How to Travel Full Time: 5 Steps to Make It Happen

If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably scrolled through an Instagram feed or listened to a JUMP podcast episode featuring someone who left the rat race to travel full time.

You might have thought to yourself, “I want to do that! But how?” 

Last year, I asked myself that same question and decided to take a leap of faith. Nine months ago, I quit my cushy, secure job as a corporate lawyer and began a full-time travel adventure.

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My life is full of moments like this one now: Admiring the view in Peru.

It’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Not only has my physical and mental health improved, I spend way less money than I used to – while living an amazing life!

This article outlines five steps you can take, no matter what your situation, to make the JUMP to becoming a full-time traveler.

Step 1: Stop Making Excuses

I know, I know. You’re saying, “But Kevin, I can’t just leave and go travel full time; I have ‘this’ and ‘that’ preventing me from making the jump.” Stop coming up with reasons why you can’t travel full time.

My travel buddies and me getting ready to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Everyone in this photo has a different job, a different financial situation, a different family situation.
All of them travel full time!

The excuses you come up with are just obstacles that you can navigate your way around. No matter your situation — kids, a disability, fear of flying, not a lot of money, etc. — you can find someone who has overcome those same obstacles and transitioned from ordinary life to a full-time travel adventure. 

Related: Long-Term Travel in Retirement with Kris & Tom from Travel Past 50

Step 2: Come Up With A Plan

Next, and probably the most important step, develop a plan. Famed motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “You can’t hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.”

You accomplish a goal by coming up with a plan comprised of steps that work toward achieving that goal. Once you have a clear plan, execute it. You already have the target (or goal): You want to travel full time. You can see the target! Now we have to make sure you hit that target.

Travel Planning Tip: Order a prepaid SIM card before you travel!

Admiring the view in Patagonia at Torres del Paine, Chile.

When creating your plan, you should consider aspects specific to your desires and life. Some things might be: What countries do you want to visit? What will it cost to live there? If you don’t like to fly, what other ways can you travel the globe? If you have kids, can you homeschool them? If you have pets, where can you travel with them? 

It would be best if you were detailed with your plan and made it specific to your situation. Good news, though: The next three steps can be applied to almost every situation, and you should make them a part of your plan.

Step 3: Eliminate Debt

Nothing prevents people from living the life they desire more than debt. Getting rid of this barrier will increase your likelihood of starting and sustaining full-time travel. 

Hiking Monks Trail in Thailand
Everyone in this photo has two things in common: Bald & Debt Free

There are two very popular methods to get out of debt: the debt snowball and the debt avalanche. Pick the one that works best for you and start knocking out that debt.

“But Kevin, I have a lot of debt, and this could take forever!” I’ve got good news: you can use steps 4 and 5 to speed up knocking out that debt.

Step 4: Get Rid of Stuff

“Less stuff, more experiences” is a popular mantra right now, but there are also a few practical reasons to quit buying stuff. First, you can’t travel with lots of stuff. Everything you own will need to fit into your checked and carry-on luggage. 

Related: Packing for Long Term Travel in a Carry On

One of the biggest challenges of letting stuff go is the sentimental attachment to some things. Evaluate why an item is important and decide if you need to keep it.

Everything I own fits into this 30-liter Osprey backpack.
Getting rid of my “stuff” gave me the flexibility I needed to travel full time.

If it’s been sitting in a closet for two years, do you need to keep it? Things like photos can be converted to digital files. I took pictures of things that were special to me so I could look at them anytime I wanted. 

Some of the things you’ll need to purge will have a monetary value. Sell that stuff and use the proceeds to pay down your debt! Here is the kicker about this step: you can use it to speed up completing step 3 — getting out of debt!

Step 5: Fund Your Travels

The fifth step anyone can add to their full-time travel plan is to figure out how you will fund your travels. Most people don’t have enough money saved to travel full time indefinitely. You’ll need a way to finance this new lifestyle if that’s you too.

First, you need to figure out how much money you’ll need to travel full time. This amount varies greatly, depending on where you travel. In some spots in Europe, you’ll barely squeak by on $2000 a month, but in Southeast Asia, you can live like a king or queen with $1500. Nomad List is a great resource for figuring out what it costs to live in specific cities.

Related: Best Budget Travel Tips for Saving Money on the Road

After you figure out how much this lifestyle will cost, you’ll need to develop a way to make money while traveling.  

One way to accomplish that is to become a digital nomad. You’ll need to figure out what skills you have that you can put to good use remotely or what new ones you need to learn to work remotely. Whether teaching English online or computer programming, you can find something to do remotely.  

Living the digital nomad life at a Selina in Puerto Escondido.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’re making a plan, all you need to do next is execute it. Make it happen! It’s much easier to travel full time than you think. Armed with a well-thought-out plan, you already have what it takes to live this lifestyle.

Are you convinced you can travel full time? What’s currently stopping you from traveling full time? What are your barriers, and how will you overcome them? We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!

By Kevin Martin

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