At this point you should have picked a choice, or a couple choices, for your Side Income. If you haven't started putting that together already, you should do that first. We want to make sure you are successful in your endeavors to travel the world, so it is important for you to start making that money! If you need help, please reach out to us and our community and we will try to direct you to the right place or even give you some free helpful advice ourselves.
Once that is in place, it's time for Step 2: Lifestyle Choices!
Our lifestyle choices always end up influencing our budgets. The goal is to maximize the value you receive from the money that you spend. That doesn't mean that cheap has to be cheap. It means that you can look for a four star place at a two star price or maybe you catch a regularly expensive flight for almost no money whatsoever.
By looking at Our Budget you can see what type of Lifestyle Choices that we have made.
For example: our current budget is set at $1,782.50 each per month ($3,565 total).
[Starting in April, we are planning to do it on under $1,000 each per month AND with a baby!]
At the time of writing this page, here are our MONTHLY expenses:
35.92% on Accommodations (hotels, etc) = $640.27 each
31.02% on Transportation (flights, cars, trains, buses, etc) = $552.93 each
21.83% on Food (dining, fast, groceries, etc) = $389.12 each
8.89% on Entertainment (cultural sites, theater, adventure, etc) = $158.46 each
2.34% on Other (souvenirs, clothes, phone, hygiene items, etc) = $41.71 each
That boils down to the following DAILY expenses:
Accommodations = $21.34 each
Transportation = $18.43 each
Food = $12.97 each
Entertainment = $5.28 each
Other = $1.39 each
$59.41 per person per day
This number is the REAL result that we’ve had since we’ve started traveling. It is a culmination of our Lifestyle Choices in regards to accommodations, transportation, food, entertainment, and other expenses. That means that each of us has to be generating at least $59.41 per day from our Side Income to pay for our Lifestyle Choices.
In this year of travel, these are the Lifestyle choices that we have made in order to afford to travel full time based on the side income that we are generating:
We average less than $50 per night by staying in Airbnb’s, VRBO’s, and booking.com reservations. That means less than $25 each per night. That may seem high, but when you consider we spent most of that time in Europe and the U.K., it isn’t terrible - plus we were still learning. We stay in hotels only when our schedules are tight and only by using rewards points from credit cards (at a cost of $0). Great travel tip: ALL of your rent costs (i.e. booking.com) count as travel spending for your rewards points on your credit cards. That’s HUGE!
We have been flying mostly on discount airlines and using the metro. Uber’s only when affordable (i.e. Egypt).
Our Airbnb’s and booking.com reservations generally have kitchens that we use to cook about half of our meals. We search for affordable restaurants and are mindful of prices when going out. Additionally, we typically skip alcoholic beverages and opt for tap water (if it’s safe in that country).
We've researched entertainment options that provide the most amount of fun for the best value after finding deals and discounts.
We use the shampoo and soaps that are available for use at the hotels, VRBO’s, Airbnb's, or booking.com reservations that we stay at as well. Our only real souvenir at each country is an iron-on patch which takes up little space, weighs about nothing, and is fairly cheap. Very little clothes and electronics replacements so far!
Your Lifestyle Choices may be more luxurious or carefree than ours.
ACTION ITEM: Put together a 90 day itinerary for your travel around the world. When this 90 day itinerary is complete, it should give you a good estimate for how much your travel lifestyle will cost on a daily basis. Do the research in each section and determine some actual real-life costs (Don’t worry, this type of research is NOT always required for every place you go. You will eventually get a “feeling” for what costs will be like as you travel). Record each of these costs and then determine the daily cost by dividing by the appropriate number of days (90). This will determine how much you will need to be generating from your Side Income Plan to afford to travel forever! Pull up the “Eat Wander Explore - 90 Day Itinerary” to start creating your budget!
Researching your Accommodations Lifestyle Costs
accommodation: a room, group of rooms, or building in which someone may live or stay. (i.e. Hotels, Hostels, Bed & Breakfasts, Apartments, Resorts, etc.)
Do you enjoy staying in luxurious hotels or sleeping directly on the sand at the beach? Most people are somewhere in between with hotels, Airbnb’s, or hostels. Many of us would certainly pick a luxurious hotel if the price point was the same across the board, but that simply isn’t the case. When trying to travel the world with only our side income to support us, we have to decide if we can suffice with the lower category accommodations or if we need to work harder on our side income strategies.
Action Item: Pull up booking.com and do the following searches. Write down your results either on paper or in a file on your computer.
Choose the location that you want to travel to first. These will be known as [Location1] in the steps below.
Search booking.com for a hotel by typing in “[Location1]” and choosing a date that starts 3 months from today and lasts for up to 30 days.
When the hotel list comes up, find the “Filter by:” column on the left side of the screen. Choose the “5 Stars” option under the “Star Rating” area. Once the page updates, look near the top of the results page for more options. There should be a selection that is highlighted green titled “Our Recommendations”. Change that to “Lowest Price First”.
Next, you will see a “Review Score” for each location on the Top Right. Choose the first one from the top that has a review score of 8.0 or higher and is still available. Write down the cost for this location as we will use it later.
Deselect the “5 Stars” option and select the “3 Stars” option. Switch the green highlighted item on the top to the “Lowest Price First” option again (it may have switched back). Choose the first listing that has a review score of 8.0 or higher. Write down that cost.
Deselect the “3 Stars” option and then look for the “Property Type” area. Select both the “Hostels” and “Bed and Breakfasts” options. Remember to change the filter on the top back to “Lowest Price First” again. Choose the first listing that has a review score of 8.0 or higher. Write down that cost.
Compare the rates. Which one is cheaper? What is your daily rate for each of these accommodations? Which one seems like the best option to you based on your lifestyle needs?
Add the accommodation that you desire to the 90-Day Itinerary. If this is not your only destination over these 90 days, repeat this exercise for each location you will be going to.
Researching your Transportation Lifestyle Costs
Do you enjoy being on first class flights or hitchhiking when moving from place to place? With transportation, it definitely depends on where you are headed next. It isn’t easy to hitchhike from Norway to Shanghai, but it could be done! Also, it’s not cheap to fly first class everywhere you go. Are you the type that requires limo’s, taxi’s, uber’s, or are you alright with using public buses or the metro?
Now that you’ve selected your accommodation location, we’ll need to figure out how to get there. Remember, you should only need to use one-way tickets because you are going to be moving from one location to the next without the need to return home!
Open up vayama.com and do a regular search for a flight from your location to [Location1]. Record the costs for the flight that you are most comfortable with flying on. Vayama is great because it hosts a number of value airlines that are not hosted at other sites. If your destination does not require a flight, determine the appropriate bus, train, train, metro, car, fuel and toll costs instead.
Open up norwegianair.com and use their search system. This one is a bit different. Just under the main title screen that says “Destinations” in bold, you will see “Prices are from [Chicago] for [both direct and transit] flights in [USD] and include taxes and charges”. You will have to select one of their starting locations - and you may alter the other settings as well. If your current location is nowhere near any of Norwegian’s locations, please skip this step. The list below will show every location that they fly to, and the lowest cost for those flights in each month. Click on the month of January to see what flight is nearest to your departure date and return date. This may require that you change the dates for your reservation as well.
Open up Google Matrix ITA and/or Kayak.com’s and use their search system. The Google matrix has a +/- 2 day option to allow you to see potentially cheaper flights that are leaving a few days before or after the date that you select. Kayak has a special +/- 3 days option as well. To access Kayak’s option, click on your travel dates and change the “exact” option to “+/- 3 days” on your departure date to see if cheaper flights are available near your travel date. If the savings are significant, you might want to alter your travel plans to save the extra money! If so, choose a different 7 day trip for your accommodations.
Compare the costs of the flights that you found on Vayama, Norwegian Air, Google Matrix ITA, Kayak and any other flight search engine that you used. Did you notice any significant differences between the sites? What is the cost per day for this trip (total cost of the flight divided by the length of your trip [this would be 7 for a 7 day trip, or 30 for a 30 day trip, etc.])?
Choose one flight that you prefer over all of the others. Add this Transportation method to your 90-Day Itinerary. If this is not your only destination over these 90 days, repeat this exercise for each location you will be going to.
Are you interested in learning how to hack flight fares? See this article by NomadsNation.
*Keep in mind that you will likely need to rent a Vehicle or take Ubers, Taxis, Buses, or even the Metro to make it to your accommodations and/or to travel around your destination locations as well.
Researching your Dining Lifestyle Costs
It isn’t a big secret that gourmet meals taste so good! But eating pieces of bread and finding drinking fountains will keep you from starving. Everyone needs to make sure that they budget and keep enough money for food. It should be said that out of all of the categories, this one is by far the most important - because without food the journey becomes desperate very quickly. There are places to find inexpensive food - pasta, for example, is quite cheap if you can cook it yourself. Find out how you can make your dining lifestyle fit into your budget by clicking the button below.
Pull up google.com and do a search for “how much does a meal cost in [Location1]”. The costs in your home location may be quite different than the costs in your destination location. The result of your search should be a list with a list of costs for that area, such as: “Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant”, “Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course”, “McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)”, “Domestic Beer (1 pint draught)”, or “Average weekly grocery bill (including food, basic laundry and toiletry items for 2 people)”. These will give you estimates for specific types of meals in that location. Occasionally, they will be listed for 2 people or for a full week. You can divide these numbers by 2 or 7, as is necessary, to come up with the appropriate individual cost estimates if necessary.
Choose a good weekly mix for yourself when it comes to meals. If you currently eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner - make sure that you include costs for each of those items. Do you enjoy only having higher-end meals? How often do you have those per week? Would you have “McMeal’s” or “Mid-range” meals more frequently? How often do you cook for yourself? Use the cost list that you pulled up for that location to gauge your average weekly meal costs while you are there.
Search our site using the search bar below for [Location1]. See if anything interesting comes up for food that you could try. Also, do a Google search for “Cheap places to eat in [Location1]”. Skip the TripAdvisor links and look for local links (that appear to be from your destination location) or ones from Culture Trip or Lonely Planet. Do any of these locations interest you? If so, see if they have any prices listed for their food and add them to your 90-Day Itinerary if you think it makes sense to go there. Alter your weekly meal cost if necessary.
Now that you have your weekly cost of dining, you may still need to convert that cost into your own currency. For example, if I am coming up with a total of £300 per week (Great Britain Pounds), but my home currency is US Dollars ($), then I should do a google to find out the correct foreign exchange cost. For example, Google: “300 pounds to us dollars”. The result that I obtained from that search - at this current date - is that it would cost me 384.76 United States Dollars. Exchange rates change a little bit each day, so if you do that search right now, the result may be quite different! If the currency that it lists is incorrect, you can change the numbers on the search screen to get the appropriate calculations. Either way, this is just an estimate that we will use for calculating your daily expense for food while you are there. The estimate should be decent enough.
Now that you have a proper estimate for your cost of food, divide that cost by the total number of days that you will be staying here. That will be your daily food cost. Do you think that number seems realistic?
Add the daily food cost for [Location1] to your 90-Day Itinerary. If this is not your only destination over these 90 days, repeat this exercise for each location you will be going to.
Researching your Entertainment Lifestyle Costs
When traveling the world, you occasionally need to be entertained. That might be at Disneyland, fine arts, ancient cultural sites, museums, bus tours, movie theaters, canyoning trips, hiking excursions, white water rafting, or scuba diving. Many of these activities will cost you money while other things, such as just wandering around town, doing a free nature hike, or swimming at a local beach may even be free. Your side income will only be able to pay for so much, so determining how to get the things that cost money for cheaper prices will be a skill worth learning! Start by clicking on the button below to learn how to save on entertainment costs.
One of the easiest things to do is to search for “free things to do in [Location1]” on Google. Generally, a few lists will come up that tell you all about what things you could do for free while you are there. This list will help you balance the expensive activities with the free activities to keep your overall entertainment lifestyle costs reasonable. Do a search for [Location1] to help you build your list of activities. Place some of these on your 90-Day Itinerary.
The next search will be similar, but it may include things that will likely cost a little bit of money as well. Search for “cheap things to do in [Location1]” and open up a couple of those lists. You may even find some of these articles on our website’s search results! If you find some that you would like to do, place them on your 90-Day Itinerary.
Next, search “important things to see in [Location1]”. These results will likely show you “Best things to do in [Location1]”, but hopefully the results will show you the more important ones first. We share tons of the best articles that we find on our website, so it might be a great place to do your search instead of Google - because we eliminate the TripAdvisor and Generic Lists and give you actual quality bloggers and legitimate lists. If we use Google, we typically look for the Culture Trip and Lonely Planet lists first as they tell you about the places instead of just giving you a bunch of reviews that might or might not be legitimate (many are paid for by the locations that are listed). Read through a couple of these lists and pick out some places that you feel you can’t miss. Add those to your 90-Day Itinerary.
Researching the Other Costs associated with your Lifestyle
Do you like to bring your own special brand of hair products with you everywhere you go? Are you the one who can’t live without your industrial strength hair dryer? Do you need to have a new outfit every single week? Must you buy at least 2 or 3 souvenirs at every country that you visit? Or are you able to get by with the hotel shampoos, same clothes you’ve had for three years, and no souvenirs? Our “other” lifestyle is our cheapest category because we - personally - are alright using most of the shampoos that are provided, don’t buy many new clothes, and only each buy a single travel patch for every country we visit. It is difficult for us to examine this are as everyone’s style is quite different. However, if it doesn’t fall into one of the other categories, then it falls here. So, take a look at your current lifestyle and see how much you spend and/or if you might be able to reduce those costs and still feel comfortable with your lifestyle afterward. Let us know if you have any questions!
Do you have an unlocked phone? will your phone work in every country that you visit? Do a quick Google search to check out if you will need a new phone.
While there are international SIM cards that will allow you to make calls in any country in the world, the phones plans that they come with are typically quite expensive. You may feel that you can travel with only Wi-Fi access, and that is possible (we have done it!). However, occasionally, you may find yourself stranded and without any Wi-Fi access in your area! Do a search on Google to see “what cellular companies operate in [Location1]” to see where you might be able to purchase a SIM card and some data if you feel the need for it. You may end up having multiple SIM cards to carry with you around the world as you accumulate them over time!
Clothes and electronics have different prices all around the world. Make sure you have the things you need as it might be too expensive to purchase when you realize that you need them! However, also remember that packing light is very important as well - as you’ll be carrying this stuff everywhere that you go!
Laundry soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and body wash are typically easy to locate just about anywhere you go and they are usually not too pricey. How much do you generally spend on these things while you are at home? Make sure to add a monthly average to your 90-Day Itinerary as you’ll likely need to pick up more on the way!
Altering your Lifestyle based on Destination
Did you know that simply changing your destination could save you upwards of 50% on your travels? Many people can’t afford to start off by traveling around Europe or the United States simply because the cost is too much. For example, it generally costs us around $50/night while staying at booking.com reservations or Airbnb’s in Europe or the United States, but when we book places in Africa or Southwest Asia we generally pay half - or less - for our accommodations! The same savings usually apply for all of the categories (apart from flights). So, if you find that your side income strategies aren’t yet able to cover your lifestyle choices while traveling in Europe, take a look into Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, Indonesia, Egypt, or Tanzania. There are even some great affordable places in South or Central America. If you are hoping for an affordable place in Europe, consider Portugal or Eastern Europe as you’ll find the best prices in those destinations!
Repeat the Action Item that you did above in “Accommodations” but switch your [Destination1] with a different Southeast Asian destination from this list: [Hanoi, Vientiane, Chiang Mai, Manila, Bali].
Compare your weekly rates between your [Destination1] and Asian destinations. Which one is cheaper? What is your daily rate for each of the “5 Stars” stays? What is your daily rate for each of the “3 Stars” stays? What is your daily rate for each of the “Hostel” / “Bed and Breakfasts” stays?
If the Side Income that you are generating from Step 1 doesn’t seem to cover the expenses for traveling to [Destination1], do you see how altering your destination could potentially allow you to start your travels earlier?
Altering your Lifestyle based on Duration
As mentioned above, flights don’t necessarily go down by traveling to a cheaper destination country; However, you could choose to stay longer in each place so that you have less transportation costs! The duration of your stay can greatly decrease your daily transportation costs. For example, if you are traveling to a new country each week you will be paying for 4 different airplane/bus tickets per month, but if you stay in each place for an entire month then you’ll only have one ticket per month. You could even stay longer - for 3 months for example - and then you’ll have reduced your transportation costs even more! Consider duration especially when your budget is low. It could make a big difference - plus you’ll be able to experience more in that location, have time to relax a little, and possibly even see a few different seasons! Alternatively, you could also choose locations that are not far from your previous destination to save on transportation costs.
Repeat the Action Item that you did above in “Accommodations” but switch your stays to be twice as long. If you can’t book more than 30 days at a time, try making two separate bookings at the same place (you may need to switch rooms, but your transportation cost to get from one room to the other is zero!).
Compare your new daily rates (focus on your transportation savings, not just potential savings at the accommodation). The flight out may not change, but by visiting less places, your transportation costs overall should decrease because you’ll have less flights/trains etc that you will have to purchase. Which itinerary is cheaper?
Repeat this Action Item with your Southeast Asian destination from “Altering your Destination” above. What are your thoughts and conclusions? Do you see how staying for 90 days at a time in a Southeast Asian country could be extraordinarily cheap?
Action Item: Now choose a few more destinations of your choice and complete your 90-Day Itinerary by using the skills that you have learned here (and any other that you may be aware of already). This should include the following: 1. A flight to your first destination (and transportation from the airport/terminal to your accommodation if needed), 2. The cost of your accommodations, 3. Average food costs for each destination, 4. the costs of your entertainment choices, and 5. ‘other’ costs while you are there and (if you are staying at more than one destination in this 90 day period), 6. transportation to your next destination (and so on for each of your destinations). Remember, the destination country and how long you stay in each country matters! Once you have all of your costs, check your average daily cost. Share your average daily cost in our Facebook Group: “Free Nomad Guide”. If you would like assistance with decreasing this average daily cost, please let us know what we can assist you with in that post and we will do our best to help you out - entirely free! Good luck!