Best travel tips from a career traveler
Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Rewind the clock back to 2006 and Nora Dunn was living the dream of many successful entrepreneurs.
Based in Toronto, she owned her own financial services practice, was making a six-figure salary, giving speeches at conferences, and was often interviewed on television for finance-related stories.
Except that life wasn't her dream.
As she explains in her blog, The Professional Hobo, there was an internal voice telling her to stop working so hard, stop stressing about insignificant problems, and try to enjoy life more. Two car accidents and a bout with walking pneumonia then forced her to slow down and really think about her life. She realized she wanted to change everything.
Dunn went back to work and sold her business, sold everything she owned, and headed out for a life on the road. That was 10 years ago and she hasn't looked back. I caught up with her recently to talk about her life as a career traveler.
How much time to you spend traveling every year?
Because I travel full-time, I tend to travel slowly, ideally spending at least a month in any given destination. I often spend a few months, and sometimes even longer if I find a good place to establish a base of operations. I spent 18 months in Australia, for example, nine months in New Zealand, two years in Grenada, and two years in Peru. Over the years, I average between four and 12 countries per year.
How do you make money on the road and how much do you make per year?
I have a career as a writer and blogger. I actually publish my annual income every year on this page. My annual expenses have ranged from $17,000-$30,000.
What would you advise for someone who wanted to travel full-time?
- Make sure your bank account allows you to make foreign ATM withdrawals without incurring fees.
- Consider getting a credit card that rewards you with frequent flier miles on all purchases. Most of my long-haul flights are on business class and because of my miles; it costs me less than the price of an equivalent economy ticket.
- Travel with two credit cards. If one is compromised, you will have a fall back card.
- Diversify your money. Carry cash in a few places and make sure you have multiple ways to get cash or pay for things.
- Sign up for online banking so you can manage your finances with ease from wherever you are.
- Designate an official representative at home who can act and advocate on your behalf if necessary. Leave copies of your ID, insurance, and banking information with them. If it is a trusted friend/family member, you can give them power of attorney for property so they can do anything you need on your behalf.
What is your advice for money management before heading out on the road?
Pay off your debts before you travel. Also, make sure you have an emergency stash of money that can get you home in a pinch from anywhere in the world. If you want to make full-time travel an indefinite lifestyle, you'll need to generate some income on the road. There are many ways to do this and I wrote a book about it: Working on the Road: The Unconventional Guide to Full-Time Freedom.
What are some of the easiest ways to cut costs while traveling?
Accommodation is usually the biggest expense of traveling. The good news is that there are all kinds of different ways to get free accommodation while you travel.
Travel slowly. The less you move, the less you spend. Slow travel holds the additional benefits of allowing you to have deeper cultural experiences and prevents travel fatigue from setting in.
What are the biggest financial misconceptions about traveling full-time?
That it is expensive. It doesn't have to be! I've consistently found that my full-time travel lifestyle has cost way less than it ever cost me to live in one place. And I've spent the majority of my time in countries with a relatively high cost of living. I've lived in palatial accommodations and rarely made sacrifices. It's all about your spending choices and priorities.
What would you say to people who want to travel full-time but are too scared to do it?
Embarking on a full-time travel lifestyle is scary and overwhelming, and you can't possibly prepare for every eventuality before you go. I've been on the road for 10 years now, and I still wrestle with these issues. But you figure it out as you go, and the rewards of the lifestyle far outweigh the drawbacks or fears that may hold you back. There's a necessary leap of faith into a full-time travel lifestyle, but it is well worth it.
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