Full-Time Travel: 12 Essential Things You Need To Know
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Full-time travel is a dream for many. I remember my first ever backpacking trip, even though it was several months long, I knew it would have to come to an end at some point, and I was always in awe of the people I met on the road who had cracked the code, and were traveling full-time.
On that trip, I met Kelli, and today, we have been traveling full-time together for five years, without plans to stop any time soon. We never decided to travel full-time, we simply set off on one trip that turned into another and another and another. We have traveled to over 80 countries, we have traveled by foot, bus, train, plane, three converted vans and most recently our sailboat Whisper.
Over those five years, we have learned a lot and it has been an incredibly special period in our lives. It probably comes as no surprise that we strongly recommend full-time or at least indefinite travel for everyone at least once in their life. The good news is, the dream of traveling full-time has never been more within reach.
Here are 10 things you need to know about full-time travel in 2023.
Why Travel Full-Time?
For us, there are many advantages to traveling full-time. Beyond the general benefits of travel such as broadening your perspective, improving communication skills, and exposing yourself to new cultures, people, and ideas there are some additional upsides that come with full-time travel.
Traveling full time affords us a sense of freedom we weren’t able to find living in one place and working 9 – 5 in traditional jobs. The ability to chart a course and set off to a new destination any day of the week or to pick a new country to visit next month is extremely liberating.
You can save money (if you can continue to earn money). While travel is generally considered an expensive pastime. Traveling full-time is surprisingly inexpensive when compared to living in one place and traveling occasionally. Expenses such as rent or mortgage, car payments, home maintenance, and household goods, can be deleted or significantly reduced. The expense of long return flights, short hotel accommodations, and vehicle rental is mitigated when you can travel slowly and flexibly. Traveling in a variety of countries including those with lower costs of living than your home country also brings down the average costs of living and traveling.
The opportunity to travel slower and to stay in a region longer offers an even deeper travel experience. Full-time travel allows us the time to learn a little of the language, meet locals and go beyond the tourist attractions and hopefully understand more about everyday life in a new place. Of course, a full-time traveler is still an outsider looking in, but if you use the opportunity full-time travel provides to go a little deeper then your travel experience can be even more rewarding.
Another benefit of traveling full-time is the opportunity to create income from travel. We have done so by creating a blog and a vlog, others use social media or their cameras to create travel content for profit.
When is the Perfect Time to Start traveling?
Is 30 too late to travel the world? Is 18 too young? What about 50? Truthfully there is no perfect age nor a perfect moment in life to start traveling.
One of the hardest things about setting off for any sort of long-form travel is that it is never really the right time. You are due for that promotion at work, your second cousin might be getting married next year, and you’ve just struck up an unlikely friendship with the cat next door.
To achieve your dream you will always need to sacrifice, and big dreams require a big sacrifice. You will need to leave everything behind. If you want to travel full-time, work out how much time you need to get your affairs in order, and save enough money to begin your journey, circle a date in the calendar, and start working toward your dream, today.
What’s the Difference Between Full-Time Travel and Other Travel?
Full time-travel is a lot different from a holiday, extended business trip or even that month-long Contiki bus tour you took through Eastern Europe at eighteen. Full-time travel requires planning, hard work, and discipline.
A sustainable approach to full-time travel requires careful planning. From researching destinations, working out schedules, and budgeting you will need to be thoroughly prepared. While a holiday doesn’t necessarily require such careful planning full-time travel requires things like long-term visas, understanding foreign tax obligations, and researching internet speeds in far-flung locales.
While traveling is often considered a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, full-time travel is often not. For many, if not most, people planning to travel full-time, income is required. This means on top of planning, traveling, and experiencing new places, you will need to juggle a job, something that is more difficult when you are on the move. In addition to managing your workload, challenges like finding suitable working environments with reliable wifi connections, and dealing with everchanging timezones can be both stressful and time-consuming.
A holiday or even extended travel has an end date which means we can indulge ourselves without restriction. We can blow the budget, eat unhealthy food, skip exercising, or drink too much, safe in the knowledge that our wallets and waistlines will eventually recover. Without an end date, full-time travel would quickly become a full-time nightmare if we took this same attitude. But without a set schedule or routine full-time travel requires discipline to remind ourselves that despite the scenes outside our window, or the thrill of waking up somewhere new, we are, in fact, not on holiday.
Despite these very real challenges, if you can handle them there is no doubt that full-time travel offers a level of freedom and excitement that is hard to match with a more traditional lifestyle.
Can Full-Travel Lead to Burnout?
Yes. For all the reasons mentioned above, full-time travel can be exhausting. Travel fatigue is real and the stresses of working and traveling at the same time can quickly become overwhelming. As a full-time traveler, it is important to be in touch with your stress level and take proactive measures when things get too much. When you begin to feel travel fatigue it is vital that you pause and take care of your needs and rest. Slow down and travel more slowly, take some time off work, or just check into a nice hotel and sleep for a weekend. But take time to take care of yourself.
Does Traveling Full-Time Put Pressure On a Relationship?
If you travel with a partner it can definitely put pressure on your relationship. Spending life traveling with your one and only sounds pretty romantic and it can be but there are definitely downsides.
Traveling full-time with your partner can add stress to your relationship and without any other outlet this can lead to conflict. It can also affect the romance and intimacy in a relationship. Another negative outcome of traveling full-time with your significant other is co-dependency.
Partners who decide to take the plunge together and travel full-time need to be aware of these pitfalls and have strategies to avoid them.
For more insight into the challenges of traveling full-time together check out these 25 Lessons we learned about living on the road as a couple.
Is Full-Time Travel Isolating?
On our first van life journey together we imagined pulling up in a new spot every night, making friends with other van lifers around a campfire. It rarely happened. And even if you do travel in a way that exposes you to lots of new friends, such as backpacking and staying in rowdy hostels, the intensity and brevity of these connections often exacerbate burnout and can rarely replace the deep long-lasting relationships of family and old friends.
Whether you are traveling by yourself, with your partner, or even with your family, full-time travel can be isolating. Feelings of isolation, of FOMO, and of being ‘left behind’ as our loved ones enter new phases of life without us are frequent on the road and can definitely create a sense of loneliness.
As a full-time traveler, you will need to work extra hard to maintain important relationships far from home.
Despite this, we have found it is possible to maintain important relationships if we put in the work. With today’s technology, it has never been easier to stay in touch with loved ones through messages, video calls, and social media.
Is Travelling Full-Time Dangerous or Scary?
It can be.
Traveling has, at times, made me feel very scared, sometimes with good reason.
Scary moments that stick out to me, are getting lost in the jungle in Peru, Kelli getting incredibly sick while traveling through a dangerous part of Colombia, Our van being broken into while we were sleeping in it in Mexico, Kelli almost stepping on a dangerous snake in the middle of outback Australia, running out of fuel for our boat 50 kilometers from our final destination in Albania, not being able to find our accommodation in -25 in Kazakhstan in the middle of winter and a hundred other experiences that have felt incredibly scary, especially at the time.
Depending on where you go, completely avoiding dangerous and scary situations while traveling is probably not realistic however minimizing them is possible through proper research, preparation, and common sense. Research your destination and the known risks. Prepare properly to mitigate those risks. Take proper
While traveling full-time will undoubtedly open you up to a variety of new experiences, remember that they won’t always be experiences you necessarily wanted.
Can You Make A Living Traveling Full-Time?
Yes, there is a variety of jobs to fit any type of traveler that can allow you to make a living while traveling full-time.
There are traditional travel jobs like working on a cruise ship or as a flight attendant, becoming a traveling nurse or therapist, an artisan selling their crafts at different markets, or a busker ready to set up on a new street corner each day.
There is also a range of freelance opportunities for those working in the digital space. For people with skills (or those willing to acquire them) in fields like graphic design, video editing, programming, photography, website creation, music, and many other areas where the product can be delivered online, becoming a digital nomad is a real possibility.
Finally, there are more and more opportunities to take roles that until recently only existed onsite and do them remotely. Forward-thinking businesses are increasingly looking to employ remote workers to fill many professional positions. Raising the question …
Is It Possible to Travel and Work Remotely At My Existing Job?
For many, yes! Lots of roles are now able to be done fully remotely.
The age of the digital nomad fully underway providing many freelancers and business owners with the opportunity to deliver their products and services online. Additionally, we are now witnessing the dawn of the corporate nomad, where many companies are allowing employees to carry out their jobs remotely.
In 2019, there were around 15 million remote workers today that number is estimated to be over 45 million. The growth of the nomadic workforce has been exponential, and some sources predict that there will be over 1 billion digital nomads within the next 12 years. The next thing that needs to happen is for governments to react to the implications that this interconnected world, with citizens, spread out across the world.
When we set out to travel full-time Corona was still a beer and finding remote work with reasonable pay was considered a pie-in-the-sky dream.
No one wanted their accountant working from the Amazon jungle, and rightly so, the wi-fi is awful. Nevertheless, we battled through and were able to find enough clients as freelancers to keep us going.
Fast forward to 2023 and the amount of companies willing to let their employees work remotely is growing rapidly. There has never been a better time to take your existing job on the road or transition into a job you can do remotely.
Covid forced a workforce into remote work and the tech followed. We now have incredible tools at our disposal to conduct our jobs from afar. Sophisticated programs to host virtual meetings, rapid advancement of cloud share technology to promote online collaboration, and star link mobile satellite internet for less than $150 a month are all examples of how far the world of remote work has come in just a few short years.
The speed of development of solutions for an increasingly location-independent workforce has been awe-inspiring and we don’t expect this trend to reverse any time soon.
Are There Downsides to Working Remotely While Traveling Full-Time?
There are a number of downsides to working while traveling. Staying connected is often difficult, working in different timezones can be tough to deal with, and remaining visible to your staff, colleagues or managers can be challenging.
Full-time travel means being constantly on the move and trying to ensure a constant and reliable internet connection to dial into meetings or upload work comes with challenges. Nevertheless, internet technology is improving rapidly, and in many places, mobile internet is now sufficient to carry out many jobs. For those whose jobs require access to high-bandwidth internet, we are seeing that the availability is increasing and the price is dropping.
Another downside to traveling and working at the same time is juggling time zones, if you have an employer or clients in one location, then making yourself available to them at a convenient time may require some flexibility in your timetable.
Do Remote Workers Negatively Impact the Communities They Visit?
The rapid rise of an untethered workforce is not without its challenges. We are already seeing the effects of mass migration to certain destinations like Mexico City and Lisbon where an influx of cashed-up remote workers is driving up prices of real estate, and retail and displacing locals, negatively impacting their quality of life.
As a full-time traveler, especially if you are privileged enough to have a job that puts you in the top percentiles of global wealth then you have a responsibility to travel ethically. That means understanding the impact that you and your fellow nomads may be having on the areas you visit. We know to tread lightly when we visit a national park, we need to learn how to tread lightly when we travel to regions long term and think about how we can have a positive contribution to the places we visit without displacing or otherwise impacting local communities.
Hopefully, you found some interesting information about the realities of full-time travel! Did you find something you hadn’t thought of? Did we miss something you’ve discovered traveling full-time? Do you have a question about traveling full-time? Let us know below!
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