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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1,229 Responses to How I Can Afford My Life Of Constant Travel

  1. Yee Yitathasiri says:

    Hi Earl,
    Your writting impresses me so much. Moreover, your life with travelling is very charmingfull. i wished I could be as you were. I have some experience in travelling, but not as much as your.
    nice to know oyu and just owul dliek to let you know, once you happen to be in chiangmai, you have place and food with frienship waitting you here.

  2. Ye says:

    Hi Earl,

    great blog! great life experience!
    like you, i love to travel a lot though im still a student right now. I’ve done plenty of traveling throughout the world by summer schools and exchange program. Actually im having great time here in France right now. Have you ever been to China? im sure u will find a whole different world there. We Chinese are crazy about foreigners. u’ll experience great fun.
    However i do have some practical questions that i always wanna to ask to a ‘professional traveller’ like you.(i suppose that’s just the way of how chinese people think…) if you do not have enough balance in your bank account, how can you deal with some unexpected situations like a major disease(god forbid)..wont that be a disaster?… how about when you r older and cannot live a nomad life like this anymore(though i hope u’ll do it forever)? have u considered where the money source will be then?


  3. Jess says:

    Hi Earl,

    Wow your life of travel sounds amazing :)
    I have one question – I’ve tried sifting through the other comments to find the answer but there are so many of them!

    While you were working abroad in all these different countries…did you need to obtain a working visa at all? I know how much of a hassle it can be to get sometimes (UK working visa especially).

    I’m from New Zealand, I do Graphic Design to make a living, hoping to travel South East Asia and Europe towards the end of this year.


  4. $2500, $1500 or even $1000. You are so right! I have easily traversed the globe on $1000/m. Not necessary living ‘high off the hog’ but accomplishing my ultimate goal of travel.

    Prioritize what is important to you and the rest will fall inline.

    Happy travels!

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  7. I am a freelance journalist, and your story fascinates me. (I have written for the NY Times.) I would like to write a story about you, but I find the whole premise suspicious. I would like to interview you (Via Skype: alburty) You wend a profound influence on a lot of people. It deserves some inspection. Come out, come out wherever you are.

    • Andrew M says:

      Hi Stevan. Not sure if I properly understand your post re your suspicion, but it sounds like you’re questioning whether the way Earl posts that he is able to travel is true. The way Earl described it is very familiar to me as I did something somewhat similar, on a smaller scale, for a couple of years hitchhiking around Australia. I went and worked in a ski resort for 3 months and then took off up the coast, and just kept going, then back down to the South the following winter, followed by a couple more months working in the snow. This gave me enough cash to head off for another 6 months, ending up in Westen Australia, teaching a bit of guitar, and some days in a music shop. I was camping and staying in hostels most of the time whilst on the road, and living very cheaply. These days, Couch Surfing is a much simpler way, but this was a while ago. Met some wonderful people, and have some great memories. Just about to jettison 99% of belongings and do the same again! But this time, around the world. Open ended.

  8. Shauna van Bruggen says:

    Hi Earl,

    Binge reading your blog. You are amazing, so inspiring. Glad to see someone living my dream life. Hopefully one day I will be able to live that life too!

    Thanks for the tips and motivation

    Shauna :)

  9. Carlo Alberto says:

    Hi Earl,
    I have been a shrink for 20years and then a casting manager in TV reality shows for 10 (and once in a while a documentary presenter), so I will answer your question “Why people do not understand what to do”.
    Of course being a real example is not enough (modeling is the psy world for this). The same is true also for telling people “How to”, just because they will read and tell themselves that they simply are not Earl.
    I think this is our common mistake. Which is telling the solution, which will always be only a personal solution.
    Nothing to do with the collective unconscious that drive our journeys.
    On the contrary we all should change our attitude. Telling our controversial issues, the pros but also the cons of what we are doing. The interior struggle, the defeats, and, why not, also out luck and the positive coincidences.
    Everybody wants to be Ulysses, we must (try) to be Homerus.

  10. Cameron says:

    Hi Earl,

    This is my first post on your blog, although I started reading it a few months, and I have found it inspiring.

    I am 15, and I am about to go to 6th form. I have wanted to travel for some time now, mostly thanks to your blog. I am an academic person, so everyone I know expects me to go into business or science, but I want to see the world.

    I plan to go to university to get a degree, and I want to get through with as little debt as possible. I will then work for a year to save up some money before going off travelling, probably to SE Asia. However, I don’t know how I would break the news to my parents. They have always been quite protective of me, and they want me to get a well paid job, which is not what I want anymore. Do you have any advice for me?

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