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How to Travel the World Without Going Broke

Molly Barnes Oct 19, 2019
Are you a recent college grad or young professional who dreams of traveling abroad – but you don’t think you can afford it while paying off student loans and dealing with entry-level pay?
Travel is expensive, but realizing your dream to see the world might not be as far-fetched as you think. One option is to become a digital nomad and combine work with adventure.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a digital nomad is a person who travels from place to place enjoying different locations while working from the road.
They heavily rely upon being able to work remotely, so you’ll often see them working in coffee shops, cafes, libraries, and other spaces. For many, it’s an enriching way to live.
The work you do on the road can help you pay for transportation and accommodations as you move from place to place in a true nomadic fashion.
But it’s not something you can spontaneously decide to do: To succeed, you generally have to make a workable plan first. Here are some tips.

Determine how you’ll make money

Figuring out how you’ll earn money while traveling is your first order of business. If you have no income, you can't fund your nomadic lifestyle. There are a number of ways you can generate income.

Gig it up

String together numerous gigs and side hustles. Freelancing is very common in the digital nomad community. Identify your marketable skills and start making some professional connections so you can line up remote employment opportunities before you set sail.

Work like a local

Take on short-term employment locally in various cities. Immerse yourself a city and live like a local. Not only will you make some money, but also you’ll gain unique cultural experiences.

Rent out your place

If you have the option, you can rent out your apartment as a vacation rental while you’re gone, bringing in a steady income stream. Online platforms and apps can help you manage the rental process from abroad.

Start a business

If you’ve ever dreamt of being your own boss rather than having to answer to someone else, now is the time to do it. If you have an idea for a product or service you’d like to sell, launch a startup, and market your company to get additional brand exposure. Attending events gives you an opportunity to understand how businesses operate in other countries.
Whatever option you choose, be sure to stay on the right side of the law. Secure the appropriate documents, licenses, and visas you’ll need to work in each place you go. Also, remember that you’ll still be responsible for domestic income taxes, so make certain you keep your tax documentation in order to avoid breaking tax laws.

Set a budget

Traveling means you eliminate big expenses like rent and utilities, but you do acquire other expenses such as transportation, accommodations, and food. Also, since you’ll be working remotely, you’ll need an ample mobile plan so you can use your phone as a primary device or hot spot, as necessary.
Once you total up your estimated expenses, add 25% for emergencies. Something will go undoubtedly go astray during your trip, so make sure you’re financially prepared.
Get your priorities and logistics covered first. Carefully look at what you need and what you don’t, and cut anything unnecessary.
Once you’ve done this, compare your income and expenses to see if the amounts balance out, then assess whether you have more than enough income to get started. This helps you to determine how and where you can start your journey.

Decide where you want to go

Choosing where you want to go is important, especially if you want to jump “across the pond,” which is more costly than traveling domestically. If you decide to live in one place for an extended period of time, this lets you seriously bring down your travel costs, depending on the places you choose.
If you’ve never been to Europe, you’ll probably want to see iconic cities such as London, Paris, or Madrid, but these places are expensive. A good cost-cutting plan is to set temporary roots in an affordable city and take shorter trips to explore the pricier cities. The same applies in the U.S.

More ways to travel on the cheap

To successfully travel the world without going broke, you’ll need to find as many ways as possible to bring down costs, including plenty of research to find the best deals. Consider these factors...

Flexibility

Look to travel to specific regions during the off-season for lower prices. For instance, if you’ve always wanted to see Disney World, try to travel to Florida while schools are in session; prices will be lower for airfare and accommodations.

Transportation

Taking a bus is often a cheap way to travel. It gives you plenty of opportunities to see new landscapes and meet different people as you travel the country.

Housing

In addition to rentals, in lieu of hotels, look at Airbnbs, couch surfing, and house sitting. (The latter could also be a good side gig!)

Food

Forget the trendy restaurants. Eat from food trucks, ask locals where they eat, and learn to cook regional cuisine. If you do want to eat a fancy meal, aim for lunch instead of dinner; you can usually get the same menu items but at cheaper prices. On days when you do eat dinner out, you can save half for the next day’s meal.

Credit Cards

Apply for a credit card with good travel rewards, so you can earn points and other perks along the way. Just be sure to pay your bill in full every month, or else you might forfeit the benefits you’ve earned.

Discount sites

Check out local discounts, use coupons, and explore Groupon or other websites to find cheaper tickets to attractions and entertainment.
Traveling as a lifestyle is different than being on vacation. You will need to resist the urge to splurge the way you might on short-term holiday travel. Be sure to scale your expenses the way you would when living at home. But traveling the world without going broke is possible. Do your research & plan carefully. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way!