Are you thinking of hitting the road, but are unsure of how to afford full-time travel? When it comes to living full-time on the road, you can go about it one of two ways — either the expensive way or the affordable way. This article will help to give you tips on the latter.
It took about six months of living on the road full-time, before someone asked me how I afford full-time travel. They asked me if I was independently wealthy or a trust fund baby. Just for the record, the answer to both of those things is no.
For me, being able to learn how to afford full-time travel is a matter of rearranging priorities, planning properly, and having multiple streams of income so that I can stay on the road. While some people may look at this lifestyle as a scary risk that deviates from the norm, choosing full-time solo RV living has been the best way to provide financial stability for myself.
It also allows me to pursue a creative life and live a life that I know I can afford. To me, that is not risky at all — that is true stability and financial security. It makes me wonder how or why I ever lived any other way.
How To Afford Full-Time Travel: What Not To Do
There are of course also people on the road that choose to go heavily into debt in order to be able to travel. They have $100k van conversions with payments or get by on credit cards while they try to become the next big YouTube star. Please don’t do that to yourself. There is a better way.
With some planning and preparation, and the tips I share below, you can set up a financially stable life for yourself on the road without worrying about how you will pay off huge amounts of debt getting yourself there. It just takes some planning, prioritizing and knowledge of a few resources that are available to you, to help you live a financially stable life while learning how to afford full-time travel.
How To Afford Full-Time Travel: What To Do
At the time of this writing, I have been on the road for eight months. It has been the best experience of my life as well as one of the best financial decisions I have ever made. This is what I have learned on how to afford full-time travel and this is the path that I took to get here:
- Prepare and save
- Lower expenses as much as possible
- Earn income along the way
- Find cheap or free places to stay
- Diversify income options
Prepare and save
One of the best things you can do for yourself in preparation for living full-time on the road is to save. If you are not a saver, I’m sure this is not advice you want to hear, but it is important. It is especially important if you want to learn how to afford full-time travel to begin living the life of your dreams.
There are variables on the road outside of your control and so providing a financial safety net for yourself can help to get you through in case of a breakdown, emergency or change in travel plans. Plus, it is just good advice for life in general.
It should go without saying, but if you are planning on living on the road full-time turning as much stuff in your house into cash as you can will help kill two birds with one stone. You can clean out your house and save money for your new adventure at the same time.
Start by having a yard sale to see what you can get rid of. Then, take anything leftover to a local consignment store to sell. Just by doing these two things before choosing full-time solo RV living, I was able to save up an extra $1,000 before hitting the road.
For a longer term financial plan, check out Financial Peace University. This is the best resource that I have found for making wise financial decisions and living a financially stable life. Although it is not tailored to full-timers, the advice provided in this program helps for all ages and stages of life.
Lower expenses as much as possible
Frugality is second nature to me, so it was not difficult to lower my expenses as much as possible before I hit the road. While this is not the case for everyone I know, if you are someone who can manage to live without excess in your life, it will help set you up for success when you hit the road.
If you do decide to live full-time on the road, you are going to naturally be cutting many bills out of your life such as:
- Mortgage or rent
- Utility bills (gas, electric, water)
- Homeowner’s insurance
Eliminating these bills from my life instantly saved me $1,400 each month when I decided to hit the road. When you look at it that way, it makes me wonder how people can afford to live any other way.
Lowering your expenses as much as possible also means reprioritizing some things in your life. Look at how much you spend each month on things such as cable, shopping or eating out and see what you can eliminate there.
If your plan is to spend more time in the great outdoors, do you really need cable when you can watch a glorious sunset or sit around a campfire with friends? Do you really need to keep up an expensive shopping habit when you live in a tiny home and your space is limited?
Earn income along the way
This is the part that I am most excited about sharing with you. Most people are at a complete loss of what to do to earn money to live full-time on the road. This doesn’t have to hold you back. There are more options than you think and once you hit the road, you will discover all of these and more.
If you already have a career that you can take on the road, as is the case with digital nomads, then you have a head start. If not, then here are some opportunities to look at to help you earn income along the way:
- Freelancing: Many freelance opportunities offer flexible schedules in a “work from anywhere” capacity. Several popular websites are a great resource for finding a steady stream of freelancing gigs today. Check out: FlexJobs, Fiverr and UpWork to match your skill set to flexible opportunities and have a steady stream of income coming in while you travel full-time.
- Workamping: Workamping can be a great option for newbies on the road. It not only helps you earn an income to get you out living an adventurous lifestyle, but also gives you a place to stay. While some workamping jobs offer a free place to park your rig in exchange for volunteering a set number of hours each week, other workamping jobs offer a wage in exchange for a discount on campground fees. For a list of current workamping opportunities, check out https://www.workamper.com/.
- Seasonal Jobs: Depending on where you are in the country, some campgrounds open up at a specific time of year only. During their busy season, they are looking for seasonal employees to come and stay and help. Similar to workamping, some of these opportunities offer a combination of wage or volunteering hours for discount or free camping.
While digital nomads or retirees are certainly at an advantage, once you hit the road you will see the wide range of people out here and learn many more options for making a living as you make a life on the road.
Find cheap or free places to stay
When I first hit the road, my budget included a set amount of money on camping fees each night. To me, this was one way to help keep myself safe traveling on the road full-time.
As I traveled and talked to more people, I found more and more places to stay for nothing or next to nothing and quickly learned about how to navigate public lands and the Bureau of Land Management system. This helped me learn how to find cheap or free (and safe) places to camp.
At first, I was hesitant. Because I didn’t grow up camping, in my mind I believed that these places were the unsafe places to stay and that paying for camping each night would help to keep me in safe places.
While in some cities and places this may be true, it is not always the case. If I would have stuck to developed campgrounds all along the way, I would have missed waking up to some of the most beautiful views in the most amazing and peaceful places.
While you never want to prioritize money over your own safety, if you are willing to be a little adventurous you may find that public lands offer the best and most beautiful places to stay at the best price — free or by permit.
The best resources for finding cheap or free places to stay is freecampsites.net or campendium.com.
Diversify income options
Again, a good practice not just for full-timers, but also for anyone is to diversify your income options. I have learned a lot of things the hard way in life — one of them being that you can’t place all of your security in one thing.
Prepare for the worst and plan for the best by creating multiple sources of income to help you keep enjoying your life of full-time travel, no matter what the future may hold.
While everyone’s situation is different, learning how to afford full-time travel doesn’t have to be elusive. It can be attainable for people at all ages and stages of life, not just digital nomads or retirees. There is a wide variety of people living on the road, creating financial freedom and stability for themselves by choosing to live this way. Will you be among them?