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


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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1,088 Responses to How I Can Afford My Life Of Constant Travel

  1. kartick says:

    Hi Earl,
    u just inspire me …….. its my dream to travel around the world as traveler photographer …….. but as a Indian we have to face all family drama …. job then marriage and so on …….. but ur blog really help me ……….change my thought i think to travel we need money a lot but u had change that thought …….. soon i ll be also travel like u ………. hope that day come soon , once again thanks a lot……….

  2. Joyce Pak says:

    I love this post! It is a great source of inspiration to travel! I truly believe in traveling for any budget, and this encourages me to continue traveling even if I have a busy full-time career. :) Thanks for sharing, it was very useful and informative!

  3. Great post, you obviously decided this is the lifestyle you wanted and did what you needed to make it happen. I’ve been living abroad/travelling for nearly 4 years now (funded by teaching English) and I can’t see it ending anytime soon!

  4. Nice story Earl. I hope I would be like you, can manage work and travel. Thanks for sharing your story with us. You deserve that success in your life.

  5. Amanda says:

    Hi Earl… It’s me again :)

    I was wondering… the list you posted seems great if you’re single… but what if you’re half of a couple? Do you think it would be possible for a couple to achieve this near-constant traveling, or is it truly best suited for the individual, as it seems to appear?


    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Amanda – There are many couples out there doing just this! Check out uncorneredmarket.com, neverendingvoyage.com, globetrottergirls.com…and that’s just a few of the many couples making this lifestyle a reality.

  6. Hugo says:

    Earl, you have to come to Argentina. You can live with a few dollars here, and the people is extremly warm!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Thanks Hugo. I’ve been to Argentina before actually, not sure when I’ll get back there again but I’m sure it will happen.

  7. chenven says:

    Your courage and confidence is amazing !!!
    True inspiration to who aspire to be a Nomad!!! as well.

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  9. Larry says:

    What sort of health insurance coverage do you have, or how have you handled health care needs overseas? Also, are you putting away something for retirement, or with this lifestyle do you see no need to retire?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Larry – I have private health insurance from the US and at times, I also purchase travel insurance depending on where I’m headed. And yes, I do save money, I’ve always saved money since I first started working, regardless of the job I was doing.

  10. Adam says:

    Thanks for sharing your success story in such details ;) I would say it is a bit easier for native speakers with teaching English here and there to get things rollin, but i still think the online is what gave you the opportunity to really enjoy this nomadic lifestyle.

    Thumbs up, great story and huge respect for what you have already done. Good luck and happy travells ;)

  11. Jack says:

    Hi. Just curious how you are able to manage work visas for jobs that are only a month or two long? Or even temporary jobs?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Jack – I’m not sure if you read this post correctly. First, as stated in my post on teaching English in Thailand, I taught informally and I did not have a work visa for that. After that, I volunteered (which does not require a work visa) and I also worked on board cruise ships, which, once again, does not require a work visa. There is nothing on my list above that actually required a work visa at all.

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  13. Sharnie says:

    Thank you so much, you don’t understand how much this has inspired me to pursue my travel ambitions!

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  15. Sierra says:

    I love the timeline and I wish more blogs did this! It makes it so much easier to mentally piece together how exactly things worked and gives a much clearer picture than a blanket statement like “bring $10,000.” Thanks!

  16. Alexander says:

    Hey Esrl,
    thanks very much for sharing your experiences!
    That is a very impressing timeline! You are too modest: your success is not only a matter of courage but also a question of flexibility and I of the ability to cope with all kinds of people.

  17. Sean says:

    Hey Earl,
    I just graduated college and recently booked a flight to bogota, Colombia to travel South America. I originally was only going to go for a month and a half, but I heard from a friend about your blog. It completely inspired me to try and extend my stay and travel more extensively. I have four months before I leave and I’ve managed to save about 1,500 dollars so far. I haven’t done much planning yet other than contacting college students who are members of couchsurfing.org. My dream is to travel the world, but I have no idea how to plan or make preparations for such a journey or fund continuous travel like you have done. I feel like it was no coincidence that I found your blog. If you have any pointers or advice, I would be forever grateful.

  18. Hi Earl,

    Thank you to share with us your traveller background, it’s the proof that with a lot of self-motivation, anybody could achieve awesome goals.

    I’m impressed, you never changed your mind during more than 10 years: you’re still travelled-focus. Earl, keep going, you are a very good source of motivation for us.

    Hope you’ll travel 10 years more :)

  19. Cornelis Susanto says:

    Hey ! I just found out ur blog today (in the middle of studying my freakin mid term test) , and all i can say is WOW ! Reading these inspiring you’ve been through makes me believe in myself more and more ;) Anyway i just want to say that you should keep up the good work and wish all the best for your inspiring journey !

    Bless from Indonesia

  20. Phoebe says:

    I have a question..
    How easy is it to apply for a job to teach English?? Are you allowed to work (teach) without work permits or all that crap? :/

    They’re probably the most troublesome things ever: documents.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Phoebe – It’s really not so difficult and there isn’t much in terms of ‘documents’ that would create any hassle. Just look at a website such as: eslcafe.com and you’ll see listing all over the world. When you get hired, the school or language institute simply provides you with the paperwork needed to get the work permit. Quite easy.

  21. Brian says:

    This is a great post. It’s amazing how many people just don’t realize that it is doable to travel relatively inexpensively for long periods of time, especially people in the States. It just takes a little dedication and a leap of faith. Big time props to you for having the balls to make this happen and be open about how you’ve done it with others. You’re inspiring others, my friend.

  22. yasmim says:

    Wow. You have an amazing wonderful life thankyou for making me feel that my dream is highly possible. Xxxxx

  23. Nina says:

    Love this! You don’t have to be rich to travel… We have so many resources and opportunities in the world now. Take advantage people! Pretty much anyone can do it. Great and simple run down of your travels and earning Earl. Yay for making money AND traveling. <3

  24. Great to get a little rundown of your streams of income over the years. Very interesting.

    Furthermore, it’s probably the only way to make sure that people understand that you don’t have some crazy trust fund set up somewhere…

  25. You are my God and I officially worship you. Good work dude. True inspiration.

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  27. Sree says:

    Hey Earl, you have my respect. That’s a quite interesting take on life.

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