Me on the Great Ocean Road

How I Can Afford My Life Of Constant Travel

Derek Popular, Work & Travel 1344 Comments

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

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!***

Since 1999 I've been traveling and living around the world nonstop. Sign up below for personal stories, real advice and useful updates from my adventures. Only good stuff, no nonsense.

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Comments 1,344

  1. Heidi Wagoner

    Hey Earl! Great post, just found you in stumbleupon today. 😉 we are an American family of 4 and 5 months into our life in Spain. We are going to be more mobile over the summer when school is out and perhaps plan that style in the coming years. We are soooo bitten by the travel bug and have been for years. Now that we are gone and sold it all, we want to keep it going as long as possible. We want to give our children the world! Thanks and I will keep up with you now that I found you.

  2. Pingback: My First Post! « Bursting Minds

  3. Brad

    Wow! You’re amazing! I absolutely love travel; I lived in Italy for two years and visited Svizzera, Slovenija, Osterreich, &c. I always knew there was a way to travel cheaply, but never thought much more about it. Amazing article! Good luck on your travels! BTW have you ever considered becoming a part of a crew on a sailboat? It’s rather easy….You can put an ad out on either Latitude 38’s “Crew List”,, or Sailnet’s classifieds. You can actually get hired even if you have no experience sailing, but you get to (literally) be paid to do one of the greatest things on earth. I almost put out an advert on Latitude 38, but then I saw their “over 18” clause….. 🙁

    Good luck on your travels!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Brad – Thanks for the comment and while working as a crew on a sailboat is appealing to me, these days, I have too many online projects that are keeping me busy and I just can’t make it happen. Maybe when things calm down a bit I’ll be able to do so! Thanks for sharing that info though…I’m sure it will help out quite a lot of people!

  4. Carmen

    hey Earl,
    I am so excited to find your website.
    I got in touch with Niall Doherty when I saw an article he’d published concerning Vipassana and then he led me to you–very happy synchronicity!
    I am 55 years old and very close to finishing my “Mom” job to my last two children.
    I have been a gypsy for most of my life and have the strongest desire to travel when my nest is empty. I am a writer and editor, so I know that I can make a living anywhere. My kids are all enthusiastic travelers, as well.
    I have a degree and want to teach English in a foreign country initially.
    Do you think that there are any particular considerations to be applied when an older woman travels alone? I am in good health and intend to enjoy my life until my last breath…my kids/grandkids understand this and I have no worries about continuing to travel.
    Thanks in advance for any advice,

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Carmen – Welcome to the site! And I don’t think there is much else for you to consider when traveling along. As I tell most people, using the same common sense you would use at home is about all you need to stay safe and healthy while traveling as well. I really can’t think of anything in particular that might be an added concern…just go out there and enjoy your adventures!

  5. Josephine

    Such inspiration ! I really really love to travel all around the world but i cant seem to find the right job and I’m the only daughter so my dad is kinda protective over me. I only travel when my parents are free. I WISH I COULD BE JUST LIKE YOU.! do you have any ideas on what stable jobs that provide constant traveling ? please reply me.

  6. GRRRLTRAVELER | Christine

    Thank you for such an inspiring post! Having to live on a budget when I travel, I know you travel for cheap, but always wondered how long-term wanderers made money to fund their lifestyles, so thank you for removing the smoke and mirrors.

    I was just reading your post on ‘Funding your travels creatively’ (the Chiang Mai teaching story) and being entrepreneurial on my travels is something I wouldn’t have thought of. I’d have tried to sign up to teach and get frustrated with the process of continued job searching, needing Toefl’s, filling out applications, cover letters, etc… In fact, going the loooong-ass way is what I’m considering doing and it’s just one more thing to make me feel tired and scattered. Thanks for your posts. I needed a dose of fresh ideas. I just wish I had some of your bravery to pull some of that more entrepreneurial stuff off. Looking forward to more brave ideas from you =-)

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Christine – Luckily, once you start getting creative and start putting your entrepreneurial cap on, it becomes easier and easier to create your own opportunities our there in the world. And I’m a firm believer that in order to make this long-term lifestyle happen, one needs to be able to create something out of nothing!

  7. Sarah

    I have been trying for years to get on a cruise line ( specifically on a Tour or Event Staff) I’ve been working in the hospitality industry in hotels and resorts in Canada and the US but have never been able to secure a position on a ship. I have a feeling I am making the process harder than it should be, so do you have any advice on how I should be going about it? I’d appreciate any sort of tid-bit you could give me! Thanks so much!

  8. Nicole Connolly


    It is actually easy of its what you truly want. Its very easy to travel long term without stopping, if you plan for it. My husband and I worked very hard to save up enough money to travel for 3 years non stop. Its about setting your priorities. If long term travel is a priority for you then you CAN make it happen. You are the only person who will stop you from achieving what you want to achieve.

    Earl – You have been an inspiration to my hubby and I while we were planning our nomadic life. We bought your book and it was a great help. I still refer back to it from time to time while we are on the road. I can only hope that we can travel for as long and as successfully as you!

    Keep on keeping on (and ignore the haters).. You are awesome! Thanks for showing myself and so many others how to live a life of their dreams!

  9. Monica Tores

    Wow, I admire you for what you did for the past 12 years. I have always been attracted to traveling but spending time and living in different countries is the ultimate experience for me. However, I’ve never done it and I wish I had the courage to quit my day job and just get everything I can from the world. Very inspirational, thank you!

  10. Esperanza

    Hi Earl, this post is very inspirational 🙂 I believe that you can easily travel with $1500 in your bank account however that’s very limited and I must say for that amount of money it won’t be enough to travel around Europe but maybe in Asia yes because the currency is much lower and the cost of living in Asia is much cheaper. Some people would like to travel around Europe first and I doubt they will leave their country with that amount ($1500) of money in their bank account. 🙂 Also, not everyone is fortunate to get a job as an English teacher or in a cruise line while traveling overseas and staying in a new country for 3 months. What if I can’t get a job while in Asia or in Europe while traveling? I have no choice but to return home before I run out of cash 🙁

    Well done and congratulations for making it this far 🙂 You were and are still very fortunate to have been able to find a decent job that allowed you to save a substantial amount of money 🙂

    Also, I’m sure you must have spent some extra money on your work visa while working in different countries, am I right?


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Esperanza – Actually, I didn’t need a work visa for any country…I worked ‘under the table’ while teaching English in Thailand and you don’t need a work visa to work on board cruise ships. And now I work online so I don’t need a work visa for any country either. So no extra expenses there 🙂

      And I have been fortunate, but there’s nothing stopping anyone else from taking advantage of the same opportunities that I took advantage of or of any of the other thousand of ways out there that people can create a life out of travel. I didn’t do anything special – I just applied for a cruise ship job, which you can do as well. And if you want to travel long-term then you also need to think realistically. It doesn’t make sense to start in Europe if you only have a little money. It makes more sense to start somewhere cheaper or somewhere where you can earn some money and then go from there.

      Also, I have met people from dozens and dozens of countries who have made this lifestyle happen and each person has made it happen in their own way. You just have to be determined, creative and to try and meet as many people as you can. By doing this you’ll discover opportunities that you never knew existed!

  11. Fanny Rofalina

    Hey Earl.

    Very inspiring story. It can be said that I am tempted to pursue the life you are living right now, be a permanent nomad. I’m tired of this cubicle work life.
    But there are questions with same theme that bug me so much recently and I intend to ask you if you won’t mind. As a permanent nomad, certainly you live non-mainstream lifestyle. And sometimes it’s hard to live against the current, different of how majority live.
    When this all adventure over, let’s say, you have traveled and visited every country on earth, what will you do next? Keep traveling? Until when?
    Do you have intention to raise a family? Have a wife and maybe children? Will you settle in a stable permanent resident or you will take your family travel the world? Will you get your children go to school?

    I’m sorry if I ask too much. The fact is those questions keep inhibiting me to open my self to start traveling around the world. And maybe it is nice to get opinion from the expert of word travel, like you.

    Looking forward for your answer.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Fanny – Thank you for the comment and that’s no problem at all to ask me any questions you want!

      As for how long I’ll keep traveling, I honestly have no idea. The way I look at it is that if I were to wake up tomorrow and decide it’s time to stop, then I would stop. But until I feel that need, and as long as things continue to go well, then I’m going to keep on doing what I love best, which is travel of course. Who knows who I’ll meet, who knows where I’ll end up or what kind of opportunities will come my way? So I prefer to live now in the moment and take it all as it comes.

      And the same goes for raising a family…I’m open to the idea but I don’t think it would help if I flew back to the US and actively sought out someone to spend the rest of my life with. In my opinion, I could find the right person anywhere and since I am always meeting new people everywhere I go, I have just as good of a chance of meeting the right person with this lifestyle than if I lived back in the US. And again, if I meet someone and decide it’s time to raise a family, then I’ll make some adjustments and that’s what I’ll do.

      But as for the other questions, I don’t know if I will take my family to travel. It all depends on the situation and what I, and my family, want out of life at that point. Like everything else, I don’t dwell on it too much right now since I really have no idea what the future really holds 🙂

      1. Fanny Rofalina

        Hey Earl. Thank you so much for the answer.

        You’re right. Live the now.
        Hemhh. People keep asking me about “what about the health insurance?”, “what if someday you’re gonna have a child and you have no money to raise him?”, “how about your children education cost?”, “what about the pension fund?”

        Arrgghh. They drive me crazy with the questions 🙁

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey Fanny – I can imagine…the thing is, you handle all of those issues while traveling/living overseas just as you can if you were at home and at the end of the day, if being overseas makes you happier, then that seems like the wisest option!

          1. Fanny

            Thanks again for the answer Earl. I guess you’re right. Your answer will be my pondering material. Hahaha. Need to build my guts now 🙂

  12. Jenni K

    Great post Earl! I was wondering how do you keep up with your online projects when you are traveling. Isn’t it a pain to go online when you are visiting a foreign country? How many days after your stay do you go online and continue with your projects.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jenni – Yes, it is quite a challenge to travel and work at the same time but I manage as that’s all part of the lifestyle. Basically, I work about 5 days per week, squeezing in working hours either early in the morning or late at night and going out into town during the day. Whenever I fall behind with work, I just stop somewhere for a few days, catch up with everything and then continue moving on again. So it’s always a constant combination of travel and work!

  13. Ville

    Amazing story Earl. I first went traveling in September 2008 and soon after started to look for ways to generate income online to sustain my traveling. It’s been a long but great experience. Now I’m back in Finland working but desiring to get back on the road soon! Keep it up! 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Thanks Ville and as long as you stay determined on your goals, I have no doubt you’ll be back out here in the world soon enough!

  14. Matt Wilkie

    The important thing people overlook when thinking about this style of life and travel is “transient working”. Because in reality it takes time to get to being able to do it without needing funding from a direct job. I have been out in the Philippines for over 5 years now and there is a bit of a explosion on the cash when you introduce Western income and Eastern styled living. Being able to save instead of blow the cash and gaining debt.

    The e-book idea is a good one and no doubt regular funding from it can keep you on the road for another 10 years as you update people on your travels.

    Good going! But would also say that often those questioning “how to” will quite possibly never get round to taking the leap for one reason or another but generally its the insecurity of not knowing what tomorrow brings.

  15. A.F. Kitty

    I guess I sent my personal message to you too early! I should have scoured your blog for everything first, it seems! So don’t mind half of the message I sent. Thank you for this post. It’s really interesting. Though, I do have to ask (because I haven’t found a post answering this question yet, though I’m sure I’ll find it soon after I’m done posting this comment), did you leave in 1999 with a degree of any sort? I’m assuming so since you were a substitute teacher in Boston at one point and they generally require degrees, but I could be wrong.

  16. Darren

    I went to Kenya for 3 weeks, and stayed for 5 months. Being a white dude who speaks English ended up being my ticket to getting survivable work.

    I hung out at the National Theatre in Nairobi, I met dancers and actors and jugglers and puppeteers and singers and hip hop artists.

    Being the only white dude, people would just walk up to me and say “Hey, I heard they need a white dude for ______”

    I did audio book recordings, radio commercials, and even got a job doing promotions where I had to pretend to be an Italian Grape Farmer and give away brandy as prizes at nightclubs. This forced me to travel the country in a bus with 10 female models/actresses for several months, on weekends with a promotions company. I was on TV doing stand-up comedy and worked comedy clubs most weekends I wasn’t with the models.

    Being the “token” white guy paid off enough for me to have crazy adventures and make spending cash. Although, no, it was not legal. So, best case scenario is you never get caught, or make enough money to pay for the work permit. The worst thing that can happen is you get deported and never allowed back.

    It FELL into my lap, all of that work.

    My suggestion? If you have an accent, you might just be a commodity for media and promotions companies in faraway places. And of course, in many countries, foreigners who are capable of doing the performing arts is rare. Anyone coming to the country who has acting talent is DOING a job, and probably not available for a job.

    So if you are outgoing, you might try contract work. I hear in Asia that some actors from USA get paid to give tours to businessmen in factories. They help “sell” the factory to the clients more easily than a local could.

    Thanks for your posts, Dude. I’ve been travelling nearly 9 months a year since 1997, but I always had a house to go back to. I finally rented out my house 2 years ago and haven’t been back since.

    One thing that cannot be overstated is how much BETTER travel is when you have a job. You REALLY get to know a country by working shoulder to shoulder with locals.

    Most travelers end up going to resorts or they go see the backwoods natives and go on tours. By working, you get a really special look into the lives of the people, and honestly, it helps me feel less like a bum. You don’t know a city until you have to commute like everybody else.

    What I like about contract/media work is that is was all short jobs. I could still avoid the 9-5 while getting paid 100x what most 9-5 jobs pay. (what am I saying? In Kenya it isn’t 9-5 its 6-6) I could do a short 10 minute stand-up comedy set or magic show at a club and make $35 bucks. $150 to do a TV appearance. I could get $150 for a radio advert. The promotions company paid between $60 and $120 per day, and I never worked more than 10 minutes a day (though I was waiting around for several hours)

    All in all, Africa was amazing in terms of finding cash – and considering a 4 egg spanish omelet with tea and ugi was $1.20 for breakfast each morning, I did quite well.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Darren – Thank you for sharing your experiences and if what you wrote doesn’t motivate others to get out there and make it happen, I’m not sure what will! I’ve always felt that the most important step is to just start traveling and then, once on the ground, it’s all about meeting as many people as you can. You never know where a simple conversation or handshake will lead.

      There are thousands of opportunities out there to earn money…a little creativity and focus can go a long way in finding them! Your example is as perfect as it gets.

      Wishing you more wonderful adventures in 2013 and perhaps one day we shall meet up for an egg sandwich!

  17. Wil

    Hi Earl,
    I’m a recent college graduate that has dreamed of travel all my life. My family thought I should travel young and I’ve briefly visited over 30 counties (mostly tours and cruises). I haven’t left the country in almost 5 years. Since I’m done with school and have no financial obligations, I am taking a long needed, extended vacation (starting in SEAsia) that which I may never come back. I have been self employed as a glass blower, fire performer and and an internet entrepreneur, etc over the last 4 years of my life and am confident I can make it on my own. I wanted to thank you and your site for being one of the most valuable resources I’ve had in boosting my confidence in my ability to travel the globe alone.
    Thanks Again,

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Wil – I wish you all the best with your upcoming trip to SE Asia…the exact same location where I started my long-term travels as well. You never know where the road will lead once you begin but to me, that’s the exciting part of this lifestyle. Please do keep me updated once your trip gets off to a start!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Amar – I haven’t really needed any work permits. When I taught English in Thailand, I did it informally and not through a language school, so I just set up my own operation ‘under the table’. And apart from that, working on board cruise ships doesn’t require a work permit anywhere and now that I work online, I just enter countries on a tourist visa as I am not working for anyone in any country so I don’t need the work permit.

  18. Fred

    Names Fred , been reading some of your stuff , am hoping to travel the end of January till the end of may , not did much traveling was at Thailand last year for a month with friend , felt I did not see much as I would have like to, so going myself this time to india ,am in my early 50s and want to try and see some of the world , do you think india is my best start ?

    Thank Fred .

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Fred – India is a fascinating country, although in all honestly, it is about as challenging and intense of a destination as there is on this planet. It’s definitely not a relaxing place like Thailand. It’s an exhausting place to visit but if you feel you’re up for the challenge, in my opinion, there are few places that offer as many rewards as India for someone who is ready to be shocked and thrown way out of their comfort zone!

  19. Christine Trembly

    I’ve always felt like a nomad, or a gypsy at the very least. I never did stay in one place too long, but I have never been further than the Canadian and Mexican borders of the USA. When I became an empty-nester at age 40, I decided to turn my dream of world travel into a reality beginning with teaching in Mexico. I took the long road, going to college for 7 years, so I would have something concrete to fall back on wherever I ended up. In February, I will fly to Guadalajara for a six month teaching job and I plan to keep going. The first time I purged all my personal belongings to move to Oregon from Idaho, downsizing from a three bedroom house to a little apartment. In 2008, I purged again to go to Hawaii for six months to work as a nanny. It feels great to be free from being held hostage to material items, payments and interest!

    Thanks for your website. I’ve seen you on television a few times and look forward to following your travels!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Christine – Welcome to the website and seems like you’ve had a nice diverse range of travel experiences so far! And I’m curious where you saw me on television? I didn’t know I was on television yet 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ally – Like with any job, it all depends on your education, work history and other experiences but in general, if your experiences match the needs of a certain position, then there’s no reason why you couldn’t get hired! With over 350 cruise ships in the world and up to 1500 crew members on each, there are plenty of positions that need to be filled…

  20. Sharique Ahmad

    I intend to be a traveler too. But the problem is cash. You get paid a lot for teaching(which is not true in my country,India) and a chunk of your traveling experiences have been in south-Asia which is relatively cheap considering you have american dollars. You also saved a lot working on cruises(which is also kind of traveling). I am an engineering student and I don’t have the slightest idea where I can land a job like yours which helps me save $10,000 which is substantial. I think you have some kind of professional degree which helps you in getting such kinda jobs. And if you don’t then please elaborate on how can I get one myself. I would love to travel through the whole of Europe extensively so I was just thinking if you could help me on this by giving any tips. Looking forward to your reply.


  21. Pragati Singh

    Hey Earl,

    Came back to your page for more inspiration. This is the kind of life I want to live. I thought I would make it a reality but I realized soon that it is not as easy.

    First and foremost, how do you get a work permit in other countries? Do you do this work and earn on tourist visas? Is that legal?
    Or is that just easier when you are an american citizen?

    I happen to be from India, and on my recent visit to the USA, I had to get a special visa stamping so I could earn in the USA. And that required a lot of paper work to be completed from the employer’s before I could even apply for the visa.

    How can I just fly down to a country and then look for work there?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Pragati – I actually haven’t needed a work permit as apart from teaching English in Thailand (which I did without a permit), I have earned an income by working on board cruise ships (no permit needed) and working online (which also doesn’t require me to get a work permit anywhere). I’m now able to travel on tourist visas because my work is all on the internet and that is perfectly legal since I’m earning money into my bank accounts at home and not earning money from any company or person in the countries I’m visiting.

      But it’s different if you want to actually work in a particular country…in most cases, this would require you to get a work visa/permit and those are usually only issued by an employer overseas once you are hired. There are possibilities but it does take some research and hopefully finding the right place that can offer you the right opportunity!

  22. Lola K.

    I agree with Scott. I’d like to know about your long term goals (if any) as well. At the rate you are going, you will be able to write a best selling book and live off of the success of that 😀

  23. Scott

    That’s awesome to do and quite admirable as well but do you have any plans for the future?
    I did quite a bit of traveling when I was a bit younger and I have settled down in Melbourne Australia to (hopefully) have more than $1500 in my bank account. I grew up in The U.S. and have no plans to live there again but I realized that I am going to get old and I still have to take care of myself.
    I really am impressed and think that more people should have the kind of cojones that you have to do what you are doing, but I am curious about your long term goals only because you haven’t really said anything about that.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Scott – I had $1500 in my bank account when I started 13 years ago but after working on board cruise ships for several years and now earning an income online for the past three years, it’s a different story. I have always had goals in mind and as I write about on the site, that goal has been to turn travel into a sustainable lifestyle, not to bum around with just a few dollars in my pocket. As I wrote in my latest post, I’m now looking for place somewhere in the world where I can buy a place of my own…

      1. Brandon Hughes

        Hey Earl, it’s been interesting for me, when I tell people what I’m doing, to hear the responses and questions. When you tell someone you are creating a new way of living your life, and travel being a huge part of that, it’s just a hard thing for the average person to comprehend.

        It’s not their fault, really. It’s simply how people are raised to think. (ie. born, buy things, go to school, buy things, get a job, buy things, get married, buy more things, have kids, buy way more things) It’s a small percentage of people that break this mold and do something different. (and look, I’m not saying that having a family or some things is bad…)

        And that’s basically what you are doing, something different. It’s just not the “norm”. You’re focus isn’t on the car you drive or building a family, it’s to travel the world, connect with people and find new creative ways for you to continue the lifestyle that you have chosen.

        The scary thing for most people is that, for this way of living, (ie. outside of the mold) there isn’t a pre prescribed “itinerary” to follow. Which the uncertainty in this is enough to stop almost anyone.

        So what I’ve noticed is that a common comment is “What are you going to do down the road, when you stop traveling?” In my opinion, this is just the best way that that person can deal with the uncertainty of this sort of lifestyle. Try and put something down on the “itinerary”. But that’s the thing…the “itinerary” is ever changing.

        The goal, for me, on a daily basis is happiness. Long term, happiness. But I want to maintain this while living a life of travel, adventure, connection, and creativity. Where will I be when I’m 80? Who knows. And, quite frankly, I’m not spending much of my time worrying about it.

        Just my thoughts,

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey Brandon – Seems like we have quite a bit in common in terms of the way we think about life. I agree fully that most people just can’t comprehend living a lifestyle that seems so unorganized and uncertain and in all honesty, it is scary for those living it at times. But it’s a risk one needs to take if they want to really achieve their goals…the unknown is exciting and that’s where all the magic lies!

  24. Lola K.

    This is absolutely amazing! I am a friend of Tim’s and he let me know about your blog. I am interested in travel as well. I’m not going to do this 😀 that’s for sure! But I have always wanted to go and spend a few months in a particular region and this blog will prove to be very helpful. I sent it to a friend of mine as well, as his uncle has a travel blog. Thank you so much for providing this wonderful information to the internet world. It is truly cool. I wish you the best in your journeys. Peace.
    ~Lola K.

  25. Partho Das

    This is my first visit, after suggested by my friend. I love travelling & done that from the day I started travelling before earning. Traveled many parts of India, yet there are places left to visit. But I always felt like having money is better & help in having a peaceful travel. I must admit, how wrong I was after reading your website. You truly lead a nomadic life & would love to do so.
    I’ll stick to your website for further updates.

  26. frugal expat

    Hi.. this is my first visit to your site.. Great and very interesting post!

    I believe that if you really have the desire, you will find the opportunity to turn that desire into reality.


  27. tanvi

    You are really lucky to be able to go through countries without having to worry about visa issues. I think for alot of others, who would love to give this idea a try, it is really hard considering the amount of effort and money that goes on in issues like visa regulations.

    But i am glad you are taking full advantage of an amazing opportunity you have. A lot of others don’t.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Tanvi – I know it’s not as easy for everyone but there are ways to make it happen! I’ve met people on the road from many countries that have visa issues and with a little persistence and a lot of hard work, they someone achieved their travel goals…

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  29. Isaak

    Hey Earl.

    I was wandering. All these places you have worked, would you have been hired without a college education?
    I live in Denmark and planning to go travelling after i have finished what in America counts as High-School. So i just want to know if its going to be a lot harder getting jobs like those you have had when travelling.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Isaak – The only jobs that I’ve really worked are teaching English and working on board cruise ships, and in general, they do require college degrees. But there are hundreds of other jobs out there that wouldn’t require degrees and you could always work at hostels, pubs, cafes, etc., just to get some money in the beginning. You could also try a website such as as some of the listings there are paid and others offer free room and board in exchange for a little work each day. I know several people who travel to various parts of the world just using that website and they love their experiences!

  30. Christian Rene Friborg

    I’ve always wanted to try traveling, and I’m glad I stumbled on your blog. Rest assured I’ll be coming back to follow your adventure! I hope I can start soon as well.

  31. Krissa Curran

    This is great, Earl. I’m about to launch a business in the new year that will help people travel the world, safely and cheaply. Just doing some research now. I’m sure we’ll be in touch more officially soon. But thought I should leave a reply now because this blog post deserves it anyway =)

  32. Jai

    So my sister pointed me to this website because she said that your story reminds her of me, so I had to come check you out. I would just like to say to all your readers that this lifestyle is not as difficult as a lot might think. Put your spirit into it, remain open to newness and change, trust that the universe provides, and always accept the moment you find yourself in. I have been traveling since 1999, when I was 18, and now find myself living and working in Costa Rica. As Earl said, there are many different ways to live this adventure, so I would like to be a another testimonial to that statement. I have never taught english, worked on a cruise ship, or made money through the internet, but I have always been able to keep myself going. I urge all your readers who wish to embark on a lifetime voyage throughout space and time to do so immediately. Do not hesitate one second longer. Jump! The unknown is where dreams are made, its where everything magical dwells.

    1. Emmanuel

      Hi Jai !!
      Your post was very inspirational to me, as much as Earl’s! It’d be great if you could share with us how you managed to afford your lifestyle as a traveller. Since you didn’t have the same kind of jobs that Earl mentioned, you can give us more ideas about how to survive out there in the world. In case you can’t do this here, my email is, or you can find me on facebook as Emmanuel Añazgo. Thanx again for your post, it really encourages me to give my first step to “where dreams are made” 🙂

  33. Sarah

    This is not “amazing” as some here claim. If you’re healthy, couch surf instead of rent, and have no payments of any kind, it’s pretty damn easy. I seriously doubt he purchases his own food either, but is fed by his friends, students, and other locals.

    1. Earl

      Hey Sarah – Well, in that case, you would be completely wrong. Whenever I stay with friends, I pay them rent, I almost never couchsurf (I’ve done it twice I think in 13 years) and I pay for all of my food, and my transportation, all activities and anything else I do. I work hard to earn a living in order to maintain this lifestyle and I don’t take handouts from anyone.

    2. Abi

      I think you are very naive Sarah, if you read the blog you would know that is not the case. You clearly have a rubbish job and a boring life. I think this is very inspirational 🙂

  34. Backpacker Becki

    Amazing and good on you! I left home nearly four months ago with a wedge of money in the bank to last me a year or so but plan on doing the same kind of thing – work where I can to save money, work in exchange for free food and accomodation AND keep building my website as a full-time business. It is possible and you’ve shown that. Keep up the adventures!

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  37. Michael

    I’ve recently started a life of travel myself, having spent just about two months in Portugal. My next stop is to go somewhere in Asia where i hope to teach English. I was wondering if you had any experience in the language before you left america.

    1. Earl

      Hey Michael – I had no experience with Thai at all before I started teaching there, but it’s not necessary to know the local language. Most language schools require the students and teachers to speak English at all times as this helps students improve their English at a much faster rate.

  38. Santosh Suryawanshi

    Wow earl…. That’s the life I always wanted for myself. I am an Indian and the kind of money you could make taking temp jobs in US is not an option for me. The money you are talking is like a CEO’s salary in this part of the world… I’m sure you are aware. But anyways… I see that you travel to India a lot… I live in a town called Pune close to Mumbai. I’d love to hear from you next time you are in this country… I may be of some guidance and help to you and who know I might find my means and ideas to travel after being with you. I was a cabin crew with an Indian International airline so I have done quite a lot of traveling but I wasn’t at any international place for more than 1-2 days except Singapore where I’ve traveled to on a vacation. My town has the famous OSHO ashram.. I wonder if you are aware. I can provide food, accommodation and guidance in return for your stories…:)

  39. Theo

    I’m not sure you can really call yourself a Nomad, you seem to have spent at least 50% of your time (if not more) in well paid jobs, that as a necessity of the job involves travel. And another 25% staying with friends. It’s great you’ve done a lot of traveling but don’t pretend to people that it can be done easily and without stopping for fairly long periods to earn money.

    1. Earl

      Hey Theo – I certainly am not pretending or hiding anything since I’ve clearly detailed everything right here in this post and in many other posts on this blog as well 🙂

  40. Shalu Sharma

    It is quite remarkable that you have managed to start your journey with little money and then take it from there. If one really wants to travel there is nothing stopping anyone. I think you have done a very good of it, and congratulations to you. I am impressed that you visited India as well.

    One thing is clear is that you are a true traveller since you visited Afghanistan (and Pakistan). No one goes there unless you’re a solider in the US army or really crazy.

    Wish you all the best in your future travels…
    Shalu Sharma

  41. Lexis

    Soo inspirational!! I have big plans to take a year off to travel after college and all of your posts make me so excited! If you’re still traveling in 4-5 years I will definitely take one of your tours! And I’ll be sure to make a donation asap 🙂

  42. Mike

    Very inspirational! I would love to be able to do this and I’m going to get your book. I wish to start in South America though. You mentioned you started out teaching English. Did you need ESL certification for this? I’m not a teacher.

  43. Nadine @ Goowai Italia

    Wow, Earl! You are amazing! I am a traveler myself, well at least starting. I’ve always love to travel ever since I was young and since I started my backpacking trip last June. I knew I’ve really wanted to travel. It’s been my dream to travel the world. And now with my work I’ve been turned from pursuing my dreams as a traveler to having a good future in a company that I’m currently worked with. What do you think I’m gonna do?

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