Are you dreaming of travelling full-time, but not sure how to make it a reality? Travelling doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby that you only get to do for a week or two here and there. With careful planning and preparation, anyone can afford to travel full-time.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to save for full-time travel, how to prepare for hitting the road, and how to finance your travels once you’re on the road. We hope this guide helps you make your dream of full-time travelling a reality!
How To Prepare For Full-Time Travel
Let me start by saying, this has been a very long journey. This dream began to grow in 2017 and we’ve only left this year (2023). That is an entire 6 years of planning and waiting for our dream to become a reality!
As everyone has a different financial situation to us, our suggestions may not be relevant to you. However, if you do not have any financial investments such as owning your own home, this is the post for you!
Prior to getting serious about living on the road and not working full time, we both failed at consistent saving.
Personally, I knew I had to learn to save or we would never have the freedom we dreamed of.
Creating A Budget
The first step for me was creating a budget.
I wrote down my income at the top, breaking down each of my bills underneath. I was honestly stunned by how much money I had that was being wasted each week.
I started small by allocating $50 for savings per week and eventually have grown our savings to the point where I move half my wage into our “untouchable” savings account, specifically for spending on the road.
As I became more comfortable with finances and budgeting I have been able to plan all our spending down to how much grocery money we have each fortnight.
I would personally recommend at least 4 bank accounts. Many financial institutions allow you to do this via one main account these days.
These are the accounts to create:
- Everyday account
- Joint account
- High-interest savings account
- The unexpected expenses account.
Both our incomes are allocated to different areas. I personally handle the savings and Nick contributes a small amount each week. On the other side, Nick handles all the expensive upgrades to the vehicle and camper trailer and I contribute with the smaller purchases.
How To Afford Full-Time Travel
Once you’ve got your budget running smoothly, it’s time to start thinking about how to save up for full-time travel.
The first step is deciding how much you need to save, and how long it will take you. Estimate how much money you will need to cover living costs and transportation while you’re travelling, and how long you anticipate you will be travelling for. This will help you come to a rough estimate and an ultimate savings goal.
For example, if you plan to travel around Australia full-time in a caravan or camper trailer as we are, your weekly expenses will be significantly different than if you were planning to fly around the world and stay in hotels.
Once you’ve got your savings goal in mind, look into how much money you can realistically save each month.
Here are our suggestions, perfectly suited for a two-income household, and easily tweaked for a single-income household:
- Create a basic budgeting spreadsheet – Use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to track all income, bills, savings and spending (this has made me accountable for all my spending)
- Create a joint account for household bills – Have an allocated amount from each person (rent, electricity, groceries, fuel)
- Set up payment plans for electricity and gas – We have automatic transfers set up weekly to pay our monthly and quarterly bills so there are no sudden large bills. This has made it very easy to maintain a consistent budget.
- Bulk vegetable, Fruit and butcher deliveries – We have recurring deliveries for meat, fruit and veggies that have bulk discounts and set costs. This has helped avoid overspending (we also use Latitude Pay to pay our meat order off over 10 weeks). If you’re in the Brisbane area we love Funky Food for our fruit and vegetable orders.
- Shop the specials – This may be a bit extra for some, but we make a grocery list on the Woolworths supermarket app and head to Aldi first to compare prices. Then we finish our shop at Woolworths for the remaining items. Conveniently they are within the same shopping complex so it doesn’t add a lot of extra time to our shopping trip but it can mean big savings!
- Afterpay for special items – For purchases such as birthday presents and some of the more expensive items we’ve purchased to prepare for our full-time travel, such as gas hot water system, we utilise Afterpay to allow us to pay these things off in smaller amounts. (I know this could be a problem for some people but for me personally, I allow a very small amount of our budget each fortnight for purchases and this gives me the ability to pay it all off over a couple of pay cycles).
- Four bank accounts – As mentioned above, set up 4 bank accounts to manage your finances – an everyday account, a joint account, a high-interest savings account and an unexpected spending account. The extra account is used for larger items that come up such as dentist bills, car registration or repairs, etc.
- Sell the ‘stuff’ around your house – Most of our homes are full of unnecessary items and you will be surprised with how much you’ve accumulated! Sell the items you don’t need, with the exception of any special items that you want to keep. We are planning on using a shipping container for the items we are keeping and keeping all the money we make from selling the rest to fund our trip.
- Use reward programs – Shopping rewards programs such as Everyday Rewards and Flybuys can be great! Other people do well with credit card rewards as well, however, we want to avoid having credit cards. Activate as many bonuses as possible. You can convert points into shopping dollars or gift cards. We are now saving all our rewards points for our first couple of shops on the road.
- Monitor fuel prices – Download a Fuel app to hunt for the cheapest fuel along your designated drive
Bonus Tips For Saving For Travel
The tips above are what have helped us build up our savings quickly and substantially, by making thrifty choices and being careful with our spending. Often taking the time to simply monitor your spending habits can make a huge difference!
On top of these saving habits, we have done a couple of fun things to also build our travel savings:
- “The Cash Draw” – Write the numbers $1 – $100 on a piece of paper. Place each number into an envelope or bowl. Each week open 1 envelope and place the amount chosen into your savings. At the end, you will have $5,050. We went next level with this system and chose 2 numbers each week and both put the amount in. This cash system paid for our camper trailer!
- Paid gaming apps – I have recently downloaded Mistplay after seeing all the ads. It took me a long time, but I finally earned my first $25 which will go towards purchases for the trip and something to do in your free time – if you already play phone games, why not eventually get paid for it?
There are many different reputable quiz sites such as Pureprofile or the Receipt Jar app that are also great ways to earn a little extra money through surveys and loading up your shopping receipts into an app. Every little bit adds up!
How We Plan To Make Money While Travelling
While we plan to be prepared financially to not need to work while we are travelling, unexpected expenses do pop up and we don’t know at this stage if we will want to extend our travels beyond our planned period.
This means if we can make a few extra dollars along the way, we will certainly be doing so. Whether this looks like spending a few days picking fruit during fruit picking season on a farm or doing the online quizzes as mentioned above in our bonus tip.
The other thing we will be doing is growing this website as a resource for fellow travel-loving people like yourself who can learn from our experiences. These days there are many ways to build a profitable business online and we are excited to learn the ropes of travel blogging along the way.
These strategies have worked well for us, but as mentioned earlier…everyone is different! This system might not work for you. I have trained myself over years to become a budget queen (not going to lie, it was really hard). I knew one of us needed to be able to work a budget to avoid failing and turning back to the 9-5!
The Barefoot Investor book is a highly recommended financial read. I personally never got the time to read it but I believe a lot of my budgeting is very similar to the Barefoot ways (besides things like Afterpay, but this is a personal choice and it has never affected my goals).
Besides completing a Certificate III in Accounts Admin and running my own cleaning business, I’m not actually trained financially. We would love to hear if you have any other suggestions for financially preparing for living on the road!