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! Follow along via Email -- RSS -- Twitter -- Facebook as I prove that a life of constant travel is not so crazy after all. And don't forget to check out my unique, small-group Wandering Earl Tours!

Want to live a life of travel as well? Be sure to check out these useful travel resources!
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1,300 Responses to How I Can Afford My Life Of Constant Travel

  1. Tristian says:

    Very interesting Diary ;), I have found especially interesting working on Cruise ships ;). I was wondering, your online income comes mostly from sales (your products) and affiliate sales, yes ?

  2. Pingback: How Do I Afford My Travels? Plus, My Year One Budget Tally! – Out of This World

  3. Serhat Engul says:

    Sometimes I feel like leaving everything and set out for a long term journey. This is a lifetime dream. I travelled across Europe and India with my backpack but I never dare to leave my settled life for a long time. Actually I did not even know how to do it!
    Now I have the clues. Thank you for sharing secret of your 13 year journey. That is amazing! This is not related to money and time only, but the power of your mind and spirit. I congratulate you my friend. Cheers.

  4. I agree, it can be hard for some people to understand how this digital nomad lifestyle works. It’s hard to get that you don’t need to HAVE that much money to travel everywhere. Usually, most people think of travel in terms of a vacation, which can be expensive, because of course you want to splurge and enjoy and relax since you’re away from home. But traveling as a lifestyle, which I’ve done for over 5 years—that requires a much smaller budget, much less expenses. Even as I write that, it sounds sort of hard to believe 🙂 so I get how it’s confusing. I’ve been trying to explain the way I work and travel on my blog, and recently tried to break down the very specific steps of how to get into travel writing (travelnaturally.wordpress.com), although you really have to be motivated, because travel writing alone won’t support long term travels from my own experience–other kinds of freelance writing will, however. In the end, you’ve just got to be persistent and flexible, no matter what kind of jobs you pursue to support your travels.

  5. This is an extraordinary journey – great stuff. I recently left Australia to work as an Au Pair in Spain for the next 6 months. I’m not planning on coming back home anytime soon, and this has given me just a tad more confidence 🙂

  6. Emma says:

    I’m returning to this post after being away for (so far) six months. I now feel a lot more confident in being able to manage long term travel. Thank you so much being a motivator in my trip!

  7. Daniel says:

    I am about to graduate with a PR degree and I am very proficient in video production and have been reading all I can on living and traveling. Do you typically find jobs before you travel to the next location or do find them there? If yes, what means of finding jobs do you utilize. Additionally, how were living conditions? I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind sleeping outside, or anywhere for that matter.

  8. M says:

    The fact that you had degree to teach English, contacts for cruise ship work and friends to stay with abroad on multiple occasions in your timeline, every two month period of working while back in the US you managed too save a few thousand is why your able to live a traveling lifestyle. As well as good fortune to have gotten hired abroad and back in the US when you needed too, unemployment is not exactly mythical issue in any country. It’s getting tired how nomadic blogs like this push “anyone” can accomplish this lifestyle, yet successful examples have very particular details that made it possible. Bottom line is if you have money in the bank you can use said funds to pay for as much travel as you can afford. If you don’t you have to figure out continued income or you just vacationing. Being conservative in spending is neither “creative” nor “clever” its common sense, if your bad with your money traveling on a dime isn’t going to workout for you.

    • Nick Omeara says:

      Correct; I think Earl is also very lucky man.. beside being smart.. To get jobs like the manager of Norwegian lines is like vinning the lottery … And “living with friends” for months… hmmm .. not everyone’s cup of tea .. ?

  9. Christopher says:

    Hey there wandering Earl, I was wondering do you have to have a degree in order to teach english in a foreign country? I know different countries have different requirements.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Christopher – Usually they do require a university degree (in anything) in order to get hired.

  10. Kerry-Anne Rowe says:

    What about black people? Can blacks travel as well without fear of skin color? Because I am from Jamaica and i want to travel soon and i am doing a degree in management studies.

    • Thomas says:

      Don’t get caught up in all of that nonsense. Everywhere you go there are some black people. i lived in japan for 6 years with dark skinned African American friends and als Jamaican people that I know are still there. there is always people who may or may not be weary of you but if you approach life with an infectious msile and good cheer, you will have great experiences that far outweigh the negative. I travelled troughout Thailand and Vietnam with my dark skinned canadian friend and we had a blast. he further travelled at least 10 European countries and had 99% positive experiences. He told me there were a few times he new he was being judged but nothing stopped home from enjoying himself and coming home safe. I have also been to Cambodia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, and Canada. There were always at least some people of brown or black color. Forget all of that and enjoy life!

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