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How to Travel the World For a Year: 7 Tips for Long Term Travel
Do you want to quit your job and travel the world? You can! We’ll cover the basics of how to travel the world for a year.
We were just like you: bored at work, tired of the commute, always hungry for long weekends, and more trips. We both decided to quit our 9-5 jobs and set out to see the world. After saving up for 2 years, we were able to take the dive and start international travel. We have since been traveling for two years and so far, we haven’t made a single dollar since leaving.
We want to show you how we did it and how you can, too! It really is the dream life of seeing the world before you are old and continuously adding more to your bucket list and actually check it off!
We’ll cover how to travel the world for a year, how much does it cost for a couple to travel the world for a year, packing list for long term travel, and more!
This post is all about how to travel the world for a year!
How to Travel the World For a Year:
Save Up Money
The first step to travel the world for a year is to have some money. To be honest, you don’t need a whole lot of it but the more you have the easier it will be. If you are looking to purely travel and not work at all during your travels, you will need to set up a budget and see how much you will need to save up.
This is the route we went with. We have actually been able to travel for 2 whole years for 2 people with just the money we had saved before we left. We predicted we would spend $2,000 per person per month. That gave us a total of $48,000 per year. We did go slightly over that because of so many unforeseen circumstances and you should definitely plan for more as well.
Nate has always been fairly frugal, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t spend money on what was important to us. We really thought about what we liked doing and what brought us happiness. You should do the same. For example, we loved Disneyland. And even though we lived in San Diego (about a 2-hour drive from Disneyland), we decided to get annual passes. It was 100% worth it for us even though we could have saved that money.
Instead, we saved on things that didn’t really bring value to our lives like going out for fancy dinners, buying fancy cars, or living in the best neighborhood. We didn’t buy a lot of new clothes, we canceled subscriptions we weren’t using, and only went grocery shopping once a week. These are just a few of the money-saving tips we have. I could write a whole course on how to save money, but we’ll leave that for another day.
Become a Digital Nomad
Now, if you truly don’t make enough to save money or just can’t wait to get going, there are plenty of options for you, too! You can become a digital nomad. This means working online from anywhere in the world. With technology growing at the rate it is, and especially with the pandemic, there are more jobs online than there ever have been before. Many people we have met through our travels are working online to continue to pay for their travels.
A great place to look for online jobs is FlexJobs or We Work Remotely. Of course, it’s still a job and likely will require a certain set schedule. And for lots of jobs, like online teaching, you will need to work hard to get that initial base business. But it will all be worth it to set up a dream life of traveling whenever and wherever you want.
Here are just a few examples of fully online jobs:
- Teaching English
- Software Consultant
- Graphic Designer
- Video Editor
- and more!
You could also get jobs in each new location you go to. Lots of hostels will hire people for short terms and give discounted or free accommodations on top of a small wage. You could also handle a business’ social media, work as a bartender or barista, give surf lessons, or take photography for local businesses. These types of jobs usually take longer and will require you to stick around in one town for a longer period of time. But whoever said that was a bad thing? Doesn’t a three-month stint in Costa Rica or Thailand sound nice?
Stick to a Budget
Now that you either have the money or are on your way to making the money, you will need to figure out how to spend it. It can be tempting to blow a ton of money like you normally would on a vacation. But if you are going to be traveling long-term, you will likely need a budget in place in order to continue those travels. Of course, if you have boatloads of money and are looking to travel, you probably aren’t even reading this, so…
Setting a budget up sounds daunting and honestly, like not much fun. But there are a ton of easy ways to do it. The most important part of a budget is just tracking where your money goes! If you are aware of it, you can influence where it is going with a better understanding.
The 100% easiest way to do this is through Mint.com. Mint is a free service where you connect your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and anything else financial. It will automatically categorize your spending (food, hotels, excursions, etc.). You can manually edit transactions and it will learn as it goes. We have been using Mint for the last 5 years and it has been incredibly helpful for our budget tracking.
We have a total annual budget and we break that down monthly. From there we estimate where our accommodations, flights, and fixed expenses (Netflix, Safety Wing, Adobe, etc.) should be. At the moment, we are also tracking our expenses daily. It’s an easy system where I write down everything we spent for the day on a Post-it note and we tally it up for the week to see how we did.
There are thousands of other ways to budget (like the cash envelope system from The Budget Mom) and you will find what works best for you as you try them out. You will need something to ensure you stay on track and can continue to travel for as long as possible!
Couple of tips to save some money: shop local, eat local, and travel slow!
Have a General Itinerary
This is a very general tip because you will want a lot of freedom with your travel. But if you have a general itinerary you can ensure you go in the most efficient route and can save on transportation. The faster you travel, the more your transportation costs will be so any savings you can get on them will be helpful! If you know you want to explore Southeast Asia (which we highly recommend), it wouldn’t make sense to go from the Philippines to Indonesia to Cambodia to Singapore. A general itinerary will just help you make the next logical steps in your journey.
You will also be able to better plan around holidays! Holidays and events while traveling can be some of the coolest experiences and we highly recommend visiting as many as you can! You wouldn’t want to miss the Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai by a week or Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. A general itinerary will help you plan to be there for those big events!
Packing for a Year
Now packing for a year of travel can seem extremely daunting but with laundry, it’s really not so bad. We carry two checked suitcases and two carry-on backpacks with everything we own, and we are just fine.
I do have a few tips to make everything easier, though. A capsule wardrobe is your best friend. This is where everything in your wardrobe matches everything else. So every shirt could be worn with every pair of pants. It’s extremely helpful because you don’t have to plan outfits and if the laundry gets low, you still have matching clothes. I keep my wardrobe to all the same color scheme with mostly neutrals and just a few colored shirts.
You don’t need “traveler’s” clothing, wrinkles aren’t that bad on regular cotton clothing. And bring jeans if you normally wear jeans. Don’t change your wardrobe just to travel, it will make you even more uncomfortable. Fewer shoes are more since they truly are the hardest thing to pack. Toiletries can be bought all over the world, so just bring a normal size of everything. Unless you have a boutique brand of face wash or a very hard-to-find shampoo, you will be able to find it abroad, even brand names (Colgate, Neutrogena).
Lastly, packing cubes are immensely helpful. Especially when packing for two. We each have our own color and know exactly what goes where. It makes packing easier and unpacking after a long flight even easier.
Even if you have a budget and an itinerary, things are going to change. And that’s okay. Traveling has made us so easygoing and it’s absolutely for the best. Likely things are going to go wrong. In fact, sometimes everything is going to go wrong. You may lose something important or expensive, you may get hurt, or you may get lost and have no way to find where you’re supposed to go. All of these have happened to us and sometimes it can be overwhelming. The more you prepare, the easier things will be, but nothing will ever go perfect.
We truly believe that everything happens for a reason and we wouldn’t be where we are right now if those things hadn’t happened to us when they did. And sometimes these things are very obvious.
For example, the global pandemic shut the world down only a few weeks after our travels started. We decided to wait it out in Cambodia and we ended up connecting with another couple waiting it out in India. They are now 100% our best friends and when we met up with them for the first time, instead of spending 4 days together, we spent 3 weeks together! It was amazing and we still talk twice a week! Because we stayed flexible, we were able to meet them and because we were so flexible we got to spend so much time with them. Definitely, time well spent! Check out our besties, Jenn & Elliot while they boat around the US!
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
We aren’t truly sure what we were thinking when we decided to quit our jobs, give up our lease, and start traveling the world. We are the largest creatures of comfort around. If we find a restaurant we like, we’ll go back 3 times. And even though we still are very much comfort seekers, traveling has pushed us out of our comfort zones so much. We have tried foods we would have never even thought existed (like cow’s stomach) and slept in places that weren’t always up to our old standard. I have had to communicate in Spanish in stressful situations, learn to negotiate a price, and trust strangers to take us where we needed to go.
I’m not trying to paint a scary picture of travel, but we really have had to get out of our comfort zones while traveling. It can be hard sometimes, but it is always worth it. I am always so proud of myself, of us, when we go through one of those glaringly obvious moments. Like, recently when we ate guinea pig in Ecuador! If you are able to get out of your comfort zone and happy to do it, travel will be so much more rewarding for you.