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How Much Money Do You Need To Start A Life Of Travel?

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A desire to explore the world is hard to ignore, and for many travelers, as soon as that desire became too strong to be ignored, they simply packed up their backpack or suitcase and took off into the unknown. However, along with that strong desire to travel, there is something else that is needed in order to actually make it all happen. The fact is, you’ll barely make it across your home town if you don’t have at least a few dollars, pounds, euros or yen in your bank account.

So, once again, the question is:

How much money do you really need to start a life of travel?

Is it $4000, $10,000, $35,000, $100,000?


THE SECNARIO…

Perhaps some of you are familiar with this…

One random day we find ourselves spending 59 minutes of every single hour daydreaming about wandering to far-away destinations, immersing ourselves in wildly exotic cultures, dining on new and splendid foods and being able to hop from country to country on a whim. We desperately want to be out there traveling and we start to realize that time is running out for us to begin our long-awaited adventure.

Suddenly, unable to contain our desire and excitement any longer, we make a promise to ourselves that this time, we’re really going to go for it. We search for airfares and we quickly find a flight to Costa Rica that leaves next Tuesday. “I’m going to Costa Rica!” we shout around the room for all to hear, as we imagine ourselves hiking through the rainforest with a toucan on our shoulder.

And then we have a glance at our bank account, discover that we only have $682 USD to our name and that’s the end of that. In an instant, we snap out of our daydream and we simply go back to doing whatever it was we were doing before this ‘crazy’ idea of being a world traveler had popped into our head.


MY STORY…

When I boarded my flight to Bangkok back in 1999, with the goal of traveling around SE Asia for 3 months, in terms of money, all I had was $1500 USD to my name. Yes, $1500. Before booking my flight, I had determined that this amount would be sufficient for me to backpack through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, as long as I traveled on a very tight budget.

Of course, the problem arrived when I quickly discovered (only a few days after landing in Asia) that one 3-month adventure was not going to be enough for me. I now had a new goal, one that involved living a life of constant travel. And I was fully aware that $1500 wasn’t about to get me very far at all.

I’ll admit, during the first month or so of my travels, there were more than a few moments when I questioned my decision to travel with so little money. I kept thinking that I should have spent a year working at home first, in order to have saved more before leaving for this trip.

Had I begun my travels with $20,000 USD in my bank account, I certainly wouldn’t have been so worried at the time. The pressure to start earning money would have simply been non-existent, as I could have easily traveled around the world for two straight years on those initial funds alone!

And while that thought may sound appealing at first, as I sit here today, I’m not quite sure that I would have preferred that path in the end.

Consider this for a moment…

If I began my nomadic lifestyle with $20,000, once those two years of freedom and travel were over, and the money began to dwindle, I probably would’ve found that I had lost a good deal of my work ethic and become quite lazy along the way. If I had lived with an “I don’t have to worry about money right now” mentality for so long, I just can’t imagine I would be too motivated to work hard and do whatever it takes to continue traveling. My guess is that if I was in that situation, I would have returned home, taken any job I could find and then proceeded to put the rest of my travel dreams back in the closet.

However, because I began with only $1500, the situation turned out much differently once I decided to become a permanent nomad.

Out of necessity, I was forced to open my mind wider than I’d ever opened it before, and to open my eyes even wider, in order to seek out any opportunity that could help keep me traveling. I began trying to make as many contacts as possible, talking to other long-term travelers and every local person that I encountered. I asked them endless questions and spent hours thinking about every piece of potentially useful advice that I had heard. I knew there had to be way to extend my travels and giving up was simply not an option.

Finally, while eating a plate of the worst green curry I’ve ever eaten in a small town in Thailand, all of the brainstorming and gathering of information paid off. That’s when a good friend of mine and I came up with the idea of teaching private English language classes (using some unique methods) in the city of Chiang Mai. And this endeavor worked out very well, earning me enough money to continue living overseas and in the end, easily becoming the highlight of my first visit to Asia.


A NEVER-ENDING WAVE OF OPPORTUNITIES…

From that point on, new and rewarding ideas and opportunities continued to appear before me. For example, while living in Chiang Mai, a local friend of mine offered me a chance to spend almost two months as an assistant tour guide, helping to lead groups on 3-day treks into the jungles of Thailand. Shortly after that finished, I met a fellow traveler who introduced me to the idea of working on board cruise ships. Then, while working on board cruise ships, one of the tour operators we were contracted with in the Caribbean asked me to enter into a business partnership. A couple of years later, a great friend of mine who I met while on board ships as well, demanded that I read “The 4-Hour Workweek”, a book that has helped make my current travels possible. While working on creating online income, I then met someone who opened my eyes to the world of blogging, something I knew almost nothing about until the middle of last year.

The list literally goes on and on and even this year, while living in Mexico, opportunities continued to present themselves, some of which have had an incredibly positive effect on both my bank account and the direction of my life.

And while this may all sound like too-goo-to-be-true nonsense, I’m certain that other long-term, and even short-term, travelers out there have very similar stories to share. I would be shocked if they didn’t!


THE CONCLUSION…

My point is this…had I left home way back when with $20,000 instead of $1500 in my bank account, I’m not so sure I would’ve been open to all of these life-changing experiences. As a result, I doubt that I would have achieved my goal of living a life of constant travel. (Ok, it hasn’t been a full life yet, but 11 years seems like a good start!)

On the other hand, I won’t deny that having a little extra money in the beginning doesn’t hurt. Everyone can use a bit of a cushion to fall back on if things get tough. And if a person is not fully ready to begin their travels, then by all means, continue saving some money!

But if you’re already at the point where you’re just itching to get out there and explore the world, you don’t necessarily need to wait around for another year in the hopes of turning $5,000 in savings into $10,000. I’d personally rather have that extra year of travel experiences, which will inevitably lead to the opportunities that will change and improve your life in ways you can’t yet imagine.

If my once shy, confused, young and naïve self can find a way to turn $1500 into a decade of travel, there’s nothing stopping anybody from doing the same. It doesn’t take long to discover that your open mind is far more valuable than an extra few thousand dollars in your bank account!



Do you agree or disagree that a person doesn’t need too much money to start a life of travel?

I’d be interested to hear some of your stories, whether you’ve been traveling for a while or if you’re in the planning stages for an upcoming adventure…

Photo credit: WaMu ATM
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245 Responses to How Much Money Do You Need To Start A Life Of Travel?

  1. Marlin Bullard says:

    Thanks for the reply. I have alot of time to get everything straight, at this point I just need to have the knowledge of everything. And when it comes to work, is it hard to get jobs there? What kind of jobs? And what cities would I be allowed to stay in? I’m wanting to be in Vienna.

    Thanks.

  2. Marlin Bullard says:

    I’m 21 years old, not in school, and living with my sister. I want to save up at least $5000 and move to Vienna, Austria for at least a year. I want to be part of a different culture, and learn new languages, meet new people and friends, have life changing and unforgettable experiences. As of right now that is where I want to go. But I know for sure that I want to travel to other countries as well. I’ve never traveled out of the U.S. let alone Texas. So this will be all new to me. Im willing to sacrifice everything because I want to live an adventurous life and experience as much as this world has to offer. Life is too great to be in one place my whole life, and I frown down upon the “American Dream”. I can’t see myself going to work every morning from 9-5, sitting in traffic, working a job I’m not happy with.

    So my question is, could I be ok doing that with at least $5000? What would i need to do first? And so on…

    Thanks.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Marlin – Thanks for commenting and here’s the thing…there is no set amount that you need to travel. There are so many factors involved – destination, travel style, work opportunities available to you, etc. What you do need to do is look a little more closely at your plans…for example, US citizens cannot just go to Austria for 1 year. You are only allowed to stay in the Schengen Zone (a group of European countries that Austria is a part of) for 90 days out of any 180 day period. So you would need to study or find a job with a company there in order to stay longer.

      The point is that it’s not just the amount of initial money you have that can stand in the way of your plans. You also need to look at visas, local immigration rules, income opportunities in a particular destination, etc.

      So that’s where I’d start…doing more research about Austria first.

  3. erin says:

    This has always been my dream and always will be. I don’t even mind leaving somewhere with only a few hundred dollars and working when I get there. But the only thing that stops me is bills. Sad right. The obligations I have here. How do I pay my student loans and all the other things on low income while traveling the world? I can freely admit that it’s such a bad excuse that there is probably some other fear stopping me, but I still can’t figure that part of the equation out. Every time I see posts like this I can’t help but wonder how people are able to up and leave without worrying about that kind of stuff. I have to do it, I just need to figure out how. Maybe I’ll have to wait until I can sell my car, for starters.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Erin – You need to prioritize right now, saving as much money as you can while also looking for opportunities to earn money in ways that will give you the freedom to travel. As for loans, I know that I deferred my loans for a year and then I started paying them off once I started working on board cruise ships, where I was able to pay the loans each month and still save some money.

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  5. Richard says:

    Hey I don’t want to appear to be hijacking your site Earl but common please, this girl is reading travel the world from the last Hollywood film. Play with lion cubs? Teach English? Cheat on your boyfriend that you apparently love? Ride through countries by motorbike? 20 years if age and your only knowledge is ‘how to have a good time’? Please…….you have to be kidding me!

    Earl has managed to stay on the road for the time he has because he DOES know what visas to get, what paperwork is required, has life experience and work skills that can be used globally, can live to a budget, didn’t just see the world as a playground to simply wander through.

    If you read Earl’s story properly, its a success story of how an individual turned 1500 into a much more by being disciplined and extremely shrewd with planning and preparation. There are simply no excuses these days to not do your homework first. Use the internet and research as though it was for your thesis on world travel. KNOW what you need to know to SURVIVE in these countries, because it is most definitely not the rosy picture you people want to appear to paint if you approach travel with a cavalier attitude. Simply having a ‘sum of money’ is not the be all and end all to begin your travels.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Richard – In the end, that’s why we travel, to grow and mature and to learn. On my first trip, when I went to SE Asia back in 1999, my goal was to see Angkor Wat and to simply take photos of me in front of the amazing temples, to hang out on the beach and to basically, have a blast. I didn’t know what travel could offer at the time. Then, once I began traveling, I realized that travel was a much deeper experience, and I connected with certain aspects of my travels that I never could have anticipated. And thus began the growth and the education which of course shaped all of my future travels and changed my focus completely.

      I agree that these days it is MUCH easier to learn the basics before traveling, that’s for certain and a great point to bring up! And of course, we should take advantage of it all, to learn about visas, customs, work opportunities, etc. before we leave and to get a better picture of the reality. In the end though, the best way to figure out if travel is right for us and to learn that our idea of travel might not match the reality, is to just get out there and experience it for ourselves!

      Thanks again for sharing all your thoughts Richard, much appreciated!

  6. Richard says:

    You say nothing wrong with that plan….what plan??? He aims to blow 10% of his money in the first 3 weeks in Thailand and then skip over to Australia. We have no idea how old he is, his life experiences to date and his maturity, his knowledge of the current employment opportunities here……….I can assure you that 5000 is NOT enough for 1 year. Depending on his skills, he will have to do farm work, long hot and hard work.

    My advice is get a proper plan. Do some ‘work for your accm and food jobs’, depending on your nationality, get an ESL certificate so you can teach later in Asia, which is where you will go next. Learn to eat off a budget, cut down on alcohol and ciggies (if you smoke).

    Personally I think there are far too many people on here being given the advice of ‘yeah, that sum will be OK, just go with your heart and enjoy the adventure’ whom clearly have not the right perspective to begin with.

    Treat travel like a small business people, plan and prepare, budget and be disciplined, know your strengths and weaknesses, get universally qualified….. Barista quals, Tefol or TESOL, RSL cert, learn to ride a horse, a tractor, get your forklift ticket, your white card…..the list goes on.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Richard – I appreciate your thoughts. As for him having a plan, the thing is, when it comes to travel, our plans rarely are followed exactly as we expect. So, for me, it is far more important to just get out there and get started so that a person can learn the ropes on their own and then figure out what they want to do and how they want to proceed with their travels, or even if travel truly is something they want to pursue. While we don’t know much about him, we also don’t know where his adventure will lead and if he does end up in Australia and he wants to stay in Australia, I’m sure he will become determined to do whatever it takes to stay there.

      If someone leaves home with a few thousand dollars and doesn’t have the right perspective, then they’ll enjoy a couple months of travel and return home. But if they discover that travel is indeed right for them and they figure out a travel style that suits them perfectly, then they will make it a reality no matter how much money they had to begin with.

      While I agree that some planning is a good thing, treating it as a business plan means that you are quite set in your plan. And with travel, if you are set in your initial plan and not completely open to change (even drastic changes), it’s going to be a difficult journey.

      I agree that gaining skills is important and having some qualifications will certainly increase the opportunities out there to continue traveling, that goes without saying. I just also think that it is the confidence in one’s ability to turn travel into a reality that is usually what stops people from attempting to achieve such a goal. So I want people to get out there and see that, if they decide that travel is right for them, they can make it happen instead of staying at home, lacking the necessary confidence and putting it off year after year.

      • Richard says:

        The business plan concept was purely meant in respect to the planning of the travel and that alone. Of course the actual traveling experience s should not be so rigid as to he treated in the same way as a business because it would detract from the flexibility and opportunistic value of travel.

        I still think that its very easy to say go enjoy your travel and at the very least you have had two months traveling and then you go back home etc. I think that in this itself would be very depressing to some people. As a lot of your readers comments clearly state, they have little money to begin with, outstanding loans, boring and/or unfulfilling jobs, hence their daydream to travel. I don’t think for one minute that a quick fix 2 months and an ‘oh well didn’t quite work’ outcome will help any of these people on their return to their norms. They theoretically would become even more frustrated, depressed and financially hard shipped than they started with.

        It is these people in particular that do need to plan and prepare way before they depart overseas so that they can fulfill a lengthy period of travel that does allow them time to learn and adapt and to locate what it is their looking for. I simply suggest a better preparation for travel at the outset, similar in analogy to a child having stabilizers on a bike……there only there long enough to protect from initial injury and harm, and in doing so ensure a confidence and security in wanting to carry on with riding the bike long after the stabilizers are removed…..at which point they may venture and as far as they desire.

        In my world its classed as a duty of care. I rest my case.

  7. Karl Hennan says:

    Hey,

    I hope all is well, it is great to read everyone’s question and your replies and hearing your very own stories. I am planning on travelling alone to Australia at the beginning of 2016 I am going to go to Thailand before this for roughly 2-3 weeks and in total I believe I will have somewhere in the region of £5500-£6500 hopefully after Thailand I will roughly have £5000 to take with me to Australia I am just wondering whether that will be enough to stay there for 12 months and I will be working there as well.

    Hope to hear from you soon,

    Many thanks,

    Karl

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Karl – That’s hard to say so far in advance and I’m confident that your plans might change between now and 2016 as you learn about new opportunities out there in the world and new destinations. But in general, yes, that should be enough to live in Australia for one year, especially if you are working. So there’s nothing wrong with that plan.

  8. Vince says:

    Hey Earl,
    I’m currently in the very early stages of planning my 1-2 year trip around SE asia, I have a rough draft of the route I want to take,(in order) Phillipines – Indonesia – Singapore – Malaysia – Thailand – Cambodia – Vietnam…I have saved up a little more than 15000 USD so far,& originally planned to leave when I reached 25-30 grand USD (which I’ll reach by the end of next year at the rate I’m saving)..but I also have a few grand in school loans to pay off, my question is should I take the bit of extra time to pay off my debt or should I just go for it once I reach my savings goals? ..Thank you

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Vince – That’s a personal choice and is tough for me to say. In my case, I decided to defer my loans for a couple of years until I could pay them off…luckily, I ended up working on board cruise ships where I was able to start paying those loans off and still save some money as well. At the same time, you could easily travel around for a year on $15,000, so anything extra could be used for the loans if that’s something you wanted to consider.

  9. Amy-jane says:

    Hello,

    Problems of all sorts here,
    I have a long term boyfriend of whom I do love but…..I want to travel and whist travelling I want to be alone and single so that I have no ties and if I choose to do that extra country I can.
    And if I have a few drinks with people I meet….you get the idea…i want freedom to do what I please.
    Also I’ve only got a few quid… But can save up to £2000 (sterling) in 5 months.
    Where do I start, I want to explore everything, and every single country on this planet.
    I want to play with lion cubs and help teach English, but I don’t want to have to fly everywhere, I used to have a motorbike,..so I think biking would make sense.

    Please help me as to be honest I wouldn’t know where to start with documents and visas and insurance and safe zones.
    In fact the only thing I know how to do is have a good time, explore and stay out of trouble. :) I’m 20 by the way if that helps.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Amy-Jane – I understand and it all may seem quite daunting right now but just remember that we all have to start our travels without knowing much of anything. We learn, bit by bit, how it works, what we need to do, etc. As for where to start, you should just think about every country and choose the one or the region that you absolutely want to visit first. There has to be a place that you are drawn to more than others. If not, then you need to think about why you want to travel. What do you want to gain? What is your purpose? This will often help narrow it down and lead you to a particular destination.

      As for other information, just have a read of this blog and others like it as that’s why they exist, to help others understand how to achieve their own travel goals :)

  10. Cyrus says:

    hi earl… I m from Ghana but I love to travel abroad. I have no qualification but holding high school certificate but I love to travel abroad and my amount on me is around 7000$.I need advice from u. thank u

  11. Mayur says:

    Hi Earl,

    Great post, very good suggestions. I am planning a trip to South America and want to go for 6 months on a budget of £5000 (note pounds sterling). However have read elsewhere that I will need way more than that. I had two friends who said they travelled on that same amount and had no problems. However they went quite a few years back so things were cheaper than. Any Suggestions?

    Thanks

    Mayur

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Mayur – It all depends on your travel style as you could travel anywhere for that amount or you could need a lot more. If you don’t travel luxuriously, you’ll be able to manage on that amount for sure.

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  13. Alyse says:

    I have just read this lovely post but felt I wanted to ask you a little more directly if you do not mind. After booking some initial flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Bali and Australia- (to travel over a four month period in SE Asia and hopefully to work in Australia) I have realized I am only going to have about 2500 pounds to my name- I leave on the 20th May 14 and am constantly worrying about my financial situation! I don’t have qualifications I just feel so worried about the thought of plodding home after only 1 or two months. I have a friend who I can stay with in Australia. Does my situation seem hopeless?
    Regards :)

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Alyse – I think 2500 pounds for 4 months in SE Asia should be fine. Just keep to your budget, but that’s definitely plenty of money to have a great time over there. Then, once you get to Australia, find some work, reload the bank account and you’ll be all set. It’s definitely not hopeless!

  14. Samuel Thomson says:

    Hey Earl!

    Thanks so much for these posts, i have spent all night reading them and they have given me so much more confidence in traveling. for a few years now i have been thinking about becoming a nomad and just flowing like water around the planet enjoying every second of it. I am currently 16 and waiting until i am 18 to claim my kiwi bank money so i can leave new Zealand (Don’t get me wrong NZ is an amazing place but i don’t like the social norms in first world countries).

    But I do still have a question… What about a companion? In most of your posts you mention being with someone. I don’t really have anyone to travel with, do you think that it will still be as easy as you make it sound without one??

    I looking forward to even more great posts :), Thanks so much for making me have hope again.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Samuel – I am actually traveling on my own most of the time. But I suggest reading this post of mine: http://www.wanderingearl.com/please-dont-be-afraid-to-travel-on-your-own/

      Hopefully that will give you the extra confidence you need to set out on your own!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Samuel,

      Don’t know if you’ll see this, but if you do, hello fellow Kiwi!

      Other than the odd family trip to Aussie/Fiji whatever, my first big trip was to Paraguay when I was 16, I didn’t know anyone there and I didn’t speak Spanish. I was lucky enough to have a family found for me that was willing to host me free of charge for 11 months, and after that I was hooked. I returned to NZ for university, but during that time went on study abroad to Spain and Germany for 6 months each, and for the last 10 months I’ve been teaching English in China.

      The hardest part by far is the airfare, and once you’re there things tend to fall into place. Don’t worry about travelling alone either, I actually prefer to travel alone! You open yourself up to so many more opportunities. You may with you had someone to share things with from time to time, but you’ll be able to pick everything up at the drop of a hat and run off on some new adventure whenever you like, without having to consult and compromise with your travel companion. Plus you meet some AMAZING people along the way, I promise!

      Start saving now, and good luck!

  15. yulie says:

    Hey earl, its passed midnight and I’m going through all of your post. They are all inspiring. I’m a mom for a very adorable daughter and a wife for a very understanding hubby. I have spent 2 years reading travel blogs, at first it was because I’m thinking to homeschool my daughter, then it turn into a plan to do travelschooling. And its so true, I thought about it waaay too much. I guess because I somehow afraid to dive in, and take it slow. We started with exporing Indonesia, I have one week break from teaching four times in a year, we always have a great time. But I always second guess myself to become a permenant traveler. I know I can do it, gosh I’m sure of it. But we always ended up broke, and as a mom that scared me the most. I guess I thought as an indonesian, moeslem, mom, wife there were too many variable to think about. Advice?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Yulie – I can certainly understand the hesitation and in the end, it is one of those things where you simply need to weigh your determination versus the risk and try and figure out which one has the upper hand. Perhaps you could start with a small travel stint and not permanent travel, just to test it out and see how things go. This might be a good way to get started, with minimal risk, and to prove to yourself that your goals are indeed possible.

  16. Judy Knight says:

    Hi Earl!
    I was searching the internet for ideas on how to change my life and I found you!
    Unlike all the other contributors I am middle aged but I no longer have any ties and am desperate to get away and explore the world before it is too late!
    I have lived and worked in Spain and France on and off over the past few years and my dream is to travel and work my way through Italy although I know that this is going to be more expensive so I was wondering what you think about a lone (older) female travelling further afield or do you think it better that I look for a travelling companion?
    My son has backpacked all over the world and is pretty ‘hardcore’ and he tells me to stick to Europe but I reckon that you are a long time dead and as I am still pretty fit, healthy and adventurous whilst also being sensible, I thought that I might give it a go……..what do you think???
    Best regards,
    Judy

  17. Jessie says:

    Dear Earl,

    It’s people like you who remind me what it is I’m living for. No big deal, haha, but seriously, thank you. For early 3 years I’ve been working in a toxic corporate culture, in a world where I know I don’t belong. The greatest experiences of my life have been my journeys to Sub-Saharan Africa. I knew, in those fleeting 3 months that it was a travelers life that made me feel alive. Unfortunately, I went to university on government student loans and these past 3 years have been dedicated to repaying my debts. I have been a zombie, doing what is expected of me by society but not feeling any joy. I need another 1.5 years before my debts are eliminated, and longer still to save to be able to travel, but your post has given me hope that I don’t necessarily need to have $20k in my bank account before really living my life the way I want to.

    With so many positive thoughts and thanks to you,

    Jessie

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Jessie – It’s great to hear that you’ve made a plan that will lead you to the lifestyle you prefer! And like you said, you need a great deal of money to make it happen. In fact, you could take the next two years to try and create something that will allow you to earn money while on the road so that by the time you’re ready to leave, you don’t have to worry about what you’ll do when your money runs out.

  18. Sidney Wright says:

    Hi Earl,

    I’ve just gotta say that your stories are really motivating me in my travel plans. I was just wondering if you could have a look at my scenario and give me a few suggestions/pointers.

    So I’ll be 18 soon and I really want to travel and work like yourself however like you I also only have a small amount of money to start with. I’m perfectly happy to live on the cheap and work any job with an ok pay while I travel but just one thing stands out as a problem; getting a job abroad. I’ve been over the numbers and while I’ll have enough to get all the documentation sorted and actually get to my destination, I’m worried that I won’t be able to get a job and make money to help fund my living expenses because I lack experience. The closest I’ve had to a job is a paper round and some volunteer work in a charity shop which doesn’t appear to be enough to get me a job in my home country of England (Although we are currently going through a recession). What would you suggest my good man? Should I stay and prepare some more in hopes of getting a job or should I just jump into action and hope for the best?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Sidney – Thanks for sharing your situation and in the end, it’s hard for me to say which is the best option for you. Let’s put it this way…there are plenty of people out there traveling the world who were in a similar situation and who made it happen. So it’s definitely possible. However, it will take a good amount of determination, networking and creativity to ensure you find some opportunities to earn money while overseas. Of course, it also depends on the country you plan to visit as some are easier (Australia for example with their working holiday visa) than others.

      Should you wait and prepare more before heading out to travel? I would say that if you don’t feel 100% confident in your ability to achieve your travel goals right now, perhaps you should wait a little, make a plan to save more money and then go from there. But if you feel confident that you can get out there and do whatever it takes to make it all happen, then waiting around might not make much sense.

    • Jaden says:

      We are in nearly the same situation. I’m 17, 18 in two months and I started feeling that itch for the first time about three months ago, but damn, I want to leave so badly. I know I’ll do well on my own, I’m a hard worker but I’m also creative and clever. I only have 400usd to my name, so my question is :should I stay the few more months until I turn 18 and save a little more money (which I would loathe to do), or just leave in a few weeks, once I get visas and passports and such figured out (another point I could use some advice on)? I’ve also had two different part Tim jobs for almost a year (blew all the money until I started saving to travel) one which I currently still have. However – I dropped out of highschool a few months ago and I haven’t gotten my GED, and I’m not sure if I plan to. Not only do I not have my license, I can’t even drive. I also have a ‘criminal record’ one possession of marijuana. How much are those things going to impact my chances of finding work?
      Thank you for your inspiring story, and thank think you in advance for you advice.

      • Wandering Earl says:

        Hey Jaden – Thanks for commenting and I’ll be honest with you…first, anything is possible. If you’re determined enough, able to get creative and aren’t afraid to network with as many people as you can, you can achieve your travel goals for sure. With that said, it will definitely be much harder to achieve without the GED as many of the most basic jobs you could find to try and earn some money while traveling will at least require a completed high school education. So you’ll be a little limited in terms of which jobs you can find and as a result, the pay you can expect will be lower than with a GED or more. So, that’s the situation…as to what you should do, I can’t answer that question for you. It’s such a personal decision that you simply need to weigh all of the factors involved and make the decision that you think is best for you at this time.

  19. Trey D says:

    I’ve sort of had a plan in my head for a “decade or so of exploring the world”. You see, right now I am a college student using the GI Bill to pursue multiple degrees, and regularly investing in the stock market. The idea is that by the time I have completed college I should have enough in various accounts and assets that I can go through with my plan exploring the world for at least a few years, if not the idealistic decade (maybe even for as long as possible but not my entire life), while managing emergency savings, and trying to live off of a small disability paycheck, and whatever I can flex in my portfolio. What are your thoughts and suggestions?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Trey – All I can really say is that if you are determined to achieve you travel goals, then there really should be nothing to stop you. Your idea is possible, you just need to put in the effort and make it a reality, pushing through any obstacles and always remembering that there are already others out there, from a wide variety of backgrounds, who have already made it happen.

  20. Maushumi Rajbongshi says:

    Hi Earl! You have given me hopes again. it is really inspiring. i have been having this really crazy idea of going backpacking around the world but when i look at the figure in my bank account i just say to myself, that “this is impossible unless you win a lottery or somehow find a long lost treasure” but what you have said has given me hopes and now i believe that it might actually be possible :) we have to go out first to know if we can survive, we can’t just assume the temperature of water without dipping our toes in it….this time i will no longer allow my bank account rule my life. Thank you so much for inspiring me :)

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Maushumi – Well said and I’m glad to hear you’ve gained some inspiration! I shall look forward to meeting you out here in the world some day!

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  22. Tati says:

    Holly crap. Your article gave me chills. I think I’m going to start packing!
    I had just came to this realization of myself; that I have being leaving in the US alone since I’m 15. Turning 30 tomorrow… I have never been without a job. I know that to travel the world on a budget I would have to downgrade a tad but I know how to detach myself from things and people by now. I know America gives you more opportunities than other places in the world but my point is that I know so many people and so many trades.. that must count for something right? Thank you so much for writing this so positively! Instant fan!

  23. rose says:

    wow amazing im traveling in December the 17th to Thailand too
    im more worried how much it will all cost all up
    money can be a worry

  24. Ankita says:

    Hi Earl,

    You have a very inspiring story! I’m from India, and the travel bug bit me during the time I lived in London for two years with my Family when my Dad got a job there. I was 9 years old then and traveling around Europe was a transforming experience. I definitely want to go back and not just there, I want to travel everywhere! In early 2013 I gave up a career in Psychology to follow my dream of traveling the world. I loved psychology but my job wouldn’t let me travel much. You are right. When we are passionate about doing something, we can always find a way out. I started freelance writing in Mental health, Well being and Relationship niches so that I can travel and work from any corner of the world. It hasn’t made me rich over night, but everyday I feel a little closer to my goal of going for a solo trip abroad.
    I agree that not having enough money is a good thing at times, because we need some sort of a driving force to push us. I have had days when I feel to lazy to write or do any work because I know, it wouldn’t make a huge difference if I postpone it to tomorrow, or day after, sometimes to even a week. However, when we are out on the road, we know it at the back of our mind that if we don’t work and have no money, then there are a number of things to worry about, like paying for accommodation, food, flight etc.
    More people should read your story. There so much to learn from each of your posts.

    Cheers! :)
    Ankita

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Thanks Ankita and it’s great to have you as a reader of the site! And I look forward to seeing where you end up traveling :)

  25. Dan says:

    I couldnt help but laugh a little when I read this. My flight leaves to Bangkok on Dec. 17th 2013. I just checked my account, and I have $1,669.37 in it. I have to live off $170.00 for the next month, so I will have 1500 when I leave. I am still a little worried about it, but not so much. I have friends in Laos that own a bar I can work at, and a TEOSFL cert. I think I’ll be ok, but your entry gave me a little more hope! ( btw, it is a one way ticket, so I guess I will have to make it work, huh?)

  26. KansasSue says:

    Earl, I love your website and your wit. You are a blessing to us stuck-in-the-grind types. Actually I was laid off from my 9-5 job last spring so have been living and traveling in my RV since then. I have opportunities for work so have an income of sorts though the savings account is being drained by expenses. I have two choices, continue to struggle along enjoying what free time I can muster for another year until Social Security adds to the mix or I can jump ship, so to speak. I am taking your inspiration to give me the courage to fly to far-away destinations and enjoy my life to the fullest. That is not to say I haven’t enjoyed hanging on the beach and lazing away in my RV, but there is something to be said for the roar of jet engines and the sway of the big ships!

  27. Gemma Scully says:

    This is such an amazing story. I am currently living in Asia as an ESL Teacher for young kids. I packed up my job and just moved out here with not much saved just to change my life. It is tough at first but it definitely adds to the experience of travelling and being independant. As you stated you started private teaching lessons I am interested in doing the same. Do you have any advice on this topic? How did you know what to teach? It is a lot different where I work as I am given a curriculum to follow. Any advice would be great :)

  28. Robert Cooke says:

    The example you use is interesting to me as it’s almost exactly to the cent and time what happened to me. I left home with approx $20,000 went to Asia and spent 2 years there before funds almost ran out.
    That was just over a year ago and now I found myself in Australia working and saving with the goal of hitting New Zealand but much more importantly to me South America. I have chosen an arbitrary round number to aim for of $15000 (Perhaps you can tell me how far I can get around central and south america with that!) which I’m confident of hitting.

    I agree with you in the sense of having little money forces you to think more and perhaps be more opportunistic but I’m not sure if I’d say having $1500 is better. I think it depends on your mindset. I left home with no plan or timeframe and just developed the urge to keep going for now. I wouldn’t and didn’t leave with 1500 but I did with 20k and that decision has thus far let me coming to the same mindset as you to a certain extent.

    I guess for me the interesting thing will be in the Americas when I start to run low and don’t have easy access to a work visa in a high paying country like Australia how I will cope. But figure I’ll worry about that more as that time comes.

    Cool article though. People, who know me from home and not really travelers, constantly asking how I can go for 3 years. I may just send a copy of this blog post and be like there you go :)

  29. Richard Eaton says:

    Very interesting read Earl. I find myself as already pretty well travelled albeit mainly holidays and my time in the British Army. All up about 35 countries. I emigrated to Australia in 2006 and got my Aussie citizenship in 2009 due to my job at the time. Anyway, my luck ran out over the past few years, ruined marriage, bankruptcy and thanks to a brain tumor I’m now also deaf in my left ear. So at 43 and currently in Cairns, QLD I’m thinking stay a year (its pretty nice here) save $25,000, finish off my personal fitness training qualifications and go. I’m thinking of Thailand and doing some teaching there. I have a business degree from 99 and already taught kids in Guangzhou back in 2011 (just prior to having that fateful MRI scan). I’m fortunate in the sense that due to my previous work history I have a substantial amount of super to claim when I’m 65, so all I constantly think about doing til then is surviving. When I say surviving, I mean in my ‘Columbus Mode’. Treat the world as though the next turn of a corner could lead to an untimely death or on a more positive note, the finding of a new world (or adventure beit geographic or social in nature). The fact that I have both UK and Aussie passports must be a huge advantage for me, especially with working around Europe.

    My question to you Earl, after all that waffle is, do you think that I have left it too late in many respects, those being most obviously my age and my new disability, which incidently is not really noticeable unless I’m in very crowded rooms etc. I would of course aim to teach smaller groups, plus do some personal training. I know that you will probably say that age is not an issue, but I’m thinking more in relation to cruise ship work.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Richard – I don’t think it’s too late at all as I’ve met people of all ages teaching all kinds of things on the road, in various countries around the world. If you feel you have what it takes to teach, then I say go for it and give it a try. In the end it will come down to determination, not age, in terms of whether or not you can make it happen :)

  30. claire jones says:

    i would love to do this! good luck to you all on your travels!!!

  31. Kyle says:

    Hello, I am planning on traveling at the end for the year to Australia for 6 weeks, but my real plan is to travel for at least 3 years in 3 years, im gonna get married then im just gonna quit my job and go traveling in south east asia and mabey over to europe, when you do your traveling you dont necessarily need a traveling visa to work do you?

    Thanks Kyle

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Kyle – I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. You need a travel visa to travel to a different country so if you go to Australia, you need to apply online for the visa before you go there. If you work, you need a work permit in most places but you can usually only receive one if you are hired for a specific job. For Australia, you can apply for a working holiday visa before you travel there which allows you to stay for up to one year and work as well.

  32. Robert says:

    This article has made me want to travel even more. My budget to travel now will only be around £2000 by the end of next year (shit job) and thats for flights too but this makes me not care. My dream is your life of travelling, even applying for.cruise ships. desperado!!! loving the blog mate.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Thanks Robert! And if you’re truly dedicated to your goal of travel, once you get started you’ll find some ways to keep it going!

  33. Jonas Gade says:

    Earl! I am now sitting outside watching the sun go down, sipping on a coke on the Island of Koh Samui :). All thanks to you and your wonderful blog! Wouldn’t it be because of your optimistic GREAT articles this might not have come to be for me.

    Regards

    Jonas Gade ;)

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Jonas – That’s awesome to hear and even I’m jealous!! Enjoy your time out there and I’m thrilled that you’ve achieved your goal of getting out there!

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