4 Ways You Can Afford a Nomadic Travel Lifestyle
By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
Have you always wanted to combine work with travel but didn’t know how to afford a nomadic travel lifestyle? The rise of technology lets people work from nearly anywhere in the world — and becoming a digital nomad is a more popular route than ever.
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For lots of people, living a nomadic lifestyle isn’t just a fad. It’s become a choice that gives you loads of benefits. It doesn’t just provide a way to live a clutter-free life, but it’s also a great way to meet people and discover new cultures.
Even with so many pluses, planning for a nomadic lifestyle does present some challenges. And probably the biggest hurdle is deciding how you’re going to pay for it.
Take a look at our 4 ways you can afford a digital nomadic travel lifestyle:
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1. Create a Budget
It’s pretty likely you won’t end up winning the lottery, so you’ll have to come up with other ways to pay for travel expenses. Yes, you won’t be paying rent or a mortgage, but you’ll still have to come up with money.
Things like food, transportation, lodging, and mobile data usage are all ultra-important to maintaining your nomadic travel lifestyle.
When creating your budget:
- Research the places you want to see. If your goal is to visit certain cities or countries, you need to know how much it costs to get from place to place and to stay there. You have to ask yourself questions to help you consider your financial capabilities and preferences. Do you absolutely need to travel by plane? Is it less expensive to take a train or a bus? What are the average rental rates for hostels, hotels, or vacation rentals in each area?
- Compare expenses from area to area. Some cities have a much higher cost of living than others. If your budget is tight, you won’t be able to stay for very long in expensive spots like Paris in Europe (opt for cheaper but gorgeous Prague instead) or New York in the U.S. (try Atlanta, a still vibrant but more affordable destination).*
*TIP: Think about staying in a less expensive place by comparison checking, which can allow you to budget more for other expenses or for a longer stay
- Research travel credit cards. You’ll probably pay for a lot of your expenses via credit card, which means you should start researching cards that offer travel incentives. A good travel credit card will waive international fees, reward points for every dollar spent, and offer a great fraud protection policy.
- Use the 25% rule. After adding up all your expenses, add 25% and do your budget all over again. Expenses fluctuate — plus there are taxes, hidden costs, and unexpected costs, which means you’ll want to budget more than you first imagine you’ll need.
After you’ve established a budget that works for you, your next step is figuring out how you’re going to earn some money.
Photo by Hannah Wei
2. Plan How to Earn Income
Even if you’ve saved up or calculated a tax refund that’ll pay for a few months of travel, it’s more than likely you’ll still need to make money while you’re on the road.
Nowadays, a lot of companies allow their employees to work remotely. The wide availability of Wi-Fi can give you the chance to do your regular job from almost anywhere.
But if you can’t do that, you could consider working locally, or taking advantage of other ways to make money. Some people sell products or charge money for a service.
Some ideas to keep in mind when planning to earn an income from the road:
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It may be tempting to make money from just one source, but it’s much better to have a variety of cash streams — just in case one or more dry up. For example, if you have a blog, you may also want to become a social media manager or write e-books.
- Get your work permit and passport. If you plan to work internationally, you’ll need to get your passport so you have a legal form of identification. You’ll also need to check into any work permits that most foreign countries require.
- Successfully market yourself. Whatever skills or services you have to offer, you’ll need to get the word out about yourself and your services or products wherever you go. Attending trade shows, establishing a website, and finding paid speaking opportunities are good ways to do this.
Photo by Photomix
3. Sort Things Out at Home
Before leaving home, sort out the details of what to do with your place you’re your stuff) you leave behind. Are you going to rent out your home or apartment? Will you need to put some belongings in storage?
Here are a few more of the practical things you need to think about:
- Give your mail somewhere to go. Even though you live and work online as a digital nomad, you’ll still need to maintain a permanent physical address. A few options include using a family member’s address, a mail scanning service, or a virtual mailbox.
- Make sure your taxes are covered. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you still need to file taxes even if you’re not living in the country.
If you reside in one of the seven states that don’t impose a state income tax, you won’t have to worry about filing a state income tax return.
- Cancel your utilities. You don’t want to pay for electricity or heat if nobody’s home, so be sure to cancel all your utilities. Or transfer them to a tenant’s or property manager’s name, if you’re renting out your home.
Sorting things out at home before you begin your nomadic travel lifestyle can give you peace of mind, helping you focus on the journey ahead.
Photo by Pixel2013
4. Select Your Route and Schedule
One of the best parts of becoming a digital nomad is planning your itinerary.
We’ve listed some tips to help the process along:
- Know where you’re going. Mapping out a journey ahead of time and having accurate directions can help ensure that you won’t get lost, which is not only frustrating, but also can add to your expenses.
- Understand the seasons. In some instances, it’s better to stay somewhere during the off-season, as you might get better deals. However, you might not want to be in Thailand during monsoon season, so plan your destinations accordingly.
- Know how long you’ll be staying. Do you want to go to as many places as possible in a year? Or are you content to travel to a new place every three months? Knowing your preferences will help you plan the length of your stay in each location.
Remember: The unpredictability of traveling is part of the fun — and the challenge.
Photo by Abi Ismail
Even with a route and schedule in mind, you’ll want to remain flexible. Try not to get too frustrated if you have to make changes along the way.
Nailing down your travel preps beforehand eases a lot of the financial side that stops people from traveling. Having a secure home base, a means of income, a realistic budget, a solid itinerary, and a realistic schedule can make any changes easier to roll with.
Smart planning frees you up to explore beautiful sceneries and focus on the fascinating cultures you’ll experience in your adventures.