Last Updated on January 25, 2022
So you’re scrolling on your Instagram feed and you see that once again, one of your favorite influencers is uploading breathtaking photos from another exotic location. You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered, how on Earth are they able to travel for seemingly months, even years at a time? The truth is, long-term travel is accessible to pretty much anyone and can often be cheaper than a more stationary life in a major U.S. city.
Research the Cost of Living
While no other nation can match the convenience and abundance you can find in the United States, there are many countries that offer a high standard of living for a fraction of the price. Even the metropolitan areas of Berlin and Paris are far cheaper to live in than comparable American cities. If you go outside of Europe, the potential savings grow even more.
You can look online to gather information about the cost of living for your dream destination. Websites like Numbeo gather data from local expats and can give you important information like the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment.
You can also use cost-of-living comparison calculators to see how much you would need to enjoy your current standard of living in a new location. You may be surprised just how far your money can get you abroad!
The ability to travel long-term doesn’t happen by accident. It actually requires some sacrifices. For people who love to travel, giving up bimonthly shopping sprees or working a second job is well worth it.
Some people even plan their careers around travel. For example, many people take on seasonal or on-call jobs that allow them to take leave for several months at a time. They will spend several months working and saving money, then take off for the rest of the year. Creating travel savings goals can keep you inspired as you work towards affording a long-term trip. You can pad your savings and reach your goals even faster by using a personal finance app like Acorns.
Every time you spend money, the app will round the change up to the nearest dollar and send the difference automatically to your savings account. These little bits add up, and before you know it, you’ll be headed to your dream destination!
Live Like a Local
One of the reasons people believe long-term travel is unaffordable is because we often confuse traveling with vacations. Very few people can stay at all-inclusive, 5-star resorts for weeks at a time. And even if you could, the lack of exposure to the local culture would put a damper on the experience.
The key to long-term affordable travel is living like a local. This means renting an apartment, taking public transportation, and making your own food from time to time. Traveling this way not only keeps costs down, but it gives you a chance to interact with local people and learn a bit of the language. You can get the local experience by renting long-term accommodation through a site like Airbnb or staying with roommates in temporary housing.
If you don’t know the first thing about how to find roommates in a new city, you’re not alone. There are hundreds of Facebook groups and other social media forums dedicated to connecting travelers to shared accommodations. You can even make a post about looking for roommates and see who responds. If you want to eliminate your accommodation costs altogether, consider housesitting.
The two biggest expenses for any trip are accommodation and transportation. Traveling slowly greatly reduces both of these costs. Rather than blowing through multiple countries within a two-week trip, slow travelers spend weeks or months in a specific city or region. This type of travel is best suited for countries in the Visa Waiver Program.
Americans can travel to more than three dozen countries and stay up to 90 days without a visa. Some countries, like Mexico and Canada, allow U.S. citizens to stay up to 180 days visa-free.
Combine Work and Travel
If you really want a life of full-time travel, finding a way to work abroad is the ultimate solution. English teaching is a job that is in demand worldwide, and most Americans can do it with a little bit of training. Some teacher training programs will even allow you to earn an English teaching certificate abroad and help you find a local job.
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, you could qualify for a Working Holiday Visa. Under this program, U.S. citizens can stay in Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, South Korea, or Singapore for up to 12 months and work part-time.
If you do a job that allows you to work from home, you may be able to keep your job while you travel. While this option is easiest for freelancers and entrepreneurs, even remote employees could take advantage of it, provided their employer gives them the okay.