How can you afford it? – How do you sustain long term travel for years I don’t understand!
That’s the response a long term traveler usually gets when you tell people that you’ve been traveling for years.
And, here’s the thing, until most travelers go through it, learn how it’s possible and actually start traveling for years they didn’t know before hand either.
If you are planning on taking a long term travel trip in the future, want to just pack your bags and see where life takes you or are just curious from the comfort of your living room this post will show you how to sustain long term travel.
It’s not rocket science, it’s simple in theory but the practicality is not everybody can cope with and sustain long term travel for years on end – That’s just the traveling reality.
Many first time travelers pack their bags, buy a one way ticket thinking they’re off on one long holiday, jumping from adventure to adventure. And to begin with it might be like that. However down the road there are going to be bumps, it can get rocky then reality of long term traveling hits. This could be weeks, months even years down the road depending on where they started financially.
The reality hits when things are not so smooth, problems occur, and well for a better term shit starts hitting the fan. It especially hits hard you when traveling funds start to run dry.
At that point the two major factors of sustaining long term travel come to the fore. One factor is your mentality and desire to fight through the rough – and the other is how to financially sustain long term travel. And that’s what we are going to delve into in this post.
Understanding the mechanics of Sustaining long term travel
In this post we explore the financial side to sustaining long term solo travel we will delve a little into:
- Understanding and coming to terms with your money running out
- The difference in budgeting for timeframe trip to without one
- How you feel the first time
- Understanding how to replenish & how your visa helps
- 8 common types of jobs and work you can find to continue long term travel
Understand that your money will run out sooner or later
Before you even start long term travel, you have to understand the practicality and reality whatever funds you start with, will run out at some point. Now some will run out quicker than expected and others will stretch funds longer than expected; that’s down to your own money management skills.
Some of you reading this, might not be able to fathom that concept of running out of money traveling. But as a long term solo traveler with over a decade of experience and having ran out of money numerous times in foreign countries but carried on traveling without having to beg let me break it down.
Timeframe vs no timeframe
When most people set out to travel It’s on a set time frame, the start and return dates are confirmed. So, you can save for that period and budget for that duration no matter how tight or loose it may be, but you know how much to save for. You can have a backup fund for emergencies or separate your everyday funds and your traveling fund. You know you will return back to your lives, and probably back to work and have income come back in.
However when you travel with no timeframe, you have no idea when you will return home, or if you will return home at all. So how do you budget for a trip when there is no timeframe? The answer is you don’t. Many of us long term travelers literally sell everything we have, save as much as possible and take whatever we have with us and that’s out traveling fund. We make that stretch for as long as we can until it runs out.
The longer we travel, the more experienced we become, we realise we only need funds to cover the initial period of out travels, enough time for us to settle because we know we can sustain long term travel by replenishing our funds as we continue
First time you run out of money long term traveling
I won’t lie, the first time it happens, it can feel like your world has come crashing down and send you emotions into a frenzy. You can feel embarrassed, humiliated, stupid, angry, frustrated, scared, worried and even panicked.
You will be all over the place. You feel like that because you’re not prepared, there is a lack of understanding, you don’t know what to do until you’re shown. That could be from advice of other travelers around you, your family or from information on the net.
Your mentality will determine if you sink or swim
It’s only once you run out of money for the first time that you realise and learn what your character is truly made of. You feel like you’ve reached rock bottom, you can feel alone and scared. But It’s at this point you give up and sink to the bottom, or you figure out how to swim back to the surface.
I won’t lie, I’ve seen it over the years, there are those who make the phone call to mummy and daddy, they buy them a ticket home and that’s it. They were not prepared to fight or swim to the surface.
However there are many others who take advice, learn and start to swim back to the surface to carry on long term travel. It’s almost like that eureka moment. You have no money but you feel completely free, the penny drops and you realise you can keep long term travel going by replenish funds along the way.
Your visa plays a big part
The type of visa you are traveling on will play a role in the type of work you can do along the way to replenish funds and sustain long term travel.
What visa you can get, and what type of work you can do on the visa will be down from what country you’re from. There will be some countries you will not need a visa, you may be allowed freedom of movement.
Most commonly if you are on a working holiday visa, you will be allowed to work in full time employment for up to six months for any given company. However there are loopholes and ways around that to work longer.
If you have freedom of movement, you may be able to work in any given job full time with no issues. I.E Europeans working around the Schengen area. Or you may need to obtain a permit to work
However if you are just traveling on a tourist visa or equivalent then you are by law prohibiting to find employment as you are not contributing to tax in that country. However there are ways around that too, which we will cover later on in the post.
NOTE: Please be aware rules and regulations may change in a Post-Covid era.
Types of employment and jobs travelers do to sustain long term travel
Full time employment
If your visa allows you to, and you’re looking to stop traveling for a while and just replenish your funds you can always seek out full time employment in any job you have the relevant skill set, or previous experience of.
It’s common for those on working holiday visas to find full time work for while save up enough to continue their travels.
However it can be difficult to find full time jobs as the employer does in most cases look for long term commitment. Sometimes they stay away from hiring travelers because of issues it may cause later down the line.
In saying that there are companies that do like to hire travelers, working in call centres is very common especially in places like Australia and New Zealand.
A very popular choice for many long term travelers is to look for work in the hospitality sector. That is because there is more flexible hours and less commitment to getting a full time job. It’s easier to pick up work and more flexibility to keep traveling and picking up hospitality work along the way.
Work in hospitality could include:
- Bar work
- Night clubs
- Events promotions
- Strip clubs
- Restaurants – Waiting, cooks, chefs, dish washing
- Café’s – serving or cooking
- Hotel industry – front desk, cleaner
It’s very popular especially for those from English speaking countries to teach while traveling to foreign countries.
There are quite a few different routes into teaching and there places you don’t have to have any prior teaching experience, although it does help or you may need a TEFL qualification which you can get online.
Teaching is perfect for those looking to give back a little to the communities they are traveling through and also gives you a different perspective on local life.
With teaching there are different options in paid and volunteering. And there are alternative methods like teaching online and teaching in classrooms.
Many take to rural areas to work on farms for to replenish their funds and help sustain long term travel.
There are many different types of farms all over the world, in some countries the farmer can be willing to take on travelers to help out even if they don’t have the right to work in the country. Payment if off the books and mostly cash in hand work.
If you are on a working holiday visa, part of the requirements to obtain a second year visa is to work in a rural postcode and much of the time that is working on a farm. However do be careful and pick wisely as some farmers can treat travelers like slave labourers and can try and scam travelers too.
I personally got lucky doing my farm work in Australia. I worked on a vine nursery for 90 days to obtain my second year visa, but my duties were
- Dipping vines in wax
- Watering plants
- Driving a forklift
- And playing with the family dog
There are different way to apply for working on farms:
- Fill out applications if you see and advert
- Word of mouth
- Knowing somebody that already works on one
- Stumbling upon one while traveling through
- Getting to know a local farmer first
- Directories and lists
Construction/ labouring/ removals
Just like with farming many long term travelers seek out manual labour jobs too. Manual labour work can work in favour with and without visas that allow you to work.
With a visa you can go onto the books, commit or keep the work casual, and is a good way to earn money while traveling through different countries.
Types of Manual labouring jobs you can do:
- Building sites
- Road works
There are always manual labour bosses willing to take on an extra pair of hands to help out, sometimes they will offer to pay cash in hand so it doesn’t effect their books. In certain countries they will take you without any official documents but in others you will have to have necessary qualifications, and experience
There are plenty of odd jobs you can pick up all over the world as you move around to sustain long term solo travel other than just manual labour jobs too.
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There are many who long term travel that like to get involved with volunteering programs. By volunteering it gives you the chance to not only give back to the local community but learn as you do. Most of the times you will be living in and amongst the locals. You will live like them and see everything from their perspective.
Types of volunteering projects you can get involved with:
- Wwoofing – work on local farms
- Wildlife conservation
- Animal care
- Marine conservation
- Teaching projects in poor and underdeveloped communities
- Nursing and medical assistance
- Rejuvenation projects
- Community building projects
- Living with local families and helping out with day to day life
- Community clean-up projects – Providing clean water to area
This list can go on and on, there are so many different types of projects you can get involved with.
Remember though, if you choose to volunteer, you do not get paid for the work. In most cases you will receive al your meals and a place to sleep in exchange for the work you put in. Although you do not get paid the experience and skills you pick can be invaluable. And you get the chance to feel part of the community and potentially make life long friends.
For more information on how to participate in volunteering projects and what backpacker jobs are available, this website will give you a better understanding: Workaways Volunteering abroad
You can also have the chance to work in backpacker hostels as you long term travel. Just like with volunteering working in hostels is normally in exchange for rent and sometimes food. Sometimes there are hostels that will take you on as a volunteer but down the line turn you into a paid employer but usually requires commitment to stay long term.
Why work in a hostel:
- A good experience
- Get involved with things going on in the hostel
- Can practically get free rent as you travel
- Transferable skills
- Learn about different people and different interests
- Forces you to be sociable
Although working in hostels is great for free rent, it does come with its downsides:
- You can endure long working hours that you’re not getting paid for
- Owner and paid staff can lump you with more responsibility than you need
- Take abuse from fellow travelers who don’t realise its not your hostel and you’re just volunteering
- Other guests dumping their problems on you
- Get caught up in hostel politics
- Not actually getting paid
- People acting like you should know everything about the destination the hostel is in
- Not actually being able to do much through the day as you’re working
Digital nomad/ freelancing
If you have the means and skill set to work through your laptop, work remotely or freelance than there it should be a no brainer. You have the opportunity to have continuous income coming in with the ability to keep moving and long term traveling.
Sure, It’s not that easy to explore as you will work long hours through the day but it does give you more room to manoeuvre than having to stay stationary to go into a workplace.
There are so many options of work you can look into as a digital nomad but the industry is very saturated and there is a lot of competition our there from all over the world. So breaking through may be difficult but typical remote, freelancing jobs are:
- IT developers and designers
- Online marketing/ advertising
- Copy writing
- Your old job if you can work remotely
- Website design and developers
- Online business owners
- Graphic designers
- SEO consultants
Anything you can make a constant flow of money online helps you.
You may have noticed I didn’t list bloggers and vloggers on this list. Don’t be fooled by how easy many bloggers, vloggers and influencers say they make money. There are some who are at the top of the mountain and do make enough money to sustain long term travel but most do not. It’s an over saturated market and income is very minimal. Unless you hit a pot of gold you will struggle to make money by blogging and vlogging and not enough to sustain long term travel.
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Sustaining long term travel isn’t hard with the right outlook and desire
There you have it, hopefully you now have more of an understanding of replenishing funds, understanding that you will run out of money but that isn’t a bad thing. And hopefully by seeing how its possible to replenish it fills you with confidence to hit the road in the future when It’s safe to again.
As mentioned right at the top of this sustaining long term travel post, replenishing funds is one factor in sustaining long term travel, the other is your mentality, having mental toughness and the ability to get through the grind and tough days. Head over to maintaining long term travel to learn about it.
before you leave
Weather you would like to get informed on long-term solo travel or love reading travel stories of adventure, discovery & despair Amit has you covered. Check out his latest books
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