People often ask me how I’ve been able to travel and sustain a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. When I tell them I don’t work a regular full-time job, more questions follow including “how can you afford it?” This usually leads to my story about quitting my job and using my life savings to travel the world (my about page will give you the gist). This doesn’t quite cover the “how” but I’m getting there…
I consider myself a rooted nomad because I’ve spent no more than 5 weeks (and often times much less) in each place I’ve landed in the past 10 months (with no intention of slowing down), BUT I do have two places that I consider “home.” These are:
- Orlando, Florida- where I have a small home that I share with a housemate
- St. Andrew, Jamaica- where my parents live in a quaint villa in the mountains
These main roots each have a unique support system, including family and friends, a church home, and a spot to hang clothes (a treat when you typically live out of a suitcase). Having these roots help me optimize my lifestyle and sustain solo travel without feeling isolated.
Globe Trotters Community
The community of people, who spend their days traveling full-time, or very often, is enormous. There are many websites that will give you suggestions on how to save, plan and budget for long-term travel. You’ll find that many who started on this journey began with little to no money (often just enough to take the first trip) and that many in the community are living a minimalistic lifestyle to make it happen. Upon researching, I was happily surprised by how common this trek around the globe is.
The community includes remote workers, social media influencers, artists, consultants, etc. There isn’t one occupation that directly leads to a nomadic lifestyle. I believe the desire to live an unsettled life, whether for a season or for a lifetime, is a calling. People who want to live in their calling are usually willing to use a large chunk of their resources to make it happen. I am one of them.
How much does it cost to travel the world?
Answering this question would require an unpacking of probing questions like: Where do you want to go? How long do you want to go for? Are you willing to stay in hostels? Are you a picky eater? Truth is there isn’t a cookie cutter answer to this. However, there are helpful websites that will tell you the average monthly cost to live in most cities (nomad.com is a gem), and there are a ton of travel sites where you will find cheap plane tickets (nomadic Matt gives great tips).
In my research, I have found full-time travelers living on as little as US$15K annualized, and others who spend upwards of US$50K. One of my favorite sites for planning exotic trips on a budget is hosted by Eli and Travis, called wheninroaming.com. Many of their links will lead you to lonelyplanet.com, the worlds largest travel guide and another great resource for inspiration and planning.
Personally, I began this journey with enough funds for one year of nomadic travel, using primarily Airbnb for accommodations and visiting friends and family (who have a spare room or couch to crash on). However, what I’ve found is there isn’t an exact dollar amount that will sustain this lifestyle, nor is it really about the money.
The common factor in those who are able to sustain this lifestyle isn’t in their pocket but in their mentality. Many have thought (or wondered if) I am able to do this because I came across a ton of money; I assure you that is not the case. What I came into was a mindset, one that allows me the freedom to design the life I want to live.
Sustaining the Dream
I believe my dream to travel the world came from God. So naturally, it is a feat larger than anything I could do on my own. Whether or not you believe in Him, I would implore you to imagine a future so wonderful that it makes you a little terrified, otherwise, you may be dreaming too small.
I believe that those who answer the call and are successful at sustaining the dream (of travel, or any other dream for that matter) have 3 three things in common, and none of these commonalities include money, websites for cheap travel or occupation.
Folks who are successful at this lifestyle place value on experiences and relationships, rather than on material things. This isn’t to say they don’t like nice things. Anyone who knows me will tell you, I like nice things (yup, bougie and proud). However, I don’t need them to have a unique adventure or a great time. Many of my best travel experiences have brought me to squatting over pit toilets, tossing and turning on uncomfortable mattresses and finding domicile in bedrooms with unfinished cement floors. Being willing to slum it makes a huge difference in how far you’ll go. Embracing a minimalist mentality is helpful not just for travelers but for anyone who wants to focus on what’s important, in order to find fulfillment and freedom outside of material wealth. Wanna know more about minimalism? Ryan and Joshua have a neat site that can help, check out mimalist.com.
Persevere & Press On
People who sustain travel long-term exhibit endurance and flexibility. Becoming attached to an agenda is a sure way of setting yourself up for failure. Planning is important, but knowing that plans can change, or straight up fall apart, is even more so. Sustaining success means not giving up, even when plans change and you experience set back or failure. Winston Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” People who succeed don’t give up; the things that try to hold them back lose steam before they do. Research has shown that grit (perseverance and passion for long-term goals) is a significant difference between those who experience long-term success and those who don’t. If you want to persevere then throw out limitations you (or others) have set on your life, capture, and trash negative thoughts you may believe about your lack of ability or worth, label them as lies and press on. When you think you can’t go any farther, let your grit be your guide.
Go with God
In one of my favorite books, The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho says “and when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” I believe that my passion is fueled by something greater than myself. This belief, for me, is the key to continuing the journey. I know that if God has called me to something then the means necessary will follow. I spend time in meditation, praying and communing with Him for guidance and direction on next steps. Even when I can’t see the path ahead, my relationship with Him is like a lamp at my feet, just enough to see the next step. My faith gives me guts.
I am not saying that every traveler, nomad or dream chaser has a personal relationship with God. However, I have found that they each have a passion for something greater than their own individual contentment and satisfaction. These are folks who are excited about experiencing the world outside of their comfort zone and pushing their boundaries. To sustain a life like this one, you must have enthusiasm for things beyond earthly measure and personal pleasure.
The Crux of the Matter
Someone asked me if I imagine myself at 50 years old still living this lifestyle. The truth is, I don’t have a 5-year plan, much less any idea where I will end up at 50 years old. What I do know is what I’ve been called to do today, and that tomorrow isn’t promised to me. In the same conversation, it was said that my actions seem wayward to some. To that I say, it’s quite often in history that what may seem foolish to some is a golden opportunity to others.
Here’s the thing, everyone won’t always approve of your life choices. Before making this leap I sought counsel, budgeted, assessed the risk and made an informed decision. I decided that I wouldn’t measure my success based on someone else’s imposed idea of what it should look like. I am not interested in measuring up to a man-made yardstick. However, I am fully invested in living my dreams. I hope you are brave enough to live yours; unhindered by your limitations and propelled by your passion.