How to Save More Money Traveling The World Than Staying Home

I’ve explained our globetrotting to many people; friends, family, and almost everyone we’ve met along the way. The most commonly repeated phrase I’ve uttered is certainly: No, I’m not wealthy, but you don’t have to be to do what we’re doing. So, let me explain this in a bit more detail.

We are doing something that is a bit unusual. We don’t have a home. We wander the globe in search of adventure and new experiences. I admit, it’s not common, but it’s also not extraordinary. We’ve found out there are more than a few people doing what we’re doing, but still realize that we are a rare breed. Start counting how many people you know that wander the world like Kane from Kung-Fu… I’ll give you a second. I can’t imagine you’ve come up with too many.

Digital Nomad

We’re certainly part of a small group of people right now, the digital nomads. Any grouping so small is going to come with some peculiarities, certainly ones that everyone might not understand. This comes to the forefront during one unique element I’ve discovered of such a lifestyle; the ‘informing your friends’ stage. Make a big ‘life choice’ and it’s going to come with an information dissemination phase. Buying a puppy, getting engaged, having children, changing jobs, moving to Canada, even closing your Facebook page… these are choices that do not require, but seem to dictate communication to your friends and family. At the very minimum, you tell your ‘inner circle’.

I’m actually not one that’s big on public communication, which might sound a bit odd, especially as you read a blog post I’ve written. Those close to me know that I’m full of opinions and information, but not likely the first person you’ll find to share such things. I have a Facebook page, but use it to stay in touch with friends, not share my life with others. There are only a handful of events from my life that have caused me to proactively reach out to friends and family to inform them of something. One such event was asking Andrea to marry me. I wanted to share the news with a select group of people. It was something exciting and it was something a bit shocking, as neither Andrea nor I were big on the concept of marriage. I figured I’d let some people know.


The second most shared fact from my recent life was our decision to ‘make the world our home’. I shared our goals and our plan with a number of my friends and family and certainly received a wide range of reactions to our nomadic lifestyle. Many people express a small sense of ‘envy’, noting a desire to emulate our globe-hopping ways, but usually bring up this or that reason as to why they just cannot. Some have told me that they plan to do what we’re doing when they retire, or when their kids are out of the house (I can understand both). Some have told me that they would never consider doing what we are doing… that it would be too exhausting or too much worry or frustration. Some people would miss their family, or their friends, or their pets. I’ve heard a number of reasons as to why somebody feels they cannot globe-trot, but the most common answer seems to be: ‘that is too expensive’.

Digital Nomad

This note inevitably leads to the, I didn’t realize you were so well-off comment. This is a point I would like to put to rest. I’m not sure why this question gets under my skin, maybe it’s my blue-collar background and inherent class-warrior mentality. But for the record, no… we’re not rich.

What does this really mean? It means that it is NOT too expensive to travel the world, nonstop or otherwise. While I may not be rich, I am organized. I keep OCD records of our spending as we circle the globe and I can share this fact with you: we spend LESS money on the road than we did living in the USA. I’ll say that again so it sinks in. We travel full-time and we have spent less money doing this than we did living our ‘normal lives’ in Atlanta. We are actually saving money. How is this possible you might ask? I will tell you and I will share some tips for those of you still reading and thinking, well maybe I’ll try this after all.


A few things to note:

  • Yes, we do have full-time jobs, working about 70 hours a week on average.
  • Yes, we do own a home, and have a mortgage payment to boot.
  • Yes, we have pets (and we miss them dearly)
  • No, we do not have any foreign citizenships (yet)


Take your job remote.
I understand that not everybody can do this, and not every employer will allow remote work, but it is becoming far more accepted in the modern age. Improvements to the logistics of telecommuting have led many offices to reduce infrastructure costs by sending employees home. If you have the capacity to work from ‘home’, you have the capacity to work from any internet connection. If you normally work from a computer, see if you can convince your boss that the computer can be in your home. From there, it’s just a small step to having that computer be attached to any Wi-Fi connection worldwide.

Go contract, if you can.
If you’re no longer in an office and may not be operating on standard hours, maybe you can be a contractor. Your employer might like this as they will have a lower tax burden, but you’ll now have to pay your own payroll taxes, so what’s the advantage to you? You now have a number of ‘business expenses’ that are deductible from your ‘salary’. Internet, phone, laptop, and other supplies have all become P&L line-items rather than costs. Even better, start your own ‘consulting company’ to work with your employer. You can now also accelerate your retirement savings by starting a solo Roth 401k or SEP, further reducing your tax burden. Let the savings commence. (Savings Tip 1)

Cover your housing costs.
Have an apartment? Let your lease go when you’re ready. Own a home? Find a renter to cover your costs. Many markets currently support rents that should cover your mortgage payments, especially with low interest rates still applicable. Additionally, the proliferation of online platforms make transient occupancy a real option nowadays. If you’re inventive or persistent, you should be able to cover your costs and even make a small profit. (Savings Tip 2)

Now that you’ve let go of (or recouped) housing expenditure, you need somewhere else to live. Define a budget for accommodations based on what you typically spend. This is something almost anyone can do, with options ranging from apartments to hostels or even couch surfing. In most markets, the cost of renting short-term apartments will cost you less than long-term living in the U.S. While this rule breaks down in countries with strong economies (Netherlands, Denmark, etc). The majority of the world will cost you significantly less for accommodations than you’re used to. Done wisely, you will find a positive spread on housing.

Move your residence.
You will likely need to keep some sort of U.S. mailing address (for bills, credit cards, etc). Pick a family member you trust or establish a P.O. Box. It’s not that hard. If you no longer ‘live’ at your home, you might be able to pick your new state of residence. Pick one with low or no state income tax and start saving over your previous tax year. (Savings Tip 3)

Start a travel blog.
If you’ve already started your own LLC from going contract, tuck a ‘travel blog’ entity under your LLC corporate umbrella. Write about what you do as you travel the world. Seek out advertisers for your blog, turning your travel into a business. Why? Because now most of your travel related expenses are also business expenses. What this means for all intents and purposes is that you’re everyday spending becomes ‘before taxation’ spending. This means that if you’re spending the same amount, you’re actually saving 25-30% and if you’re spending less… just imaging the savings. (Massive Savings Tip 4)

There are a number of other small things that will keep your costs down and make you quickly realize that life on the road is not as expensive as you might imagine.

  • Go to places ‘off-season’. Costs drop dramatically sometimes by just altering dates a few weeks past ‘prime-time’, and when life is travel you don’t need the high season everywhere.
  • Stay in destinations 2-3 weeks. Book apartments, not hotels. You’ll find owners are very willing to deal and many country’s currencies are not as strong as the US Dollar. Your money will go far.
  • Eat in. Get an apartment with a kitchen. Use it and cook meals. Remember, you’re not on vacation, you’re ‘at home’. You’ll find that your food dollar can go farther abroad that in the US.
  • Travel by bus/train and local airlines. It is surprisingly inexpensive to get around when you’re not set on certain dates as well. Be flexible and you’ll move very cheaply.

These are just a handful of suggestions and tips that should make you realize that we’re not rich, we’re just organized and determined to travel. Have questions? Fire away! If this lifestyle sounds appealing, we want to encourage you to dive in. This is not a leap of faith, it’s a well thought-out, organized plan that allows us to live a life of our dreams. You can do it too… and if you do, don’t let the misconception of expense be what holds you back.


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