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How to Make Your Money Last Longer While Traveling

Make Your Money Last Longer

If you want to travel the world, you need money. That’s a fact. Of course, as I try to point out often on this site, the amount of money you do need isn’t nearly as large as most people imagine (How Much Money Do You Need to Start a Life of Travel), but you still need a little cashola in order to achieve your travel goals.

At the same time, your ability to travel long-term (or short-term) is not fully dependent on how much money you earn. You can always make money all over the world. It’s what you do with that money that really matters.

Even with myself, I know perfectly well that had I not learned a few very valuable lessons early on in my own travels, lessons about how to save and avoid wasting my money, there’s a good chance that I would have been forced to stop traveling a long time ago.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that can help you make your money last longer while traveling…

Staying With Friends

Every now and then I receive an email or comment telling me that I’m a fraud because I sometimes stay with friends in different countries for a few days or even a couple of weeks, and therefore do not pay for accommodation during those times. I am told that this is ‘cheating’ and that I should admit to my readers that I save a great deal of money by staying with these friends. First, I certainly don’t hide the fact that I stay with friends. And second, I don’t see it as cheating. When I first started traveling, I really didn’t have any international friends and I definitely didn’t know anyone who I could just call up and ask to crash at their place for a while.

It was only natural that the longer I traveled, the more friends I made around the world, friends who would kindly let me sleep on their sofa whenever I was in the area. The good news is that the same would happen to any traveler. The more you travel the world, the more people you will meet and in the end, you’ll have great friends in every corner of the globe too that will offer you a place to stay. And not only do you get to spend time with your friends, you do get a chance to save some money on accommodation, something that can definitely help a person stay on the road much longer.

Flexible Destinations and Dates

The more flexible you are (flexibility with travel planning, not yoga flexible!), the cheaper your travels will be. For example, if I am thinking of flying to Thailand and the airfare is $800, I might start looking at other destinations that I’m interested in visiting. Maybe I’ll find a $400 flight to Cairo and so, I’ll go there instead and save Thailand for another time. If you’re flexible with your dates as well, you can really shop around in order to find the cheapest possible flight to any destination that appeals to you. I’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years as a direct result of being flexible with my plans.

Almost Zero Monthly Payments

I don’t own a home, I don’t have a car, I don’t pay for utilities each month and, apart from health insurance (here’s a post I wrote about how I’ve handled health insurance over the years), I don’t have any other major expenses that I must pay on a regular basis. Even my mobile phone is on a plan that allows me to stop paying whenever I’m outside the US. Just think of how many thousands of dollars all of this saves, freeing up the money I do earn to be spent directly on my travels and again, keeping me out there wandering the world for many more years that I once thought possible.

Slow Travel

By staying in some locations for long periods of time, such as 3 or 6 months, or even longer, I am able to pay far less money for accommodation by renting a local apartment at local rates. Spending 30 nights in budget hotels while traveling around Mexico could cost $1200 USD but I could stay in my own studio apartment near the beach in Playa del Carmen for one-third that amount if I stay in that same town for a month or more. I also save on transportation by not having to travel long distances during these periods and I can save even further by using the kitchen in my apartment to cook my own meals. Staying put in Mexico, Romania, Thailand and other locations over the years has played a major role in helping me keep my dream of indefinite travel alive.

Embrace Technology

Some people love technology, some hate it, and I find myself right in the middle. If used wisely of course, technology can reduce your travel costs drastically, simply because you can usually find the cheapest airfares, cheapest accommodation rates, cheapest everything, online. (This isn’t always true and it does depend on your style of travel, but for the most part, the internet does allow you to search around and make more educated decisions that will save you money. It also allows you to get real time information about travel costs from bloggers or other travelers who are currently in the destinations you are about to visit.)

Always Saving Money

After deciding that I wanted to try and travel indefinitely, I remember sitting down one day and making a list of all the things I needed get in order. On that list I wrote something like “Always save money” and I have stuck to that rule ever since. No matter how much money I’ve earned over the years, I’ve always saved a portion of it each month and I’ve always made sure my bank account never went below a certain level. If it started to approach that threshold, I knew that it was time for another cruise ship contract or time to find some way to fill my account back up again. And as the years passed, I began increasing that limit in order to make sure that I was saving more and more money. This way, I’ve always had some extra cash in case I hit a rough patch at some point at a time when I am still not interested in giving up my traveling lifestyle. This savings plan has really forced me to be disciplined and the result is that I never found myself completely broke with no money for a place to stay or no money for my next meal. This goes a long way in keeping me motivated to continue my travels as I’m not sure I would have carried on exploring the world if I was barely surviving day to day.

No Set Plans

As I mentioned above, being flexible with dates and destinations is key, but being flexible once you arrive in a particular destination is as equally important. I’ve talked to many travelers who plan out their entire six-month trip beforehand, pre-paying for accommodation, transportation and activities, only to discover that once they arrive, they no longer want to follow their original plan. Sometimes we learn about places we had never heard of before and want to head there instead or sometimes we meet some new friends that we now want to tag along with. And changing our pre-arranged plans at this point can be costly. I learned early on that locking myself into a plan had some serious risks, mainly that I would waste money by paying for things in advance that I would no longer want to do once I arrived in a particular country. Things change and going with the flow allows me to change with them without throwing my hard earned money out the window, money that I would rather use for my new plans.

As you can see, achieving your travel goals is not only about earning money. It’s about making smart travel decisions, some of which are quite simple, that help you spend your money wisely, or in some cases, save your money when it doesn’t have to be spent. As I mentioned above, had I not learned these lessons myself, I would not still be traveling right now. I would have burned through my money at some point and given up, forcing myself to return home and admit defeat. Instead, I managed to make the money I did have, and that I did earn, last much longer, something that naturally lead to more opportunities to not only earn more money, but to continue traveling the world as well.

What did I miss? What other decisions have you made that have helped you spend wisely or save money while traveling? If you haven’t traveled yet, what do you think of the above, does it make sense?


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67 Responses to How to Make Your Money Last Longer While Traveling

  1. Kendal says:

    Ugg, I meant to reply to this but I think it just posted as a comment. Anyway, Kat:

    That’s funny, I have the same $30 plan. When I’m in France though I just get another SIM card. Actually, I have a month to month plan I kept even while I’m in the US because it’s like, 20€ a month for unlimited. The problem with using your US number overseas is…. it’s going to cost money for whoever texts YOU. So they may not want to. Everywhere I go, I just get a new SIM. I used a company called Tuengo or something in Spain and I got way more data than I needed for 20€… I think I could have done with their 10€ plan.

  2. Kendal says:

    That’s funny, I have the same $30 plan. When I’m in France though I just get another SIM card. Actually, I have a month to month plan I kept even while I’m in the US because it’s like, 20€ a month for unlimited. The problem with using your US number overseas is…. it’s going to cost money for whoever texts YOU. So they may not want to. Everywhere I go, I just get a new SIM. I used a company called Tuengo or something in Spain and I got way more data than I needed for 20€… I think I could have done with their 10€ plan.

  3. Kat says:

    I actually use T-Mobile’s pay as you go plan, although the $30 one cause I don’t use many minutes. I was under the impression that it could be used internationally as well. After all, I moved here from Germany, where I used Deutsch Telecomm. Is this incorrect? Do you have to sign up on local plans everytime you go somewhere new?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Kat – From what I know, you need to use their $50 per month plan and then, you have free text messages and date while overseas but you will pay 20 cents per minute for phone calls.

  4. Matthew says:

    I would really like to study abroad/live in South America for the next two semesters. The only concern I face is that I am facing is that I will not be able to find a job on a student visa. Is this necessarily true? Have you needed to apply for work visas in the countries you have worked in?

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  6. Kim Thu says:

    Thanks for your entry. I really did as your advice. I worked hard since I was 17 and I said to myself: I would retire when I reach 50 to travel. Finally, I could realise my dream. I usually take a 3 months or 6 months’ trip because I love the culture of every country that I’ve visited. It’s really wonderful to stay with local people, live his way and enjoy foods, atmosphere,…I still have some money from my invest and my retiree salary to spend while traveling, but I have my own studio in Viet Nam. I don’t like couchsurfing, too. You never know what kind of house you will stay. It’s definitely unsafe for woman.

  7. Kendal says:

    I would think you could rent a place for less than $1000 a month. I mean you can even rent a place in Paris for under $1000 a month. OK, it’d be a studio, but it can be done. I can’t imagine Mexico would be more expensive! But then that’s just lodging, too. Have you checked out places on airbnb.com ? I’m going to Barcelona for August, and we’re renting a bedroom in an apartment for 500€.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Kendal – The $1000 per month includes everything from rent, transportation, food, activities, etc. You can easily rent a place for less than $1000 in Mexico but with all of those other expenses, it will start to reach that amount. And it depends on where you go in Mexico of course…major tourist destinations are much more expensive than smaller, out of the way locations.

  8. Sonja says:

    Hi Earl,
    I do like all of your posts I´ve read so far a lot!!! Theey are very helpful!!!
    But after reading the post above I´m wondering, whether it is possible to travel Mexiko with less than $1000 per month. In you post: “Countries you can visit For $1000 or less”, you stated that Mexiko is one of those countries. In the post above you write, that staying in budget hostels in Mexiko could cost $1200 per month. So, is it only possible to travel Mexiko with less than $1000 per month if renting an appartment (and staying in one place for a longer period of time)?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Sonja – It all depends on your travel style but you can travel in Mexico for $1000 per month if you stay in hostels and eat at local places. The $1200 was just a little more how I’m traveling these days I guess, which includes a few more private rooms to sleep in at the hostels and taking a few more nicer buses :) But $1000 is definitely possible!

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  10. Hi, earl ..

    you must be very happy when visited indonesia.. this is beautiful country and even not bad as other media told.. i assure you there will be more thing you can dig on my country..

    call me if you need information. thanks

  11. These are all really savvy tips Earl. We’ve been nomadic for the last two years and follow a similar set of guidelines. We’ve found a great balance between house sitting and road tripping through the countries we visit and it’s been saving us quite a lot of our accommodation fund. We tend to stay quite a while each country so invest in a vehicle which we then sell when we leave. We’ve yet to loose any money on one so keep your fingers crossed for us!

  12. I find you have to strike a real balance between being flexible and planning to stay a long time in order to save money, sometimes my more spontaneous side ends up leaving my bank account worse for wear :P

  13. Hey Earl,

    Couchsurfing will definitely stretch those travel dollars for sure. Its a great way to find your feet in a new city/town.

  14. Have you done much couchsurfing (through the website, other than your friends). Seems like another possibility. If that’s cheating then I’m happy to be a cheater.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Kristin – I’ve done couchsurfing only a few times, mainly because I prefer to have my own space in order to get my work done. So I don’t want to be rude and tell my host that I have to work instead of hanging out. But it is a great way to save as well.

  15. Andrew says:

    Nice post with a lot of helpful ideas. I wanted to add that it’s possible to make friends in other countries even before you start traveling. I write a popular poker blog, and last year my girlfriend and I spent three months traveling in Europe. We met with five or six different people who knew me through my blog but whom I’d never met in person before. One of them even invited us to stay at his apartment in Paris on a Friday and Saturday night, which if we’d stayed in a hotel those nights (which, to be fair, we probably wouldn’t have, but it was nice to have an extra weekend in Paris) would have cost probably 500 euros.

    I just put up a blog post with information about where we were planning to be and when and encouraging people to get in touch if they were interested in meeting. I didn’t explicitly ask anyone to put me up, and just to be safe I was careful to correspond a bit and get a feel for my new friend in Paris before staying overnight at his apartment, but in addition to the occasional accommodations these new friends provided a ride from the Berlin train station to the apartment we’d rented there, a walking tour of Montmartre, a walking tour AND a ride in a Porsche around Wengen, and the opportunity to join a group of co-workers for a few after-work pints at a London pub.

    In addition to blogging, I imagine that being a known entity on an internet forum or other online community, especially one dedicated to a hobby, would provide the means to get to know people in other countries even before you travel there.

  16. kle says:

    Great post as usual! i just started my trip (1month) and i’ve already learnt a few lessons on the road! :) The first few weeks we met some great people to hang out with and we were swept away by the enthusiasm and spent more than our fixed budget, so we decided to stick to one place for longer, reducing the travel costs and just enjoying walking around, taking pictures and so on. This way, at the end of the month i was really surprised to see that i was not only within my budget but that we also spent a bit less than expected :) Regarding crashing at some friends house, well still working on it.. and working here, for now i’m a bit worried as the trip is more tiring than expected so i don’t imagine myself working right now. But maybe within a couple of months i will adjust better and find a way to put some cash in my account.
    I really love this lifestyle, is so rewarding and i think this is the way i want to live for a long time, but as you said…money is necessary, so i will try to figure something out when i need to!

  17. Sam says:

    Great advice, Earl. Travelling slow and having no regular monthly costs are for me, the biggest factors, and unfortunately, Zab and I have gone aaginst both of those pieces of advice in the last two months! It’s all about learning, though. I wouldn’t say I’m a newbie traveller, but it’s still easy to make mistakes like this. We’ll be working on changing this going forward, rather than regretting what’s already been.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Sam – It’s definitely not easy and it takes some practice. Luckily, the more determined you are to reach such a goal, the higher the chances that you will make it eventually. You’ll find your groove!

  18. Austin says:

    No Doubt!
    I’ve always thought about how great it would be to get rid of all these stupid bills and live frugaly enough to actually live.

    Great Article!
    Thank you!

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  20. Paul says:

    Great post as always Earl. The funny thing is, that a good chunk of these tips could be used by anyone in their day-to-day lives in order to get their finances in order.

    I must say that bit about people contacting you to tell you that you’re “cheating” by staying at friends houses really irked me. Since when were there rules, and who are they to pass judgment? Frustrating.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Paul – It is a bit frustrating but hey, what can we do! We know how it is as travelers and that is all that matters. And you’re right, such tips can be useful no matter what kind of lifestyle a person is living. Good point there for sure.

  21. Cherina says:

    How can anyone say that staying with friends is cheating! It’s such a lovely thing to meet up again with friends you’ve met on your travels. I love having international friends come to stay with me in Australia and it is such a nice break to stay in a home when you’ve been travelling for a while. You are SO not cheating, Earl ;)

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Cherina – The people seem to think its cheating because staying with friends means that I am not always paying for accommodation, so I don’t need as much money to travel as other people who don’t have friends around the world. At least that’s what I gather from the emails. I’m the same as you of course… having international friends is a top highlight of travel!

  22. Vlad says:

    I read all the comments and it’s looks to me that most of the people here have no idea about the world they live, not only about travelling. Guys from west world now you can be very/very happy, most of the world is made of poor countries and you’ll be ‘king’ in most of them if you come from America or anywhere from western world. Just read this and think about:

    Poverty Facts and Stats:
    1. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
    2. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day

    At a short google research i found this web site:
    http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

    This not mean that you have to live with less than 2.5 or 10 dollars per day but you can make an idea about the prices and how most of the population live there and of course the living cost is much less than back home for food/local transport/museums/clothes/internet/rents/education/books/documents…

    you can be even more hardcore and hitchhike long distances when possible and also the prices of vegetables and vegan products can save you a lot of money in case you are vegetarian and I think in most of the world countries people buy and cook at home/use local markets, fresh fruits and vegetables and after think about supermarket and if you are from an western country think about eating out and then local places not with ‘tourists’. About Internet there is WiFi and anyway again in most countries on this world you can get Internet for less than 15 dollars per months even with contract.
    About phone anyway you can buy a cheap Sim card in the country you are this save a lot on the phone cost and even use Skye for calls plus to have an unlock phone that works everywhere.
    I’m a native Romanian and I also travel for long time now with much more less money than you can imagine (i was born to live free not to work for some company whatsoever) because if you live most of you’re life in a not so rich western country you know the deals and can survive with less. For example my mother all her life cook at home for all our family fresh food that was bought from local market not even shop, also in our small town there where only 2 bad restaurants. This not mean that we where poor…we have what to eat and very healthy, we had a shelter, normal school, university after that and all this, water access, Internet and a small garden with some vegetables/fruits/animals…etc, etc
    So it’s a way of living if you decide to have balls and go travel, enjoy life or be part of system/family etc that say work hard to have more. If you have a car/house/bank loan & I think that even a wife and family/children if they are stuck in old way of thinking etc. etc. this own you and time from you’re life to work hard and pay bills.
    that’s just my view point…take it or leave it (traveling it’s a full time job if not than you are a tourist that visit Paris/Barcelona/London/Roma and think that he visit Europe)

  23. Linda says:

    I might be wrong here, but isn’t there a contradiction in renting “long-term” accomodation and being flexible? To obtain a decent rent here I have to agree to rent for a minimum of 3 months, so I have to pay that even if I stay only 1. That’s logical, the owner could be getting more as a vacation rental, but want the security of a long-term, so I can’t just up and go if I feel like it?

    Also – do you, literally, do all of your online work in internet cafés? or can you contracta short-term DSL connection if you take a long-term rental? I realize that might vary according to the country but interested to know what it is you do.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Linda – To me, the flexible part is being able to decide whether you want to stay in a certain destination for 1 week, 1 month or 1 year, or anything in between. Whenever I arrive somewhere, I am free to stay for any amount of time I prefer. Of course, to get a long-term rental rate you need to make some kind of commitment but if that’s what I decide to do in a random town that I suddenly arrive in, then I can do that because my overall travel plan is flexible.

      As for internet, I’ve been able to get short-term DSL connections and many of the places I’ve rented have wifi included in the monthly rent as well. I’ve never run into any problems with internet for short-term rentals so far.

  24. Dean says:

    Great tips, Earl! Getting rid of monthly/regular payments is definitely an important one.

  25. Hi Earl!

    Great post. We saved money by doing long term volunteering. It was free to volunteer and in exchange for 20 hours work a week we got free food and accommodation. We also got to live like a local which was fantastic.

    We enjoyed it so much in fact we set up our own website offering the same thing!

    Take care,

    Paul

  26. These are great tips. Having no set plans is definitely the best way to travel! I have to admit, I’m not too sure about renting a place out for 3-6 months though. It may be cheaper, but that goes entirely against having no set plans, if you have to sign a lease! Anyway, I agree with the rest of your plan. :)

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey T.J & Charlotte – It doesn’t actually go against that because my idea is that my overall travels are completely flexible. As a result, I am free to decide whether I want to stay in any location for a day, a month, three months or three years if I really want. I wouldn’t have that freedom if I already knew how long I was going to stay in each place before I arrived.

  27. Andy says:

    Slowing down is THE best way to save money on your travels. It’s the fundamental factor for saving money from which all other money saving options come into place: food, lodging, work opportunities…

    Nothing eats up a budget faster than jumping around like a maniac. It’s also pretty exhausting. And you just can’t get to really know a place unless you spend considerable time there.

    An interesting option is “hub travel” – pick a place where you stay long term (your hub) and then do short exploration trips around the area. Then move to the next hub.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Andy – I’ve been doing some ‘hub travel’ lately myself. That’s exactly what I was doing while living in Bucharest most of last year and it was fantastic.

  28. Andy says:

    Cooking your own food is usually cheaper than eating out. But not always! In developing countries, simple but good meals at cheap restaurants can often be had for $2-5 per person (make sure the place is clean and has clients). This is ends up being much cheaper than raiding the local supermarkets, where many items often cost as much as in any developing country. It’s the basic stuff like bread, meat and vegetables that’s cheap, but not processed or imported foods.

    If you’re staying long term and have your own pad, cooking at home can save you money. If you’re traveling around, it’s always better to eat at cheap (but safe) places.

    Sometimes you can strike up deals with locals who will prepare you regular meals for a fraction of the cost that you would spend even when doing it yourself. They now the local markets and secrets. They now the tasty regional recipes. They’d welcome some easy extra money on the side and you don’t have to waste time in the kitchen!

  29. Ajay says:

    Hi Earl,

    There is a Hindi idiom for “cheapskating” which in English can be translated as ” to hold every penny with teeth.” It can also be the caption to your picture above. You sound to be a traveling hermit when you say, ” I don’t own a home, I don’t have a car, I don’t pay for utilities each month….”

    A prominent Indian lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi’s, famous lines are:

    “Cheeno Arab hamara, Hindustaan hamara, rehne ko ghar nahi hai, saara jahaan hamara.”
    It means, China and Arab is ours,… India is ours…we don’t have a home..the whole world is ours.”

    Hope..one day I would see you being interviewed on Discovery Travel & Living channel!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Ajay – Thank you for sharing those great words and perhaps we shall meet the next time I’m in India later this year!

  30. George says:

    Brilliant post this is all the tips I follow. Also if I have got a limited time frame, I try to stay with host families and help out around the home in exchange for food and accommodation. It’s wonderful meeting locals and I save a TONNE!

  31. Jenny says:

    Must be kinda tough finding lasting relationships though with boyfriend/girlfriend etc you really like in whatever country you met them?

    By doing world travel here one month or a few etc then back travelling and unless you find someone who also is able to come with you….
    Jenny

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Jenny – Not really because if I find someone that I really like, then there’s nothing stopping me from staying in that place or going with my girlfriend back to her country. Everything is flexible and I would certainly want to accommodate a relationship into my life that I thought was definitely worth it!

  32. Steve C says:

    My experience in finding a place to stay that won’t break the bank is usually word of mouth from other travelers. Usually, if a hotel or hostel is on the internet advertising their place to stay showing their rates, it’s too expensive for me. I like staying in the little, sometimes new places that don’t have a website. Sometimes it’s just a room in someones house that was offered to you from a tout at the train station when you arrive with absolutely no plans.

    I always try to plan ahead, to arrive in a new place early in the day, allowing me to leave my pack in a locker at the train/bus station to go out and find a place. I hate traipsing all over the place lugging my pack along, especially after dark. If there’s two of you, one can go out looking while the other stays with the packs in a cafe.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Steve – That will surely save you some money and in many places, all you have to do is tell someone your budget (tourism office at the train station, a tout, etc.) and they will find you a place that matches it.

  33. Ha ha, calling you a fraud is ridiculous! Part of being a nomad is crashing with awesome friends in my opinion! When I have a place it’s always open to my pals and I encourage them visiting…. That extends itself back and is a huge money saver for travel.

    I also save a lot by buying food from supermarkets. A can of chickpeas can easily be smashed into some basic hummous and day old bread can be picked up from a bakery to give you an easy lunch for a few days.

  34. You certainly are NOT cheating by staying with friends – as you say, it’s a fact of travel! And it’s worth noting that staying with friends isn’t entirely free either – giving a host gift is in order, along with contribution to daily expenses and errands wherever you can.

    I’ve also gotten oodles of free accommodation by volunteering, house-sitting, pet-sitting, and other such gigs. It has helped with the slower travel, and (for me) deepening my travel and cultural experience.

    My best year for accommodation was 2011 – when I paid a whopping total of $173…for the year. The rest of the time I volunteered or stayed with friends.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Nora – That’s impressive and great proof that you could spend such a ridiculously low amount of money on accommodation if you really take advantage of all the opportunities out there. $173 is nothing!

  35. Troy says:

    Its a GREAT thing to have freinds you can visit with on your travels. Our biggest expense is tickets since our main vaction is the Philippines since my wife is filipino. Hotels are very expensive in some places such as Japan and Korea. I really enjoy your website and wish I had started traveling at an eariler age.

  36. Christine says:

    Do you know of any places to rent for a month or so in Playa Del Carmen that has a pool ?(does not have to be a large pool) just something to cool off in.Say sometime around,May or so!!
    Also not to far from Fifth Ave. for my hubby and myself.Any suggestions would appreciated. :) Thank-you and have a great day.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Christine – Feel free to send me an email and I can provide you the details of a friend of mine in Playa who helps foreigners find apartments at good rates.

  37. Kendal says:

    Good stuff. :-) I’m in the learning process. Right now trying to get rid of anything that might cause a problem (my place in LA, things in storage, my French cell phone contract) and learning the benefits of renting month-to-month.
    What kind of jobs do you get while traveling to replenish your savings? And is it more difficult if you don’t speak the local language?

  38. Maria says:

    Cheating? Hrmmm… I don’t know about you, but when I stay with friends or family abroad I usually bring a gift (chili powder for my friend in Barcelona, books for friends in England, etc…) and split food costs as much as they’ll allow/accept so that’s not truly “free.”

    Interested to know more about your US cell provider.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Maria – I just used T-Mobile’s Pay as You Go Plan. Whenever I’m heading back to the US I just hop online, put $60 USD in my T-Mobile account and then as soon as I arrive back in the country, my account is reactivated and I have 30 days of unlimited call, text and data. Then, if I don’t add money for the next month, I won’t have service but I don’t have to pay and they keep my number and account active. It’s perfect for a traveler like me and for anyone else really.

  39. Priscilla says:

    Hi Earl,

    I don’t see that as cheating at all. I do have a question for you. Are you saving for retirement or just not letting your bank balance go below a certain level? Do you invest or do you just hope that it will all work out in the end? I would be nervous that social security will not be there for you in the end and your reported income must be pretty low to begin with so the SS benefits might be shockingly low. If I sound like a parent, well I am one so I can’t help it. I grew up with a saving mentality and can’t shake it. No matter my bank balance I always plan for the worst case scenario.

    Thanks for writing about an interesting topic…

    Safe travels,
    Priscilla

  40. Leo says:

    Staying with friends saved me heaps when travelling, just remember to buy your host duty free cigarettes or alcohol as a gift, as some countries have huge taxes on these items, especially UK and Australia.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Leo – Bringing gifts is always a good idea or if not, you can always offer to cook a few meals here and there. Lots of options.

  41. Luisa says:

    I don’t get those people who accuse you of “cheating”. Cheating what exactly?! This is not a game, there aren’t any rules people! Everyone travels the way they want and the way they can. How is that fraud?!

  42. I’ll second the slow-travel! That’s how I cut everything down to a max of $650-$800 a month for the past 6 years!

    The “no set plans” thing is really hard for many Westerners to get accustomed to, but once you learn to throw away your watch and just take things as they come…most people find that life leads to numerous unexpected places :)

    Great post, Earl!

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