When people say that they are going to travel the world for an entire year, the perception is that they’ve saved up a LOT of money to be able to afford it. That makes sense considering that The Motley Fool states that “the average American is spending $1,928 for a week-long trip” (per person). If we did the math, that would mean a full year of vacation would cost $100,256 PER PERSON - yikes! And, probably impossible unless you were super wealthy - thus it makes sense that people think that we are rich (because we’ve been traveling the world for well over a year now). Well, the truth is, we have been spending no more than $2,000 PER MONTH (not per week) and that includes ALL EXPENSES that we have AS A FAMILY (not “per person”). Yes, this means we travel the world on a Family Budget of $24,000 per year!
“Indeed, the freedom to go vagabonding has never been determined by income level; it's found through simplicity - the conscious decision of how to use what income you have.” - Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
This isn’t impossible if you’re equipped with the right knowledge. We’ve paid attention to books like these:
We aren’t rich by any means, but we have been able to travel to 4 different continents and 20 different countries all in the last 420 days - and we will be traveling to our 5th continent and 3 more countries within the next few months - still on under $2,000 per month for the whole family (2 adults and a baby). Yes, our budget was a little bigger at first, but it quickly decreased to make this sustainable in the long-run. But, there are still some major perception issues that come up - mostly from family and friends.
We Can’t Just Fly Back Home for a Visit
Sadly, this is one of the biggest downsides of traveling long-term on a limited budget. When you are traveling on an extreme budget you are limited to the places that are around you. This is true for anyone, not just us! However, the farther away from home we get - currently on the other side of the world - the more it would cost to fly directly home. In fact, we recently checked and saw that a round-trip ticket would run us around $2,500 (and those are hacker priced fares!). Even a one-way ticket for us all would run at least $1,459! It just isn’t feasible on a budget of $2,000 per month to be able to afford a ticket with that price tag on it. This is because we can’t just simply “borrow from the future” (debt) nor can we eat a negative amount of food - even if we wanted to be homeless (or if family and friends allowed us to stay over for free for the entire month). Thus, the only way to get back to those places is to actually move a little closer to them each month until we get there.
Just Use Some of Our “Extra Money” to Fly Back!
Well, that would be nice but it doesn’t exist. You see, there is this thing called “income” and it generally comes to people every other week. It’s not just a pot of money that you should get paid this year that you can reach into and take whenever you want (wouldn’t that be nice!). That income is the same type of income that we live on while we are traveling. Thus, it’s not like we had $96,000 sitting around and decided to travel the world for 4 years on a budget of $24,000 per year ($2,000 per month). Many people assume that this is what we have done as well. Thus, since we are only in year 2 of our travels, we should have some “extra money” sitting around that we could borrow from to fly back. That is also not accurate. What we do have is similar to a regular job. We work while we travel and we get paid on a monthly basis. The amount that we get paid is roughly $2,000 per month. You can view our budget from the beginning of our travels on “Our Budget” page.
How Do We Use Our Income?
We use these funds in much the same way that anyone uses their income. Instead of paying rent or a mortgage payment, we pay for an Airbnb or cheap hotel/hostel room. Instead of paying for a car payment, we pay for flights, buses, rental cars etc. We don’t eat out at restaurants all the time either - it is much like if we were living at “home” where we go out occasionally but end up buying groceries and cooking for ourselves most of the time. As for entertainment, we generally only explore the cheap or free places in each country. Recently, we’ve been staying longer in each place because of our low budget. This allows us to “split” the transportation costs of flights between 2 months instead of just one, allowing us a little more money to enjoy a nicer meal or a unique place in the country that we are in. But, don’t fall under the assumption that we are on a permanent “vacation” as we certainly are not. It’s just like living at home. We work, we earn income, and we pay our regular living expenses. The only difference is that we don’t always wake up in the same place.
Where Does Our Income Come From?
As we have been traveling, we have learned how to best book everything we need while saving the most money and getting the best value. Right now, we are focused on getting the most value for every single dollar. Some of those airlines, airbnb’s, etc that we use have become business partners with EatWanderExplore (affiliates). When we use their service, we buy something that would originally cost $100 for exactly the same price, $100. The only difference is that they might normally get to keep 10% of that $100 for their own profit and in the case where they are business partners with us, we can book it through them or offer it to anyone else for that same $100 and they will get to keep 7% of the profit (instead of 10%) and we will be able to keep the other 3%. This means that it costs us, and our customers, nothing more - but the profit is shared in a way that we have earned a piece of it. The income that we earn from this method isn’t very high yet, but hopefully it will increase in the future.
Additionally, we earn dividends on our investments. Bradley has personal experience going back as early as 2005 with investing as well as professional experience since as early as 2008 (he even has an MBA in Finance). He is planning on putting out a course to teach people how to earn a decent amount (5-8% per year) in relatively safe “Preferred Stocks” (when compared to Stocks in general) which behave more like Bonds than stocks. We earn dividends from our investments in exactly the same way - which contributes to our $2,000 monthly income and helps us pay for our travels as well; However, we don’t want to use these dividends at all (as our retirement accounts don’t grow if we take out the dividends) and we are hoping to stop using them as soon as the income increases from our travel partners.
Here are a few of our Travel Partners (see below, they look like ads!)
What Does Our Typical Week/Month Budget Look Like?
As you can see by looking at Our Budget, roughly 35.5% of our $2,000 budget goes towards accommodations costs. This means that, on average, we have been spending about $710 per month on Airbnbs or hotels that we book through our business partners. You will also see that 28.4% of our budget goes towards transportation (flights, ubers, buses, cars, etc) - which is roughly $568 per month, and 21.7% goes towards food - roughly $434. That leaves just $288 per month for entertainment and personal hygiene items, phone data, clothes, and anything else that we need (11% is our average for excursions and 3.5% is our average for other items, $219 and $69 per month respectively). Thus, we are probably spending less than you on most things (i.e. our rent is less, but our transportation costs - car, gas, insurance, maintenance - might be a little more.
What Is Our Daily Life Actually Like?
The other thought is that we are constantly on vacation. Well, the reality is that we only go out about twice per week - once for groceries and maybe a meal, and the other day for excursions. The other five days of the week we are working (4 days of regular work on blogs, social media to grow traffic, photo/video editing, etc) and 1 day for planning out our schedule for our next location. So, Sundays are our days off, Monday and Tuesday are work days, Wednesday we break for groceries and a meal, Thursday and Friday are also work days, and then Saturday is a planning day. We work more than you think - and none of it is really a “vacation” as we never really get to just relax. In fact, we’ve been trying to figure out how to work in a vacation for ourselves of 1 week per quarter, but we haven’t figured that out yet and can’t really afford to take the time off at this point. Keep in mind that we are doing all of this with an infant as our baby was born while we have been traveling around the world!
Hopefully you understand our life situation a little better now. This lifestyle probably isn’t much different from many of the travel bloggers that you may have heard about. We are working hard to increase our income, just like most of you are doing as well. For us, that means we need more people to come to our site and read our blogs or book their trips through our website. We hope that, with your help in sharing our blogs and website, that we will eventually be able to afford to travel home more often.
You can help by planning your vacations and booking your trips through our site. Because travel is a massive part of our lifestyle, we know how to get you the best value for your money. This “Book Your Trip” page has links to the best travel deals you can get on your own. By using that page, you can be assured that you are getting some of the best deals out there automatically. However, if those deals aren’t doing it for you, then you could also ask us to help you out - a service that we provide completely for free! This could mean getting you a 5-star hotel at a 3-star price, finding you the best Airbnb for your money, or even getting you a flight from Orlando, Florida to Paris, France for under $200! Yes, we know how to do this quite well.
And we also offer to help you set up your entire trip absolutely free (our service of setting up the trip for you is free, not the trip!). But, we are quite sure that we can get you a better trip than you would otherwise be able to get for less money than you thought you would have to spend - and if not, it didn’t cost you a thing! That is how we try to help people. That is what our mission is with EatWanderExplore. Contact us if you would like us to help you plan your trip. Again, it’s absolutely free to you!
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Jenny & Bradley of EatWanderExplore