How To Travel Long Term

Travelling full time isn’t a vacation, it’s a lifestyle choice. 

Sure, it’s fun like a vacation.  You answer only to yourself. You experience new places all the time.  You meet amazing people from different walks of life.  Your eyes are open to the world and the world’s opinions and discovering what you truly feel passionate about. You learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.  

But there’s the reality of full time travel too. Compared to a typical vacation, it takes a lot more money, a lot more planning, a lot of sacrifice (yes, really), and a flexible attitude.  But even with all of that, is it still worth doing?  Yes!

How? Well, that’s what I want to share with you in this post.  

I’m going to share the nuts and bolts of what it takes to travel full time.

So, hold on to your hat.  This is going to be a long post… 

Have passport, will travel.

Pre-Travel Preparations

Saving for your big adventure

How do you save money for travel long term? Big question. It can be overwhelming considering the bills or debt you may already have. 

To begin, you need keep track of all your expenses for a month. Everything. You’ll be amazed how much you spend on incidentals. So, grab a notebook, sign up for Mint.com or enter it all into a spreadsheet. Whatever your process, keep track of it all.

Once you know where your money is going, identify and eliminate any frivolous expenses. Things like coffees, fast food, or dinner out are easy targets.  Instead of splurging, ask yourself is this a want or a need? I ask myself, what’s more important, an experience I’ve always wanted to try, or a cute dress that I saw in the shop?  Put the money you’re saving into your travel savings instead.

Open a savings or high yield account specific to travelling. Put the savings you’ve identified into that account. Do this as soon as you decide to travel.

Sign up for a credit card that rewards with travel.

I have a Capital One VentureOne card that awards travel points for every dollar I spend. I pay for everything with my Capital One VentureOne card– accommodation, groceries, petrol, insurance—you get the idea.  The key thing to remember is to pay it off completely at the end of every month. I don’t  pay excessive fees, and I rack up the reward points. 

I have flown from New Zealand to the U.S., the U.K to Japan return, flown a number of times within Australia, all using the points I’ve earned. So, shop around for the best reward card for you. Plans and rewards vary by country.

Plan Your Itinerary 

Long term travel requires a lot of planning.   It can be overwhelming knowing where to start. 

The first thing you need to understand is what kind of traveler you are. Are you a traditional backpacker? Do you prefer to stay in 5 star resorts? I’m somewhere in between. I love camping but I love some luxury too. But realistically, I have to find the balance.  

When I first started travelling long term, I planned only the first month, but I knew of where else I wanted to go. I had a list of places I wanted to explore. 

I’ve written some posts already about how and where to begin the planning. Check them out here: 

How to make a move on your Bucket List today.
Planning a RTW Adventure – Move from Dream to Travel Itinerary.
Planning a RTW Adventure – Determining the list. 
Share Your Dream. Make it Happen. 

Prepare yourself mentally. 

Preparing to travel long term is stressful. Yes, it’s an exciting adventure but there is a lot to do before you leave and when the countdown is on, the pressure can feel insurmountable. You may need to rent out your house or end a lease. Take care of managing finances, your mail, your utilities, and the stuff you’re leaving behind.  You have to determine what to pack and then actually pack your bag.  That’s when reality really hits you and the second guessing begins.  

It’s a very intense time. Get used to the idea and prepare for that too. You will want to yell, scream, cry, but the feeling once you are on your way is indescribable.  

Read the story of my departure for my full time travel adventure here. It was a colossal mess. Keep in mind, I began my adventure with a 10 month road trip through Australia. 

Need some travel inspiration? Check out these books:

Hikertrash: Life on the Pacific Crest Trail – Erin Miller
Slow Journey South – Paula Constant
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Sahara –  Paula Constant
Can We Live Here? – Sarah Alderson
How Not To Travel The World  –  Lauren Juliff
360 Degrees Longitude –  John Higham
Tales of a Female Nomad – Rita Goldman Gelman
The Yellow Envelope – Kim Dinan
Tracks –  Robyn Davidson
Eat Pray Love –  Elizabeth Gilbert
All Over The Place –  Geraldine DeRuiter

Become a ‘digital nomad’ before the long term travelling begins.

If you have the opportunity to take your current job and go nomadic with it, that’s great. Do that! 

But if that isn’t an option for you, I recommend finding a job you can do while travelling, like teaching English online or, like me, start an online business. I will warn you though, it takes time to build an online business into a successful enterprise. My advice? Build your business before you travel and before you quit your job.  

Spend the time to put your business in place. Register it as a business. Create a website. Set up your social media accounts. Build your customer base. That is, build a solid foundation for your business.  

The time you put in before you travel will save you a lot of headaches and time on the road. Then, once you are travelling, you can focus on what you need to be doing: Enjoying the moment. Believe me, once you are travelling, you may find it challenging to find time to balance work and travel so having your business underway will reduce some of that stress. 

Read here how I make money travelling full time. 

And, if you want to read about what I’ve learned after years of blogging, read this post. 

Day 1 of our long term travels – It was 10am and we were exhausted!

Store your stuff.  

You have a life and that means you probably have stuff. Things like furniture, electronics, clothes… What do you do with all your stuff? Hiring a storage unit long term can cost a lot. I recommend simplifying. Sell your stuff online, have a garage sale, sell to consignment stores or, be like me and donate it to a family in need.  

Whatever you decide, you will still have some sentimental items you just can’t part with, which will still need to go somewhere. You can ask family or friends to hold on to it for you, or you can rent a storage unit, which, after you’ve minimalized, doesn’t have to be expensively large.  

I use Taxibox in Australia. Love them! 

Dealing with your mail while you travel.  

Unless you are super lucky, you will still have some mail that needs to be delivered while travelling. Try and move everything to online notifications.  Since that is not an option for everything, ask a trusted relative or friend if they can handle your mail for you while you are gone.  

Grand Canyon, USA… It was never really on my list, but it blew me away. And, it was COLD.

How to Make Money While Traveling

It’s one of the biggest questions I get: How to make money while traveling.

Dispersing the myth

I’m here to tell you, quite honestly, traveling the world for free is a myth. Once upon a time, it may have been possible for the majority of your expenses as a travel blogger.  Now, the world is full of us. Competition is fierce.  The expression “there is no free lunch” applies here:  There is always a ‘catch’. 

Bloggers must work their asses off in exchange for perks like free flights or accommodation. Crafting pitches, producing key metric reports, visiting trade shows and conferences to build your reputation and brand is necessary to earn these perks.  

Anyone who thinks that they can start a blog and travel the world on the money they make from the blog alone, is being unrealistic. It’s so much more than writing words and taking photos. Yes, the blog opens doors, but not until you have established yourself as an authority figure and have a strong readership, do you really start making any money. Making an income to travel full time can be done, it is just not made from blogging alone. 

A Patchwork income works best.

I call mine a ‘patchwork income’ because my income is derived from various sources. It took me a while to work out what works for me. You can also save a lot by Housesitting, but you still have to pay for basic things like transport and food.  Therefore, you still need income.

If you are going to be a blogger, the most successful these days are ones with “niche” sites, like my friend Paula’s website, Sydney Expert. You also need to become very proficient at keyword research, applying SEO techniques to every single post, answering your reader’s questions, before you can make enough money to live on. SEO is key. 

While my website is niche, focusing on ‘Living Life on Purpose’ by pursuing your dream life, I provide guidance to do that, including booking sitescontent to help live independently, as well as recommended products to live simply. But it’s not really niche enough to make serious money. 

That’s why I diversify. I freelance when needed. I sell through affiliate links and I sell my own products. And that’s just on this website. 

You can become a freelancer through websites like Upwork or Fivrr

You can earn money through affiliate sales on your website. I have partnerships with companies like Booking.comSkyscannerTripAdvisor, and Expedia, all of which I use myself and recommend personally. I also sell an eBook on how to get set up to Housesit because I’m asked a lot of questions about this money-saving way to travel. 

There are a number of ways to make an income. I have written about it in detail in this post:  How Do I Manage To Travel Full-time (Financially)? 

Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island – one of of favourite sponsorships for an amazing day.

Budgeting

Become debt free, or get as close as you can to being debt free.

Before you begin the full time travel adventure, focus on your finances. Make sure that you pay off your debts as best you can. If you can travel without any overhead, the more free you will feel. It takes discipline, but paying down your debt before you embark on long term travels will serve you much better in the long run.

Create a travel budget and keep track of everything.

I created an itinerary template which keeps me focused as I’m making plans. The template includes the dates I plan to begin the adventure, the destination, the accommodation, transport, confirmation numbers, costs and any experiences I’m planning and on what days. This keeps me focused on keeping my expenses down. If I know I have budgeted $x/day, I know I won’t exceed that amount when booking. 

Once the adventure is underway, track your expenses. Everything. Remember those extraneous expenses? When you begin travelling you are going to go one of two ways: You’ll either be in ‘vacation mode’ and spending willy nilly, because ‘woohoo, you are travelling!’ OR you will become tighter with your money than ever before, so you CAN travel longer. 

I use Trail Wallet. It is one of my favourite apps. I track everything in this where I set up the categories, pop in the destination and then I add everything into the app as I travel. That way, I can see if I am over or under budget.  

But there are more apps that can help you stay on track too. Check out my post here:  19 Travel Apps You Need to Travel on a Budget

Keeping the budget in check by staying long term at an Airbnb. And the place does not have to suck either. 😉 BTW – this is me, two and a half years into travelling full time.

Work out ways you can travel further. 

Once you’ve been traveling a while, you may realise that money doesn’t stretch as far as you thought. But there are ways you can stretch your dollars. I love this adage: ‘Take half as many clothes and twice as much money.’ Believe me, it’s a true statement.  

Here’s a post that can help you save so you can travel further: 20 Ways to Save So You Can Travel Further.  

Balancing experiences and the budget.

Be smart when planning and build in the cost of experiences. If you don’t, you may find this to be a tough choice. When you are travelling on a tight budget, you may be faced with decisions of whether to prioritise dinner or a great experience. I say prioritise the experience. You may or may not remember the dinner, but you will definitely remember the experience. 

Walking the Camino de Santiago. One of my dreams. And great for the budget too!

Finding Cheaper Accommodation So You Can Travel Further

Housesitting is a great way to travel long term.

You can save a lot of money housesitting. In the first 5 months of travelling, we saved $15,000 on accommodation expenses. When we are planning our travels, we look for housesits that fit our itinerary.

What’s entailed in housesitting? Where do you start? How do you start? Well, I have learned a lot since March 2017, when I started travelling long term. So much so, I wrote book about it:  Housesitting 101 eBook

One of my favourite perks of Housesitting -  the beautiful animals you get to take care of.
One of my favourite perks of Housesitting – the beautiful animals you get to take care of.

AirBnb is cost effective and gives you options.

When not housesitting, I use Airbnb most of the time. Not only have I found Airbnbs to be cost effective, and at times cheaper than hotels, it’s also possible to find an Airbnb long term at a great discount. 

It’s possible to get 30-50% off when you stay for 30 days or more. To get that, the Airbnb site automatically calculates it for you, or you can reach out to the homeowner directly.  

If you haven’t used Airbnb before, click here for a credit for your first stay, just to try it out. 

Finding budget accommodation.  


My favourite sites, Skyscanner and Booking.com, offer great finds too. It just takes some time and patience to scout around. Instead of staying in the trendy hot spots, look for cheaper places near a train line or a bus route ready to take you wherever you want to go.

Greens Pool, Denmark
Greens Pool, Denmark – one of my favourite places on earth. And we stayed very cheaply near here.

What To Pack for Long Term Travel

I have to admit, it took me a while to work out what to pack and I’m still tweaking it. I have added and subtracted a million times over.  Even the night before I left Sydney, I was pulling out things from my bag and shockingly, I was still over on weight. Understand airline weight limits. They are generally around the same amount. Go for the least amount.

I have to admit, I’m still tweaking my what to pack strategy! I have added and subtracted a million times over.  

I’m so used to being a carry-on traveller and I don’t have a lot in my bag when it really comes down to it.  But, I’ve learned the lesson to distribute and purge as I go. I also learned how to pack effectively (rolling clothes sorted into packing cubes!) and that packing becomes a lot easier after a few weeks. But I do recommend practice packing before you go. It helps eliminate the unnecessary. 

Another factor is ensuring I have the right adapters for international travel. I have made that mistake more than once. 

The contents of my bags are straight-forward, despite having to account for four seasons and indefinite travel.  I have a colour palette I stick to: Black, grey and denim or blue. From there, the secret is layering and making sure everything coordinates. 

I made sure that everything that went into my bag was necessary, practical, made me feel great and was comfortable.

The tech that keeps me mobile…

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones
MacBook Pro 13″
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II 4K Mirrorless Camera
WD Passport external drive
AmazonBasics Hard Carrying Case for My Passport Essential
Sandisk Cruzer Glide USB flash drive, 64 GB
Universal Power Adapter
Bobino Cord Wrap For Usb Wires And Chargers
Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones
MacBook Pro 13″
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II 4K Mirrorless Camera
WD Passport external drive
AmazonBasics Hard Carrying Case for My Passport Essential
Sandisk Cruzer Glide USB flash drive, 64 GB
Universal Power Adapter
Bobino Cord Wrap For Usb Wires And Chargers

Visas – Things to Consider

Permanent residency in a country may limit your long term travel plan.

Be aware of the visa restrictions if you have permanent residency. It is possible that you cannot leave the country for more than a year without losing your residency status. Check your visa terms.

Schengen zone for non-EU residents.

If you don’t live in Europe and want to travel there for more than three months, you have travel limit restrictions. Check this link for more details.

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. It enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.

However, if you are planning to study, work, or live in one of the Schengen countries for more than 90 days, then you must apply for a national visa of that European country and not a Schengen Visa.

If You Travel, You Need Travel Insurance

If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

I have done my research on the travel insurance end. And I have chosen World Nomads for every one of my travel adventures since travelling full time.

I am a BIG fan of World Nomads. I’ve used them for the last two years for my various jaunts overseas. Thankfully I haven’t had to use them for any claims, BUT I do know of travellers who have and recommend them for their stellar customer service.

When I have had a question on something weird, prior to travel, they are quick to respond — and they don’t make me feel like an idiot for asking.

Nomadic Working in Belconnen
Nomadic Working in Belconnen, ACT.

Apps To Use When Travelling Long Term

  1. Trail Wallet – Keep track of expenses as you travel.
  2. Trip It – Keep your travel plans all in one place.
  3. Rome 2 Rio – A great app that helps know how to get from A to B with all the transportation options shown.
  4. Google Maps – What would we do without Google Maps, although Apple’s Maps is catching up.
  5. Airbnb – My go-to in between housesitting.
  6. Skyscanner – A great app to find the best flights and hotel deals.
  7. TripAdvisor – Read up on reviews before you book. A great place for booking experiences.
  8. Convert Lite – Convert measurements to money.
  9. WTForecast – An entertaining way to see the weather forecast.
  10. Notes – Best way to get all the thoughts down from out of your head.
  11. Podcasts  – Music and audiobooks are great, but Podcasts are a nice change.
  12. Kindle – Load up. It’s better than carrying around paperbacks and when people ask you what you want for Christmas? Amazon gift cards will keep you reading all year long. 
  13. Facebook and Facebook Messenger – Best way to keep family and friends up to date on your travels. 
  14. iMessage and FaceTime – Best way to keep in touch with your family, while on the go. Better yet, it’s free with WiFi.

    Read here for more: 19 TRAVEL APPS YOU NEED TO TRAVEL ON A BUDGET
Have iPhone, Will Travel.

What I’ve Learned Since Travelling Long Term since March 2017

There’s so, so much. There was a lot of planning, of course, but experience has taught me a lot.

Be logical in your itinerary.

Don’t fly from one side of the world to the other repeatedly.  It’s not cost effective. Be logical in how you will travel. Stay in one region and discover all the parts you want to until you know it’s time to continue on.

I found a great website that helped with planning my round the world adventure. Of course, it had way less ads when I initially looked at it, but it helped me understand the best times to travel to a destination. I don’t do high season anywhere if I can help it, nor do I like humid countries. I travel on the off season. Sure, it might limit some experiences, but boy does it help with the budget!  

Understanding reality versus dreams.

It’s great to set out with a lot of plans but you have to be realistic too.

If you have limited time, you’re probably not going to get through your entire list. You may try to see everything, but it will be more about checking something off a list, rather than experiencing where you are.

What made you want to visit that particular destination in the first place? Know what it is that’s taking you there. Don’t rush it. As the cliché goes, be in that moment.

Whatever you do, don't miss out on places like Iceland.
Whatever you do, don’t miss out on places like Iceland.

Travelling long term is like peeling an onion.

When one of our readers asked to hear more of how we’re changing physically, mentally, and emotionally now we’re travelling full time, I pondered that question for weeks. When I think of it, travelling is like peeling an onion. 

The more layers you strip back, the more you reveal of yourself. I wrote about it when I was 4 months into travelling long term. (You can read it here) and that feeling hasn’t changed since I started travelling long term beginning in March 2017.

Travelling is like peeling an onion.

The Realities of Travelling Full Time 

Relationships – the good and the bad

When you travel with someone, a spotlight shines on your relationship,  revealing the good and bad. You will love someone intensely or you will want to run away forever.  This may flip on a daily basis. Travelling long term with a partner challenges you in ways you never expected. 

When you travel with someone, a spotlight shines on your relationship,  revealing the good and bad. You will love someone intensely or you will want to run away forever.  This may flip on a daily basis. Travelling long term with a partner challenges you in ways you never expected. 

When you meet new people, connections are either ones that last a lifetime or they are 24-hour encounters. You may tire of saying goodbye to amazing people whom you’ve just met. But, bring on the good side of social media. You get to keep in touch in real time, and you may even get to know them better through those formats. 

Unpacking becomes a delightful experience

In December of 2017, I was stopped for 10 days and has a full walk in closet at my disposal, so I decided to unpack my entire suitcase.  Oh! the joy I felt!  I put my socks into a drawer and hung my shirts in a closet… At the end of my time there, I was refreshed and ready to go again. When you travel long term, these are the little things you find joy in. 

Things you miss

Family, friends. Sure, you have this amazing travel life, but you will miss family and friends immensely, especially during moments you least expect. You’ll have ‘wish you were here’ moments where you simply want to share a destination or a moment with someone you love. It’s real. You’ll get homesick. It’s those times where FaceTime or Skype are godsends. But you’ll still be lonely for them during your travels. The great thing though is when they want to meet up with you somewhere in the world and you get to share an experience together.

Your own bed and pillow! What I would give to have my old bed and pillow back. They were divine. I still think about them. I miss them, but, I donated them so there is no going back.  You will experience beds from all spectrums —the hardest of hard, and the softest of soft and everything in between.  Many even travel with their own pillow. I have yet to get to that point but I’ve thought about it. I’ve learned to adapt instead. 

Not having a kitchen that’s your own. I love cooking. I love baking. When you housesit, you get to enjoy the perks of someone else’s kitchen for a while. But it’s not your kitchen. You don’t have all of those gadgets that we’re helpful in your old place. Ah, but you get to try out new gadgets and ‘test drive’ all kinds of appliances. There’s a lot of of fun in  creating a wish list for your own home, if you ever have one again. 

You crave ‘normal life’ like running errands. Making plans takes a lot of time and effort. One of my favourite things to do when landing in a new place is to explore the local supermarket. I scan the shelves for things I recognize and sneak glances into the local’s baskets to see what new possibilities might be found.

You will crave stability and schedule. This is where slow travel will speak to you. By taking it slower, you can have more stability, because remember, this is your life now. This is long term travel, not just a vacation.

Your wardrobe will feel limiting after a while.

When you travel long term, you need to have clothes that mix and match and fit into one suitcase. After a while, you will tire of the same old clothes. You are wearing them more often than you are used to, since you don’t have a larger wardrobe. Therefore, your clothes will wear out faster. The key is to buy quality. Your clothes will last longer this way. When shopping, remember you have one suitcase and it can only hold so much. My mantra is if something new goes in, something old gets donated or tossed (if damaged or worn out).  

I have a very versatile travel wardrobe.

Short Sleeve Striped Cotton Shirt
Urban Rose Womens Plus Size Cardigan with Long Duster Length
ECCO Women’s Soft 7 High Top
Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Gold Label Women’s Plus-Size Modern Straight Jeans
Simple Black T-Shirt
Black Yoga Pants
City Chic Fifi Bra
Fatface Tunic Dress
Lane Bryant Active Leggings
MacPac Merino Henley Long Sleeve Shirt
Maxi Dress
ExOfficio Hoodie Jacket
Virtuelle Tee
Versatile Straw Hat
Women’s Long Sleeve Merino Tee
Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander Waterproof Rain Jacket
Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Pant, Water and Stain Resistant
Merrell Sandals

You will get decision fatigued.

Travel burn out will happen and you will crave downtime. When you travel a while, this will happen. It happened to me after two years. I couldn’t make forward plans. I couldn’t get excited about anything. Everything became the same. “Another historical building.” “Another flight.” “Another hotel.”  “Another museum.”  “Another….”  

This happened to me in England, after walking the Camino de Santiago on my Solo Camino Wander. I found a beach house to stay for two weeks. But I couldn’t decide on even the little things, like what to buy to eat. I couldn’t think. I slept and read for days. I didn’t want to work. I didn’t want to go walking. I didn’t want to do anything in this very popular destination. I was simply burned out. 

You look at friends who are excited about their vacation plans and wonder “when did that stop being exciting for me?”. It gets to the point where you need to stop travelling for a while, even if it’s for a few weeks, a few months. It’s time you need the time to reassess your plans, to think about where you really want to go next. Perhaps your Living List has changed?

I wrote a longer post of the positives and negatives on travelling full time. You can read it here.

Worldwide Solo Trek packing
Everything that went into my suitcase for my Worldwide Solo Trek

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