How I am Able to Afford to Travel so Much

 

Hi! My name is Kerry and I’m a travel addict and a die-hard Liverpool supporter. I’m introducing myself here since for some of you, this might be the first-ever blog post you read from me.

As I mentioned, I’m a travel addict and because of this addiction, I have traveled to 40 U.S. states and 53 countries within the last six years. For almost half of the time during those six years, I traveled full-time living out of my suitcase and I’ve taken countless trips to Liverpool.  Since I share a lot of travel content on social media, I am often asked, “how can you afford to travel so much, and for so long?”

I can’t blame people for wanting to know how I am able to travel so much. Before I started traveling a lot I also found it difficult to understand how some people were constantly traveling and posting amazing travel photos from around the world on Instagram. I wanted to do the same and I ended up researching how to pull this off. I read a lot of blog posts just like this which is what had inspired me to become a nomad!

So how am I really able to afford to travel so much?  Am I rich?  Did I win the lottery or land a trust fund?  Am I really traveling solo or is someone traveling with me who helps me fund my travels? 

I am not wealthy

I want to start out by sharing that I am not rich (according to Western standards).  If I was to summarize my answer in one sentence it would be this: I have made a lot of sacrifices, I work remotely from my laptop everywhere I go, and I am a budget traveler. Most people don’t realize this, but it has taken a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices, planning, and dedication in order to fulfill my dreams of traveling the world.

In this post, I’ll be very clear cut about exactly how I have been able to travel so much within only a few years. Although I believe most people will never want to embrace a fully nomadic lifestyle as I did, I do want to share my best tips and hacks in order to help others travel more. I’m about to get very personal here. I won’t leave you with any vague, bullshit.

Disclosure: I believe in transparency. The links below are affiliate links. This means that I earn some revenue (at no cost to you) when you click through the links and book something. I only share links to services that I would personally use and truly recommend.

Budget Travel

When most people travel it’s for a one week or two-week vacation and this travel tends to be expensive.  Short-term travel is usually expensive because people are squishing in as many experiences as they can into a short period of time.  Most people are booking accommodation at a nice hotel, booking a tour for their entire trip or multiple tours, and eating out for every meal. 

As a full-time traveler, I am not on vacation as I am working remotely from my laptop and I have embraced slow travel.  When I travel, I live like a local for a short amount of time.  I generally book local apartments/accommodation on Airbnb, I will walk to my destination or I’ll often take advantage of local transportation.  I also enjoy eating local restaurants which cost a lot less than touristy restaurants. 

For example, when I traveled to Egypt I spent three weeks in the country and only booked a handful of day tours. I traveled up and down the country by train from Cairo to the Sudan border. Most packaged tours to Egypt will cost several thousand dollars but I spent less than $1000 for my three-week trip.

Traveling to Inexpensive Countries

While many destinations such as the Caribbean and Europe tend to be the most popular travel destinations, these are also some of the most expensive areas of the world to travel to.  I have traveled quite a bit throughout Europe and some in the Caribbean, however, I also spend a lot of time traveling in inexpensive countries. 

I also often travel to countries that most people aren’t willing to travel to.  For example, I’ve spent one month in Indonesia (not just in Bali but I explored 15 different islands in Indonesia).  I also spent one month in Guatemala, several weeks in other inexpensive countries in Central America such as Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, I have spent one month in Mexico (twice), several weeks in India, two weeks in Lebanon, and one month in Turkey.  I was able to spend less than $1000 in all of these destinations and I’ve traveled to plenty of other inexpensive countries as well.

If I travel to an inexpensive country and live like a local I can actually save money by traveling abroad rather than live in the U.S.

Accommodation

Accommodation is my largest travel expense and it’s usually the largest expense for most people. I’m mostly a budget traveler so I try to book accommodation in between $10-40 per night. There have been times when I’ve gone to the extreme of booking weeks of accommodation with no air conditioning just to be able to save money ( in Central America and East Africa), however, there have also been times when I’ve splurged and booked a 5-star hotel deal for $80 per night (in Malaysia).

I often book my accommodation with Airbnb which I find is usually much cheaper than booking a hotel.  For example, I was recently in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico where I booked an apartment studio for $170 for the entire week. If you’ve traveled to the Riviera Maya then you’ll know that most people stay at swanky resorts in the area for $170 USD per night! If you’re not using Airbnb then you should and you can use my link to sign up in order to receive up to $50 off your first stay:  https://www.airbnb.com/c/kerrym1485?referral_share_id=ddcf6993-e9ab-465f-b08c-d4a025b09151

I also have landed free accommodation through housesitting.  Housesitting has saved me thousands of dollars in accommodation per year and I’m able to take care of adorable cats, dogs, ferrets, and birds in exchange for a free place to stay.  It’s a win-win since I love animals so much!  I have an entire blog post explaining in detail how housesitting works and you can check that out here: https://kerrysomewhere.com/how-i-travel-the-world-with-free-accommodation-as-a-housesitter/

If you would like to sign up as a housesitter, you can use my link for the best housesitting website:  http://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=5759&awinaffid=502997

I also sometimes book hostel and boutique hotel stays.  I don’t book dorm rooms in hostels but since many hostels offer private rooms, I am often able to get great deals.  I have been able to book private rooms in hostels for as low as $9 per night including breakfast.  You can sign up for Hostel World here:  https://prf.hn/click/camref:1011l43kh

Sometimes I will book a hotel room because I am able to land a deal and one of my favorite websites is Hotels.com.  I book with this website because after 10 bookings I’m able to book my 11th night for free.  If you’re not using Hotels.com you can sign up and book here:  http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-8525321-12113366.

Flights

As a solo full-time traveler, I often book flights based on price and not necessarily destination.  For instance, I’ll decide to travel to a destination based on an open-ended search using Skyscanner.  I’ll search for the cheapest flight from my current local airport and book a flight based on price not necessarily based on a destination. 

As a result, I’ve booked last-minute trips for super cheap to Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Jamaica, United Kingdom, and more.  I highly recommend using Skyscanner to search for inexpensive flights from any destinations and to sign up for price alerts:  http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-8525321-12532525

I also usually fly within the same airline network and I use the airline network’s credit card in order to rack up airline miles.  I’ve flown with American Airlines and their partners for years, and as a result, I have flown 8 times to Europe with miles (only paying taxes).  I highly recommend flying within the same airline network and signing up for a credit card that supports this network.  I’ve racked up so many miles with this method that I’ve even been able to donate air miles to friends for their own flights. 

Traveling Independently

Another major cost of travel is booking tours.  Many people will book tours to destinations such as Egypt, China, Jordan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mexico, and more for several thousand dollars.  These destinations (with the exception of Jordan) are very inexpensive if you are willing to travel independently without a packaged tour. Traveling independently isn’t always easy, (especially traveling alone like this as a woman) but it is the less expensive method. 

The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

A lot of people who end up traveling the world long-term do so by quitting their jobs and living off of their savings. During my travels, I came across a lot of backpackers who were traveling on a shoe-string budget while taking buses or trains from one country to the next and staying in a dorm room in a hostel. Although I am a budget traveler I do enjoy some comforts, and I decided this was not how I wanted to travel the world.

Working full-time from my laptop

Many people want to know exactly what I do working from my laptop so I’ll be very transparent and explain here. 

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and for a few years after college, I was a teacher in my hometown in Florida.  It ended up that I truly despised teaching and I gave up on this career.  I took a massive pay cut in order to launch a new career and start at the bottom of the ladder in the corporate world of educational technology.  

Over the years I finally worked my way up the corporate ladder working in sales, marketing, and K-12 educational content development.  When I started working remotely from my laptop six years ago the company I was working for at the time sent me on international business trips to India, Germany, and the U.K.  This is how I started to get a taste for international travel.  

Since then I started traveling while working remotely from my laptop.  I’ve gone back and forth between working directly for this company and working as a freelancer for various companies.  

Most people just assume I have won the lottery or gotten lucky in life, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.  I worked hard to build my career up to the point where I am now.  Up until 6 years ago I almost never took off of work for vacation and I almost never took any personal trips.  

Not only have I worked remotely in the educational technology industry, but I have also spent a lot of time to build this blog.  Managing this blog has become a part-time job and over the years I have juggled full-time travel with a full-time freelance gig in the educational technology industry, and I have worked part-time as a travel blogger.  I’ve basically worked my ass off to get to where I need to be.  

My work as a travel blogger has been somewhat lucrative providing part-time income but it has also helped me save a lot of money off of travel expenses.  I have created blog posts and various content in exchange for discounted and/or completely sponsored flights, tours, hotels, etc.  It seems like such an easy gig but it’s actually a lot of behind the scenes work to create the content for these collaborations.

Since I juggle both a full-time and a part-time job while traveling I almost never feel as if I can just be on vacation.  This is actually one of the main reasons why I have traveled solo because it’s just easier to be alone rather than to disappoint a travel companion who wants to travel on a proper vacation.

Sacrifices

Since I post a lot of travel photos on social media a lot of peope ask if I have won the lottery!😂  What no one sees is what goes behind the scenes in order to create a full-time nomadic lifestyle.  Since I am not wealthy, I have focused on making sacrifices in my life in order to be able to afford to travel so much.

Embracing a minimalistic lifestyle

I’ve never been a materialistic person, but it wasn’t until I became an extreme minimalist that I was able to afford to travel more.

So, what does it mean to be a minimalist? Minimalism is just simply owning fewer possessions. A minimalist intentionally lives with only the things that a person needs.

Six years ago, I slowly started embracing this lifestyle when I stopped buying an excessive amount of clothes, shoes, and accessories. I decided to purchase flights instead of jewelry. I spent my money on experiences rather than the latest tech gadgets.

Becoming homeless

I eventually became such an extreme minimalist that I decided to take the plunge and embrace a fully nomadic lifestyle. I officially became homeless at the end of May 2017.

At that point in my life, I decided to not renew my lease where I was living in Florida. I began to sell and donate most of my possessions. I sold and donated most of my clothes, I sold my furniture, I gave my brother all of my kitchenware, and I packed only a few important items to store in boxes at my parent’s house.

Without having to pay rent or utility bills I was able to afford to travel a lot more. I suddenly had more money to book flights, accommodation, tours, bus trips, and more. At the end of May 2017, I booked a one-way flight to Southeast Asia and I’ve been traveling full-time since then (well, until the COVID-19 pandemic halted all travel).

For 3 years from 2017-2020, I traveled the world without having a place to call home and I traveled to a new country every week or month living in Airbnbs, hotels, and hostels. Everything I currently own fits into a small backpack (my laptop, DSLR camera, GoPro, wallet, and passport) and a larger backpack (all of my Liverpool shirts, the rest of my clothes, shoes, and cosmetics).

Most people would never go to the extreme of giving up their home and embrace a fully nomadic lifestyle. Of course, it’s more difficult for someone who has a family, a house, etc.  Although, if you do a Google search there are nomadic families and family travel bloggers out there!

Committing to a fully nomadic lifestyle is kind of a crazy idea and in many ways, it is a huge risk. It’s been a big sacrifice and risk but one that I have been willing to embrace for 3 years in order to fulfill my dream of traveling the world.

Traveling solo and remaining single

While most people seem to end up getting married, spend years in long-term relationships, or jump from relationship to relationship, I’ve spent much of my adult life being single. I’ve always been very independent but when I embraced a fully-nomadic lifestyle I also became dedicated to remaining single.

Of course, if someone would like to become a full-time traveler that person does not have to travel alone. During most of my travels, I have noticed that most people are traveling with someone else. I see other solo travelers on Instagram and I do come across other solo travelers out there in the world but most people I meet while traveling are not traveling alone like me. Most people certainly aren’t traveling alone for several years at a time.

I travel alone because I simply do not have a romantic partner and I don’t want the fact that I am single to hold me back from achieving my dreams of traveling the world.

Back in 2014 when I initially started traveling abroad I was mostly traveling alone because I had a flexible lifestyle by working remotely from my laptop. I didn’t want to have to wait for someone else to be able to have the funds or to have vacation time off in order to travel with me. I just decided I wanted to travel more so I just got off my ass and did it.

Instead of dating, I’ve been focusing on myself and focusing on achieving my own dreams. I have traveled so much in the last 3 years that it has been impossible to be in one place for any length of time in order to develop a relationship anyway. 

Passport Privilege

Most of the reasons why I am able to travel so much have nothing to do with luck. However, passport privilege is the one thing that has everything to do with luck.

A lot of people don’t realize what passport privilege is or even that they have it. If you have a passport from the USA, Japan, Singapore, UAE, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, etc. then you also have passport privilege. What this means is that you can travel visa-free to most countries in the world. Passport privilege saves travelers a lot of time and money and without this, I probably wouldn’t be able to travel as much as I do.

Although having a weak passport does make travel a lot more difficult, I do have plenty of friends who have figured out ways to make it happen. My friends from India, Thailand, and the Philippines, have figured out how to travel abroad and many of them have even traveled to Liverpool to watch games at Anfield. If you have passport privilege then I think after reading this you’ll realize that you don’t have to be wealthy to travel and you have no excuse!😀

Full-Time Travel is Not For Everyone

Even though this lifestyle is not for everyone I hope this article has been helpful. If you enjoy knowing where you’ll sleep every night then the life of full-time travel is not for you. However, if you do want to travel more then I’m sure you’ll find some of the information in this post to be useful.

Full-Time travel also isn’t easy, and especially as a solo female traveler. A lot of people look at my travel photos and assume everything is bliss. I do often share that traveling abroad isn’t as scary as the media will present it to be. However, I will admit I have gotten into quite a few sticky situations as a woman roaming around alone. I’ve been robbed multiple times, and I’ve been scammed, bullied, and harassed by men on every continent. Most of my travel experiences are incredible, however, there are quite a few uncomfortable moments that can and will happen with long-term travel.

I haven’t had a home in years, and just about everything I own fits in my backpack the I travel the world with. I don’t have a husband/significant other, children, or pets.  I know my life is crazy and I don’t have what most people have, but what I do have is the freedom to see the world.  It’s not easy to live like this but it’s well worth it for me.  My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner! 

 

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8 Comments

  • Wow!!! Now I understand it well Kerry, I remember u once told me that u don’t have to be rich to travel, but there’s something I didn’t understand from your blog above, how does traveling to inexpensive countries save u money than when staying in USA

    • That’s an a amazing story. I will travel with you not in person but in reading your stories. If you ever come back to Kenya, we have a free room for you.
      YNWA!

    • Exactly! You do have to have money to be able to travel and go places but you certainly don’t have to be wealthy. I also am definitely able to save money by traveling to inexpensive countries. I prefer to travel to inexpensive countries! 🙂

  • Hello.

    Nice reading all this and makes reflect back on alot of things…..we both share a few similarities, am huge Liverpool fan, and live travelling. I have travelled extensively as well in Africa,(don’t have the passport privilege beyond the Continent) and I have had incredible experiences in jungles in Congo, dining with Rebels in South Sudan…but having breath taking scenes in Victoria falls, as well as living remotely in kidepo valley. I dearly missed youbwhennubwere in East Africa.

    Love

  • Hi Kerry
    What a brilliant life you have created! Thanks for sharing this insight and perspective, I found it refreshing and inspirational. We are all responsible for our choices in life, and many of us are fortunate to have good options. But it’s up to each of us to make the most of our lives and find that which brings us happiness and makes a positive impact. Not only are you doing what makes you fulfilled, you are sharing with others your gained wisdom so that they may also follow a similar path.
    Happy Travels!
    Phil]
    Side note, I was born in Liverpool, raised in the US, and also love to travel the world. #YNWA

  • Kerry. Great story – love your bravery and independent lifestyle. People told .e I was brave when I sold everything and moved my family from the UK to Canada years ago but that’s nothing to what you are doing. As one travel writer to another, check out ScottsCheapFligbts for discount prices from the US. I just snagged Chicago to Santiago, Chile for $299 return.

    Keep blogging and stay safe.
    YNWA (yes I’m a Red too …and can remember the last league championship won in 1990😄 )
    Chris

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