Before we set off to travel with a one-way ticket, we have often heard of people that set off to travel around the world. From a financial perspective, everyone seemed to have a different approach to how they manage to do it.
Some people work remotely as digital nomads, while others save up for a long time and then use their savings to travel around the world. We were curious to find out how this growing community of people that travel around the world with an indefinite return date do it. This is why we started a survey to understand how everyone sponsors their trip.
In this post we share the 4 most common ways to finance a trip around the world. We based the contents of this post on our survey results of over 250 around the world travellers that told us how they do it.
You will definitely want to read these posts too:
- Digital Nomad Guide to Make Money Online
- How to Travel When You Are Not Reach Guide + Survey Stats
- How Much Money Do You Need To Travel The World?
- Remote Jobs – 7 Tips To Find Digital Nomad Jobs in 2020
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4 most common ways to travel around the world
When considering how to finance your round the world trip there are several options you might think of. There is no one single best fit option for financing long term travel. It really depends on your trip’s intentions and goals.
Traveling for 3 months or more, to many, seems like a long holiday. And who doesn’t love holidays? But there is much more to it. The benefits that you can reap from your time traveling are enormous if you consciously set intentions for your trip.
Think about WHY you wish to travel long term.
What is it that you want to achieve with your trip?
Do you simply want to enjoy yourself and relax for a period of time, or do you wish to make travel a regular part of your life?
Through clarifying your intentions to yourself, you can better decide which way is best to finance your trip.
Below we’ll explain each option you can use to travel around the world. We’ll help you figure out which option is best for you.
1. Travel around the world using your savings
This is the option that is often considered first when the idea of traveling full time initially pops in your mind. Save enough money to get a flight ticket and see how long it will keep you above water.
It is the most common option, and it is similar to saving up for a holiday as you might have done before.
When should you pick this option?
Financing your long term travel through savings is ideal for trips that have a fixed length of time and a somewhat fixed route or are limited to certain regions.
Think about a 6 months trip around South East Asia. You can estimate your daily travel expenses, and based on that determine the monthly budget you’ll need.
As simple as this might sound, it does require some pre-work.
Financing your trip through savings requires thorough planning and a fall back plan in case things don’t go as expected.
You will need to do research about your travel destinations ahead of time in order to get an idea of the expected travel expenses. Also, think about activities you would like to do, such as a PADI Open Water Diving Course or a Yoga retreat. Once you have done research about the cost of living for your travel destinations and know how long you would like to travel for, you will have a rough budget plan for your trip.
We know what you are thinking: this is simple stuff. But, we just want to make sure we are on the same page. Here is what to consider before picking this option.
Not having to work while traveling around the world means more time for enjoying
First, the positive side is that not having to work during your trip means that you could fully focus on traveling and enjoying time off. By accepting that you will sponsor your trip with a portion or all of your savings, you can fully enjoy your round the world trip without feeling bad.
It requires discipline to save up and to resist temptations
Depending on your current situation, saving up might take a short or long time. It will require some indissoluble discipline to keep saving and avoid any short-term temptations. The longer your trip, the more luxurious, and the more activities you want to do, the more you’ll need to save. At some point you might even consider giving up some of your wishes in order to go sooner rather than later.
If saving comes natural for you, then this option might be perfect for you.
You might be bound to more slow travel and less flexible trip
Next, your trip will not be as flexible as you might like it to be. Based on your budget, your destinations and trip length will be limited to a certain extent. Moving around can become quite a large portion of your travel expenses if you do it often. Therefore, you might be bound to more slow travel to avoid high costs for frequent transportation.
You will need a financial cushion during and after your trip
When you get back from your trip, you will need to start building up your savings all over again. You should also consider the things that may not go exactly according to what you expect, and have some financial cushion to cover that. Moreover, it is good to also have some cash left for when you are back to settle in again. This means that you will need to save more than what you expect to spend during the trip.
Intentions to travel around the world from savings
Lastly, you should consider the intentions of your trip. After all, using your savings to sponsor your trip is an investment in yourself. After many months setting money aside, you should have a clear reward. You should feel comfortable about making this investment and be content about what you get out of it.
This may be relaxation and recovery time from working hard before, or time to spend with your partner, or time to develop yourself and learn about other cultures. In any case, the return should be clear.
2. Doing remote work while you travel around the world
Doing work while traveling has become easier than ever before. There are so many options to freelance online and earn cash from anywhere in the world. If you want to travel around the world without having to think of when you need to go back, this might be for you.
The term Digital Nomad has almost become synonymous with long term travel. Nonetheless, more traditional options are also possible.
Scoring a temporary job in a hostel or on a farm are all still viable options. These options will mean that you spend periods of time mostly working, and then dedicate time to only traveling, while digital work allows for some more flexibility.
In a nutshell, financing your trip by working while traveling means that you get to travel to the destinations you want while spending some of your time working to sponsor your trip.
There are many large companies offering remote work these days too. Here’s the Top 100 Companies For Remote Jobs in 2019 (Forbes)
Let us walk you through the what you should consider for this option.
Figure out what you’ll do before setting off
First things first, this option requires some preparation too, but it will get you traveling sooner rather than later. Finding jobs and tasks that will give you the most bucks for your skills takes some research and trial and error.
You could go for teaching a language, but don’t forget that there are so many others that are doing that, so the pay might be quite low. It is good to spend some time before you leave to figure out what skill you can best utilize and do on the go.
Relaxing and recovering from stress will be tough
If your intention is to recover from stress and find some peace of mind during your trip, it might be tough to fulfil this goal with this option. After all, you will be working for a significant amount of time to support your trip. It may be especially challenging in the beginning if you have no experience with freelancing or you are entering a new industry.
Flexibility might be hindered by commitments
You will have commitments that you will need to live up to. Projects will have deadlines, and students will want fixed appointments. Your income will be determined by the amount of work you take, and the more work you pick up, the more commitments you will have.
You will spend time looking for work frequently
You will need to make sure you keep up with the work to support your trip. Unless you have a fixed contract to work remotely, finding work will require some effort and energy too. This means you would be spending some of your time traveling looking for new opportunities, without a definite monetary return.
You’ll need a good dose of discipline
You will not be traveling full time. If you choose to work while you travel, you have to accept the fact that you will be near the perfect surf spots, but will have other commitments to attend than surf. You will have to hold back all those temptations and take your work seriously. Those temptations might be bigger than at home, as you will choose your ideal spots for working.
Exceptional time management skills and discipline will be required to make sure you get to enjoy your destination and keep up with the work.
You’ll get to choose you habitat
The other side of the coin is that you will choose where and perhaps when you want to work. If daily sunset walks by the beach are your preference, you could choose to live near the beach. Or if mountainy scenery is your medicine, find a mountain village that you like. And if you don’t like a place, move on.
These days, fast internet connection is available almost anywhere, so the habitat catalogue is immense. There are plenty of co-working spots all over the world.
Fast or slow travel
Your speed of travel will be determined by the projects or jobs that you take up. Working at a physical location, such as a hostel, will require you to stay at that location for a certain period of time before seeing the rest of the country. If you work online as a digital nomad, you will also need to adjust your speed to have sufficient time to actually do some work.
Intentions for working while traveling
The last and most important thing to say about this option is that, if you pull it off successfully, it will allow you to travel indefinitely. You could make travelling a lifestyle rather than a longer trip. Based on the income you manage to generate, you could also make it as luxurious as you wish, depending on where you go.
If your intention when setting off is to travel for an indefinite period of time or start a new career, then this option might be right for you.
If you are looking for time to relax and recover from stress, starting out on this path might not be the right choice. But, don’t be put off just yet, below we discuss an option that might be interesting for relaxing and then working.
3. The hybrid – Saving and Working to Travel Around The World
This option is a combination of the above two. You start to travel by living off your savings for the first few weeks or months, and then start working to make traveling a lifestyle.
Read below what you should consider when choosing this option to travel around the world.
Get the best of both worlds
With this option you get to enjoy the benefits of both options and see for yourself what fits you better.
Financing your trip through your savings at first gives you time to enjoy traveling full time without any commitments. This is good if you would like to take some time off to recover from stress or just enjoy before trying out the digital nomad lifestyle.
This sounds quite attractive and seems like the perfect solution, but before you jump in and pick this one, consider the following.
Spend more time preparing for your trip
You will need to prepare for both options. You will need to save enough and also have an idea of which skills you could utilize to work. If you choose to delay preparing to work online for later, then your full time relaxing travel time might be not so relaxing.
By preparing for both ahead of your leaving date, you will be able to reap the most benefits from both options.
Intentions for the hybrid – travel and work
This option is ideal for someone that wants to go travelling to escape the routine or recover from stress, while at the same time looking for a new career path. Since you will be getting some freedom time at the beginning and then start working, you could satisfy both wants.
The intention should also be to change your lifestyle and travel indefinitely. Turning away from settling down, and choosing to be a nomad on the go for a while.
4. Travel around the world without worrying about money
We have previously written a guide on how to travel without worrying about money based on our own experience. The idea is to build a portfolio of assets that will generate sufficient income to cover your trip expenses on a regular basis.
Here is an example of such an asset.
You may already own your apartment or house. When you are away traveling the world, you won’t be using it yourself, so you may rent it out and use some of the income to cover your trip’s expenses.
There are plenty of other options out there such as stocks and bonds. You have to pick the ones that resonate with you the most.
Here is what to consider when pursuing this option
You could be Financially Independent in some places, but not in others
With this option, you might be able to generate sufficient income to cover your expenses for certain destinations. South East Asia is relatively cheap compared to Europe, America, or Australia. Thus, income from your assets at home might cover you there quite well.
This may limit your options and the level of luxury of your trip. It all depends on how much passive income you manage to generate.
Your money won’t run out and you won’t have to work!
When you reach a point that you have enough passive income to travel, you could travel without worrying about your money running out as it might with savings, and without having to work much for it. With all assets generating passive income, there is some work involved, but the idea is that you don’t get paid by the hour, and rather work a few hours to ensure everything is going well.
It ain’t that simple
The down side of this option is that there is no easy or straightforward way to build assets that generate income. It can take a very long time, and might require you to learn new skills and educate yourself financially. Depending on where you are starting from, this option might be more or less attractive. Nonetheless it is a viable option.
Intentions for the Financial Independence option
When pursuing this option, you cannot expect to be travelling very soon. If you are looking to recover from stress or escape the routine, it might take some endurance before you reach the point you can travel with this option.
Nonetheless, if traveling is not the highest on your priority list, but you would like to travel in the future without worrying about running out of savings or having to work, then you might want to pursue this option. If you desire to live flexibly, anywhere in the world, and work on things that you want when you want, this option is worthwhile pursuing. While it is the most difficult to obtain, the rewards are the highest here.
Travel around the world with clear interntions
The four options we mentioned above are all plausible ways for you to cover your traveling expenses. As we discussed, all options entail various points of consideration with advantages and disadvantages. The best option for you highly depends on your personal situation.
Through having clear intentions, you will be able to pick the option that suits you the most and has the most benefits that you seek to have on your travels.
One thing that all options have in common is that they require preparation.
You need to do some research and planning for all options ahead of the date you set off on your round the world trip. By preparing sufficiently, your travels will be smoother, more enjoyable, and you will reap the benefits you seek to gain from traveling.
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