It’s a common misconception that travel has to be expensive. The reasoning usually goes something like this: “Last year I went on vacation to Las Vegas (or London, Disney World, etc) for a week and spent $5,000! There’s no way I could afford to live like that full-time!”
The truth is that traveling full-time probably costs less than you think, and it may even cost less than your current lifestyle at home.
There are a few “secrets” that digital nomads and other experienced travelers know and use to minimize their costs while maximizing the amount of time that they are able to travel.
Live Like a Temporary Local
Live like a temporary local, not like a tourist. Living like a temporary local allows you to maximize your connection to the place you’re visiting and minimize your costs.
Tourists stay in hotels. Locals live in apartments or houses in real neighborhoods.
Tourists eat in convenient restaurants, close to the main attractions. Locals buy groceries and cook at home, eat street food, or venture to an out-of-the-way restaurant that specializes in one particular dish or cuisine.
Tourists rent cars and take taxis. Locals walk, bike, or take the subway.
Living like a temporary local is the single most important tip to remember when traveling. You will save money, have a more interesting experience, and be less likely to burn out from travel.
Eliminate expenses back home
Unlike digital nomads, most people with traditional jobs and lifestyles are only able to travel for a few days or weeks at a time. That makes travel more expensive, because all of the costs are in addition to your regular cost of living. One common example is paying for a night in a hotel, when you’ve already paid rent for the same night for your apartment back home.
One of the many advantages of long-term travel is being able to eliminate your expenses back home. How? Terminate your lease, or if you own your home, rent it to someone else. Sell your car. Look through your credit card and bank statements to identify recurring charges. Then cancel any insurance, subscriptions, and other services that you won’t need while traveling. Be ruthless about it.
Once you eliminate your expenses back home, you can actually save money by traveling to a place with a lower cost of living than your home.
Don’t buy stuff you don’t need
If you spend time around digital nomads and perpetual travelers, you’ll soon notice that there is a big overlap between people who travel full-time and people who practice minimalism. That makes sense — it’s easier to travel when you have less stuff to carry around.
But it goes deeper than purely practical concerns. The common thread between minimalism and nomadism is an understanding that buying stuff doesn’t make you happy. In fact, buying stuff might actually make you less happy. Sure, there is an initial glee period that accompanies every new purchase, but that almost always fades away after a couple of months, weeks, or even days. It is then replaced by a feeling of ambivalence, or occasionally, regret.
Trade having lots of stuff for having lots of experiences instead.