The travel lifestyle is the most exciting way to live. You get to constantly have experiences that challenge and change you, and see more of the world than you ever could waiting for your vacation days. But, starting to full-time travel and continuing to full-time travel are two very different charges.
If the travel lifestyle is pulling at your heartstrings, you owe it to yourself to try. But do yourself a favor and heed these tips before you go so that you can sustain the travel lifestyle for as a long as possible.
8 Full-Time Travel Tips To Help You Sustain The Travel Lifestyle
Hey, Kayla here! If we haven’t met before, I’m *so glad* you’re here. These tips come from my experience as a digital nomad and expat. I left the US in 2017 and haven’t permanently returned since. Do you have any suggestions to add to this full-time travel tips list? I’d love to hear in the comments!
1. Intentionally Pick Your Income Source
Step one of living the full-time travel lifestyle is figuring out how to fund it. You may initially reach for finding a full-time position with a company that is remote, but you have more options.
There are other ways to fund the full-time travel lifestyle, from coasting on savings to dabbling in agorism, but there’s one that will give you more freedom than the rest: having an online business.
Having your own online business will grant you the freedom to make money how you like, work when are where you choose and outsource and pacify income as much as possible. I won’t tell you it’s easy, but I can say that there’s honestly never been a better time to start.
An online business could very well well be your answer to everything, but this way of funding the full-time travel lifestyle takes longer than simply saving or finding a remote position with a company.
My main income stream is Pinterest management. When I started with my travel lifestyle, I was freelance writing but it was very time-consuming and didn’t pay enough. Find something that suits how you want to spend your time.
2. Be A Minimalist
A minimalist approach to the travel lifestyle isn’t just about bringing fewer items. It’s about needing less and loving what you have. This brings us to the most important point of being a travel minimalist:
Pack what you really want to have. A tip I was given (and listened to, but shouldn’t have) before my first digital nomad trip in 2017 was to only bring clothes that I WASN’T attached to.
They’ll get holes, get lost, get the sleeve bitten off by a kangaroo.
So, I embarked on my journey with *zero* articles of clothing that I loved. Nothing that felt like my uniform or made me feel just like me.
That’s so not what minimalism is about. Minimalism isn’t about loving nothing that you have; it’s about loving everything.
Pack what you need and what brings you joy. And with the space that you have left in your pack, stuff in a few emergency items that you should never travel without (more on that in #3).
Over the course of your journey traveling full-time, you’ll find yourself needing less and less to be happy, which is one of the greatest gifts of the full-time travel lifestyle.
3. Take *Excellent* Care Of Yourself
When you don’t have an apartment or a permanent address, the only real home you have is your body. Treat her like she matters more than anything (because, she does).
Failing to maintain your basic health will put an end to your full-time travel plans. Being constantly sick or even just under the weather makes it incredibly difficult to have the energy and mindfulness to enjoy the places you’re visiting.
In addition to taking basic travel self-care items with you, there are 3 big ways to do this when you’re living the travel lifestyle:
- Sunscreen. Don’t be too cool to lather up, your face and shoulders at a bare minimum. Down the road when you don’t look 10 years older than you actually are, you’ll be thanking your past self for taking the simple step to put on SPF. Be sure to get a reef-safe sunscreen, even if you’re not anywhere near the beach. All drains lead to the ocean!
- Vitamins. Every bod’ is different, but you’re not ready for liftoff until you have at least a humble multivitamin in your pack. If you have any other deficiencies (personally, I’m vitamin D deficient), be sure to bring specific supplements (re: your GP) along with you as well
- Water (continued below)
4. Drink As Much Water As Possible
Water intake is so important that it needs its whole own category.
The exact amount of water you should be drinking will vary based on your activity, but here are some general guidelines.
Travel days, such as road trips, flights and bus or train rides should be prepped for a day in advance. Drink as much as was possible the day before, and you’ll be better hydrated on your travel day without having to make frequent bathroom stops.
Work days require sufficient hydration to keep headaches, fatigue and mental fuzziness at bay.
Hiking days require the most water. Your water supply will have to be planned out in advance, and you should have multiple forms of water sanitization on hand incase your primary form breaks.
Exploring days around your locale don’t have particular hydration needs, assuming that you’ll always be able to buy water at any moment. As a rule of thumb, drink a liter (an entire Nalgene) of water first thing in the morning before you set out for the day. Drink until you have to pee, and then fill your bottle up and take it with you. Refill whenever possible.
When traveling in places without potable water, I always find it very difficult to get enough water on a daily basis. Constantly buying bottled water is an inconvenient chore, not to mention an ongoing expense. My preferred water sanitization method is using a UV light sterilizer to make the tap water potable.
Find a system that works for you and maintain it without compromising.
5. Continue To Nurture Your Relationships, Even With People Who Don’t Understand The Travel Lifestyle
Long-distance relationships, whether they’re with family, friends or partners, need special nurturing. Especially if the person at the other end of the phone doesn’t understand or support your full-time travel.
Check in regularly and send pictures. Sending people pictures directly via WhatsApp, iMessage or email will make sure that you maintain contact with the people in your life who aren’t on social media and still let them into your life.
Don’t always make the photos you send back calendar-worthy shots; really let your people into your experience. When I travel, I try to send a picture of my food to my mom every day. We’re big eaters, and even if it’s not special, it’s a moment to share. She often sends a picture of what she’s eating back. I’ve received many photos of her morning oatmeal! And that’s how it should be, which leads right into the next tip:
Never position your life above anyone else’s just because you’re living the travel lifestyle. Full-time travel is *probably* more exciting than whatever is happening back home. We all know that, but I beg of you, don’t make it known. It will be very damaging to your relationships if you bring that measuring stick into your relationships.
You might be happier, but you’re not better than anyone else just because you decided to pursue full-time travel.
6. Be Proactive
….against all of the obvious things that can (and sometimes will) go wrong and have the potential to end your full-time travel lifestyle.
Be proactive against theft. Take steps to reduce your odds of being robbed, and no matter how long you’ve been traveling, remember to take the same measures. Getting a little too comfortable and leaving your back unattended, or your phone in your back pocket where it’s easily pickpocketed (that happened to me in Bogotá), are easy mistakes to make. Don’t fall victim to beginner misteps.
Be proactive against falling ill. We already covered this, but I hit it again because I’ve personally been to emergency rooms in 3 different countries, and those bills can be enough to kill your full-time travel funds.
Be proactive against losing your income. Becoming sloppy, unreliable or unreachable in your work is, quite frankly, tempting! The travel lifestyle is more exciting than sitting behind your laptop answering emails, but finding balance is going to be a make-or-break factor for your full-time travels. Hone excellent remote work habits to reduce the odds of losing your income.
You can never prevent accidents and snafus from happening when you live the travel lifestyle, but you can protect yourself against obvious pitfalls.
7. Be The Master Of Your Money
After your health, your finances is the most significant factor that will let you carry on with your full-time travel or cause you to cave.
Learn to deflate your lifestyle costs, and keep a rigid budget. Rigid doesn’t have to translate to an unbelievably low budget; you can have a $1k budget a day, but rigidly sticking to it means that you never spend $1,001.
If this sounds intimidating, let me give you the piece of advice that I needed to hear: stop being afraid of your money. Look at your bank account. If you’re hearing that and thinking “when WAS the last time I looked at my bank balance….” then I’m lookin’ at you.
Decide how much you can afford to spend per month, then roll it back into a weekly and daily budget. There are all kinds of travel lifestyle hacks that you’ll pick up along the way that will help you save money.
House sitting, work exchanges, mastering the *perfect* bowl of eggs and rice. You’ll get the hang of it.
8. Don’t Forget To Enjoy The Journey
I know I just said that your health and finances are the most influential factors in your travel lifestyle, but there’s kind of been a sneaky one that’s even more important.
Perhaps the *most* fatal blow to your full-time travel lifestyle will be forgetting to enjoy it.
Full-time travel is as great as it looks: adventure, passport stamps, new experiences. But it has equally intense challenges. When you’ve missed another significant milestone back home, or are locked up in a hotel room finishing a deadline for a project that you hate, you will start growing tired of it at some point.
Full-time travel is much more than just hopping from mountaintop to mountaintop. How you feel every day matters a lot more than you have feel at the continental highlights.
Full-Time Travel Lifestyle Final Thoughts
Traveling full-time is surprisingly difficult. I know that will sound ridiculous to people who are dying to live the travel lifestyle, but it’s the truth.
Follow these full-time travel tips to help you increase your odds of being able to sustain the lifestyle full-time. What bits of wisdom have you picked up in your travel lifestyle? I’d love to hear in the comments!