How Travel Can Be Financially Sustainable

07.08.2017 |

Episode #5 of the course How to travel long term/full time by Nora Dunn


Welcome back!

The last few lessons have been resource heavy, with lots of homework and preparations. So today, let’s take a little breather and explore the art of making full-time travel financially sustainable.

I’ve been traveling full time since 2007, and I haven’t once dipped into my savings! In fact, when I started tracking my expenses, I was dumbfounded to discover I spent way less money to travel full time (and I track all my expenses, including insurance, flights, and business costs) than I ever did to live in one place!

Now, this may not be the case for everybody. If you pay for fancy hotels, travel fast, and dine at Michelin-rated restaurants all the time, you could go broke pretty quickly. Then again, maybe you wouldn’t! Let’s look at what financially sustainable travel really means.


This Isn’t Budget Travel!

Contrary to popular opinion, financially sustainable travel is not synonymous with budget travel. In order to sustain a travel lifestyle, you don’t have to slum it in hostels, eat dry macaroni for dinner, and take the chicken bus (although, local bus travel can be quite the cultural adventure).

I’ve stayed in palatial residences and flown in business class, I wear nice clothes, and when I want lobster, I eat lobster. All because I’ve found some really creative travel strategies that don’t scrimp on style but do cut down on expenses.

There are other full-time travelers who spend way more than me and have a luxurious travel life—also sustainably. How?


Component #1 to Financially Sustainable Travel: Income

Money in, money out. In order for anything to be financially sustainable, there must be a balance. So, to travel in a financially sustainable way, you must have an income.

And you don’t need to be a web-specialist digital nomad to achieve this! Here are a few forms of income you might be earning that can fund your travels:

Passive income—Such as a retirement pension, rental income, or a payout from the sale of your business (this funded my first two years of travel while I developed an online income to allow me to keep going).

Active income—An online business, telecommuting job, travel-related career, or even a well-established brick-and-mortar business that you can run from afar.

We’ll discuss some active income earning possibilities in the next few lessons.


Component #2 to Financially Sustainable Travel: Expenses

Once you know your income range, you can determine your budget. If you’re making a million dollars, you needn’t worry about cutting corners. But if you’re just getting a new career off the ground, you’ll need some travel savvy (at least initially), such as flying at discounted rates using frequent flyer miles and using accommodation hacks (which we’ll explore in future lessons).

In my first two years on the road, I had a monthly income from the sale of my financial planning practice. It wasn’t much, but I managed to live on it, and in so doing, I discovered all kinds of creative ways to travel inexpensively without sacrificing style.

As the years went by, I earned more money and splurged on the things I wanted to splurge on. Still today, my income fluctuates and so too does my travel style and budget. But truly, I don’t want for anything on the road, even when my income is low.

Want proof? I’ve been tracking my income and expenses—and publishing it all—every year. Check it out here for an example of what full-time travel can cost.

In the next couple of lessons, you’ll learn how you can earn money while on the road.

Happy (financially sustainable) travels!



Recommended book

How To Live For Free: The Definitive Guide by Deepak Tailor


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