Isn’t it always so weird to look back on something and think, wow, If I only knew what I knew now!
How many times have you been in this situation?
I find myself thinking about this a lot in terms of traveling. Before I started traveling perpetually, I had so many thoughts that were wrong. I had so many ideas that I didn’t need. And I had so many experiences that I never thought I’d have or have things go a way I didn’t know existed.
Granted, I start traveling full time in 2011 when the internet was a much different place, and the information out there was a lot slimmer, but still!
I had so many false ideas of traveling longer; I’m surprised I actually “made it.” I was ill-prepared and had no idea what I was doing. There are tons of wrong perceptions and concepts, and I hope this post helps you see which mistakes you may be making when it comes down to traveling longer.
17 Tips to Help You Travel Longer
In case you’re new around here, I just want to preface that I’ve been traveling perpetually and living abroad since 2011. That’s over nine years at the time of writing. I think I’ve pretty much mastered the details of traveling longer, and I can assure you these are my best tips!
While the concept of traveling longer is very easy at its core, it will probably take a while for you to find your groove. And I’m willing to bet you will likely ignore #1 and #10 for sure; these will probably be the hardest. Don’t beat yourself up; we’ve all been there! At least you KNOW… now you have to put it all into action so you can actually travel longer.
1. Travel Slowly
You can save a ton by merely staying in one place for a more extended period of time. Most Airbnbs will offer a discount if you are planning on staying for longer. You will also be able to work out all the cheapest places to eat and drink in the local area.
You no longer need to use transport every other day, which can really cut into your budget, and there will be days where you can just rest and not do very much, rather than pack all the sights and attractions into a few short days. The slower you travel, the less you end up spending, meaning in the long run, you can travel longer.
There are lots of benefits to traveling slowly, in addition to spending less. It enables you to meet and connect with the locals or other travelers, embrace the culture, and have a more authentic experience. It will also give you the time to explore the area you are in much more detail, finding spots a little off the beaten path and not just skim the surface of what a destination has to offer.
This will be, guaranteed, the hardest lesson to learn. EVERYONE makes this mistake but once you open that empty pocket or feel that exhaustion from going too quickly, it will click.
2. Consider Cheaper Destinations
Certain parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia and Latin America, are known for being cheap. Your hard-earned money is much more likely to last longer in one of those countries compared to somewhere in Europe, for example. If you want to travel longer, but are worried about funds holding you back, you should consider one of the many cheaper destinations out there.
The majority of the time, the less discovered places are likely to be the cheapest, as the prices have not been inflated thanks to an influx of tourists. If you are happy to find places a little off the beaten path, then this may be a great way to save a little money, allowing you to travel longer.
This is not always the case; however, Thailand is extremely popular with tourists, yet in comparison with many other countries across the globe, it is still incredibly cheap. Just do a little research before you decide where to go, especially if you are planning on spending a lot of time there.
- 27 of the Cheapest Countries to Visit in the World
- 31 of the Cheapest Places to Live in the World: Under a $1000!
3. Be Thrifty
There are lots of ways to cut back on spending when you are traveling, but that doesn’t mean you have to be cheap. Rather than heading to the shops to buy your meals every day, keep your eyes peeled for local street markets, which are guaranteed to be less expensive than a store.
When you are looking at prices for different things, ask people for advice about how much things should cost, especially if you are planning on doing some negotiating, which is another excellent way to be thrifty when you are out and about.
Obviously, you shouldn’t be insulting to those that are making a living selling, just be reasonable and flexible. There is no harm in asking, right? Haggling is a part of many cultures so just as long as you do some homework on what’s appropriate and what’s not, go for it!
4. Make Money Remotely
Making money as you travel through remote work gives you the freedom to explore new places almost indefinitely and allow you to travel longer. There are probably so many more opportunities out there than you imagined, many of which you will be able to do with little or no experience.
Becoming a digital nomad really does give you the freedom to take your desk with you wherever you want around the world. There are so many different options out there; if you have a passion for writing, you could create your own blog, do freelance copywriting, or do some proofreadings.
If you are into your photography, then there are money-making opportunities here, too, the same with capturing video footage. Other jobs include being a website designer, graphic designer, customer service assistant, SEO specialist, online teacher, and the list goes on.
- 23 Digital Nomad Jobs: Take Your Desk Around the World
- Becoming a Digital Nomad: Realities & Resources
- How to Be a Graphic Designer While Traveling the World
- How to Start Making Money With Travel Photography
- How to Be a Freelance Content Writer and Turn Your Words Into Money
5. Consider Alternative Accommodation
Accommodation can be one of the most costly travel expenses, and the cost can quickly add up. Get creative when it comes to places to stay, as remember, there are many other types of accommodation in addition to hotels and hostels, which can help you travel longer.
– House sit – If you are lucky, you may be able to land yourself a housesitting opportunity. There are plenty of people wanting someone to keep an eye on their homes and pets while they are away. You may even earn a little money in the process.
– Crash with friends – If you know people that live around the world, consider giving them a call to see if it would be okay to stay with them for a few nights. You can always return the favor another time.
– Great for solo traveler is Couchsurfing – If you don’t mind crashing on someone’s couch for a few nights, you could bag some free accommodation. You’ll also get a built-in tour guide with this method. Sometimes women have troubles with this platform, so tread carefully, some men are trying to use this app as a dating site… (lame)
– Airbnb – Although this may seem like an expensive option, many Airbnb owners offer deals for those that stay for an extended period of time. There is often a small discount if you stay for a week, and then an even bigger one if you stay for a month. You don’t have to rent a whole apartment; a cheaper option is just renting a room. Here’s an Airbnb discount code to start you off.
– Camp – Camping is one of the most affordable ways to stay. Camping at a campsite if often a lot cheaper than staying in a hostel or room, and you may even be able to find places where you can camp for free.
- This great website can help you find homeowners that are looking for someone to watch their house while they travel.
- Head to Airbnb to check out some excellent accommodation options.
Set yourself a budget, and stick to it. Your budget could be per day, per week, per month, or even per year, but once you have set your budget, one of the most important things is you don’t stray from it.
Work out how long you plan to be away and do your research to work out how much you will need to live off day by day. Some days you may go over your budget, such as if you do an incredible activity or want to splash out on a meal for a special occasion, but if this happens, you can always counteract it with a quiet and cheap few days.
To give you an idea, my monthly budget for myself is around $1200 USD. Food, transport, housing, a bit extra… I usually come in under this! Some months, if I’m traveling a bunch or decide to join a surf camp for a month or something it may be more expensive but overall, I stick to this number.
- How to Travel Europe for Cheap! How Far a $2k Budget Can Get You
- How to Travel on a Budget: My Best Budget Travel Tips
- Take a look at these ten tips for sticking to your travel budget.
- If you are struggling with where to start, this guide gives you a good idea about how to budget for travel.
- Take a look at the steps needed to plan your travel budget.
7. Volunteer Abroad
There are so many benefits of volunteering abroad, and giving you the ability to travel longer is just one of them. Depending on what volunteering program you sign up with, you may be able to get accommodation and food included, or if you don’t, it may be heavily subsidized.
The benefit of this is although you will be putting a lot of your time into volunteering, you will still be given a few days off to explore at your leisure, without having to worry about paying for a room for the night.
WWOOFing is a great example of this. It is a platform that lets you work on a farm in exchange for free room and board, so while you are there, everything is covered. I have used HelpX a few times and loved it!
Note – Be careful! You shouldn’t be paying money to volunteer, you shouldn’t be working 40+ hours a week… There are people taking advantage out there so just take care while researching opportunities.
8. Visit Destinations in the Off Season / Shoulder Season
Without a doubt, one of the most expensive times to visit a destination is during peak season. Not only will you have to fight off hoards of tourists everywhere you go, but everywhere will almost seem to double in price, including accommodation and transportation.
Different destinations have different high and low seasons, so it is worth doing some research before booking any flights to work out how you can travel longer. The ideal time to travel is just on the outskirts of this season as prices will have reduced significantly, but the weather is still likely to be fine, and there will be fewer people around.
The only thing you have to be sure of is that the place you are interested in visiting doesn’t close down after the season ends, such as the Perhentian Islands or many Greek Islands.
- Check out this guide for some of the cheapest times to visit your favorite destinations.
- This shoulder season travel calendar tells you the best time to visit countries all over the globe.
- These are some of the best shoulder season destinations.
9. Teach a Language Online
Teaching a language online is a great way to work and make money remotely. All you need is a laptop and some good wifi. You can set your own fees and your own timetable to work when and how often it suits your lifestyle. English is the most common language to teach, but there are lots of other platforms out there that allow you to pick from hundreds of languages to teach to eager students.
The concept is pretty simple. You and your student both log on to an online platform, and you give your lesson. This set up couldn’t be more convenient for both parties, and it is so easy to get the ball rolling. Your students could range from kids to elderly, those that already have a firm grasp of the language and want to freshen up, to those that are starting from scratch.
There are also some platforms that allow you to teach a group of people, although more often than not, it will be one to one.
- I’ve put together a list of over 29 schools to apply for that help you teach a language online.
- This is how to teach a language online if you are a non-native English speaker; there are more opportunities than you think!
- This is your guide to becoming a VIPKID teacher and traveling the world.
10. You Are Not on Vacation
When you are traveling for longer, you have to remember you are not on vacation, which means you can’t spend like you are on vacation. If you are on vacation, you would maybe hit the beach bar every night and dine out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can’t do that if you want to sustain long term travel.
Traveling for longer is a lifestyle, so although it may be tempting to book on to all the expensive tourist trips and tours, you need to resist and look into other alternatives.
Unless you are lucky enough to have your trip fully funded, chances are you will have to work while you are away, whether that is remotely or getting a job abroad, something you aim to get away from when you are on vacation.
11. Get in the Right Mindset
In order to spend a long time on the road, your whole mindset has to change. Traveling for a long time is an entirely new way of life, and it is likely to be a bit of a shock for many. Things are going to go wrong, some situations will be stressful, and chances are there are going to be some days where you just want to give up and go home, which is why you need to get yourself in the right headspace before jetting off.
Leaving your normal life is a huge thing; you will have to be okay with leaving your comfortable day to day life for a while. This will be easier for those with fewer commitments at home, but most will have to work up the courage to step off the hamster wheel, and in many cases, this will mean leaving your job.
When you first decide to travel, you are going to be super excited about it, but after a while, this excitement may give way to a little trepidation, and things may start to feel a bit overwhelming. Rest assured, this is normal! You are about to head off on the adventure of a lifetime.
12. Cheapest Transportation
The locals use public transport to get around, so why can’t you? Rather than laying out for expensive taxis, why not hop on the bus or the train?
The same applies to long-distance travel. Although catching a flight may seem like the most convenient option, look around for alternative options. Many big towns have bus services running between them, and if it is a long trip, then there may even be a night bus or a train. This way, not only are you getting to where you need to be, but you have also bagged a night’s free accommodation.
If you really have to fly, as I don’t expect you to find a bus from Australia to the US, then be flexible with your flight dates and time to give yourself the best chance to capture some cheap flights.
- Take a look at these handy tips to bag the cheapest flights possible.
- These are the best websites for cheap transportation abroad.
13. Work While You Travel
One of the main reasons that people struggle to travel for long periods of time is running out of funds. We could all travel for years if we had unlimited money! The way that many people get around this issue is to work while traveling. Many countries are in need of people to take on seasonal work, and there are plenty of options out there.
– Bar and restaurant work – Working in a bar or restaurant is a good way to earn some money for a few months, and if you are in an area full of tourists, there are likely to be many places happy to employ travelers quickly, particularly in hostels and bars.
– Fruit picking – Fruit picking is another excellent example of quick seasonal work, where employees are looking for lots of people willing to work for a few months. This is also a necessary job in some countries, such as Australia, if you are looking to get your second year working holiday visa.
– Au Pair – This job may require you to stay in one place for longer, but often means that room and board are also included. You may need the experience to work with children.
– Hostel work – Some hostels will give travelers the opportunity to stay and dine for free in return for working there for a while. Although you won’t be earning a ton, it is a good way to save up for a few weeks before moving on to your next destination.
These are just a few of the many jobs out there that are travel friendly. People from all walks of life are funding their travels this way.
- 71+ Ways to Travel & Make Money—a Badass List of Paid Work Abroad
- 11 Travel Jobs That Helped Me Stay on the Road
- Becoming a Digital Nomad: Realities & Resources
- 23 Digital Nomad Jobs: Take Your Desk Around the World
- 20 Online Jobs With No Experience Needed (So You Can Travel More)
- Your Guide to Becoming a Vipkid Teacher & Traveling the World
- How to Be a Graphic Designer While Traveling the World
14. Van Life
A great way to see the world for longer is to consider van life, like when I bought and traveled New Zealand in a camper van. Some destinations are better suited to van life than others,—New Zealand was great! Especially if you can pick up a van relatively cheap from places like Facebook and do it up yourself.
Once you have your van, you are killing two birds with one stone, as not only will you have your accommodation, but you will also have an easy way to get around. Everything can be in your terms and timings, as you won’t have to adhere to public transport timetables, and you can explore where you want to, whenever you want to.
If you do your research, there are plenty of places where you can spend the night for free, or if you fancy a little bit more of a luxury experience, there are tons fo campsites out there that will charge a lot of lot less than a night in a hostel or hotel.
The great thing about buying and doing up a van is that at the end of your trip, when you are ready to move on or go home, you can simply sell your van in the same way that you bought it. If you have done an outstanding job of doing it up, you may even make some money on it.
- I have written an extensive guide about buying, selling, and renovating a van, which is a good place to get started.
15. Working Holiday Visa
A working holiday visa is a great way to travel longer, with countries all over the globe offering opportunities to stay in that country for a year or two. Each working holiday visa has its own requirements, such as being under a certain age, and most will come with a small cost.
The visas offer a great way for you to stay in one place for a long period of time and explore a whole new country. The working holiday visa also gives you the chance to work abroad as well, so you can fund your travels more effectively.
Many countries offer this opportunity, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, the US, and many other countries depending on where you are from. Usually, you will only have the chance to do a working holiday visa for a country once, so make sure you use it wisely!
- Working Holiday Visas for Americans and Other Ways to Work Abroad (That Nobody Talks About)
- The Ultimate Guide to the Australian Working Holiday Visa and Why to Go Now!
- Working Holiday Visas for UK Citizens & Work Abroad Opportunities
- Work & Travel New Zealand: Get a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand
- A Guide to All 13 of the Working Holiday Visas for Canadians
16. Embrace Free Activities/ Keep Pricey Tours to a Minimum
All it will take is a little research, and you will be able to find a whole host of free activities to enjoy no matter where you are. The great outdoors is there for you to explore, and chances are, it will be completely free to enjoy at your leisure. If you are in a town, check out the community calendars, or take your own self-guided walking tour to see all the main sites.
A lot of museums in towns and cities are free to enter, while others operate on a ‘pay what you can’ basis, which is a great way to familiarize yourself with a new location cheaply.
Most big towns around the world offer walking tours, and these are a great way to learn about a new destination for free. These walking tours work on a donation basis, so you only pay what you can. Hiking is another great free activity and an awesome way to explore. You can usually pick up some free maps from the tourist information center.
Sometimes, if you are only somewhere for a short period of time, taking a tour is going to be the best way to see all of the main hotspots. However, if you can figure out how to see everything yourself, then this is the best way to go and keep those pricey tours to a minimum.
17. Eat Like a Local
Eating like a local will mean you will save money and a lot of it. Eating out every night can get expensive, especially if the traditional foods that you like to eat from your home company have been imported in, meaning the price will be sky-high. Local foods mean that most of it will be grown locally, so naturally prices will be lower.
One of the cheapest ways to eat is to shop at local markets and cooking the food yourself; however, if you don’t have anywhere to cook or simply don’t want to cook, then street food is another option. Street food tends to be a lot cheaper than food in cafes and restaurants; just follow the locals to their favorite stall.
Although the main reason to eat like a local when traveling is to save on funds, it has a ton of other additional benefits that will enhance your travel experience. One of the best ways to experience a different country is to immerse yourself in the local culture, and often food plays a huge part in this.
A good way to ensure that you are going to be paying less for food while traveling is to book somewhere with access to a kitchen so you can always cook for yourself. When you head out for the day, pack your own drink and snacks, so you don’t spend a fortune on food on the go. You could even take a packed lunch.
This will all depend on where you’re visiting. For example, eating out in New Zealand was expensive, I cooked in the van 95% of the time. In Thailand, I would eat out most meals because they were only $1-3!
Downsides to Traveling Longer
Traveling longer isn’t all sunshine, puppies, and rainbows, guys! There are downsides too and depending on your personality, traveling long term may not be for you. I’ve seen tons of people go home early or get burned out or hated the instability. Keep these in mind…
- You can become disconnected from back home – If you are away from home for a long period of time, it is inevitable that you’ll start to become disconnected with people you know from back home. There is no doubt that distance, both time and physical distance, can weaken or even break some relationships. Plus, you’ll have to accept that you will miss out on things that are going on back home. You can’t be in two places at once, so if you pick long term travel, you just have to accept that chances are you are going to miss birthdays, special events and celebrations with loved ones.
- Missing home comforts – Missing home comforts isn’t going to happen all the time; you are out on an adventure! But there are going to be times where you long to sit on your comfortable sofa, digging into your favorite meal. You might even miss something as simple as your favorite TV show that you can’t watch abroad.
- Logistics – Traveling long term is not just like going on holiday. Most of the time, a lot more planning and logistics will be necessary. You have to consider flight arrangements, finding a place to live, getting all your visas and paperwork in order, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It can be a part-time job to orchestrate your travels.
- Tying up loose ends – Chances are, you are not going to just be able to pack your bags and jet off! These are likely to be some ends that you have to tie up first, which can be really time-consuming and frustrating. You need to pack up your stuff (and get rid of a LOT), maybe see if you can get your house rented, perhaps even sell your home…
- Packing, packing, and more packing – Packing for a long term trip takes a lot of thought and consideration. You have to make sure that you are taking with you everything that you are going to need, while at the same time, ensuring that you have not packed too much. If you plan to travel around a lot, then you may not be somewhere long enough to even unpack, which means you’ll be living out of a bag. If you do have longer stops, then you need to be prepared to unpack and then repack regularly.
There’s a lot to think about before you start traveling longer but if it’s something you want, you CAN do it. When I jetted off, I didn’t know I was going to be gone more than a year. That wasn’t the plan.
There are plenty of things I could or should’ve done but it all worked out. So while I’m giving you a lot to think about, you also have to learn as you go and make mistakes along the way. You also need to see what works for YOU.
I hope you did find these tips helpful and at least a good place to start.
I hope this post helped you see that there are so many things you can do in order to travel longer. Is there anything else you have questions about? Let me know in the comments below!
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.