10 Ways to Save $25,000 or More for Full-Time Travel


After years of telling myself I don’t have the money or time to travel, I finally started doing research on how to travel long term.  What I found challenged me to my core.  Was finding the money to do what I loved doing really as easy as adjusting my life’s priorities?

I have had many opportunities to jet set, but I have always backed out for some reason or another.  Excuses abound, and even though I said that travel was extremely important to me, my life’s decisions told another story.  As of late, I have been discussing the idea of long term travel with other people and they all say the same types of things.  “I wish I could travel more, but I don’t have the time or resources”, “I would love to travel full time, but I’m already living paycheck to paycheck”.

I believe there are deeper issues tied to people’s inability to take the plunge into long term travel or a location independent lifestyle, and it boils down to attitude and priorities.

If you get a craving for Chinese food, then you scour the Internet for a good place that delivers.  When you want to lose weight, you make it a priority to get to the gym.  The same applies to traveling.  If you really want to travel, then you will find a way to make it happen.  Even if you are broke.  Once you change your mindset from “I have no money or time” to “how can I find the money or time”, discovering innovative funding to travel with will become much easier.

I decided in March of 2012 that I was going to start traveling full time, no excuses.  Here are some of the steps I took to start saving for my trip, and other great ideas that did not pertain to me, but may work great for you!

1. Stop Buying Starbucks Coffee!!!!  Up until March of 2012, I drank a Grande Soy Latte from Starbucks every day.  Every single day, for four years.  I do not want to, nor will I do the math on how much money I threw away.  I finally decided I wasn’t going to be lazy anymore and I invested in an inexpensive espresso machine, (which paid itself off almost immediately), and started putting that $4 a day into a jar.  I called it my Dreams Jar.  This brought me a savings of $1,460.

2. Get rid of cable – Everyone’s cable bills vary depending on where you are in the country, but when I had cable and Internet, I was paying close to $120 per month.  Get rid of it.  It’s not worth it. Also, consider the fact that you can use public libraries for free Internet if you need it to work for a few hours per day, such as if you are freelancing. I pay $7.99 per month for Netflix, $9.99 per month for Hulu, and $79 per year for Amazon Prime.  I used to have an Xbox that I would stream from, but for $80 I ended up getting a Roku Player, which has been almost life changing!  I don’t even miss cable!  Put the amount that you save each month into your Dream Jar.  That is a total savings of $1,145.

3.  Get a second job –  This isn’t really an ideal option for many people, but if you can pick up a serving/bartending job on the weekends outside of your regular job, or something online such as doing personal assistant work for someone, answering emails and the like, then you will be able to save up a large sum of money in a short amount of time.  I took on a part time job last summer on the weekends, and was able to save $2,400. A great place to look for short term/part time work is www.craigslist.org.

4.  Sell everything you own – Not only does this help you to prepare for your location independent lifestyle (we hold on to too much crap anyways!), it also brings in some extra money.  I love books, and I have a lot of them.  This was the hardest for me to let go of!  I ended up taking them to a bookseller, and got close to $50.  For furniture, housewares, and odds and ends, I recommend www.craigslist.org or a garage sale.  I’m still using a lot of my stuff, but I will be leaving for Mexico Feb 28th, so soon I will be having my Grand Selling Off of Everything I Own Garage Sale!  For electronics, check out www.ebay.com or search craigslist for people that buy up electronics. Jets Like Taxis has an excellent post on the topic called Look Around: You’re Surrounded By Your Travel Fund.

5. Sell or rent out your car – If you own your car, you’ll actually earn something from doing this. I, however still have a car payment, but you’re still saving either way!  In getting rid of your car, you will also be saving on car insurance, gas, and maintenance.  Here is my savings breakdown: Car Payment – $300, Car Insurance – $115, Gas/Maintenance – $500.  If you live in an area where public transportation is awesome, USE IT.  Otherwise, invest in a bike and ride it.  Your body and your wallet will thank you.  You can actually look up bike routes on Google maps now.  The reason this option isn’t really feasible for me is I have 2 young children still, so it makes more sense for me to keep my car until I actually leave the country.  Total amount saved is $10,980.

WOW I wish I had gotten rid of my car a long time ago!  If you would rather hold on to your car, you can actually rent it out to people that need a vehicle.  Relay Rides is a good place to start if you want this option.

6. Stop eating out – Yes I am serious, and stop looking at me like that!  I pay $15 per 3 months for a subscription to www.thefresh20.com which is budget friendly family meals from 20 fresh ingredients per week.  You can basically eat for a family of four for $100 per week or less depending on where you live, and what’s available to you.  It’s so worth it, and tastes so much better than eating out.  It’s designed with the busy family in mind.  You can also check out www.emeals.com and one of my favorite blogs is www.100daysofrealfood.com which has lots of great ideas for eating healthy on a budget.

Plus, once you go global you can start saving over $5,000 per year on your grocery bill compared to the United States. Once you start shopping locally and avoiding the supermarkets and eating all of your meals at home, you can save thousands.

7. Cash in your 401k – If you have decided that you want to break free from the 9-5, and start living your life now instead of in your 60’s, and you have a retirement fund.  Then why not use your retirement fund now?  I know you’re thinking, how irresponsible, but seriously, we have no idea if we are going to be alive when we are 60.  Yes, you will have to take a little penalty (don’t get me started on that) but at least once you cash it in, it’s yours.  And it could be the perfect catalyst to your location independent lifestyle.  Here is more information on how to go this route.

8. Invest in an e-reader – For someone that is addicted to books, my habit gets pretty expensive.  Recently I have started buying more e-books and kindle books.  I personally have a Nexus 7, and I can buy eBooks for a lot cheaper than physical books.  But I think an even more valuable reader would be a Kindle Fire.  The reason being, if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can rent books for free.  Which is awesome!  And think of the money you would save!  Plus you can get your Amazon Prime movies to your device as well.

9. Tax Return –  I know that not everyone has kids.  But if you do have kids, usually you get money back.  I think the child tax credit alone is $3,800 per child this year, not to mention the other deductions.  Last year I got $5,500 back and I expect a similar amount this year!  Make sure you take every deduction you qualify for, even if  you only get a couple of hundred back, that is a couple of hundred you didn’t have before.  The program I use is www.turbotax.com. While you certainly might need the money to cover expenses for your children (and that’s the reason it exists), if you are considering investing in a life-changing career break or program that will change your life and allow you to build a brand and generate an additional passive income to support a life of travel/location independence…it’s money well invested.

10. Find a roommate – This could be beneficial in more ways than one.  Mostly to save on expenses… rent, utilities, internet, maybe even food if you decide to share can be slashed!  Also, if you plan on having a home base from which to travel from, you’ll have a live in house-sitter   You can offer a certain amount for rent, and then they agree to pay half of all utilities.  Or you can do something that is all inclusive, which I find to be much easier than trying to split everything down the middle.

There are many other ways to rake in money for your travels if you really dig deep.  Here are some other great resources for long term travel as well:

Professional Hobo: How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (Or Less!)

Nomadic Matt’s How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter

This is the guy that basically changed my life once I read his 2 books.  I highly recommend checking him out. Chris Guillebeau : The Art of Non-Conformity

The Expat Guidebook, which not only has information on how to generate your initial travel fund, but also information on how to build a brand, rank your website, master social media and generate passive income to live around the world on less than $10,000 a year…while maintaining all of your modern amenities and creature comforts.

Wandering Earl’s How to Live a Life of Travel, another excellent how-to manual in the same vein as the aforementioned books/posts.

Are there resources you’d like to share?

Let us know in the comments below!

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About Jen Welzel

Jen Welzel (aka Nomadic Momma) is a participant in the Marginal Boundaries Destination Freedom retreat for March, April and May of 2013. She has traveled within the four corners of the United States, but is preparing for long term travel outside of the US. Jen is setting out to teach the younger generation that they can live a fulfilling life outside of the "American Dream" and is determined to carve out her own path of greatness. For more information, visit her website at http://www.nomadicmomma.com/.


  • Me says:

    Great article – I sold almost everything I owned to move onto a 35′ sailboat and it’s amazing how wasteful we are with money without even realizing it! I can’t tell you how freeing it is to rid yourself of unnecessary stuff. I never miss TV (although I do admit that when visiting my sister, I can sit for HOURS watching mindless television), I don’t miss my car (except the one time I had to walk 4 miles to a grocery store… then walk back with groceries), and the coffee I make is WAY better than any coffee shop coffee (Illy Ground Espresso, made with an Aeropress). Constantly looking at ways to budget and cut back spending as well as ways to make extra money while traveling. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff!

  • @ Jen

    Muwuahahahaha feel the wrath of math!

  • @ Will

    Absolutely not. I have never, nor will I ever, trust in a singular government entity or a bank to provide me with my best interests or my retirement. Instead, I’ve taken steps to ensure that myself and my family are well provided for with international investments, real estate and other means.

    My retirement is 100% my own.

  • Will says:

    @Jen – I agree w/most of your suggestions (except the cashing in of your 401k). I’ve sold much of what I own and now the last major thing before I travel is my car; still trying to figure out how to overcome my attachment to my car.

    @Tim – No IRA/401k/Solo 401k at all?!

  • Jen Welzel says:

    I couldn’t figure out how to reply to comments from the admin panel, so I’m doing it here!! It’s exciting that you all have read my article, and I really appreciate the support!

    @Geoff, I absolutely see your side of things as well and appreciate your comments… :-) I think I would prefer to have an emergency fund to fall back on in case I needed it, because I am a firm believer that you just don’t know what the future holds, and if I can get good use out of that money now, I would much rather use it now. Of course I do see benefit in savings. For example starting a travel fund for your kids when they are young, so they have a decent amount to travel with when the get older.

    @Mark, I love that you guys are out there living free!! I can’t wait until I am ready to make that move. Have some things that I need to handle before I leave for good, but I feel like it’s going to be soon! Thanks for your comments!

    @Cole, you’re not kidding. I’m kicking myself now that I have discovered I make my own lattes that are far more delicious than Starbucks haha… but you live and learn.

    @TW, I really didn’t want to know how much money I have spent at Starbucks the last 4 years LOL

  • @ Cole

    Indeed :) Or in my case, $1,500 USD is enough to very literally pay for about 3 months of my full cost of living in Cancun. Now imagine that Starbucks fund extrapolated out over 4 years, that’s very nearly $6,000 USD in savings. That’s about 8-9 months of living expenses for me living in Bulgaria, Colombia or Mexico.

    The big kicker for me was getting rid of my vehicle; was necessary for my construction company before, but that thing was costing me upwards of $1,500 a month between gas, payments, insurance, maintenance and beyond. Now, at most, I might spend $25 a month in public transportation/taxis, because I work at home and walk almost everywhere.

    Tons of ways to save money!

  • Great tips! Amazing how just stopping your coffee intake from Starbucks can save you $1400! That is enough for most people to have an amazing holiday for 2 weeks somewhere nice.

  • Thanks for the comment, Geoff.

    I think the retirement depends on the person and how much they have invested in a 401k. Personally, I never had any money buried in the U.S. so I didn’t have to worry about any 401k funds, since I’ve been basically self employed since 2001 and just a fresh-faced 21 year old. Everything I’ve ever done has been independent.

    But I can see both sides of the 401k. If you don’t have a lot of money in it, it’s probably worth it to take the penalty and get your cash out now. I don’t recommend anyone save money in the U.S. anymore, nor do I recommend anyone trust in banks or 401ks, but rather pick up property or real estate in other countries where they can have hands-on investments for retirement.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Great post, all of those steps worked very well for us and let me tell you – it is soooo liberating getting rid of stuff, it’s a wonderful sensation to know you can pick up and go at anytime.

    I do however have a slightly different take on #7, as we were in a position of having a pretty significant investment in our retirement fund, we felt it would be irresponsible of us to take from our future (at a penalty I might add) for immediate gratification. It was our goal to sustain our life while abroad by contributing to our retirement fund on the go and I think you touched on it in #3. Use this time while you’re paring down your life before you go to make yourself marketable from anywhere. A great example is a writing course, you can do freelance writing and more for people found on websites like elance and peopleperhour. Another example is a TOEFL course to pick up teaching gigs while abroad, these would be investments much like the espresso machine – intended to pay for itself.

    A very motivating post – I constantly meet people who say they can’t do it because they’ve dug their heels in to suburbia or whatever. Many only understand travel as a cost and don’t understand that you can earn money as you go. We are living proof, we did it before and we are gearing up to do it again and not just for three years this time but permanently!!

    Good luck to all!

  • @ Marc – I think that’s something a lot of people are freaked out about, because they think they can’t do it while living in the U.S./West/North America.

    It’s possible…but it does take a leap of faith to finally unplug from The Matrix to start experiencing the reality of absolute freedom and global citizenship :)

    The proof is also in how many of us are doing it now…and how rapidly those numbers are growing. Freedom of information and social media are a powerful combination at bettering humanity and the living conditions for everyone on the planet :)

  • Mark Mercer says:

    Great post Jen! You make it very clear that even while still living in the Global North / “The West”, people can make relatively easy changes to their lifestyles that can free them to do long-term travel, immersion travel, or become an expat in / immigrant to a new land. My wife Lisa Marie Mercer and I did several similar things in preparation for our moving to Uruguay, and for the long-term test trips before that. Dumping the car, for example, a year before our final move, helped pay a lot of necessary transitional costs. I got to really appreciate the free bus transportation system where I was up in the Colorado mountains. Also dropped the cable programming, didn’t overbuy the fastest broadband, just fast enough, and started cooking a lot more at home. Makes a big difference!

    Now here in Uruguay those habits go even further. No free bus, but it is low-cost and our town is very walkable, Didn’t bother with any television service at all, and got a great package deal of moderate-speed broadband, backup mobile broadband stick, and home phone for less than Comcast was getting for cable internet alone. We shop at the weekly feria and at the family run vegetable stands and local groceries as much or more as we do at the supermarket, but we still have the benefit of having two big good supermarkets. Those lifestyle adjustments are easier here in Uruguay, in Mexico where Tim is, and in many other non-USA spots because the culture and the business ecosystem is set up for it. Yet you can start in the USA.

    Thanks for sharing this great post!

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