderingEarl.com

September 2010

  • Spent 6 months traveling around the Middle East, Australia and Southeast Asia

April 2011

  • Returned to Playa del Carmen (where I am currently living) in order to catch up on work
  • Reached $2500+ per month in online income through the sales of three eBooks I’ve authored and through my efforts with affiliate marketing

Right Now

  • Planning some new adventures for later this year, including a most interesting 30 day train challenge for the month of September (more details to come in my next post)
  • Life as a permanent nomad continues

And that’s all there is to it. The truth of the matter is…

$2500 per month, and even $1000 or $1500 per month, is more than sufficient to achieve a lifestyle that involves extensive travel. It really doesn’t take much. Some teaching English here, some cruise ship work there, some internet marketing in your spare time and VOILA!

And this is only a tiny fraction of the opportunities to earn money while traveling that exist out there. Once you realize this, you’ll also realize that luck, miracles and having an overflowing bank account play no role whatsoever in allowing you to achieve your travel goals.

All you need is the courage to take the first step and a mind that is open to trying new experiences!


***If you want to create your own life of travel, you may be interested in my new project – How to Live a Life of Travel.

This one resource will teach you everything you need to know. Be sure to check it out!***


Follow Along! If you enjoy what you've read so far, please consider following along via Email -- RSS -- Twitter -- Facebook as I continue to prove that a life of constant travel is not as crazy an idea as it may sound.

Want to live a life of travel as well? Be sure to check out these useful travel resources!
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1,172 Responses to How I Can Afford My Life Of Constant Travel

  1. Chloe says:

    Hi Earl,

    I am also wanted to start out in this adventure of endless nomading – could you tell us what types of affiliate marketing you do?

  2. Baguio says:

    Hi There Earl,

    Thanks for being open on how you are getting revenue to fund your travels. I hope it’s OK for you to share with us what types of ebooks are you selling online and how it is generating income? I too am very interested to do what you do.

  3. Rawn Awrk says:

    Hi Earl, which one is better… negotiating with current employer for location independent work style for a steady paycheck or trying make a way of earning on the go by freelancing (more uncertainty probably)? Which one would you prefer if you are asked to choose one?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Rawn – There is no better option…it all depends on each person’s circumstances, skills and knowledge and which option would be more feasible for that individual.

      • Rawn Awrk says:

        My question was more like which one will facilitate my Long term travel more if I had both option open… committed to a job may have some strings attached like having internet connectivity during the working hours but I won’t be as worried about my expenses and income. On the other hand independent income plan will help to move wherever I want for a arbitrary period of time yet I may always thinking about my purse and anxious about ways of earning. Both of the ways may work out for a long term traveler but from a Peace of mind perspective during travel which one will be more favorable?

        • Wandering Earl says:

          Hey Rawn – Again, that’s not something I can answer for another person. Everyone’s idea of peace of mind is completely different. Some people would be happier having that stable income and giving up some of the freedom while others would only be happier working independently and having no restrictions as a result, while having to work a little harder to get the income coming in. I’m sure the ‘best’ way is different for every person…I know some people who prefer each option. For me personally, I naturally prefer working independently but that’s probably because that’s what I’ve been doing. If things worked out differently and I worked remotely for a company, I might prefer that option too.

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  5. Nathaniel says:

    Hey mate. Just stumbled on your site and am kind of in the same boat. But, mine is a bit different story.

    I decided to live in Japan a couple of years while using a military college benefit to go to a language school here. So I have a steady (low, but enough) income through that, and am working my way to being fluent in japanese as well as working on computer programming.

    In all, it doesn’t take much to travel. There are a lot of opportunities out there to support yourself. In Japan alone, you could possibly find someone with a farm to help out on for room and board!

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  7. Fiona says:

    Hi Earl!

    So this has got my travelling bug up and alive again, I have traveled to South Africa: St Lucia, then Swaziland and up to Mozambique, however I felt slightly ripped off by the tour group I went with. I am now thinking of travelling to South America with my partner, is there anywhere that you would suggest we should go in particular/any tips about budgeting, or planning the trip ourselves?

    You are incredibly inspiring,

    Kind regards,

    Fiona

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Fiona – Thanks for commenting and to answer your questions, it’s hard for me to say. I recommend going to the places that inspire and excite you! Do some research of what there is to do and see in South America and just see what stands out as the most interesting experiences for the both of you, because what one person enjoys might not be what another traveler enjoys. And as for budgeting, just come up with an idea of how much you want to spend each month and start researching how much things cost in the countries you want to visit – accommodation, transportation, local meals, entrance fees, etc. Then you’ll be able to see if and how you can ensure that you stay within your budget. Wishing you a wonderful trip to S. America!

  8. Jhessye Moore says:

    Hey Early, this is beyond inspiring. It about making opportunities to do what you love. I am in the midst of wanderlust by taking a job in Colorado soon where I will save up money and continue a nomadic journey. Thanks so much for laying all this out. Your story reminds me of nomadic matt and how he wants to help people travel again. Cheers.

  9. sally says:

    I am planning to Travel to India soon , Can you please tell me where is the best place to shop there and where is the best cheap/clean hotel to stay at ? I wanted to ask you too if its safe for me as a lady to travel there alone you know we hear a lot about rape stories there . Thank you Earl and always keep us updated !

    • Ping says:

      Hi, Sally. We had been to Kerala in India, a much cleaner and safer place. Most of the people in Kerala are English educated and are friendly. Munnar is also a nice place. For a solo lady traveller, it’s better you go through an Agent while going there though.

  10. Ollie says:

    I believe I have met you! When you were working on the queen Mary 2, I went to the Caribbean from New York to see st Lucia st kitts etc… And met a guy very much like you! Thought ‘he seems pretty cool’ and here I am reading an article on your life traveling! Haha
    Very inspired! I will be doing this next year (a 3 month trip to Asia)
    Thanks for the article man!!!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Ollie – That’s too funny and I was definitely on board for plenty of Caribbean cruises and was in St. Lucia and St. Kitts all the time! I wonder if it was me! And that’s excellent that you’ll be doing this next year…who knows where that will lead!

  11. I love your post Earl,

    This post is very inspiring and hopefully I can become a full time travel blogger. It must have been amazing to work on a cruise line and teaching English abroad is something that I really want to do, but I am having difficulties finding a job as English teacher since everywhere I have looked they only want native born English people. Since i am from Iceland they will not consider me even though I have lived 5 years in the U.S.

    Thanks for this great post, it has really helped me to gain some insight in the life of a full time travel blogger.

    Best of luck with your future travels.

  12. Oscar Hinojosa says:

    Very inspiring! Im actually starting to do something like what you have done all these years but while doing it im building a steady stream of income (residual income) through network marketing to pay for all my expenses. I hope to have a great story to tell, like yours in a near future. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Kelly says:

    Do you know any couples that do what you do? I am trying to convince my hubby that it would be doable.

    Thanks!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Kelly – There are plenty of couples out there doing just this…check out neverendingvoyage.com and hecktictravels.com to get started!

  14. Alan says:

    Hi, Earl:

    Amazing stories about your travels. I am officially jealous now! I wish I’d discovered this back when I was young. But that opportunity has passed now, although I do believe that it’s never too late. I am 55 years old, with numerous health issues that must be monitored with doctor visits about every three months. I use Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security to survive now. My questions would be (1) How do you deal with USA taxes? And (2) What type of insurance do you use to travel abroad? And (3) Is there a USA law requiring you to come home every so often? If so, how often? With my limited income, I am afraid I won’t be able to afford the insurance, since my prescription drugs are SOOO expensive. But, if I could travel, I certainly would! It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to visit Europe, North Africa, Greece, Eastern Europe, Russia, Germany, Australia, and many other locales. I have a BFA in Fine Art, and can speak several languages rudimentarily (German, Russian, Spanish.) What would you do if you were in my position? Do you think a person could overcome these challenges? I’m a big believer in finding ways to make things work, and your website and info has given me a flicker of hope now. Anything you could respond with would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, and I hope you’re getting along well after your bout with Dengue Fever!

    Alan Neal

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Alan – Thanks for the comment and here are my answers to your questions.

      1. I pay taxes just as if I was living in the US.
      2. I have private health insurance in the US that covers 50% of my medical expenses overseas if anything happens.
      3. No law exists at all…you can stay away for as long as you want and you still maintain your citizenship.

      As for what I would do in your position, that’s obviously difficult for me to say. I guess would do some research, see how much my expenses would be, look at what kind of income I could have coming in and also try and find new ways to earn additional money. And then I would be able to make a more informed decision as to whether or not this lifestyle was possible. With that said, I’m a firm believer that anything is possible if you stay truly focused on your goal!

  15. Karen says:

    Hi Susan!

    It sounds as if our stories might be pretty similar! I live in Ohio right now, and although I am raising the last of my four boys, I have the goal of teaching abroad once I get him into college, or off into his life! I’d be very interested in following your story! Of course I’m jealous that you are way ahead of me!!

    Karen

  16. Karen says:

    Hi again Earl,

    As you can see I’m stalking around your site, and picking up delicious tidbits of information! I am currently raising the last of my four sons waiting for the time to come to step out on my journey! I am finishing up my Masters degree in education, and acquiring my TESOL certification to apply for teaching jobs overseas. I’d like to spend time in a local area and take my time getting to know the place, so I thought a teaching job would be perfect for me!

  17. Susan Shaw says:

    I love your story. I am planning to do this myself next summer. I am in my 40’s I have raised three beautiful sons and now I am selling and gifting what I no longer to need to make my dream a reality.
    My question is as a US citizen you are required to pay taxes when working abroad have you given up your citizenship or how are you handling this with your journey?

    Thank you for your story it is inspiring!

    Susan from TN

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Susan – I simply pay US taxes just as I am required to do. There is no difference if I am living abroad or not, it’s as if I am living in the US when it comes to taxes.

  18. Bill says:

    Oh man you are living my dream.Sorry if you already mentioned it but did you have a particular degree to allow you to become an English teacher and/or cruise ship member?

  19. Hi Earl! Thank you so much for sharing! Great post! I have travelled for five years, without much money in my account either, once using only 90 USD for a 3 months stay in India. So I certainly agree that it is possible! Looking forward to read more about for travels and tips! Cheers!

  20. Robert says:

    Awesome post man! Thanks for going into detail about your finances. This will show readers how affordable it can be to live on the road. I always tell people to just put themselves out there, build up good karma and life will always provide for you. Finding a career path that allows you to travel is always the best way to go though. Well, thanks again. I’ll look into your other posts in the future. Please check out my blog.

  21. Hank says:

    Not wanting kids or a house is the essential requirement for a life of travel. For many people these are necessities in life, but your life is yours and you get to choose what you value most. The world is way too fascinating to pass up.

    I’m in my 20s and by no means have a wild life of traveling. Many people think I do, however, since I enjoy visiting national parks and wilderness areas, plus taking road trips. Saving money is easy. I have a lousy phone & plan, an old car, I don’t eat out too often, and I have no cable TV.

    Avoiding the 40 hour work week and having a freelance job is my dream. In the meantime, I’ll be saving money at my current job and anticipate the possibility of an adventure. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You shouldn’t wonder why you can’t travel when you already have kids at home, or cannot live without an iphone.

  22. David G says:

    You are basically living my dream..
    I have always loved travel throughout my life, but my dad never took me to get a passport, instead we traveled to most of the U.S. I have since joined the Navy, because I fell into the societal expectation of “hard work,” in order to get a good job. I want to get out of the Navy so badly, as I now have saved more than enough to travel, and people just don’t understand why I don’t want to wait until I’m in my 40’s or later to travel…

    A few questions:
    1. Did you take a TEFL or some other course in order to teach English?
    2. Was there any sense of job satisfaction from working with cruise lines, or was it crappy work that enabled you to travel?
    3. If you could do it all over again, is there anything that you would have done at the start?

    Good luck on continuing your travels,
    -David :)

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey David – Thanks for commenting! As for your questions, I did not take a TEFL course. And yes, there was job satisfaction while working on the cruise ships, much more than I ever would have imagined. And I’m not too sure what I would have don’t differently or at the start…I would say that I would pretty much have kept things the same.

  23. Jamie says:

    Hi, I was just wondering what your education background is/was before traveling. You mention teaching english in foreign countries and being a manager on cruise lines, etc. Do you have a degree that helped you get those positions? In your experience, would you say this lifestyle is still something that would be possible without going to college? Thanks :)

  24. A.K. says:

    How exactly do you acquire a passport and visa if you don’t have a permanent address just curious you see I want a life of travel but am wondering how you would acquire those things without a permanent home

  25. Mari says:

    Hi Earl!

    This post really inspired me to do what I’ve always wanted to do since years ago which is Travel the world. I’ve traveled to 24 countries and counting, but have not yet achieved the “nomad” lifestyle. I currently live in Playa del Carmen (I am Mexican) and am saving up with my very poorly paid job to finally start doing exactly what I love most, which is traveling. If you’re in Playa or are coming back anytime soon I would love meeting up and getting to know your story a little better :) I plan on starting my travels in late 2015 or early 2016 as an official nomad! I couldn’t be more excited looking forward to what’s to come! THank you so so so much!

    Regards,
    Mari.

  26. Hi Earl,
    I’m coming into travel a little later in life – with a full blown grown up family at home. Trying to find a way that works – sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ll keep plugging away and then maybe those who have a desire to get up and get going later in life/with commitments and a family can find a way too!

  27. Brian says:

    I’m 16 and love travelling although I haven’t done much first over seas trip later this year. This has really inspired to maybe pursue this life as I really hate school even though I’m doing alright. I came across this on stumble upon and will read some more blogs. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  28. Stephen S. says:

    Great post Earl. I’m happy I have read your post and see your timeline travels. This is very inspiring.

  29. May says:

    How do you deal with saving for retirement and health care cost and all that boring stuff?

  30. FURKAN ARISOY says:

    You bewitched me dude! how far miles you have done on your life’s path. I’m just shocked by what all I seen..you remind me of something that I had familirly got experienced… litt money and big goals to be achieved.. since 2009. I been travelling with too few cash on my road. I was born rumbling and nomadic man just like you dude.. I started my trip in Czech republic.. my travel was never lasting but i just gave a short pause. I worked as freelancer translator just to earn my life. I have spent more than 5,000$ I guess.I went to Uganda and Kenya. I enjoyed a lot. Now, I tell myself that I never felt regret on which i done. Keep going man, go ahead. I’m wishing to be your tripmate in any event.
    That’s my facbook. Please add :
    https://www.facebook.com/furkan.arisoy1

    so long,

    Furkan

  31. Jen says:

    Ummm… do you have a girlfriend? ;)

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