If you have ever dreamed of traveling the world for an extended period of time, I am here to tell you it’s possible. You can travel the world for a year on any budget, and we’ll show you how.
We’ve been traveling the world full-time for the last two and a half years. We have learned a ton about what’s made it successful and what’s made it stressful and we have all of our best tips below!
We’ll cover how to travel for a year, how much it costs to travel the world for a year, how to pack for a year of travel, and more!
This post is all about showing you how to travel for a year on any budget.
how to travel for a year
make a plan
There are so many different aspects of long term travel and you at least want to have an idea of works best for you. We learned early on that we like planning ahead and being prepared before we travel to a new country or city. Some people love the spontaneity to it all. One thing that is definitely true is that travel can look like whatever you want it to look like. You don’t have to do the “backpacking through hostels and not knowing where you’re sleeping tomorrow” gig if you don’t want to. If you do, great!
Another common aspect that comes up in thinking about travel for a year is quick travel vs. slow travel. Traveling slow is a great way to fully immerse yourself in a culture and destination, save money (transportation is one of the biggest expenses in travel), and be more sustainable. Quick travel, although more expensive, is high paced, adrenaline fueled, and will get you a lot more places over the course of the year. There are a ton of pros and cons to each and you’ll need to consider what works best for you. And try both or some variation of both!
Create a budget
You’ll definitely need to get a budget in mind before heading out to travel. It can be pretty easy to spend like you’re on vacation, especially in the beginning. But in the long run, that likely won’t be the best way for you to travel for the entire year.
Creating a budget ahead of time will help you plan what countries you can visit (and which you probably shouldn’t). You’ll be able to book the right level of accommodations and find what excursions work best for you.
You truly can travel the world on any budget (within reason of course) and by doing some in-depth research about where you want to travel and how quickly, you’ll be able to find something that works for you.
We have been traveling the world for the last 2.5 years and have consistently spent the same each year, around $25,000 per person per year. Check out our full blog post detailing exactly what that looks like: How Much Does It Cost For A Couple To Travel The World For a Year?
No matter your plan to travel for a year, you will need to save up some money. The more the better. Start saving in a high yield savings account like Synchrony Bank’s to make the most of all your savings. You can find plenty of ways to save up money, from cutting your rent bill, selling some old clothes, or unlearning poor spending habits.
We were able to save over $100,000 for our travels before we left. It wasn’t easy but we dug in and found what was important to us.
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Earn passive income
Even if you’re able to save up enough money to travel for a year, it still won’t hurt to find a way to make some passive income. The possibilities are truly endless in this day and age. You can invest in real estate, sell digital downloads, design clothes and sell through Amazon, and I am sure a million other ways.
I do say find a way to make a passive income because you’ll want to be making the most of your travels while you get the chance. Having an online job (even if it is part time) will take up a lot of your time. If you are willing to find a way to balance that, then by all means. It can be tiring and I highly recommend traveling a bit slower, if that’s the case. Unless you’re some superhuman, of course.
Learn to travel hack
This can make a huge difference in the level of travel you get to enjoy and your budget. Over the last 2 years we have been able to save over $4,000 on just flights redeemed with miles not to mention all the free hotel stays.
The quickest explanation of travel hacking is finding ways to earn points or miles through credit card rewards to use for free travel. We took a great Travel Hacking course on Skillshare that showed us how to earn points faster, book points trips and plan for the best value. There is a ton to know, but the best thing is you can get started without a deep understanding. Simply earn points through a credit card you already have or better yet, sign up for a new credit card with a great sign up bonus. And then look for flights to book with those points!
set a date and tell people
Once you start to have a plan in place financially, it’s time to set a date. Maybe you’ll look when flights are cheapest or when you are able to move out of your lease, but choose a date. Make it real and circle it on the calendar. Start a countdown. It makes all the hard work before leaving a lot more exciting and makes this sometimes crazy dream seem like reality (which it’s going to be!).
And once you start to tell people, it will help keep you accountable. Accountable to both your planning and your savings goals. It can feel really overwhelming and a bit crazy at times but once you put it out in the world, it seems a little more real.
Of course there is still a ton to do before you actually leave. From forwarding your mail to quitting your job (or going on extended leave), it can be a bit overwhelming. I got you covered though. After going through the process myself and writing every single thing down that we had to do (or forgot to do), I created a Pre-Trip Checklist with everything you need to keep track of.
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feel all the feels
Okay, this one isn’t necessary but I do want to help normalize the feelings that come along with changing your whole life to travel for an extended period of time. Although it may seem like a lot of people are traveling for 6+ months, in reality, it’s not very many that brave this lifestyle. It’s not easy to leave a comfortable paycheck, friends and family, and even normal things like your bed or In-n-Out.
It will likely be scary and you’ll get nervous at times and that’s okay! Your friends and family may not understand why you’re nervous or sad, because what you are doing is only a dream to most. But you are doing something different and scary but you are going to crush it. You’re going to have memories that last for the rest of your life and see things you didn’t even know existed. Just allow all your feelings to be there because they are valid and know they won’t last forever (good and bad).