Does Long-Term Travel Sound Appealing?

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Do you think that long-term or full-time travel is an extended vacation? You’d better think again and approach traveling for a long time in an entirely different way. If you don’t, you’ll be setting yourself up for major disappointment.

When you take one or two yearly vacations, you estimate how much you’re willing to spend during the time you’ll be gone and then choose a destination that fits within that budget. Or you might choose a destination and then figure out whether you have enough money for that spot.

In either case, your daily spending on a vacation of a few weeks will most likely be more than it would be if you were going to be gone much longer. In fact, short-term travel allows you to have lots of splurges on accommodations, restaurants, shopping, and so on – with the idea that you’ll pay off your credit card bills when you return home to your job.

Yes, vacations provide the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to luxuries that might normally be out of reach. By giving yourself these special treats, you return to your daily routine refreshed.

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However, unless you have an untapped trust fund, long-term travel doesn’t permit that kind of spending since you won’t be returning to work for quite some time. In fact, you probably need to change many of your current habits, especially in relation to how you spend money.

Hitting the road for an extended length of time gives you a lot of freedom in some ways, but it may require you to pull in the reins on spending for a kind of budgeting that you haven’t done before. You may not generally like to follow a budget, but it is this budgeting that will help you make your money last as long as possible.

Long-Term Travel Is Different

Long term travel, on the other hand, is a new lifestyle that will probably require you to change many of your current habits, especially in relation to how you spend money. Becoming a modern nomad gives you a lot of freedom in some ways, but may require you to pull in the reins on spending for a kind of budgeting that you have not done before. You may not generally like to follow a budget, but it is this budgeting that will help you make your money last as long as possible.

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While traveling long term, you will not be splurging on yourself on a regular basis. You will certainly treat yourself from time to time, but in general, you will need to look for ways to save money, such as:

  • Get snacks and drinks from the grocery store to take with you on your daily excursions. Doing this on a regular basis could save hundreds of dollars over the course of your trip.
  • Only buy those things that you absolutely need. Returning to the store to buy more is cheaper than throwing away things that spoil.
  • Plan your daily activities so that you can take advantage of public transit tickets in a way that will give you the most benefit before they expire so you won't have to go back again and pay for entry a second time.
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    Arrange your plans in such a way that you get the most out of anything you have to pay for. In other words, make sure to enter sightseeing spots early enough to see everything.
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    Have an emergency fund. Don't touch it unless it is a real emergency. In other words, splurges do not come from this fund.
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    Avoid tourist/high season because hotels, restaurants, sites, etc., are generally more expensive at that time than during the off season.
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    Use the cost of living as an important factor when deciding where to visit next. A high cost of living often means paying high prices for common things so it can be smarter to visit places that have lower living costs.
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    You may want to find a way to earn money on the road and stay some place long enough to earn it. This will cut into your travel, but will also give you the advantage of getting to know the area in a different way, and it will also keep you traveling longer.

Does the sound of any of this bother you? Do you think that none of these tips are really necessary? Please do not be naïve. It is important to be realistic about budgeting so that you can decide whether this type of travel will suit you.

My next post But Is Long-Term Travel the Right Road for You? goes further into whether long-term travel will suit you.

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Doug - July 8, 2018 Reply

Don’t forget to make sure the regular bills that arrive for your home get paid while you are away. Either by pre-approved arrangements or prepaying them before you leave. Now with electronic banking, it is possible to look after them while on vacation.

    Kate - July 9, 2018 Reply

    Right. Doing everything online has made my life so much easier. I live in Indonesia and came here during the ancient days of travelers checks. What a pain it was to get those cashed here. You had to go to a bank and you had to have the purchase order with the checks even though I showed them the instructions that said never to carry them together. Yay for technology. Thanks.

Chef William - July 9, 2018 Reply

So much of those guidelines are also true if you relocate after retirement. We moved from a life in the United States to life in Puerto Vallarta, Mx. and soon learned not to eat along the beaches during the tourist season when the prices are much higher. We also buy our snacks and drinks and back-pack it when we go out for the day.
We have found there is a special card if you are of a certain age that get’s you a 50% discount on transportation and a discount on your meds.
Everything work fine if you have a budget and stick to it but without a budget you will over spend and regret it later.

    Kate - July 9, 2018 Reply

    So very true about the guidelines being applicable to retirees a well. Sounds like you’ve got it figured out. Thanks.

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