I often wonder if others have some of my thoughts about travel — daydreaming about a life of adventure in a foreign land where they speak a different language? Does waking up in a different place every few days sound like the perfect way to live your life? For many, full-time travel may be just a dream, and they do not realize the reality: full-time travel is easier than you think.
No matter how exciting it sounds, there are pros and cons to consider before jumping into such an undertaking. It requires planning, research, and dedication – but if done right, it can be one of your life’s most rewarding experiences.
I have compiled a list of the many things one needs to consider when looking to make a significant lifestyle change of full-time travel. So, let’s take a closer look at all that’s involved with full-time travel. From costs, packing tips, visas & more – I’ve got you covered on everything you need to know before taking the plunge, starting with the basics of what it means to travel full-time. You’re welcome if you are thinking about full-time travel and unsure how to start.
Full-time travel can be daunting for those who have never leaped, but it can also be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling adventures you’ll ever experience. Before getting started, understanding the pros and cons of full-time travel is essential, so this article will outline all the key points to remember when deciding if full-time travel suits you.
Full-time Travel or Travel Lifestyle
The first thing to consider is that although we may say “full-time travel,” this is more of a full-time travel lifestyle. For most, travel is about taking a “trip” or going on a “vacation” once or twice a year. I often get asked, “When do you go home” when I meet locals and other travelers around the globe. Traveling full-time or a travel lifestyle is more than that; it is a way of life. It is not only planned for but practiced and refined over and over as we travel more and more.
So as you consider a lifestyle change, you must consider what it would mean and how different your life may be when you are permanently on the road, or at least for now. Especially the latter, as the more I travel the more I realize that nothing it permanent in this world.
Pros of Full-time Travel
Traveling full-time has a lot of benefits that make it an attractive option for many. The most obvious pros are the opportunities to explore new places and cultures, experience different lifestyles, and meet incredible people worldwide.
It may not seem like it, but full-time travel can be financially rewarding if you plan and take advantage of cheaper accommodation options like Couchsurfing or house-sitting. You can also find flexible work opportunities anywhere in the world with websites such as Freelancer or UpWork.
You’ll gain more freedom during your travels since you don’t have to commit to one place for long periods. Full-time traveling allows you to live life on your terms without worrying about tight schedules and strict routines that force many people into stressful lives they don’t enjoy living.
You will also learn new skills along the way – from valuable social skills dealing with different types of people to technical knowledge related to digital nomadism or blogging.
You get to see the world
One of the most prominent and appealing benefits of full-time travel is that it allows you to get out into the world and see places that you and perhaps many only imagine. Without restrictions on time or access, who knows where your journey could take you!
You’ll have a chance to see new cultures, visit iconic landmarks, explore wilderness trails and experience brilliant night skies. By traveling full-time, everything becomes your playground, as every moment is an opportunity for something new – whether it’s an old ruin in a jungle or a seaside village with friendly locals.
Moreover, traveling full-time can give you plenty of opportunities to tap into the local culture by talking to people and sampling their food. Traveling full-time allows you to connect with locals on a deeper level, more than just a few days when you are on vacation. The result is that you get to see your destination in a much deeper way. You can also dive deep into different parts of history through monuments like the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt or Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
One of the most significant financial benefits of full-time travel is that you don’t need to break the bank. You can often find accommodations and transportation much cheaper than what it would cost in your hometown and much less than people think.
Another bonus of traveling is saving on rent or mortgage payments! As long as you can pay for a place temporarily, like hostels or Airbnb, while you’re away, you can put real estate costs out of your budget. For the past month, I have stayed in hotels 100% of the time and spent less than $500 US for the entire month! That is rent, utilities, internet, sheets and linens, bathroom supplies, etc. Sometimes, the room had complimentary breakfast, snacks, drinks, and even some free and discounted activities.
Finally, many countries offer tax deductions if they have received income from abroad. This means that if you work remotely while traveling, part of the money earned may be exempt from taxes due to foreign-earned income exemptions (FEIE). Depending on where and how much money is made abroad, this could be a great way to help manage expenses while traveling full-time!
You gain more freedom
One of the most significant advantages of full-time travel is gaining more freedom. Moving around without worrying about a job or other commitments can be incredibly liberating. I have also learned that traveling as a minimalist adds to it all, but I digress.
You can do whatever you want, wherever and whenever you want it. You don’t have to ask for permission or worry about what people will think of your decisions. This could mean taking up a new career, taking on different jobs as you go, volunteering, traveling solo, or participating in risky activities. Countless possibilities come with more freedom.
It also means having the opportunity to leave behind any negative aspects of your life before setting off – old relationships, difficult family members, and home situations – all gone in the blink of an eye if you decide so! When you are 20,000 miles away and 15 hours ahead of the clock, it is easy to escape interpersonal conflicts.
You’ll learn new skills
One of the biggest pros of full-time travel is the opportunity to learn new skills. Whether it’s learning a foreign language, mastering a trade that you can use in different locations, improving your photography or video skills, or simply learning how to budget and plan more efficiently – full-time travel provides an environment where you can do this.
You are thrown into unknown situations quite often when traveling and have to think quickly on your feet. As such, you become a much more independent problem solver as time passes. Also, I have learned that as you go from place to place, each spot offers its unique culture and atmosphere with which you must familiarize yourself – these situations are often excellent opportunities for self-growth.
Cons of Full-Time Travel
While plenty of benefits come from full-time travel, it’s also essential to recognize the cons.
The most common con is homesickness. For some people, being away from familiar places and faces can be challenging and lead to loneliness or depression. It’s essential to work on coping with any homesickness you may experience when traveling for an extended period.
Another issue many travelers face is financial struggles in certain areas of their trip. If you don’t budget your money appropriately, it’s easy to blow through your budget quickly and find yourself in a financial pinch during the middle of a long trip abroad. I travel on the cheap as a standard, so when I splurge occasionally, it is of no consequence.
Cultural adjustment can also take its toll on travelers from different countries or backgrounds than those they visit on their journey. Adjusting culturally and linguistically makes keeping up with daily life difficult in a new place, which could result in feeling overwhelmed for extended periods while traveling full-time.
Being alone for an extensive length of time without friends or family around can be challenging at times as well, so make sure that if you choose this lifestyle, you have an idea of how you will stay connected with loved ones during your travels!
One of the cons of full-time travel is homesickness. Even if you love being on the go and exploring new places, it’s only natural to still feel a longing for home. Homesickness can be especially difficult when you’ve been away from home for a while or when something reminds you of your family and friends back home.
It’s important to recognize and acknowledge how you feel so you don’t become overwhelmed with emotions. Talk to a friend or family member back home and participate in activities that remind you of home, such as cooking your favorite meal or playing cards with friends online. I like to find a Mexican food restaurant, buy peanut butter when I grocery shop, and routinely check the weather in my hometown often; I know it is strange, but it helps me connect. There are plenty of ways to help ease any feelings of homesickness without having to return home immediately.
One of the main cons of full-time travel is that you can face various financial struggles. You can have difficulty maintaining your finances while traveling due to not budgeting properly or being low on money. The real question is how to travel full-time and make money; again, more to come.
Traveling full-time often means living on less income and savings than when you had your regular job back home. This change in your financial lifestyle can be difficult for some people to adjust to—especially if they are used to having more money at their disposal and aren’t used to living frugally.
It’s important to realize that sometimes you don’t have enough money because something unforeseen occurs. As a result, do your best to ensure that you have multiple sources of income available as additional safety nets for situations like this and save a significant amount of money before starting. It is not a matter of “if something comes up” but more of a “when something comes up,” so make sure you have an alternate plan.
Adjusting to a different culture can be one of the more challenging aspects of full-time travel. Even if you’re traveling somewhere with a similar language, everything from local customs and etiquette to food and transportation can vastly differ from what you’re used to in your hometown.
Doing your research beforehand is essential to avoid offending anyone or making a wrong move. Talk to locals, read online reviews and articles about the culture, watch documentaries, and practice any foreign languages you might need – getting as much information as possible will help you adjust quickly and more efficiently.
Also, remember that it’s not just about being aware of cultural differences but also embracing them! Taking the opportunity while abroad to try new things like trying local food (often), participating in festivals or events, and even simply talking with people on the street can give an insight into how things work in another country.
Being alone is something that many people struggle with while traveling, especially if they are doing it full-time. Even the most outgoing person can feel isolated and lonely at times. It can be challenging to make friends when you’re constantly on the move, and even more so when language and cultural barriers come into play.
Don’t let this discourage you from embarking on a full-time travel journey! There are plenty of ways to combat loneliness while on the road, such as staying in hostels or joining activities like organized tours or meetups where you can converse with fellow travelers who share similar interests.
You might also want to consider carrying some comforting items, such as pictures of your family and pets, or even something that makes you think of home, like a favorite blanket. Anything that will help you get through your time away from home until you can return and rejoin your loved ones. Again, call me a nerd, but I have a digital picture frame I travel with, a small, significant to me plush monkey, and a couple of other small items that remind me of home, family, and people miss.
How to Get Started
If you have a burning desire to travel and are ready to take the plunge, there are some steps you should take before you go.
The first thing to consider is your finances. Do you have enough saved up for travel? Can you afford any unexpected expenses? Consider these things when assessing whether full-time travel is right for you.
Next, where do you want to go? Are there particular places that interest or excite you? Ensure that the countries or regions where those places exist permit entry from people with your passport. Prepare yourself by learning about the culture of each area and researching customs and laws specific to traveling in certain countries. Additionally, ensure all necessary documents such as passports, visas, and vaccinations are taken care of beforehand – don’t leave it until the last minute!
Lastly, set up plans for communication while on the road. Whether having an international cell phone plan or using online messaging services like Skype or WhatsApp – staying connected can be a massive help if something goes wrong while traveling abroad. I have found it best to pick up a local sim card in-country and use Google Voice for calls; more on that later.
Assess your finances
Before embarking on a full-time travel adventure, it is imperative to assess your finances. This includes both short and long-term savings if any. It’s also important to know how much money you will need for your travels – from accommodations, food, and transport to equipment expenses and unforeseen medical costs.
Think about how long you plan on traveling, what regions you would like to explore, and how much money per day or week would be realistic for your budget. Additionally, consider setting up an emergency fund that can sustain several months of expenditures in case of unexpected financial needs, such as delays in work payments or additional fees due to changes in flight plans.
Having an accurate picture of your finances before you depart will help ensure that you have enough money during the entire duration of your trip without having severe financial hardship along the way!
Decide where you want to go
After assessing your finances and deciding that full-time travel suits you, the next step is to determine where you want to go. There are many considerations to make when choosing a destination for extended travel.
Consider the climate and seasons in different countries and cities and plan accordingly. Research prices, the type of accommodations available, and the cost of living in each place you may want to visit. Consider how much time you want to spend in each country and what activities interest you most. Ensure no visa or safety issues are associated with traveling to your chosen locations.
You should also consider how far away from home you want to be; some people prefer short-term trips near their home base, while others prefer longer stays somewhere more exotic! Whichever option works best for your budget, lifestyle, and preferences, carefully choose a destination offering an unforgettable, meaningful experience.
Prepare all the necessary documents
Preparing all the necessary documents to travel is a must before embarking on your full-time journey. This includes everything from valid passports and visas to any other paperwork required to enter countries you’ll be visiting.
For some countries, you may need to submit an application or provide additional information to get approval for a visa. It is essential to research each place you plan to visit in advance and understand the differences between visa requirements and immigration laws at your destination.
You should also ensure that all of your medical documentation is up-to-date and check if any traveler’s insurance will cover you abroad. If not, consider purchasing a travel policy that can cover health care costs, lost luggage, missed flights, etc., so that you don’t find yourself in an unexpected situation during your travels.
Set up a plan for communication and connection
When planning your full-time travels, one of the most important things to consider is how you and your family/friends will stay in touch. Before heading off on an adventure, you must find a way to keep the communication lines open with those who matter most. This is more than just about being homesick and overcoming the travel blues; but is about your safety, especially if you are a full-time solo traveler.
These days there is no excuse not to stay in contact with people back home. Take some time before your trip begins – set up a plan for communication and connection along the way – and make sure everyone knows your preferences when it comes to keeping in touch during your journeys.
The decision to pursue full-time travel is significant, and it’s essential to consider both the pros and cons. It takes some amount of financial planning, preparation, and cultural adjustment, but overall can be an incredibly freeing experience that opens you up to new opportunities. If you’ve been considering living abroad full-time, evaluate your finances, choose your destination, obtain the required documentation, and create a communication and connection plan with friends and family back home. This lifestyle can offer many benefits when done right, from seeing the world from unique perspectives to gaining more freedom for your travel adventures.