Zebra at Thornybush

How Can We Help You Travel?

Derek Personal Stuff, Perspectives, Travel Tips & Advice 138 Comments

Zebra at Thornybush
As I alternate this morning between packing my backpack and standing on the balcony of my room in the South African wilderness, where I have a clear view of some zebras and wildebeests wandering around the river bed, I am left speechless.

I am speechless, not because of the animals, but because of the fact that I have now traveled to South Africa, not once, but twice in my life at this point. I am also speechless at the fact that before South Africa, I was in India for three months, and that prior to India, I had spent time in Romania, Finland, Estonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey and many other destinations just within this past year.

Actually, I am speechless whenever I think back to any of the destinations I’ve visited, to any of my travels over the past 13 years. As a result, I am constantly wondering: “How on earth did I arrive in Southeast Asia back in 1999 with only $1500 to my name and somehow manage to create this lifestyle that allows me to continue traveling?”

It seems a little ‘too good to be true’, yes, even to myself at times. In fact, if I were to read about another person who claims to have done the exact same thing, I would be quite suspicious, and highly doubtful that such a life would be possible for me as well. And given this truth, I can completely understand if you feel the same way whenever you read about my story or listen to my claims of ‘anything is possible’ or that ‘there is very little stopping you from a life of travel too’.

After all, maybe I’m lying about how I began. Maybe I was really born into extreme wealth. Perhaps I don’t actually travel as much as I say I do. I could be making this all up.

While I can tell you that absolutely none of the above is true at all, why should you believe me? Why should you trust my words whenever I state, as I do often, that “if I can make this lifestyle happen, anyone can make this lifestyle happen”?

Here’s why…

The reason I ask you to trust me and to believe so deeply in yourself and in your own ability to achieve your travel goals no matter what your current situation, actually has very little to do with my own story. The real reason I am so confident that anyone can travel is because of YOU.

It is the emails you send me, the comments you leave, the tales you tell and the sheer excitement in your ‘voice’ that gives me such confidence. So many of you have written to tell me that you have suddenly found the confidence to book a flight to some faraway destination or that you have landed a job teaching English overseas or on board a cruise ship. Some of you have sold everything at home in order to finally take that round-the-world trip you’ve been dreaming of for years, while others finally convinced themselves to start traveling on their own since none of their friends were interested in joining them. And the number of people who are taking off to travel soon after discovering websites such as Helpx.net or Workaway.com or finding out about working holiday visas or simply learning that travel doesn’t have to be nearly as expensive as it seems, continues to grow at a very rapid pace according to my inbox.

And I can’t even explain how thrilled I am whenever I hear that yet another one of you has built up the cajones to take the leap and start traveling in some shape or form, to enter the unknown with such confidence that no obstacle could possibly stand in your way for long. I’ve read your stories, I’ve seen your photos and have been impressed with all of your journeys, journeys that convince me over and over again that everything I claim on this site is indeed full of truth.

Whether your adventure has lasted for one or three months, six months or one year, or in some cases, indefinitely just like my own, the point is that many of you have achieved your travel goals despite having once thought that it would be impossible to do so.

Have there been challenges along the way? Sure there have and some of you have written to tell me about them. However, you’ve all kept moving forward and in the end, not one of you has written to tell me that things went terribly wrong or that you regret having made the decision to travel. Instead, the number of emails I receive from those who are ecstatic about their adventures and who wish they had started traveling earlier now that they understand how possible it all is, grows by the day!

Again, don’t take my word for it or trust in my story alone. Find your inspiration in the fact that one after one, many of your fellow readers of this blog have turned the impossible into pure reality themselves. And if they can make it happen, each with their own unique background, then no excuse is strong enough to convince me that the same isn’t possible for you as well.

Let’s try this. It’s an idea that just came to me…

If you have any questions at all about travel or about something that seems to be holding you back from taking that first step, please let us know in the comments below. Feel free to ask about anything you want and remember, we all had to ask questions before we started, so every question is a good one!

If you have already gone out there into the world and achieved your own travel goals, I now invite you to tell your own story or to offer your own insight below, either as a comment or a response to any questions that are asked. Through your own experiences and mine, we can help ensure that every concern is addressed, every doubt squashed, every fear conquered and ultimately, that everyone’s travel dreams are fulfilled.

So, how can we help you achieve your travel goals? What is needed to convince you that you can explore this world of ours?


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Comments 138

  1. Hello Earl
    I am 18 years old, graduating high school this weekend.
    My plans are to go move in with my grandparents in Ecuador (They have just moved and bought a house near Montanita) I am selling all of my stuff and working as hard as i can. My dad doesnt believe in my dreams and wants me to go to college right away, however im just not into the conventional lifestyle right now. I cant fight the travel bug that bit me when i was younger. I am the most excited i have ever been, especially since i have been offered an opportunity to work on the Galapagos islands through helpx in October. I plan on starting a blog before i leave and i was wondering if you have any words of encouragement!

  2. hey,
    im 27 years old and i love to travel i have spent my life growing up traveling to different places within the U.S. i have also been to Egypt. I love to teach and travel i would like to know some of the first steps to take in order to start taking and planning trips to different places for groups? id also like to ask do you take tours to places you have never been before or do you first visit the place before traveling there. lastly what are some tips to marketing the tours. thanks

  3. hey, Earl.

    I just found out about this lifestyle and am extremely excited to do it. i know i will! im 20 years old and am finishing up with college(mechanic school) this year. sadly , i haven’t got a penny saved up yet.so i just wanted to know how much i would need for a start?(i live in uganda) also, after my first trip will i have to return or would it be possible to make money along the way for another trip right after?

    1. Hey Brian – It’s hard to say how much you would need as it depends on where you want to go, what your travel style would be, how fast you travel and on and on…there are too many factors involved for me to know how much money you would need to make it happen!

  4. Greetings Earl!

    I’ve been reading your posts for a year now and it’s one of the reason why I wanted to travel and of course explore the world out there.
    I’m now accepted for a month long training for ESL in Europe and been preparing for 6 months but I have concerns in applying for my VISA in France since I’m applying here in Asia, the agency here told me to apply for a short-term visa instead of a tourist visa. Is it necessary to apply for a student visa even though it’s just a month and it’s not really a school it’s a training center only to get my language certificate?
    Hope you can help or give me any suggestions cause I’ve been spending already thru this process. If you can please do contact me also thru my email address.
    I would greatly appreciate everything.


    1. Hey Trisha – To be honest, I don’t know much about France’s visa rules so I can’t really offer any assistance with that unfortunately. Sorry about that!

  5. Hi Earl,
    I just bought a ticket to go to England with very little planning. I have some questions:
    Regarding a visa:
    What kind of visa should I get if I want to work or volunteer in country? I’m confused by their 5th-tier youth mobility scheme, perhaps you are familiar with it?
    If I get a 2-year visa and want to stay longer or go to other countries, can I do that? How?

    Regarding work:
    Do you have any suggestions for a young woman in terms of good places to look for work or volunteer gigs? I am currently perusing the helpx website which so far has been great, I just want to widen my search. I want to be around other 20- somethings, doing something preferably lively. Thoughts?

    Thank you for making this site, and for any help you can provide. You are truly an inspiration.



  6. Hello Earl, my name is Muhammed Abdul-Ghaffar and I’m currently a 17-year-old getting ready for my senior year of high school (dancing up and down). Over the past couple of years I’ve been putting A LOT of thought into what I’m going to do with my future, like for life. In society, in school, we are told to go to college and graduate and land a job, such a crummy standard. I love learning, I’m an artist, so I can’t stop learning. One of my main goals in life is to travel extensively, and I have my reasons for that as well. As I observe what’s around me, I notice a very flawed education system (USA), almost every college graduate I see has college debt stepping on their neck, and law school graduates working at Mcdonald’s and Wal-Mart, it doesn’t make any sense. So, I’ve decided that I want to travel, and I wanted to ask YOU WHAT WOULD BE A GREAT WAY TO PREPARE AND START OFF. Secondly, HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO JAPAN?

    1. Hey Muhammed – Thanks for the comment and to be honest, that’s exactly what this site is all about. You’ll find many posts here that will help you figure out how you can prepare for traveling and how you can get started. You might want to have a look at my Getting Started page as you’ll find some of the most popular/useful posts right there!


      As for Japan, unfortunately, I haven’t been there yet. Hopefully soon though!

  7. Hi

    I am 23 years old, just finished my Bachelor, and both my parents have travelled a lot (my mum living the crazy backpacker dream and my dad travelling for his job), so in a way I am probably more used to the concept than most. However, both my parents had money gallore when they did their travelling. I don’t. I have a fair bit saved up to get me the first flight out to India, but I am considering moving further through Asia “while I’m at it”. I’m sure the thing with accommodation and food sorts itself out once I’m there, but I am nervous about the real big expense: Flights. Does anyone have experience on how to get good deals for flights when you’re flexible in dates, or are there good alternative, maybe even more environment friendly ways, to travel from country to country? What’s the best way to go about a round trip that could turn into pretty much anything at this point, and does anybody have any suggestions on hidden gems that I should definitely visit?

  8. I am a 26 year old graduate student currently in my last semester of graduate school. By the end of this May, if everything goes as planned, I hope to have my masters in conservation biology. I never meant to go beyond a bachelors, but it sort of fell into my lap and I couldn’t turn the opportunity down. While I still have my love of biology, I have unfortunately become somewhat burned out over so many years of education.

    At the moment I don’t have a huge desire to try jumping into some career. I want to travel, do whatever, work whatever jobs, see the world and accumulate some experiences. This may seem odd, to not even want to use some degree I’ve worked so hard for. Or maybe this is my way of subconsciously avoiding the real world for awhile longer. Either way, I have some concerns…some reservations, the only things stopping me from picking up and taking off (I am already an avid backpacker, so I’m not as ill equipped as some probably).

    My concerns are about my responsibilities, mostly financial ones. They actually are what prompted a Google search and how I stumbled upon this website. I have student loan debt, on top of things like vehicle payments, insurance, etc. I’m afraid of traveling and not having or finding a way of making income. I don’t think I can just run out on my debt responsibilities. Do you, or anyone who may be in a similar position, have any advice? Can I travel, see the world, have great life experiences while staying financially responsible to my past?

    Thank you for this blog and the information and experiences you have shared here. I haven’t read through all of it…or even most, but I plan to learn as much as I can.

    1. Hey Dusty – Thanks for sharing your story and welcome to the site. First, to answer your question, yes, you can travel and get rid of your debt but of course that does require an income of some sorts. However, there are endless opportunities out there to earn decent money, pay your debts and travel at the same time. Working on cruise ships and teaching English in some countries are just two of many such options. It takes some planning but I think you’ll soon discover that creativity and determination are the biggest factors when it comes to succeeding in earning such an income.

      You might want to also check out the blog Manvsdebt.com which has some useful information and advice on the matter as well.

  9. Your story shows that sometimes even when we settle, life still happens… I’m sorry about your loss.

    Everything is a “risk”; settling, wandering off, or not taking risks at all… Sometimes we just have to know we are not in control of everything. But we can put ourselves out in the open and always hope for the best!

    I’m also getting out of my job and 15 years of building the “american dream” (“crap”) to wander off… I’m scared a bit but I know that nothing will be as bad as feeling stuck in a society and mentality that does not fit with my line of thinking anymore.
    Is hard explaining this to some friends and family because they’re still too caught up on their ideal of living. But maybe we could show them that “crazy” is not taking risks!

    Wish you and all the wanderers out there the best!

  10. Well here I am reading everything on your website. I stumbled on it, probably like most, while looking for long term rentals in Playa del Carmen or Cozumel or Isla Mujeres or wherever. I am 53 years old and recently widowed. I have done a fair bit of traveling (more than most but not nearly as much as I’d like) and am about to sell off everything I own and take off! My husband died suddenly of a heart attack 3 days after his 50th birthday just last month. I have 3 daughters grown and on their own and for the first time in my life I have no one to take care of or be responsible for but myself. I laid in bed every night for first few weeks crying and wondering what I would do with the “rest” of my life. Then suddenly it dawned on me that I can DO whatever I want! That’s when it hit me. I decided to sell my house and all my worldly possessions (crap) and just go. I decided to start with the Yucatan because I am familiar with it. I have been traveling there since the mid-80’s. I don’t know how long I will stay there and have not made any plans beyond that. I am a little nervous, but know that once I get there it will be like arriving back home only this time I don’t have to leave in a week or two or three. My parents think I have lost my mind but my friends and my kids are cheering me on. I just gave 30 days notice at work today. I’m so glad I found your site as it is ramping up the excitement of actually doing this! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  11. Hey Talon, Earl and everyone else!

    I just discovered this blog yesterday, and I’m already addicted to it!! It’s hugely inspiring, and is helping me a lot not only to take a decision and go traveling for some time, but also as a whole “way of life” new thinking and attitude.

    It’s taken me less than 24h to write my first comment, so I guess I will be doing more, but just wanted to congratulate Talon, and also ask him, as Emmanuel did, how did you manage to make it in the beginning?? It’s really impressive!

    Hi again everybody!

  12. Although I started reading when I was already traveling I can’t downplay how important you and other bloggers have been in feeding and growing my thirst for continued travel.

    You are a model example of how a seasoned traveler can help encourage more and more to climb out of their comfort zone.

  13. Another great post, Earl. Thanks. We’re in our fifties and have been travelling for years now but only for 3 to 4 weeks at a time. We are just about to embark on a year long rtw journey and I’m nervous and excited. One way tickets to Cairo, our starting point, have been bought and 4 nights reserved at a hostel. That’s it for advance reservations! We’ve mapped out our itinerary following the good weather. I figure if not now, then when? My goals are to experience new cultures, meet new people, try new food, and learn Spanish. We have about 12-14 countries on our list, wanting to stay 3 months in South American practicing my newly learned language. I haven’t done all my research yet, but it seems like China is the most difficult country to get a visa for. Luckily, we have a friend whose mother is willing to sponsor us so we won’t need to have an onward ticket when we apply for the visa before we leave the US. Do you need to show proof of vaccinations when entering countries? I worry that we will be out of place in hostels due to our age. What do you think?

    1. Hey Cindy – Your trip sounds so wonderful and I certainly wish you nothing but rewarding adventures ahead! As for vaccinations, the only parts of the world that require proof are some countries in Africa and a couple in South America I believe…the proof needed is that you have had Yellow Fever vaccinations. As for hostels, while the average age is on the younger side, you won’t feel out of place, both because there are people of all ages staying in hostels and because the traveling community tends to be very friendly and open to meeting all kinds of travelers. Definitely nothing to worry about.

      Do keep us updated with your trip and enjoy your first stop in Cairo!!

  14. Earl mate, firstly great blog this one, I really love it.
    Right from the first paragraph it felt as though you took the words right out of my mouth. I am nowhere near as well traveled as you, but I too often find myself in the same situation, looking back to the past year and further back. Remembering the places I have visited, what I have seen, done and the amazing people I have met along the way. This is what keeps me traveling and it brings a smile to my face to see that you feel the same way and it’s not just me. I so only hope everybody gets to feel this way at least once in their life, even if they are looking back and smiling about a weekend trip away.
    Here I find myself in Egypt, being a rookie to blogging but started for that exact reason, to show people how easy and possible travel can be. I now realize there is potential to make money from it and I won’t lie that is another reason to blog. Back when I started to travel I told my family and friends that I wouldn’t blog as I didn’t feel comfortable with strangers reading about my life, but now I realize it’s for the greater good and should have started earlier, but as they say, better late than never.
    I also thought, maybe I shouldn’t blog as it will ruin the sense of travel and why I do it. I wouldn’t want to travel just so I could blog about it (that would suck!), but it’s had the opposite effect. I now am getting even more excited to continue on traveling, I love reading other peoples blogs, sharing my stories tips and advice. I get a thrill looking through old photos and writing old stories it feels as though I re-live those moments.

    I just want to thank you; your blogs are truly inspiring and mentoring. I hope to be as successful as you one day. I see you’re in Mexico, certainly my favourite country for the food and waves (surfing). You have just about done them all, what’s yours and why?
    Everybody get out there and see this amazing world, it’s not as hard as you may think. Earl’s blog is inspiring and will show you how.

    1. Hey Jaryd – Thanks for such a nice comment and I certainly wish you the best with your own adventures, both travel and blogging! As for blogging, it’s all about finding a balance as you certainly don’t want it to take over your travels but at the same time, if you want to build it into something that earns some money, you need to spend a decent amount of time working on it. As for my favorite country…it’s India, simply because I haven’t found anywhere else on the planet that forces me to see, hear, taste, smell things every single day that I’ve never before experienced in my entire life.

    1. Hey Amarjit – The visa requirements are different for everyone, as it depends on your nationality. You would have to check the website for the Spanish Embassy in your own country to find out the specific rules for you.

  15. I would like to know if you speak other languages and if it is necessary to speak other languages to teach english in other countries?

    1. Hey Nolan – It is not necessary to speak other languages in order to teach English as you will almost always be teaching people who already have some knowledge of English. Also, most language schools require all students and teachers to speak English at all times in the school because this helps the students learn more quickly!

  16. Who said your lying about your story? Here is one live example of someone who got inspired to go traveling on their own! And this has resulted from a one time trip to getting bitten by the so called travel bug and having a dream of traveling the world!

    While I still didn’t exactly make this dream come true, I have been working on it, and bugging you with questions every once in a while. I started the blog and started generating some money out of it, although it is not enough at all to keep me alive even back home 😀 but it is just one step! I did travel again, and will travel again once I save up again…

    What I really want to say is that it is so hard to travel for some people, depending on where you are from, your kind of passport, how much money you make and can save…etc But then again it is all about priorities, and settling for the type of travel that you can make/afford!

    1. Hey Mina – I definitely understand that it is much harder for some to find a way to travel, that is an unfortunate fact these days. However, I am certain that I will meet you out there on the road at some point so keep working at it and keep sending me those questions!

  17. Some basic questions: When did you travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan? and did you feel safe? For traveling and funds, I know you have worked on ships and what not but while you were in certain countries where you were not working what was your fund and living situation? Was this blog/site your only mean of work for a majority of time? Did you coach surf or just hostels? How easy is it to find contracted jobs on ships or club ‘Med’ is clubs or even other jobs in different countries? and Last but not least for sure any tips on visa’s for working or just extended stays in different countries would be awesome! I graduate this May from college and plan on traveling for a minimum of 6 months.


    1. Hey Joshua – I traveled to Iraq in 2010, Pakistan/Afghanistan in 2006. As for feeling safe, in Iraq, 100% because I was mostly in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is a very safe region. For Pakistan, I also felt extremely safe wherever I went and even though Afghanistan felt a bit more ‘dangerous’, I never faced any direct threats anywhere.

      As for your other questions, just have a read of these posts/pages for more detailed answers:

      How I Can Afford My Life of Travel
      How I Can Still Afford My Life of Travel
      Getting Started
      Work on Cruise Ships

      Over the years I’ve stayed in a combination of hostels, guesthouses, budget hotels and have done some limited couchsurfing as well. Finding jobs on board cruise ships all depends on your education/experience but if you read the page I linked to above, you’ll find out everything you need to know.

      As for visas, it all depends on the country and what you’re trying to accomplish. Every country has their own rules and those rules are often different depending on the nationality of the traveler. But one thing that many people don’t realize is that you can apply for a Working Holiday Visa for Australia or New Zealand, which is a great option to head over there and work for a year!

  18. Hey Earl

    I have a question for you or your readers. I am leaving on my big trip early next year and I was wondering about the proof of onward travel issue. Some countries ask for proof of onwards travel and as I want to leave my itinerary pretty flexible as I might not know where I am going next. Are there any tips or tricks to get around this?


  19. I have to say that I hope that I one day will find myself speechless on a balcony in South Africa. I’ve done quite a few trips, but I’m still preparing for my big breakaway from normal life. I will leave Sweden this fall after quitting my job and get rid of all my things. Thank you for keeping me occupied with reading and giving good ideas and tips while I prepare for my dream.

  20. Hi Earl!

    I just discovered your site and am so excited! I haven’t read through all the comments on this so apologies if my question has already been answered. My travel dream is to spend at least 2-3 months backpacking Europe. I have enough money saved up to be able to do this, and I can also easily find the time if I need to. My problem is that I can’t travel alone. I know that it can be done, and I know many people swear by it and absolutely love it, but I just wouldn’t be comfortable traveling alone. I also don’t want to put my poor parents through that; they’re going to have a hard enough time letting me backpack for that long!:P

    So my question is this: how and where can I find someone to do this with? I have a friend who is very interested but everything is up in the air with her and our schedules seem to be conflicting. I really, really, REALLY want and need to do this, and from what I’ve read of your blog so far, you seem to really good at overcoming travel obstacles. 🙂 I’d really appreciate any advice you can give me on this.

    Thanks, and I’m really looking forward to reading more of your posts as you continue your amazing journey!


    1. Hey Fatima – Welcome to the site! As for your question, that’s a tough one. In the end, I wouldn’t recommend just finding a stranger online for you to travel with as you won’t know anything about that person and it might not be a good match for you at all. It would of course be better if it was a friend or someone that you at least knew a little about beforehand.

      But if it were me, I would just fly to my first destination and go from there. The chances of you not meeting people at the first hostel you stay at, is very slim and especially in a popular region such as Europe, you’ll be meeting other travelers all of the time. Sometimes you’ll spend a day with them, sometimes you’ll travel with new friends for a week, or more. That’s definitely the best option because again, it’s not worth finding a stranger to travel with because that could end up not going well at all.

  21. Travel is my passion and my dream. I first time I took a trip abroad I knew backpacking would be a huge part of my life forever. That was years ago and I’ve traveled ever year since. After coming home the last time I knew I had find a way to make full-time travel my life. So I started a blog and started saving. Fast forward 18 months and I’ve saved enough for a RTW, started an up n’ coming travel blog, and have been approved for a year work and holiday visa. This is my success story. If travel is your dream with hard work, will power, and passion you can make your dream you reality.

    1. Hey Stephen – And a success story it most definitely is! It’s another example of the opportunities that exist out there and how some hard work and persistence can lead you to your goals. I’ll look forward to hearing more about your upcoming travels!

  22. Hey Earl, hearing your stories about South Africa is quite wonderful. I’m currently in Gaborone, Botswana myself for a semester abroad and loving it!! I cannot wait to spend some time in South Africa getting to see all the beauty it has to offer. There is no need to question your blog as the sincerity of a traveller seeps through it. I love hearing about all of your adventures and following them as I begin mine. You’ve inspired me to write and hope that I can make something of travelling for myself. Thanks for all the posts!

  23. Hi Earl, I thought that was a very inspiring blog post. I definitely am going to be looking into a lot of these options. I have recently been to a private game reserve called Gondwana. I was wanting to know if you have been there before?

  24. Hey Earl and all supertraveler fellows 🙂

    Earl did not inspired me at all. He took my life, shaked it and told me to “haloo?? anyone thereee? waaakee uppp!”.

    I started to read his blog and then i thought, yea whatever, he’s just writing it and it’s not possible… but he really touched my soul inside and gave me a “what if..” hope. then i started to track him and many other great travel bloggers like hobotraveler andy, gary arndt, wandering dave and many others… then i saw, what the hell?? is this really happening?

    then i came back to Earl’s blog and started to hate him..watching him waking up in a bungalow nearby a sea,reading his blog about thinking nothing, knowing that he’s not working in a office to make zillions for a company while earning some money to survive and be grateful for that.

    and yes…
    talked with my manager and told him that i’m quitting my job next month. 🙂
    I’m joining you guys!!! finally!!!

    I’m scared to death and also i feel nothing inside right now. Because I’ll be working 2 months from now on(1 more month for company policy). The thing that scares me the most right now is, as usual, money…

    Since i was dreaming about this, i invested all my money on real estate. Now i have monthly 650$ regular income from houses. Next year, my last house will be completed and in total i’ll have around 1000$ rent income per month. I’m not sure if this is going to be enough. I’m not a luxury guy at all, i need neat life conditions. A decent place in a friendly place with a hot water bathroom and internet for my blog. Nothing much more than this. For the first year, i’m planning to go SE Asia, hopefully 650$ will be enough.

    @Earl ;
    You are coming to Istanbul and We’ll see each other in April don’t forget! 🙂
    Thank you in advance for…everything..really.

    and you all guys, i really hope to meet with you on the road! 🙂

    1. Hey Gokhan – Wow is all I can say! That’s quite a change and I can feel the excitement in what you wrote. You should be scared, that’s a good thing and that will force to be creative and to really work hard to achieve your goals. As for your income, $1000 per month will go a long way in many parts of the world and I would head somewhere such as SE Asia where you can live well for that amount and work on your new projects (blog). This will ensure you don’t start losing money and will give you time to hopefully create more income.

      I’m looking forward to meeting you in April!!

  25. Hey Earl, great article! I haven’t talked with you in a while and since your site was a big inspiration to us I thought I’d update you on some of the great things happening with our move to Playa del Carmen. Both Deidre and I are now working full time for our web design company Greater Good Solutions, we have rented an apartment (in Margaritas II of all places!), got our Residencias Temporal Visas yesterday, have a new blog documenting our experiences and providing detailed information on how we were able to make our move and we are finally hitting the road to Playa on February 25th! Thanks for all of your help and we look forward to meeting up with you next time you’re in the area.

  26. I’ve been very lucky. I grew up with a parent who was in a secure enough financial situation that we could travel internationally almost every year when I was a child, and by the time I was 13, I’d visited 3 continents. I also had a good education and managed to completely avoid debt. So for me, it wasn’t hard at all to leave my home country 3 years ago to wander around Europe teaching English and travel further afield with the money I saved.

    For Zab, my partner, it’s been quite different. He grew up with a single parent and 4 siblings (also had a very good education), and later bought a house and got in to some debt because doing unexpected renovations on it. While he’s now paid off all that debt, we began our travels together in South America just under a month ago with much less money between us than we had expected or would have liked (less than half).

    Nonetheless, we have no return flight, and trust that we will find and/or make opportunities to enable us to continue travelling, such as working for money (me teaching English; Zab is an accountant), working in exchange for accommodation and food (like through workaway) and couchsurfing. We also believe travelling slowly helps, as you can often get better rates by staying in one place for longer, and we spend money on transport less often.

  27. Mzuri,
    Thank you for your advices, especially for the last one. The way you stated it helps me to understand that I have to be focused on my goals no matter what. As I’m on facebook most of the time, I’ll post it as my status to remember such a great piece of wise words.
    Thank you!

  28. Amazing post. It’s crazy how at the most unexpected, yet most needed times, I read something like this about traveling. My absolute greatest passion in life is traveling and exploring the world. I started my first adventure after I graduated college August 2011, when I moved to Germany to become a nanny for a German family, where I ended up staying for 15 months. I traveled around Europe as much as possible while I was there, and can honestly say I never felt more alive than I did during those moments. I moved back to the states in October to re-connect with family and save up some more money for another adventure. I was planning to have a “Spring departure” and head to SE Asia, Brazil or Australia to pursue the teaching English route. I’ve always been able to travel so freely because I have absolutely no ties – no ‘real’ bills, no student loans, I’ve completed my degree and I’ve always been single……. until now. Somehow, since I have been home I reconnected with an old family friend and someone who has always been a crush of mine, but we never pursued anything. Our friendship has turned into something much more real, and without a doubt I am falling in love…. putting me at a true crossroads right now. I have an opportunity to pursue a teaching position in THailand starting in April, but can’t seem to comprehend how I can possibly leave this man in just a few months. Unfortunately, him coming with me isn’t an option. I feel so torn between two life dreams of mine…… traveling and having a real true life love. I know the saying “if you love something, set it free and if it comes back it’s meant to be’ but being away from each other for a year and coming back hoping to find everything is still perfect seems so unrealistic at this point. Have any of you travelers and fellow wanderlusts ever experienced anything like this??? I am heartbroken and torn between two dreams…..

    1. As a wedding photographer I talk to a lot of couples and hear about the sacrifices that one or both of the people had to make to be with each other. A difficult truth in life is that we have to make decisions that require sacrifice of one thing or another. And while there are no easy answers in your situation, I might look at it like this – You said you graduated college in 2011, so presumably you’re still quite young. If you choose to travel, you still have time to fall in love again. If you choose the man, assuming he likes to travel (doesn’t sound like it would be a good match if he didn’t) you’ll have plenty of time to travel together. I’ve been with my wife for over ten years, and while we sacrificed some travel freedom early on, we’re about to spend three months in Europe. If the loves are real – you’ll find a way to make it work. Best of luck~

  29. I’ve already been to 13 countries and 2 continents and I’m still 19 and while still getting my bachelors degrees. Despite having done this, my upcoming trip this summer to Kenya (if I can raise the last $2,790 that is) does worry me. I am going through a program, so I am not worried about running out of money, getting lost, or my safety but it is a new continent and it will be the first continent that I will go to without knowing anyone there before going. (On a side note aside from Antarctica once I make my first friend in Kenya then I will finally have a friend on every continent, next step every country.) Does anyone have any tips for Kenya/Africa?

    Even with going to Kenya this summer, I am trying to save up the necessary money to go to Chile in December to visit a friend and as long as I don’t have to empty out my savings account to go to Kenya I should be fine. Although I could use some suggestions for where to find cheap flights from the midwest to Chile. I am really hoping to make my 1-2 week trip in Chile doesn’t cost too much so then a year and a half later I have enough money to go backpacking through Europe with a friend to then either stay in Europe or go home to Illinois and hop on my bike and just go somewhere. Still no idea where. I’d take suggestions for that too, if anyone has any.

  30. Hi Earl!! I’ve enjoyed reading about your adventures and I always get to thinking of when I will in your shoes as well. I’ve thought about travel my whole life and kind of felt it wasn’t feasible. I am in a current relationship of give years now and I find it extremely difficult to talk to people and of course my partner of my travel goals and dreams. I feel I’m stuck in the middle of having to choose, and I love both. The first question that comes up when I tell people of my goal of traveling or teaching abroad, they ask, “what about your partner?” I know it’s natural for people to ask these questions but I often feel like I’m being selfish and scared of making that step and leaving everything and my partner. Some people think of it as i don’t love hime enough or what not, but its all not true . Since I’ve already started taking small steps to make travel possible, it’s seems more and mores real and the reality of facing it all really scares me and makes me feel guilty for leaving. Any comments ,suggestions, thoughts that can help from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

  31. I just found your blog and LOVE it! Thank you so much for a wonderful blog! I have been able to travel and teach English and volunteer in China, Guatemala, Mexico, and this summer southern India all while in college. I believe if you truly want to do something you will do whatever it takes to make it come true. If there is a will there is a way. And it isn’t as expensive or hard as you might think. If anyone has any advice for India let me know! And check out my blog for my adventures.

  32. Earl I love your blog and so happy I came across it! It has certainly given me a lot to think about!!

    I live in the states and am a 44 yo single woman who’s children have grown and moved on. I started out on my plan to travel full time thinking I would vandwell (living in a van and traveling full time). That didn’t work out too well because my plan to make money while traveling didn’t pan out and I didn’t have a back up plan. Completely my fault and lesson learned!

    BUT that lead me to the next phase of my “traveling adventure” which was to start a house sitting company. For those of you looking for cheap places to stay while traveling there is a huge community of people out there who house sit for free in order to have a free place to stay. I however charge. My company has exploded beyond my wildest dreams and it is allowing me to travel ….. in a sense. I travel around a 4 state area……so I don’t get to travel tooooo far unfortunately. But I’m working on that.

    The next phase of my plan is to get to a point where I can take a month or 2 off here and there to travel to places I want to go. With my house sitting company I should be able to do that pretty easily. Since it is my company I can take off when I want. Plus I don’t pay rent or utilities or any of the other costs associated with living in a home of your own. AND I already downsized drastically when I moved into the van.

    So I’m half way there! I of course have a lot of the same concerns other’s have mentioned here……traveling safely as a single woman, the language barrier and of course how to sustain the traveling lifestyle. And my concerns have been lightened drastically by some of the answers given here!

    So my question at this point is what are some of the ways that people make money to sustain their travels WHILE traveling? I’m not a computer geek at all and it seems like so many people have online businesses to support them. I’m working on a blog but I’m under no illusion that it will sustain me. I like the idea of teaching English but not sure I’m really qualified for that. I don’t care if I work in a restaurant or some other establishment but worry that it will take up too much time and I won’t be able to do anything else while there.

    Thank you again for your wonderful, wonderful blog!!

    1. Hi Jena,

      Personally, I run a small business from the road (and it sounds like that’s the path you’re headed down with your housesitting business, no?). I started it about two years before I left to travel full-time and I did a little test run, running the business from Belize for a little while and then returning to my old home in Denver, to see how clients responded. It went really well, and so off I went.

      A few things I do to keep the business running smoothly from the road: make sure I pick places with WIFI (even in developing countries, wifi is getting easier and easier to find); maintain the same commitments to my clients (I still get back to their emails quickly, meet my deadlines, etc.); and travel slowly. I usually stay in one place for a month or so at a time. This not only helps me keep client commitments and still have time to see all the sights, but it also makes me feel grounded, helps me get a real sense of the local culture, and helps me make good friends along the way.

      Hope that’s helpful!

      I also think non-techy careers like life or business coaching can be effectively done remotely (as long as you are willing to juggle time zones), and, of course, there’s always English teaching, cruise ships, etc.

      Bon voyage! Good luck!

      1. Thanks Gigi 🙂

        Actually when I say that I run a house sitting company I mean that I do all the house sitting LOL…..I don’t have any employees. So me going out of the country or anywhere really would entail me just putting everything on hold for a month or however long I am gone. I might have a few emails to answer while gone if I have house sits scheduled for the time after I return!

        But I do really like what you say about traveling slow and staying places for a month or two to stay grounded. I feel that way right now with the house sitting. When I take 3 and 4 day house sits and I’m constantly rushing around from sit to sit to sit…..it is chaotic and confusing and I don’t get much other work done like my blog etc. I prefer to take house sits that are at least 2 weeks or longer so that I have the time to breathe and relax a little. So I will definitely take that approach to traveling as well.

        I would love to take a look at your blog……can you post the link?


          1. Yay! I’m so glad.

            And I see – sorry, I was thinking that you were connecting homeowners with housesitters and charging a fee! 🙂 You might be able land some paid housesitting gigs overseas too.


  33. Hay Earl
    Great post as always. Me and the wife are currently planning/saving for a round the world trip in 12 months time. We both want to teaching English/Maths when we are traveling to help with costs etc. I have a university degree and teaching experience but my wife has none of these. Are there options of teaching without a degree etc, if so could you point me in the right direction?

    Many thanks

    1. Hey Andy – There are definitely options for your wife as well. Just check out a website such as eslcafe.com and look at all the opportunities for teaching English around the world. In many places, especially in Asia, all you need is to be a native English speaker in order to land a job, and in places such as South Korea or Japan or Taiwan, you could make quite decent money as well.

  34. Re English in Europe, seriously anyone who went to school since the 1990s can speak it well. The generational difference is really noticeable. Even if you go somewhere and the people you interact with cant speak English, you’d be surprised at just how far facial and body gestures can get you. Pointing and smiling so a long way. It’s fun learning and you’ll pick up a few words very quickly.

  35. It is very inspiring to read you posts especially the current one. It is really tingling inside me to take a break and go see the world.
    But the fear of turning the whole life from the normal to the unusual seems to be a bit intimidating.
    Taking into consideration the travel blogs we see and read page after page, the question really rises , “Is this what I want ?” or “Is this what I need ?”
    When the journey starts there is no looking back, its only swimming forward through the sea of surprises and astounding spectacles that is to be seen.
    Hoping and praying for the long awaiting soul to be set free of the bounds of doubt and fear.

    Wishing our inspiration Wander Yearning Earl a great year ahead and all the coming years… Bon Voyage !

    1. Hey Nigel – Thank you for that and I certainly wish you the very same!

      As for your concern, it’s a good point to bring up as this lifestyle is not for everyone. And unless it is what you really want in life, then it doesn’t make sense to pursue it. If you can’t proceed with full speed then it certainly won’t be as fulfilling a journey.

      Thanks for being such a loyal reader Nigel!

  36. Booked a one-way ticket to Bangkok, found a job teaching in Thailand for two years seeing beautiful islands that tourists don’t know about and living in one of the cheapest towns in the world. In May, going to New Zealand for a year, working in Queenstown for the winter then seeing what happens. My confidence is so high that not having a great time, finding a job and friends isn’t even a concern. I for sure don’t have a lot of money, you just need to make it a priority. The biggest thing I’ve gotten out of all of this is 1-how easy it is to be away from ‘home'(ps-you can always go back) 2-how fun it is 3-how many life long friends you make that share your passion and 4-how addicting traveling is. Just go for it, you will be fine. Or if you are unhappy, continue to do nothing, be jealous of other people and have no stories to tell. Thanks for the great posts Earl!

    1. Hey Bert – Thanks for the great comment and I think you’ve narrowed it down quite well. For many, it is easier to do this than most people think and I like what you said about “you can always go back”. That’s the thing, you can always just turn around and fly home if things don’t work out but I wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to live the most fulfilling life possible, so even trying is well worth it in my opinion. And in the end, few people choose to go back home right away 🙂

  37. We are heading off on our own RTW six month trip this year and I am equal parts exhilarated and terrified! When I have doubts, I turn to all the travel blogs I read for reassurance.

    1. @eemusings – That’s what we’re hear for! And besides, it’s a good thing to be terrified…that’s how we learn and improve ourselves!

  38. Almost 2 years ago, I quit my job and left the States with my then 9-year-old son and only $900 in savings (after buying our $430 airplane tickets to Mexico). We’re now on our 5th continent and 14th country. I have absolutely no other financial support other than what I earn myself. If I can do it as a single parent with a kid, yep, pretty much anyone else can, too.

    1. Hey Talon – Your example is indeed one that should convince anyone else that such a lifestyle is possible! As a side note to anyone reading this…I met Talon and his son in person and they are the real deal!

    2. Amazing! From now on, whenever I hear someone whining about how their job, bank account, pets or whatever is stopping them from travelling, I’ll just use you as an example to shut them up! Also, what a great experience for your son; I’d totally want to be his friend if I was still 11 years old!

    3. You are such a brave man, Talon! that’s what I call taking a leap or, in Earl’s words, to have “cojones” to make your dreams come true 😀
      Just a few questions. With only 400 dollars in your pocket, how did you manage to live abroad during the first 6 month??? How do you earn a living now?? how do you and your son deal with the educational aspects?? I want to travel as much as possible, starting in South America (I live in Argentina), but my major concern is about money, then visa (for European and North American countries) and finally, what to do when I come back, since I’m 29 and chances of getting a job in my country aren’t as good as I’d wish, even for young people or young adults with a bachelor degree.
      About my first concern, Earl taught us in a previous post (very interesting and inspiring post, indeed) that teaching English is a good source of money in some parts of the world. But what about South America? Any suggestion? What were the positive factors in your experience?

      1. Sorry, I misunderstood what you said, Talon. You had $900. But it still quite a few amount of money to travel around 14 countries! How on earth could you do that??? 😀

  39. Have a plan. Don’t just talk about that big trip, or extended travel that you’ll do one day in the future. You have to have a plan. It doesn’t have to be a big plan, full of detail of anything, but it needs to be something, an anchor – something that you can work towards and aim for. Just having that point in the future with some tangibility makes you a lot more likely to do it. I know it did for me 🙂

    Earl, it’s great to hear that you get a buzz from reading all of the comments that you get. You’re a very inspiring guy, and I’m really glad that you get something from all of us, because you sure give us a lot. I’m relatively new to the travel blogging game, but it’s really been great to see what a community it is. Sure there are some bad seeds that are only in it to make a buck, but there are so many more genuine guys like yourself out there who just want to travel and share stories and advice, and just chat.

    Keep safe 🙂

    1. Hey Paul – That’s about as good a piece of advice as there is! I fully agree that a plan or a specific goal is very important in order to give your travels some structure and make it seem more real. To just say “I want to travel” isn’t specific enough to really get you motivated to carry through. But to say “I want to visit Costa Rica to learn Spanish” or “I want to volunteer in Vietnam” or something like that, will get you more excited and prepared to do everything you need to make it happen.

      Thanks for sharing Paul!

  40. Visa.
    It’s the visa Earl. Somehow just to be eligible to get my visa approved, I have to have some amount in my saving account. As an Indonesia citizen wanting to go to Europe for example, I have to have at least 50 million rupiahs (around 5000 USD) in my saving account to get my visa approved. Even if I can get creative to find a way to travel at minimal cost, I still can the hardness to get a visa.

    Therefore, I still have to prioritize my itinerary. I can go travel around Southeast Asia, visa free. And still have to take some time to save some money just for the visa.

    1. Hey Fanny – Visas are definitely an issue for some and I can obviously see how that would make travel significantly more difficult. From what I’ve learned, the more you travel to any county (such as visa-free countries) the better it looks when you apply for a visa to a country such as one in Europe because they see that you travel often and always return home, which is what they want to see. As for the money, that can be a challenge too and I don’t have a perfect answer for that of course…all I know is that there are Indonesians out there who have made it happen, so while the effort required might be greater than for other nationalities, it’s still well worth it in the end.

    2. Fanny, I’m so glad you posted about your situation here. It’s very easy for us European, Australian, NZ and North American travellers to take for granted how easy it can be to get visas when having a passport from a country like these, so thanks for reminding us (me) that it’s not always like this. Nonetheless, I hope this doesn’t stop you from following your dream to travel in Europe and I wish you all the best! (I hope this doesn’t sound patronising or condescending; I’m just grateful for being humbled!)

      1. Hi guys.

        Thanks for the response.
        Yes, there’s this gap of flexibility between Asian and European or American.
        But of course, I won’t let it hold me back. I have thought several options about the visa. Need to work on it first, then maybe I’ll show you the result.
        As far as I know, the amount of balance needed for visa approval is only ‘needed’ during visa application process. If this is true, perhaps I’ll borrow money from my relatives and straightly pay it back once the visa get approved. I won’t touch the money at all.

        Wish me luck then 😀

  41. My biggest concern is the language. I traveled to India on my own quite comfortably knowing that some English would be spoken. How do I overcome that fear of arriving some where wonderful and not being understood? How have my fellow Earl devotees handled this? Many thanks for your advice!

    1. I currently live in Japan and speak very little Japanese, but I learn something new everyday.

      I think the main thing is body gestures. If you show people how you feel language barriers collapse. If you never go somewhere just because you don’t speak the language you are missing out on all the best bits.

    2. Hi Julie,

      I think it depends where you go, but the good news about English is that it is a very, very common second language. In Europe, you’ll nearly always be able to find someone who understands. In cities around the world it’s also easy. And if you get off the beaten track, there are a few things that can help:

      1) For latin languages (Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese), there are a lot of shared words or similar words to English. For example: Comprendo (I understand) sounds a lot like comprehend. I find that often I can pick up (especially in writing) basic concepts by just thinking about whether a word is similar to a proper English word. (This definitely doesn’t always work and there are “false friends” like embarassada, which means pregnant, not embarrassed, so I don’t recommend trying to speak this way…but using this as a tactic to understand? It can help.)

      2) Gestures! Play a little charades if needed.

      3) Learn a second language. Pick something that dominates an area you want to go to (want to go to South America? Pick Spanish! Interested in wandering around Germany, Switzerland, and Austria? Go German). Even a basic understanding of one other language will help.

    3. Hey Julie – All I can say is that in 13+ years of travel, I have never had a problem with the language, no matter where I’ve been in the world. These days, there is almost always someone around who speaks English in every corner of the globe and you’ll be surprised at how much you can communicate with body language and a few words of the local language as well. Don’t let language stop you from traveling at all…it’s much, much easier than you think!

  42. Earl!
    I absolutely adore reading about your adventures. I am a student now working towards my bachelor’s in English, and about 6 years ago, I realized I wanted a life of indefinite travel. Not until I found your blog, did I realize how possible my dream is! 🙂 I can’t wait to graduate and begin traveling!

    1. Hey Ariel – That’s so nice to hear and all I can say is that if you stay focused on your goal, there will be nothing standing in your way! You’ll graduate and be out there on the road soon enough 🙂

  43. Commenting so I can get follow up comments and join in. I’ve recently begun saving for my travels this summer. As a server in Phoenix my restaurant gets slow from June-September so I will probably be volunteering to cut my shifts until the season picks back up, and where I will go is a bit up in the air. I want to start by getting a one-way to Calgary, and then hitchhiking/farmstaying all the way back down to Phoenix or perhaps over to Chicago/NYC, all while hitting up the amazing national parks along the way! Banff, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Tetons, etc…And just yesterday my brother has begun trying to convince to backpack around Europe with him….Can’t wait!

    1. Hey Terry – That sounds like a good plan to me and you might want to check out Helpx.net and Workaway.com…both sites offer interesting work/volunteer gigs all over the world where you spend a few hours per day working in exchange for room and board and in some cases, money as well.

  44. What a great ‘injection’ of positivity and inspiration this post is for me, Earl! As you know, my boyfriend and I discovered your blog before we took the plunge to follow our dream of indefinitive travel. We are now at the end of a full year of travel, and are even more pumped for year number two! We both have our own blogs and are discovering ways of maintaining our location independant lifestyle. It’s been the best year of my life without a doubt! My biggest lesson has been in downgrading my posessions and only spending money on things that further my dreams. Thanks Earl 🙂

    1. Hey Sarah – Well, that comment should motivate others to take the first step as well! And downgrading is a great tip and I find that no matter how difficult it is for someone to limit their possessions, it almost happens naturally once you start traveling and realizing that you don’t need half of what you packed!

      Glad to hear you’re so excited about year #2 of travel and I’m looking forward to hearing more about your next stage of adventures!

  45. Hey Earl,

    So my family is convinced that my plan to go to India is a bad idea. According to them, it’s a dangerous country and I definitely shouldn’t go alone because It’ll be too overwhelming and stressful. They listed all kinds of concerns like food poisoning, running out of money, getting scammed, not being able to communicate with the locals, etc. As you can imagine, it was pretty devastating to get such negative feedback after being so excited and ready for this trip. From what I’ve read, India doesn’t seem to be a particularly dangerous country, and loads of travelers (including yourself) have been there and have loved it.

    I’m definitely not very experienced with traveling, seeing as I’ve never been out of the U.S. But I have to start somewhere, and I’d really love to go to India because my favorite spiritual teacher (Mooji) is having a free, month long retreat in Rishikesh. What are your thoughts? Do you think India would be too overwhelming for a first-time solo traveller?

    1. India is overwhelming, but if it is something you are dedicated to then you will relish in being overwhelmed.

      Ok so you probably will get food poisoning (drink a few drops in grapeseed oil in water straight after eating to help this), and you’ll probably get scammed, but isn’t that a bit of what travel is all about.

      Locals mainly speak English so definitely don’t worry about that, it’s one of their national languages.

      Frankly, you will be fine in India by yourself as long as you do your research, it’ll be an amazing and eye opening experience for you too and you should defintely do it. Have your family been to India? probably not, so they shouldn’t talk on a topic they know nothing about.

      You will always have people telling you not to go somewhere, it’s for 2 reasons, 1 they are jealous, 2 they don’t want you to leave them. Simple as that/

    2. Hey Ryan – India is definitely an intense, challenging place to travel but at the same time, as long as you use the same common sense you use at home, you won’t deal with any of those issues your family have mentioned, or at least not in the way they believe. Will you get scammed? Absolutely! But chances are you will end up paying $3 for a taxi ride instead of the local rate of $2 or $1 for juice instead of 50 cents. It happens to every foreigner over there and it’s really unavoidable, and no big deal in the end. It’s not a dangerous country either…the biggest threat is having something stolen from your backpack if you leave it unattended on a train or bus or anything like that, but that’s of course very easy to avoid, just don’t leave your backpack unattended.

      A few weeks ago I met a solo female traveler in Mumbai who was in India for the first time and she was loving it. I just received an email from her yesterday as well telling me about all the places she’s visited and how she’s had an absolute blast over there so far. And that’s the feedback that most people give when they visit this fascinating country!

      And Rishikesh is very laid-back and easy to get to. From Delhi it’s a 6-hour bus ride or a 5 hour train ride away…and the town is quiet, easy-going and with plenty of foreigners around to make it a comfortable place to stay for a while.

      Hope that helps!

  46. I have heard of lots of options for extending the value of a plane ticket by booking a ticket with long stops (I.e. spending 3 weeks in Cairo on the way to South Africa from Berlin), and I have no idea how I would go about booking that long stopover. I am comfortable using kayak, skyscanner, orbitz, etc and airline websites, but still don’t know how to do that. Do I need to book through an agent? Book separate legs? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    P.s: Earl, thanks for another great article!

    1. Hey Gabriel – My recommendation for that would be to search online and find the airfare/flights that you want without worrying about the stopover. Just find the best flight for you as if you were flying straight through. Then, call the airline on the phone, tell them that you want the first leg on a particular date and the second leg on a different date in the future. This will give you the best chance of getting those two flights at the lowest fare possible. People forget about calling the airlines these days but sometimes speaking with a human being makes a big difference as they have the ability to be much more flexible than a computer system!

  47. I am new to your website and don’t know if anyone has ever asked you this question. You are a single guy traveling around on your own. I am a single female in my late 50s who is looking to start traveling after I retire next year. I’m wondering if it would be safe for a single female to be traveling around the world by herself? I know you have said that you travel by yourself but make friends in the places you visit. I’m trying to find someone who will travel with me but, like you, have had no success. I would like to hear your comments on this.

    1. Hi Cindy!

      I’m a single female traveling the world alone (well, nearly alone: I actually take my small dog with me ;))! Overall, it’s very safe and really wonderful. I find it especially easy to make new friends as a solo traveler (and I highly recommend using sites like Couchsurfing.com to find locals to grab a drink with or get tips from. I don’t often actually stay on people’s couches, as I prefer to rent a little space of my own, but I have found cheap apartments through tips from couch surfers, made wonderful friends, and found hidden gems in each city).

      That said, I also try to stay in nice neighborhoods and listen if a local says that I shouldn’t go someplace. I also listen to my instincts. If I don’t feel quite right about a neighborhood or a hotel, I move on. It’s only happened once or twice, but as I travel, I learn to trust myself. And overall, I feel very safe.

    2. Hey Cindy – My answer would be absolutely! Traveling, even for a solo female is much safer than most people ever imagine. The key is to just use the same common sense that you would use at home. But of course, I am not a single female. I see that Gigi (further down in the comments) offered to answer any questions about solo female travel so perhaps she will chime in or you could contact her through her blog for more direct advice.

      I’m quite sure she will ease your fears!

    3. @ Cindy – I am also a “woman of a certain age.” Traveling alone around the world? Don’t hesitate. When I traveled solo in Ethiopia for two months, I met at least three solo women travelers who were near or older than 70. Plus quite a few other solo women all along the age continuum below 70.

      My experience in traveling solo in countries where I don’t know the language is that most people tend to be good hosts for their country and watch out for you – they treat you like a guest in their country. (Caveat: Touts excepted.)

      But to build self-confidence, you may want to start small – if you haven’t done solo trips before, get some practice by doing so in your home country for a week or two, then venturing outward.

  48. I love reading your blog man, it was like a huge awakening to see that it really is possible to travel and see the world without being loaded. I’ve had this plan brewing since I can’t freely travel right now (military) but my plan is this: Find amazing looking places from other peoples travel blogs and internet posts, then move from place to place on the map, making my own adventure along the way. I’m saving up right now (got about 5k in the bank, one good thing about a steady pay check) and as soon as I get out of the Navy I’m headed for Europe to start. I don’t know if I’ll be able to complete everything in one go since my map hit list goes around the whole world, but it’s a start. And really I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do this without reading about your story. Thank you!

    1. Hey Tyler – That’s so wonderful to hear and it’s great to have you as a reader of the blog! As for your plan, I think you said it best when you wrote “it’s a start.” That’s all you need to do…get started. After that, there is no telling where the road will lead, who you’ll meet along the way or what kind of opportunities you’ll discover out there. The only thing that is quite certain is that your travels will probably look nothing like you imagine in the end…and that’s the beauty of travel…you just let the adventure unfold once you’re out there on the road!

  49. Earl,

    You have already helped me. Before (recently) discovering your blog, I did not think it was possible to live a life of indefinite travel. Sure, I knew that there were travel bloggers out there, I just didn’t think I could ever be one of them. I always thought to myself “man, how did they get so lucky with THAT job/lifestyle?!” After discovering your blog and purchasing both of your fantastic eGuides, I am now further along in the pre-process of mentally planning my round the world trip that I have wanted to take my entire life.

    I’ve never been able to answer the question “What do you want to do ‘when you grow up’/as a career?” – because my answer has always been “travel” – but then of course I get the follow-up question “but how? What will you do to support your wanderlust?” I still haven’t figured that out 100% but I am well on my way.

    So far, at the age of 24, I have had one full year of travel adventures. After graduating with my Bachelor’s degree, I very spontaneously decided to move to Ireland on a working holiday visa and ended up finding what I now consider to be my home country. I did a bit of traveling to a few European countries while I was over there and really had the best year of my life. I returned ‘home’ to Florida in July 2011 and I am more than ready to begin my next travel adventure – though this time, I’d like it to be indefinite. Travel defines my life. Without travel, I am nothing. I am ready to leave corporate America and live my life. I am now just struggling with how to deal with some health issues both before I take off traveling again and, how to deal with them when I am on the road.

    Thank you, Earl – and all of the travel bloggers out there. You are all inspiring and that is something I’d like to do one day soon myself – inspire others to live a life full of travel.

    1. Hey Chelsea – Well, I for one can’t wait to hear about your future travels and I’m sure you will figure out a way to make it all happen soon enough. Once you get such a positive taste of travel/living overseas (as you did with your stay in Ireland), it’s hard to get that out of your system and you’ll do everything you need in order to get back out there again.

      On a side note, I’m heading to Florida in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure where you’re located but if you’re anywhere on the East Coast, let me know!

      1. Hey Earl,

        Where abouts on the east coast? I am located on the west coast (Tampa Bay area – Clearwater more specifically) but visit the east coast often. 🙂

          1. WPB – nice!!! It would be nice to meet up! Unfortunately, that’s not an area I’m ever near. I’ve been once! It’s lovely!

          2. Aw, man! I was going to make an effort to make my way over to West Palm to meet up but I have to work this weekend 🙁 Next time!! Or even better – somewhere else in the world. I hope to begin traveling again in June. Enjoy your time in Florida 🙂

  50. Earl –

    You are an incredible and inspiring person, and as a soon-to-be college grad who’s not content with a life behind a desk, I can tell you that your story is a very important one.

    Community –

    If you’re like me and are itching to leave your corner of the world and check out the rest of it, listen to this: last summer I spent a month on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania, where I lived in a small fishing village teaching math, English, and community health to the children and adults who made their lives there. The program I traveled with is called One Heart Source, and they’re taking applications UNTIL TOMORROW, FEBRUARY 5th.

    If you have any inclination to travel to either Zanzibar or Cape Town, South Africa, (and to make the world a little better by doing so) I urge you to apply TODAY at https://www.oneheartsource.org/volunteer/apply/ The entire trip can be fundraised easily, and you have the opportunity to see a lot more on your way there/back (I stayed a few days in Dubai, and Mount Kilimanjaro is easily accessible as well)

    Join me as a teacher and traveler, and I guarantee it will change you for the better.


  51. another awesomely inspiring post! the more you believe in yourself and what you truly want in your heart (like more travelling !!! for me) the more you know and trust it will happen and you are open to the how. i have been a single mom for 9 years now and before that from ages 14-31 i had gone to 21 countries. part of my task of getting ‘me’ back is to get my international travel legs on again ~ this year!! lucky it’s only february! i want to take bella and i to costa rica (haha, i told her we just might not come back to minnesota!! :D). so if you have any inside scoops on cheaper airfare, or fabulous places to stay, let me know. i think we’re going to tamarindo…i’m trying to figure out how to come up with the airfare for now…i’m excited for when it comes in. i can hardly wait to feel that excitement of going on another trip!! i also ADORE when i’m somewhere travelling without a plan, just discovering and lounging and hanging out with the natives. thanks for all your inspiring posts!

    1. Hey Marina – I have no doubt you’ll be in Costa Rica soon enough, having the absolute time of your life and enjoying that international travel once again! As for airfare, for Central America, I try to fly with JetBlue who does offer some incredible sale fares from time to time. I would sign up for their newsletter so that you’ll know as soon as one of these sales take place. I just received an email from them today and while Costa Rica wasn’t listed, Mexico was…and the fares were remarkably cheap!

  52. What a wonderful post! I too travel full-time and sustainably (running a business from the road) and would be absolutely thrilled to answer questions and help more people get out there. Will check back for questions in the comments soon, but also just wanted to toss myself up in the comments now. If anyone has questions about full-time travel as a lady, full-time travel with a dog, full-time travel while running a business, or how I started my business, I’d be totally game to help (here – or you can hop over to my blog and send me a long form message if you want).

    1. Hey Gigi – Thank you for offering your assistance and I’m sure there will be some who take you up on it! I had no idea you were traveling with your dog…that must be a challenge for sure 🙂

      1. Anytime, Earl! And, yes, it can be challenging to travel with a dog, but (huge but) it’s also opened up some really interesting doors for me. Turns out dog travel is a hugely popular topic and I’m one of the few people writing about it. I never expected that to be part of my niche, but there you have it.

        It’s also been a huge factor in making me accepted as a local wherever I go. If I have a dog, I must be doing more than just passing through, right? At least a couple people approach me every day to ask about the dog, pet her, or just say hello. It’s always been relatively easy for me to make friends on the road. Now it’s downright ridiculously easy.

  53. Thank you Earl for another very inspiring post!
    I’m reading this with a HUGE smile on my face, as i’m leaving in exactly 5 days and 19 hours for my round the world trip starting in Asia!
    I’m not sure which category i fit. I still have so many questions and fears about my travel, but i also have a lot of experience in term of “changing my life” as moved away from home at 19 and changed 4 cities and 2 countries so far. Leaving everything behind me, a safe job, houses, friends… And i did it alone, no friends coming along with me.
    People think i’m brave, but i don’t see that. I’m scared like anyone else of changing my life, leaving the known path to start all over again.
    And now, at 5 days to my trip, i’m so scared that i can barely sleep at night.
    I ask myself…”what the heck are u doing???” and my heart starts racing in my chest.
    So why did i make this decision? my answer is simple and easy, because i don’t have other explanations: Travelling is in my veins. I was probably born like that.
    And you can’t go against your nature. It’s just impossible.
    I am Hypocondriac, anxious, insecure, but NOTHING stands on the way when it comes to travel.
    From my very modest experience i learnt something really important for me (and you and many other travellers out there are the living proof of this): if you REALLY want something, you’ll find a way. It may seem an ordinary cliche, but nothing is more true than that. There is something really powerful when you know you REALLY want something. You can just feel it. You know, deep down, that that is just RIGHT for you. No matter what the obstacles are. Sooner or later you find a way.
    And it always happened to me like that:
    – i wanted to study at uni but my family was poor: i applied anyway and i won a scolarship and a free annual income.
    – I wanted to live in Rome: after 6 years i sent ONE (seriously ONE!) CV to an estate agency and for some really incredible coincidences i got a call back, i could be in rome for the interview 2 days later, since i had to go there for work, and i was hired!
    -i wanted to learn english (at 30!): i decided to leave my job in Rome and start again as an au pair for 6 months in London, turned out i found a fantastic job and i moved in the uk for 6 years.
    NOW: i wanted to do a RTW trip..and here i am!
    My doubts? well…so many. I left a really well paid, prestigious job…for..travelling.
    Did i make the right decision? will i find a job after my experience? what if i don’t and i don’t have enough money?
    These are the main preoccupations…so if someone can tell me something positive and reassuring about it, i would appreciate it a lot! 🙂
    Sorry for the poem, but being this a very delicate moment in my life, i really need to write about my feelings (i’m a woman after all! )
    Thank you Earl! you are such an inspiration!

    1. wow. just wow! keep doing it girl! we are so blessed to have such an online community of inspiration and other fellow travellers! i’m so excited for your next trip!!! (i can relate – i’d rather be in dublin waiting for whenever the next bus is coming to ride up to belfast happy to be reading or journaling, as i was in february 1996 when i was 26 🙂 than to be navigating life after getting divorced, gaining wait/weight being a single mama)…here’s to travelling somehow some way for all of us!

    2. Hey Kle – That’s just awesome to hear! I guess you’re leaving in just 4 days now 🙂 And I hope that you will share with us your experiences once you start traveling.

      As for being scared, I’d say that it would be very strange if you weren’t. Heading off into the unknown should be scary…you’re challenging yourself to go beyond your comfort zone.

      And in terms of your questions/doubts…the best way to look at it is ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ Of course you’ll be able to find a job, of course you made the right decision (which is quite obvious by the way you seem so passionate about travel!) and of course you’ll find a way to ensure you have enough money, just like you have found a way to make everything else in your life happen so far. Will it all be simple? Definitely not. But there’s nothing wrong with putting in some effort to get what you want, especially when the benefits are the life-changing experiences that travel provides.

      No matter what happens during or after one’s travels, I’ve still yet to come across anyone who regrets having made the decision to take off and explore this world of ours. And that fact alone should be enough to convince you that there really isn’t much to worry about in the end!

  54. Your blogs are inspiring! Have you been to Central America? I am traveling down there for 5 weeks this summer. Most of my time will be spent at School of the World in Costa Rica for a 4 week Spanish immersion experience that will include surfing and yoga. After my time there I plan to travel to Nicaragua and Panama. I am traveling with one of my friends–we’re both girls. So my main concern is safety. I, of course, have read all about the precautions to take and what not online, however I would love to hear some personal input from an expert traveler such as yourself. Whatever you have would be great!

    1. It is a myth that it is less safe for girls to travel than boys. Boys are actually more likely to be assaulted or mugged than girls.

      Aside from this keep your wits about you. If something seems dodgey it probably is. And don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home. I guess that it really.

    2. @vrooney – I have been to Central America, just about all of it I think by this point. As for safety, especially for females, the key is to simply use the exact same common sense that you would use at home. That’s usually all you need to stay safe and it’s great that there will be two of you as well. Just don’t wander around at night, ask reliable locals where to go/not to go on your own, take reliable taxis, etc. Again, most people find, in any part of the world, that things are much more safe than they ever imagined!

  55. Hey, I am high school student and have been following this blog and many other one’s for a long time. Right now I am in the midst many options that are out there and would like to hear from pros who have been there. I really want to take a gap year after i am done high school (which is in about 6 months). I am planning to either backpack through Australia for about 6 months, work for that time or go to culinary school for a year. My initial plan was to travel to Australia, come back and go to school for a Degree/Diploma in Toursim. Right now, finances are the biggest concern. If i am able to save a say about $3000, what is the most advisable thing to do? Getting to Australia is more of a personal goal than anything right now as the constant let downs by my family about my travelling decisions are not helping my cause in any shape or form right now. I would really appreciate your comments/sugegstions.

    1. When I was 20 I travelled through Oz for 3 months, Melbourne, Tasmania, Brisbane, the sunshine coast, Sydney, Canberra and Perth including the return flights from the UK it cost me £2000. (probably around $3000)

      I went to all the attractions I wanted but then again I am not a girl of expensive taste. Saying this I used helpx.net worked in homestays (some of them amazing some of them not so) and went on a tourist visa. This way I saved my holiday visa for a time when I could stay longer. I volunteered doing everything and met some amazing people.

      Maybe this is something for you to consider. Or if you want to stay away longer, then the working holiday visa is an option, check out http://www.pack-your-passport.com she worked in a cafe there I believe and can give you hints on getting a job. Be warned though you cannot get another working holiday visa unless you work for almost nothing on a fruit picking farm for 6 months.

      My final piece of advice would be maybe exploring somewhere with a cheaper cost of living. Oz is great but your bucks could take you much further in SE Asia or Latin America. Though if your heart is set on Oz then honestly go for that, and ignore that last piece of advice. It’s always something to keep in mind. Email me if you have any more questions 🙂

      1. Hey George, thanks for that information. i will certainly look in to some of those options.
        As far as working is concerned, I am thinking of doing the WWOOF program (wwoof.org). It is basically me working on a farm/ranch from anywhere to 1-12 months. In exchange of a 4-5 hours work day, I get free accommodation and food which are one of the main expenses. If i do this, this will save me a fair amount of money which i can put towards travelling costs.
        For the time you travelled, how long did u stay in one particular city? and is bus the easiest way to get around. I mean would buying a Greyhound km. pass be a good idea?

        1. I stayed about 2 weeks on each city and I flew around which was the cheapest at the time. Helpx is woofing only its in houses not farming so definitely check it out. Please message me on my website (click my name) I only came back here by chance and won’t often see replies.

    2. Hey Prakhar – If you really want to go to Australia, you do have some options. First, you could look at a website such as Helpx.net where you will find opportunities to work a few hours per day in exchange for room and board, and in some cases, for some little pay as well. You could also work in a hostel or pick some fruit and make a little cash along the way. And with $3000, that should be enough for a flight and then for 1-2 months of travel, which should give you plenty of time to find an opportunity that will help you reduce your expenses/earn some money while there!

      1. Hi Earl, thanks for the follow-up. I had a question about the WWOOF program. would you happen to know anyone who has done it in the past? i am looking at that to gain some grassroots Oz experience and obviously save money. Doing that for about 3 months can help me understand the culture better and help me save a lot of time and money to further plan my trip.
        What do you think about it and would you consider doing it if you were in my shoes?

        1. Hey Prakhar – I know many people who use WWOOFing all over the world, as well as Helpx.net and Workaway.com. All great options to help you save money while giving you unique experiences. I would definitely consider doing it.

  56. I’m going to offer some very boring ways to achieve this kind of dream earlier rather than later: 1) live within your means; 2) avoid imprisoning yourself with personal debt, including student loans that will take you more than five years to pay off – if it takes you six years to complete university rather than four because you need to work your way through instead of taking on student loans, or going to a more affordable school; 3) never buy a brand-new car; and 4) no matter what, save at least 10% of whatever you bring in. Being boring in some ways = freedom to be wild in others.

    1. “Being boring in some ways = freedom to be wild in others”.

      Thank you! Such an excellent remember to prioritize every.single.day. I might feel like a loser staying home every night instead of going out, but it will be worth it in the end.

      1. Hey Janelle – Others will feel like a ‘loser’ once you’re out there achieving your goals and exploring this beautiful world!

    2. Hey Mzuri – Boring or not, those are extremely useful tips that can make a huge difference in terms of someone being able to travel or not. Thank you so much for sharing and it really is a great list that we should all refer back to often to make sure we are on track!

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