7 Steps to Sustaining Long-term Travel

Posted on April 14, 2009 by

Having received several emails from my readers, about how I sustain my long-term travels, both financially and professionally, I figured I might just share some of my own experience with you. (Thanks for writing to me, keep them coming!)

Truth be told, long-term travelling is not easy, but if you set yourself some rules, and want it badly enough, you can do it. Anyone can!

As much as I wish, I’m actually not typing away at the Iguazu Falls now, I don’t travel full-time. Like you, I also hold a permanent 40-hours-a-week job, stretching my annual vacation to the maximum,  and well, saving for the next trip. But with some planning, I get to squeeze in at least 10 trips a year, and still be able to pay my bills. And no, my job doesn’t let me travel the World.

long-term travelling

Here are some of my tips to help you get closer to travelling long-term. Hang on tight, the ride’s gonna be thrilling!

1.      Plan Ahead

For those who find it difficult to get away from work, draw out a virtual map and point out which are the places you’ll like to see this year. Check the calendar for long weekends and Public Holidays, and let your boss know of your vacation now! Although you might only end up with short trips, but honestly, 4 days are perfect to visit nearby cities like Saigon or Siem Reap. Planning your travels in advance also ensures that you will have other responsibilities accounted for.

2.      Manage Your Finances

finances Create an excel sheet to draft your finances clearly, consider your monthly expenses, bills to be paid and set a strict amount to save every month. Trust me, this definitely keeps your accounts in check, and when faced with numbers, you’ll surely start scrooching.

Are you willing to sacrifice extravagant dinner meals and visits to the mall, in exchange for a 3-month trip to South America? I’ve had to cut down on my consumption in order to sustain this long-term travelling lifestyle. Have I regretted any of it? Not a minute of it. From meeting the girls over free drinks on Ladie’s Night, to cooking at home (candle-light dinner), you can still pamper yourself with a simpler lifestyle.

3.    Prioritize what you want in Life

There are always people who whine about their boring lives, blaming it on their kids or their jobs. There just always seem to be an excuse for leaving your dreams of travelling the world behind and leading a monotonous life. You could either envy those who get to experience new adventures ever so often, OR you could make that YOUR life. Focus on what you want to achieve, work hard to ensure that your commitments are well taken care of, and then book that ticket, and you’re on your way!

4. Working Abroad

The easiest way  to know a country or region inside out is by working and living abroad. It’s not as difficult these days, as it used to be. You can teach English abroad, or apply for a Work Holiday Maker Visa (opened to citizens of Commonwealth countries), or volunteer. There are endless options now, if you look hard enough. Read my post on ‘How to Make the Big Move’ for more details.

tn_Eastbourne2007 066

I usually use the country I live in as a base, to travel around the region. This way, you get to see as much as you like in the continent, using budget airlines, stretching over a longer period of time. Working in Europe also allows you to take up to 2-3 months of summer vacation; that’s the best time to travel!

5. Travel in between Jobs

image Time is of essence when you have a job to return to. So grab the time in between jobs to travel for as long as you can afford! Between each of our moves, we travelled for 2-3 months, to break down the long distance and also to catch up on some serious travelling. As much as I enjoy taking short breaks off work to travel near home, nothing beats taking your time to slowly see exotic sights at a comfortable pace. (especially knowing that you’re not returning to a sucky job!)

Over the past few years, I have been packing up, moving on to a different job and a different city every other year, because I’d chosen to. Although some employers might not look at it in a positive light, I can safely (and proudly) say that not many have had the chances to work in 3 countries on 3 vastly different roles, learning substantially both professionally and spiritually. Still, I have accumulated many more visas and chops on my passport, priceless life lessons and lifelong friends, than a secure job could ever have given me.

6. Find your Travel Soul Mate

He could be your lifetime partner, your best friend, or even yourself (travelling solo can be equally fulfilling); I believe having a travel soul mate is essential to long-term travelling. He acts as a motivation, a harbor and mostly, someone to share the ups and downs of travelling together. While some people prefer to wing it solo, I have found travelling long-term to be possible and part of our lifestyle, thanks to an adventurous partner, Alberto.

7. Just do it!

No more talking about surfing in Costa Rica, or white-water rafting in the rapids of Borneo, it’s time to DO it! Sometimes all it takes is a click on the button ‘Pay Now’, and there’s no turning back. Pluck up your courage, and let life twirl you around on an adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster ride!

I’ve seen so many people leading an exciting life of adventures but at the same time, sustaining a fulfilling career at home. You just need to take the first step, and you might just lead the life you’ve always dreamt of.


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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

25 Responses to “7 Steps to Sustaining Long-term Travel”

  1. Rachel Cotterill April 14, 2009 1:52 pm

    I think point 3 (and 7, which is related) is key. Everyone has a choice about how they want to live their life – there's no point being envious of other people, if you're not happy with your own life you just have to change it.

  2. iain00 April 23, 2009 12:38 pm

    i think long term traveling is possible you just need the money but if your willing to work at every few destnations to refuel the funds i dont see how anyone could not do it.last point is the most important JUST DO IT

    • admin April 23, 2009 11:44 pm

      Hey Ian, so true. Yep, finances should not stand in your way if you are willing to work hard and save hard. Thnx for leaving a note!

  3. Dave and Deb May 12, 2009 9:22 pm

    Agreed. I have my soul mate in my husband Dave. I don't think that I would enjoy travel as much with out him. That is not to say people that travel alone aren't enjoying themselves, for me, however I love having a partner. And yes, everyone needs to just make the choice to do it. We always have people saying "I wish I could take off and travel like you" and we always say "Well why don't you?" Happy Travels. Deb

  4. jen laceda May 27, 2009 1:04 pm

    These are excellent tips! Best of all, they're practical!

  5. anne chung June 5, 2009 12:45 am

    Wow! You're good, 10 times a year, that's amazing. I travel twice a year but this year I'm making it 3 times a year and I thought that is good.

  6. Carlo August 20, 2009 4:50 am

    Well put! My wife and I are relatively new to the nomadic ways, but we are determined to make it happen. We've been in Oz for almost 2 years now (after moving from Vancouver) and are about to make the move again early next year (still haven't decided where we'll settle for some time). It really is about just making that decision. We're also doing the 40 hour/week thing but are working on reducing that significantly and hopefully when we leave here we never have to do it again. Best of luck! Happy travels.

  7. Adam June 1, 2010 3:26 pm

    Great tips here. We took a year long RTW trip that was incredible, but now we're home and trying to figure out how to get back on the road again. It's our main priority. Some of our friends just don't get it and proclaim us lucky to not own a house or have kids yet. We have chosen not to do those things yet because we don't want to be tied down. It's all about personal choices and priorities. Our main priority is traveling, and we're willing to give up many other things-big tv's, nice cars, nice furniture, a home that we own, dinners and drinks out– to make that happen. Some say they wish they could do the same, and they could, they're just unwilling to do without what we do without.

  8. Jo (The Blond) November 7, 2012 4:32 am

    oh thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! you really inspired me! I moan about my job so much that no one wants to listen to me anymore :) but you are right! the job is there to earn money you can spend on something you love.
    Thanks again!


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