How to travel full-time for cheap – less than $14,000 per year

I asked Nora, who travels full-time for a living, to write a detailed post on how to travel the world cheap. Here are her top 11 cheap travel secrets.

Ramit Sethi

Ask anyone what they wish they could do more of, and the answer is literally always the same: “I wish I could travel more.” Yet when you remove all the excuses, few people actually do. I don’t have enough vacation days! It’s too expensive. My friends don’t want to go with me.l

I know I’ve been guilty of this.

Today, I’ve asked Nora Dunn, a professional world traveler, to write up a detailed post with her tips on traveling affordably. What I love about this article is how Nora has used money to do what she wants– instead of waiting around for a mythical day where she’ll be able to travel.

Below, you’ll find a few sites you’ve heard of, some you haven’t…and the overall message: Once you remove the barrier of money, what’s your excuse?

(Note: This is part of the new book, 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.)

Travel for a living on less than $14,000 per year

I “retired” from the rat race at the tender age of 30 to embrace my life-long dream of traveling the world, before life had a chance to get in the way.

So far, I have frolicked in the Rocky Mountains, fallen off the grid in Hawaii, managed tropical hostels, survived Australia’s worst-ever natural disaster, led eco-treks on Llamas, and nearly froze to death in a camper van. (The traveling life is rarely a dull one.)

I am not rich. I am not a trust child, nor do I have rich parents, a sugar daddy, or a stream of income that allows me to live the high life on the road. Full time travel doesn’t have to be expensive, and after two years on the road, I’ve learned plenty of tricks to travel the world without breaking the bank, and without an end in sight.

Here are my secrets (click to jump to the 11 tips below or just keep scrolling):

  1. Save 80% on Airfare
  2. Work for Accommodation
  3. Get Free Accommodation
  4. Work While Traveling
  5. Learn the Truth About Volunteering
  6. Become a Part of a Community
  7. Avoid the Biggest Trap
  8. Be Food Wise
  9. Roll with the Punches
  10. Rethink Travel Expenses
  11. Travel Slowly

Tip #1 – Save 80% on Airfare

If you solely use the big online search engines to book your flights, there is a good chance that you are overpaying – sometimes dramatically. I will demonstrate with a case study.

For the purposes of this case study, I arbitrarily decided to fly one-way from Paris to Madrid on June 15th, 2009.

In performing my search on Orbitz, the cheapest fare came from Air Brussels for $249US. At first blush this seems like a terrific deal, considering the next highest price came in at $939US.

But before I got all excited and booked the flight, I checked a few other sites, the first of which is called Which Budget. By simply plugging in my starting point and destination, I was given a listing of all the budget airlines that fly this route – many of which are not indexed with the larger search engines.

If no options appear in your Which Budget search, the alternative is to do a series of Internet searches to find other airlines that fly this route. A great starting place is to find the website for your departing or arriving airport, which often lists the airlines it caters to.

In my search, Ryanair was one of the options that came up, and before I knew it, I had found a flight on the same day, direct no less (the Air Brussels option had a stopover), for… drum roll please…. 33 Euros. This works out to a whopping $45US.

Not only did I get a direct flight by doing a little extra research, but I saved more than 80% on the listed fares.

Words of Caution/Wisdom for Saving Airfare

  • Be prepared to fly from other terminals or airports entirely. If you are booking connecting flights, ensure that you are arriving at and departing from the same airport, or that there is enough time for you to hustle to your new departure point.
  • Watch the luggage rules. Many budget airlines cut their costs by charging for checked-baggage by weight. If you don’t pre-pay for your checked bags, or if you exceed the limit you paid for, you could face some hefty fines.
  • Don’t expect to be wined or dined; not feeding guests is a common budget airline tactic. It’s no loss really – just pack some snacks.

Other Flying Tips

  • Flying mid-week is usually the cheapest time.
  • Picking your seats doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark with Seat Guru.

Tip #2 – Work for Accommodation

One of the biggest expenses for a traveler is accommodation. Working (or rather, volunteering) in trade for accommodation – also known as caretaking – is a great way to meet the locals, learn about the land, and get off the beaten path. All the while saving thousands of dollars on places to sleep.

Although most people think of WWOOFing (Willing Work on Organic Farms – we will discuss this in a minute) as the way to work in trade for accommodation, it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are work-trade gigs available in many countries, for people with a variety of skill sets. Among other things, I have milked goats, painted murals, manned reception, cleaned cottages, and maintained estates in trade for my accommodation.

My accommodation has varied in nature from five-star accommodations, to camper vans, to tiny shared hostel rooms, to Oceanside yurts (photo to the right is the view from my yurt). And you would be surprised at the lack of correlation between quality of accommodation and work expectations. Every position is unique and offers something different to the lucky (sometimes not so lucky) applicant.

Here are six resources that will allow you to find the work-trade arrangement that is perfect for you:

Caretaker’s Gazette – This is one of the most useful resources I have found to date. For the $30 annual fee, you will receive listings from around the world for people who are willing to offer rent-free living (and sometimes food too) in trade for your work. Work situations vary from house-sitting, to caring for the elderly, to farm work, campground maintenance, and beyond.

House Carers – If all you want to do is watch the house and walk the dogs, House Carers is for you. Basic membership is free, and the full meal deal is about $45. A majority of the listings are in Australia and New Zealand.

Organic Volunteers – For a $20 membership, you will find a variety of work-trade opportunities that are not limited to organic farming. It is an easy platform to use, and you can converse with hosts using their system to protect your personal information.

WWOOFing – As the most popular work-trade platform, you will find individual WWOOF membership plans for each country. After paying your fee (which varies from country to country), you will receive a booklet detailing the WWOOF hosts in the area and what they are looking for. It is recommended that you get your WWOOF booklet well in advance of your trip, as some are not fully online and will only mail you their listings.

Help Exchange – With a free basic membership (and a nominal premium membership which allows you to converse with hosts using their online platform), you can browse listings around the world which entail a variety of work-trade duties. The sky is the limit.

Work Away – This platform is very similar to the ones above, and costs €20.

Advantages of Work-Trade Arrangements

  • The commute is never very far.
  • You will learn many new skills.
  • You can travel slowly (more on this later) and live inexpensively.
  • Locations are sometimes remote (whether this is an advantage or disadvantage depends on what you want out of your travels).
  • You don’t need a working visa, since no money exchanges hands in a work-trade arrangement. Many countries allow volunteer work in exchange for room and board.

Disadvantages of Work-Trade Arrangements

  • Sometimes having your boss and your landlord as the same person can be troublesome. If you have a falling-out, you will not only be out of a job, but looking for a new place to live – and fast.
  • Privacy (or lack thereof) can be an issue, depending on the situation.
  • Sometimes you have to do grunt work. (Hey – if your host liked doing it, they wouldn’t have work-traders.)

Tip #3 – Get Free Accommodation

Using hospitality exchanges, you are a guest in somebody’s home free of charge. The arrangement generally lasts only a few days as opposed to the weeks and even months that a work-trade gig will last, so it is more geared towards active travelers.

What’s in it for the host?

They get to meet you, proudly show their home town to you, and live vicariously through your stories of adventure and travel. (Oh – and if you are nice, you will do the dishes for them too.)

What’s in it for you?

Instead of staying in an expensive and sterile hotel room, you have an “in” with the locals, you get to see how they live, and you have an instant local friend who can show you the ropes.

Although your stay is technically free, common etiquette dictates that you bring a gift for your host, and help out with the household chores and such. So while budgeting your free or almost-free trip, don’t forget to add in this cost.

Here are four resources for you to find the right hospitality exchange:

Couch Surfing – Couch Surfing is arguably the most well-known hospitality exchange, although not the first. Your bed for the night can take the form of a couch, extra bedroom, or chunk of the floor depending on what your host can offer. You can browse online listings, learn about and converse with your potential host online, and make arrangements to meet. Safety checks are in place to ensure no dodgy travelers/hosts ruin it for everybody, but as with all the opportunities listed in this section, please do your due diligence and go with your gut instincts to be safe.

Hospitality Club – I have used Hospitality Club to stay in a few Australian homes and meet new friends in other places in the world. The platform is similar to Couch Surfing with checks and balances, and a wide variety of members can make this site an adventure to surf.

Global Freeloaders – If the platform or profiles on Couch Surfing and Hospitality Club aren’t doing much for you, then check out what Global Freeloaders has to offer. The only stipulation to membership is that you must be able to reciprocate and offer up your home to travelers within six months of signing up. So if you are on a long trip, best to wait until you get home unless you can host travelers before you leave.

Servas – With over 50 years under its belt, Servas is considered to be a pioneer in the hospitality exchange arena, and is recognized by the United Nations. The membership application process is more grueling, and requires a personal interview before acceptance. Fees vary from country to country, and many country listings are not yet available online (instead, they are mailed to you). Although I don’t doubt the quality of candidate screening and such, I find it much easier to use the other three options above.

Tip #4 – Work While Traveling

There are a few ways you can keep the money flowing while traveling long-term, depending on your skills and desires. Here are three:

Freelancing on the Web

With an increasing trend towards telecommuting, the widespread use of social media, and online businesses cropping up everywhere, it is quite possible to make a living online while you travel, with little more than an internet connection. Personally, I make my millions (ha) as a writer, the income of which pays my expenses over and above accommodation (which I usually work in trade for). I know another fellow whose websites and freelance SEO work make him over $3,000/month – a more than adequate long-term traveling income. (You will see shortly that the cost of full-time travel may not be as high as you think).

Reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss was instrumental in helping me to see the online income, telecommuting, and outsourcing possibilities. Freelancing on the Web is possible in many careers, even if at first it may not seem so. If you are new to the concept of being an Internet business-person, then start slow; subscribe to newsletters, lurk forums, and watch how other people in your line of work are making a go of it. Combine this prep work with an ingenious idea, and you could end up laughing all the way to the bank. (Or at least covering your next dinner out. Either way.)

Working Visas

If you are under the age of 30, you can get a working visa without much drama in many western countries. In this way, you can take your skills on the road and enjoy learning how to do your job on the other side of the planet. Some country-specific resources can be found here on this topic: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK. Search for the country name plus “working visa” for the countries you’re interested in.

Additionally, Work Permit and Transitions Abroad both have great resources for those wanting to know more about working abroad.

Other Work

Do you know how to tend bar? Serve tables? Are you a scuba dive master? You would be amazed at the working opportunities that present themselves to you on the road with a little networking and looking under the right rocks.

Now I would never condone working illegally in a foreign country, so if that is your gig, just don’t tell anybody that I suggested it. But depending on where you travel and your ability to communicate with the locals, don’t be surprised if a chance to work for a little extra cash comes your way. With a few nods and winks, you can make enough money to cover off some of your traveling expenses.

Or – as was the case with my travel partner, who used to fight forest fires in Canada and found himself in the middle of the worst bush fire Australia had ever seen – you may find your skills are suddenly in such demand in the country you are traveling to that a working visa will materialize.

A quick cautionary note for anybody planning to travel and work: Be aware of maintaining a balance between work and play. I have more than once entrenched myself so deeply in my work that I have lost sight of why I am on the road in the first place. As with most freelance lifestyles, everything in moderation is a key thing to remember.

Want more tips, tricks and tactics for efficiently working from home? Download my free Ultimate Guide to Working from Home.


Tip #5 – Learn the Truth About Volunteering

Although you would think that volunteering never costs the volunteer any money, you may be surprised. Depending on the organization, you could spend more money for the privilege of volunteering your hard labor than you would to sit on a beach at a luxury all-inclusive resort, being plied all day with tropical drinks bearing umbrellas. So volunteering on vacation is rarely a financial decision, and more likely an altruistic one.

But don’t lose hope if you are on an altruistic travel quest with a minimal budget. There are a number of ways to volunteer inexpensively (or for free) if you are willing to do some research.

In Asia, I met two German girls who were on a world tour, volunteering everywhere they went. In each destination, they found orphanages and refugee camps that were more than happy to have them in each afternoon to play with the kids or help out with some of the chores. They rarely paid for this chance to help, and more often than not got a rewarding grassroots volunteering experience out of it.

If you are looking for something a little more packaged or travel-friendly, there are a number of volunteer travel resources that can help you find the perfect position:

Continental Divide Trail Alliance – A little closer to home, you can work on nature trails in North America with this company. A small membership fee applies, which allows you to volunteer as much as you like. It’s hard work, but satisfying work at that.

Conservation Connect – If you are in Australia or New Zealand, this website will connect you with a myriad of volunteer opportunities, depending on your area of interest. Day trips are free to volunteer for (pack a lunch), and overnight trips work out to $200/week, all expenses in.

Personal Overseas Development – This non-profit organization connects travelers with volunteer opportunities across the world.

Compathos – This organization brings awareness and support to worthwhile international projects and volunteer travel opportunities through film, digital storytelling and grassroots media.

Voluntourism – As a pioneer of the term “voluntourism,” this comprehensive site is a practical and educational resource.

Idealist – This site connects volunteer organizations with supporters and volunteers. It has a great search engine for finding just what you want, where you want.

Transitions Abroad – This is also a fabulous resource for eager volunteers to use.

I have personally found that the most rewarding volunteer opportunities were serendipitous and not organized. While in remote northern Thailand in 2008, Cyclone Nargis (which devastated the neighboring country of Burma) just missed me. Touched by the incident and the amount of suffering that was a stone’s throw from where I was, I dropped my trip and volunteered my help wherever it was needed. My initially simple (and admittedly naïve) plan exploded in 24 hours into the ride of a lifetime. By virtue of this adventure, I now have lifelong friends in Thailand.

Less than a year later, I found myself in the middle of the Victorian Bush Fires: Australia’s worst ever natural disaster. Once again, I rolled up my sleeves to do whatever I could, which involved working for almost a month (full-time) at a warehouse which was accepting donations of supplies for the survivors of the fire from all over the country. It was a heart-warming community-strengthening experience, and one with a happy ending: by virtue of the work that my partner and I did, we were granted 1 year extensions on our Australian visas – and given working rights. (Well, maybe it helped a bit that I ran into the Australian Prime Minister during the relief efforts: see photo to the right.)

You never know what can come out of an earnest and unselfish desire to do good for the world.

And as a Rotarian, I attend local Rotary meetings wherever I go, and am immediately tapped into local volunteer projects. It is a fabulous way to fast-track becoming part of a community.

Tip #6 – Become Part of a Community

Speaking of fast-tracking to becoming part of a community in record time, here are eight ways to help you do just that:

Rotary– Rotary is a service-based organization that works on both community and international levels to improve quality of life for everybody. Almost solely responsible for eradicating polio around the world, and with numerous sponsored student and career exchanges available, attending a meeting abroad is a brilliant way to share some camaraderie with fellow Rotarians around the world.

Toastmasters – As another international organization (this one dedicated to public speaking), you can show up at a Toastmasters meeting anywhere in the world and be welcomed with open arms. (Well, within reason. If you are a female arriving in a Muslim country wearing nothing but a bikini you have made your bed.)

See an Opportunity? Help!

The quickest way I worked my way into a completely foreign community was when I adopted the project to help the Cyclone victims of Burma. By simply rolling up your sleeves and helping where you see a need, locals will see what you are doing and come to help you. It doesn’t have to be a monumental project: start with helping an elderly person with their groceries, and see where that takes you.


At least in developed countries, and even in some lesser-developed areas, libraries are a hub of community information and resources. You will often find access to free or inexpensive seminars, workshops, and special interest groups. Besides which, the library is a great place to research your trip and pass some time for free.

The Pub

In many global circles, enjoying a drink with somebody is the unspoken sign of kinship. Not only that, but who is the best person in town to talk to if you want the latest word on the street? The bartender, of course. So pull up a stool, and just take in the scene at the pub. If you look remotely approachable, you won’t likely leave alone if you don’t want to.

Bulletin Boards

I love bulletin boards. Be they in hostels, libraries, pubs, or supermarkets, you can learn lots about a community by virtue of their bulletin boards. Search the listings – you may find a job opportunity, some gear you want to buy (or a buyer for something you want to sell), a place to stay, or even just a new friend.

Community Newspapers

Although a little less interactive than bulletin boards, a community newspaper will give you a decent sense of what makes the community tick and tap you into the local pulse.

Keep your Eyes Open, and Get Involved!

Be aware of your surroundings, and don’t be shy. In Thailand one evening, my boyfriend and I noticed some elderly people sitting around a radio and listening to the closest thing to Thai-Country music I could imagine. We spent a spontaneous evening enjoying their company and watching all the tourists at the market, almost none of whom looked up from their souvenir shopping long enough to notice that we were having a good time right in front of them.

By becoming part of a community, you will discover new doors opening for jobs, places to stay, and places to eat. You will get to know the local culture better, avoid the tourist traps, and best of all – you will make some amazing friends along the way. Enriching travel involves putting yourself out there, potentially making a few mistakes along the way, but also reaping the benefits of your courage in unimaginable ways.

Tip #7 – Avoid the Biggest Trap

This is an easy tip to learn, but one of the hardest to practice. I still struggle with keeping my travels free or almost-free, given the never-ending temptation to…are you ready for it?…buy souvenirs.


One of the easiest ways to save money while you are traveling is to steer clear of the souvenir shops. Most often, the goods are mass-produced in another country entirely, and lack the authenticity that you are probably looking for. Even if you find yourself coveting a trinket that is “real,” ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it an accurate representation of the place I am visiting?
  • Will I use it?
  • Will I remember this trip by virtue of owning this souvenir?
  • Was I planning on buying something like this anyway?

If you even think twice about answering yes to these questions, it is best to reconsider your purchase.

Instead of leaving yourself to chance and impulse, why not put a little purpose into your souvenir shopping? Before leaving for your trip, choose one or two items that for you will encapsulate the trip and the destination, then spend your traveling days searching for the perfect artifact. If the whole family is planning, allow everybody to choose their own souvenir. It gets other family members involved in the trip planning process, and will minimize the kids’ incessant requests for “can I have this…and this…and this?”

I have a pair of blue tanzanite earrings and a mask from South Africa, a silk shirt and painting of Buddha from Thailand, hand-carved wooden salad spoons from Spain, and a hand-crafted Didgeridoo and piece of black opal from Australia, as examples. Not a tacky t-shirt or keychain can be found in my collection of souvenirs from around the world. My wallet thanks me, and I like it this way.

Tip #8 – Be Food Wise

From food selection, to the time of day you eat, to how you eat and socialize – there is a lot of money that can be spent (or alternately saved) by virtue of paying attention to how you eat while traveling. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to eat ramen if you don’t like to.)

Case Study: Taco Tuesday

When I lived in Hawaii, I met a lot of travelers at the hostel where I was living (and working in trade for accommodation). Everybody enjoyed sharing and hearing travel tales of adventure and misadventure alike. So when “Taco Tuesday” presented itself as a way to get super cheap beers and tacos, we jumped at the opportunity to enjoy a night on the town all together.

Interestingly, Taco Tuesday became a fascinating study in the spending patterns of people on vacation.

John and Wendy, having nipped over to Hawaii for a quick break before embarking on a major move across the country, didn’t have huge money concerns, but were trying to be frugal knowing that their upcoming move would cost them dearly. Dave and Angie were finishing off a trip around the world, having been on the road for eight months already through countries both expensive and inexpensive.

They played hard during their trip, but their stash of cash was predictably dwindling (an expected bi-product of good budgeting through their long trip). Julie was a very young headstrong woman figuring out where she belonged in the world, and Wayne was an older gentleman on an extended vacation. Rounding out the group (in addition to myself) was Phil, who was something of a nomad, living and working in Hawaii for a bit before moving on to the next locale that tickled his fancy.

I describe each friend’s background in an effort to paint the picture; one of a group of people, all originally from North America, but bringing an entirely different set of experiences, finances, and travel values to the table.

Where things got interesting was in how people indulged on Taco Tuesday.

John & Wendy decided that cheap beer was more appealing than cheap tacos, and so they engineered their budget for the night to partake of the beer (at $2/bottle), and prepared their own full dinner at the hostel prior to going out. Dave & Angie being well-seasoned travelers chose to fill up on some home-made appetizers prior to going out, and each nursed one beer and a taco or two. Julie simply had Coke (not only was she young, but she was broke and underage), and Wayne (who had gads of money) flew under the radar with one beer and two tacos, as did I. And then there’s Phil. Poor Phil.

Phil was definitely out for the party and camaraderie, but didn’t have much money to spare given his lifestyle. This didn’t seem to stop him from indulging though; he managed to order seven tacos, and four beers – not the beers on special though – premium beers.

Phil’s tab ended up being more than everybody else’s tab – combined. No wonder he was constantly broke. He listened to tales of faraway and exotic destinations with drooling enthusiasm – and a bit of melancholy, as he wished he had the ability to travel to these places, but couldn’t scrape together even the airfare if he had to.

Here’s the rub: The amount of money spent on this night was in no way correlated to how much fun each person had. Everybody laughed, shared stories, enjoyed the leisurely walk along the ocean to and from the bar, and came away with great memories. If anybody, Phil seemed the least enthused about the night, spending much of the walk home doing the math about how many hours he would have to work to pay for his tab. At least he had a good buzz on to dull the financial pain.

Despite a range of financial backgrounds and intrinsic values, the people who had the ability to spend a wad of dough that night chose not to. Most people ate something at home prior to going out, so they wouldn’t be starving and end up over-eating at the bar. The tacos were cheap – but they weren’t cheaper than a healthy homemade snack or meal.

Next to accommodation and long-haul flights, food and drinks are going to be the biggest drain on your expense account while you are traveling. So although you don’t want to sacrifice quality of your vacation by limiting yourself, you can decide what is important to you and budget accordingly. If you were at Taco Tuesday, what would you do?

Do you like beer? Then scrimping a bit on food may be a way for you to enjoy a night on the town without wondering if the next beer will put you over-budget.

Do you like food? Then drink water instead of premium drinks, and order that dish that makes your mom’s cooking look like slop.

Here are some more tips for saving money on food:

  • If you don’t normally eat breakfast in a restaurant, don’t do it while traveling. Instead, save your money and buy some basic ingredients from the grocery store.
  • Want a special meal out? Consider going out for lunch instead of dinner. You often get similar if not identical portions, but for a fraction of the dinner prices.
  • Avoid hotel restaurants, especially for breakfast. They tend to be overpriced in the name of convenience.
  • Does the restaurant have a beautiful view? If so, chances are you are paying for it with your meal. Instead, go to the restaurant around the corner (for better and cheaper food), and/or take a picnic to where the view is.


Don’t carry your 20% American tipping conventions around the world with you – it is unnecessary, and in some cases, you can actually offend locals. Instead, do some research. For example, tipping at bars and restaurants is not expected in Australia, China, and Italy. In Germany, look for the words “Trinkgeld Inbegriffen” on your bill which means a service charge has been included already.

Tip #9 – Roll with the Punches

When I decided to travel full-time, I had aspirations of heading to Costa Rica as part of a broader Central and South American adventure. But before I booked the ticket, an opportunity came to me that took me across Canada instead. When I was ready to re-join my original plans, another opportunity to go to Hawaii cropped up. Then Asia. Then Australia. And so on. I’ve yet to make it to my original destination, but Latin America isn’t going anywhere – it will surely happen yet.

While you are traveling, opportunities of many an ilk will come to you from all directions. Be prepared to adopt and accept these changes as part of your traveling credo. You can’t possibly predict what will happen or how you will feel when you land in India, so cut yourself some slack if you either feel the need to get out of there ahead of plans, or want to extend your stay after accepting the generous and spontaneous hospitality of a local family.

Had I not rolled with the punches and allowed my travel plans to evolve with me, I may never have had a chance to meet Bracken – the kangaroo I lived with for six months nor would I have ever learned to milk goats (hot on the heels of being a very city-oriented business person a mere few months prior).

I might have missed out on meeting the generous people in the tiny town of Lightning Ridge, and I certainly would never have become a part of the local Chiang Mai community if I had continued with my agenda and not helped the Burmese victims of Cyclone Nargis.

Tip #10 – Rethink Travel Expenses

In my first full calendar year abroad, my partner and I spent $20,000 in total. This included a host of miscellaneous and pricey expenditures, such as the purchase of a new laptop, a car, insurance, and numerous long-haul flights. For a single person, I would suggest that the cost of full-time travel could be achieved for $14,000/year. By utilizing the techniques outlined in this article, you can see that travel doesn’t have to break the bank.

Tripbase has some funky widgets for planning your trip, including the handy Trip Cost Calculator, which estimates the cost of lodging and three daily meals in any given destination, according to your selection of a budget, mid-range, or high-end price tag.

Tip #11 – Travel Slowly

The more flights you take, the more money you will spend. The more you have to pack up, hop on a bus, a train, or a taxi, and find a new place to stay, the more money you will spend. Want to keep your travels free or almost-free? Consider traveling slowly.

Think of your trip as a lifestyle and not just a getaway, even if you are only traveling for a short time. Don’t worry about seeing absolutely everything there is to see in Europe – just focus on one or two countries if you don’t have years to see it all.

By staying in one place for a while, you will get to know the people, the language, and the culture. Your new connections and friends will help you to have fun, plan the next stage of your trip, and embrace the place you are visiting. If you are actually living there as a local (even for a month or two) as opposed to actively traveling through, you will get a different perspective of the place entirely.

Traveling slowly is very rewarding. I am about to take a four month trip around the world (yes, I’m already a full-time traveler; it’s a long story). But I’m only choosing to visit a few destinations, which I will explore in depth.

By volunteering for a few weeks here and there, working in trade for accommodation or using hospitality exchanges, watching what (and when) I eat and what I buy, and being savvy in booking flights, I will integrate myself into the local community, see the sights, and make friends. Oh yeah – and I will be traveling for free – or almost-free, anyway.

For more tips on how to explore the world without spending a fortune, check out Nora’s blog and her new book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. The book includes guest contributions from other great blogs such as Wise Bread, Zen Habits, Get Rich Slowly, The Simple Dollar, Digerati Life, and the Frugal Duchess.

Buy the book today and get a $15 Ebates bonus and a chance to win a Flip Cam.

Photo Credit: Masks by The Wandering Angel and Beach Cabana by Wolfgang Staudt.

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    Thanks for sharing your experiences, they are truly inspiring.

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  2. Russ

    “Ask anyone what they wish they could do more of, and the answer is literally always the same: “I wish I could travel more.””

    A bit presumptive, no? Personally, I *despise* travelling and would like to significantly reduce the amount that I do, not increase it. Whilst this was a good and informative post about how to pragmatically align income and expenses, the actual details are approaching my idea of hell.

    Maybe a little less editorial comment next time?

    • Alyssa

      Maybe don’t read an article on travelling the world for cheap if you don’t like travelling… I would say a good portion of people who look and find this article think that statement is correct and because they WANT to travel the world for cheap.

    • Russ is a douche

      Go troll somewhere else douche.

  3. Keith@bewealthygethappy

    I love to travel and I wish I had read this post last month before I booked the flights and hotel for my upcoming trip. I have had the travel bug ever since I was a kid living overseas, and while I’m not brave enough to quit my 9-5 to travel full time, it’s exciting to know that I could always do it if I wanted, and for less money than I thought.

  4. Moneymonk

    Thanks Nora, good tips

  5. MillionaireAdventure

    It never ceases to amaze me how much money people waste on hotel breakfasts! Just ask some locals where you can find a good bakery and enjoy a fresh croissant or similar for next to nothing.

  6. JT

    Wow, really cool. Another book I’ll have to add to my wish list. My goal is to retire at 50 and then travel full time. Thanks for the post.

  7. money blog

    “The amount of money spent on this night was in no way correlated to how much fun each person had” This realization in it self is one of the best one can have

  8. Taylor

    Does anyone else feel like all this penny pinching takes some of the fun out of traveling?

  9. Nate

    It sounds like an interesting way of life, but I’m not sure it’s for me. Traveling can be pretty stressful.

    On the other hand, long-term travel is not the same as a 1-week jam-packed vacation. Done right, I suppose it’s more like a temporary relocation overseas.

    If I could develop some alternative streams of income or find a way to do consulting remotely, I might go for it. Otherwise, I would rather find ways to enjoy where I am.

  10. Brian Armstrong

    Wow great article thanks for sharing your experience! Cheers from Buenos Aires.

  11. Love to Travel

    This is a fascinating post. I love to travel and can go in the cheap. My spouse on the other hand prefers to go a little less frugally. One thing we try to do is if souveniers are desire to buy them a little off of the “tourist path”. We usually can get our souveniers for a fraction of the price! Good luck with your book!

  12. Casual

    Wow, what a great post! There’s so much information here, it will take a while to digest it all. This has definitely changed my perspective on traveling!

  13. Cath

    Great tips, Nora! Thanks for this comprehensive resource.


  14. // popular today // popular today…

    story has entered the popular today section on…

  15. The Great Geek Manual » Link Round-Up: May 18, 2009

    […] Travel full-time for less than $14,000 per year – Not particularly Geeky, but a nice read to induce fantasies of a more adventurous lifestyle. […]

  16. Marija

    Good post, but as we (the truth) it is not about money… It is about how much someone really wish to travel and to leave behind the life, he – she is used too…..

    Money wise… personaly I traveled for more then 30 months, over 30 countries visited, by bike (human power:))…. and money for sure is not problem….Less then 10.000 $ spent…. But now to be back home it is a journey itself…

    If you dream about something….go for it! It is worth it!

  17. Duncan

    RE: #7 Souvenirs. One thing to do is collect the same thing in every place. Like patches, or stickers, or rocks or whatever… Its fun to build a collection this way.

  18. justjenn

    Have you met anyone looking to do this with a child in tow. I want to expose my daughter to the many wonders of the world, slowly as you say. I just wonder what can be done on a small budget with a 7 year old extra.



    • George

      You cant, if you want to travel the world and live a care free autonomous life.
      Don’t have kids… also she should really be in school.

    • Misty

      @ George….

      Wow. What a negative comment. It is totally possible to travel abroad with a child and btw there is plenty of homeschooling options online these days. Get over-yourself and realize that not everyone is as self-centered as you seem to be. Children are a blessing and they deserve to be able to travel and experience other cultures just the same, whether it’s on a limited budget or not. Good luck to you Jenn, I hope you find the answers you are looking for and never give up on your dream!

    • Visonque

      There are many people who home school their children while traveling. Children can adjust to almost anything as long as the parent is at peace. If you are stressed the kids will pick up on that. If you are having an adventure and enjoying yourself, the kids will also. With little ones you may want to sew a plastic ID card on the back of their clothes with your contact information but other than that go for it.

  19. Katie

    This article has removed another obstacle that has prevented people from traveling; time. Searching for these ideas let alone coming up with them is incredibly difficult, but your experiences sound amazing. Thanks for the tips!!

  20. links for 2009-05-18 |

    […] Travel full-time for less than $14,000 per year « I Will Teach You To Be Rich (tags: travel advice inspiration) […]

  21. Ben Casnocha

    How many full time travelers have deep emotional connections with anyone? How many suffer from loneliness?

  22. Ray

    No offense but you sound lazy.

  23. Marija

    Is deep enough to be in relationship? :):) Even long distance travellers are just people…Some suffer loneliness, some not….

    I never felt lonly on remote parts of Pamir, Tibet, deserts of Kazahstan or Iran….but in multi-million cities of China I felt lonly and strange…. Because it was months of no chance of speaking English…(To speak my home language I have to dream on day and night almost till the day I came home if I do not include talks with family, friends via net….)

  24. Still Learning… » Time for a change?

    […] final link and a first possibility. Travel Author: admin Categories: Uncategorized Tags: Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a […]

  25. EMM

    Awesome pic of Waipio Valley under Tip #11. One of my favorite places.

  26. Nancy

    Hubby and I were full-time RVers for 7 years and traveled extensively in the US and Canada and loved it. I wish we were 30 years old again and could do as you are doing.

    Am very interested in exploring the possibilities for a retired couple to do a modified version while living on Social Security income and unable to do much physical labor.

  27. thunder

    My bigger questions are what happens when you finally stop traveling? To settle into a permanent place to live, with everything necessary for that, is going to be costly when the time comes. Are you saving for that day, or put aside funds when you began traveling? How will being out of the industry you worked in for x amount of years look when trying to find a regular job again? You’ve taken up writing which may or may not be a viable new career, but that wont be the case for many. Maybe you imagine being able to do this for the next 60 years, but there are way too many variables to count on that.

    What about healthcare on the road, how does that effect your expenses? If you break an ankle and are suddenly incapable of doing the volunteer work that is paying for your room and board, what happens then? Sure, not all volunteer work is physical, but that is just an example, you could become ill instead.

    I don’t intent any of this to be snarky, I’m genuinely curious. These are the questions that hold me back from such ideas more than the cost of doing them.

  28. David Turnbull

    Absolutely brilliant post. I’ve saved this into Evernote and will definitely be re-reading it quite a bit of the next few months and years. I have very similar views on and desires for travel.

  29. links for 2009-05-18 « Blarney Fellow

    […] Travel full-time for less than $14,000 per year « I Will Teach You To Be Rich (tags: travel lifehacking) […]

  30. Ben

    On a non-snarky note, I agree with thunder about the healthcare issues? I come from the UK (although don’t live there now) and our healthcare system often has to provide care to people who are in the country visiting or even working illegally (and thus not paying tax towards the care). I think it’s pretty unfair.

    On a more snarky point: on the matter of tax and working, it does seem clear to me that “working illegally” is part and parcel of this pursuit – else how is it feasible?

    Clearly you have to earn money somehow – and technically even doing remote work via the internet might be illegal if the country you are in has strict work laws (USA for example)

    I also think it’s irresponsible and frankly, copping out, not to be paying income tax somewhere – which I’m guessing you don’t pay on these kinds of trips.

    Finally, I agree that long term travel might badly effect your employment chances when it comes down to settle down. Yes “having traveled” is great on the resume of someone early in their careers but by the time you reach your mid-thirties people are looking for real job experience rather than suggestion that you wanted to cop out from the real world.

    • George

      Who says she has to stop. Why is her life a cop out.

      I think its great that shes doing what she wants on her terms, childfree and free of the dreaded 9-5 cubicle.

      Im sure she will figure it out.

    • Jamie

      Nowhere in your entire comment did you actually make a logical argument… Is English your native language?

  31. RaysAdventures

    Great information and recommendations. Anybody interested in traveling can benefit from Nora’s travel tips. I will pass it along.

  32. Quita

    Thank you for this. I plan to travel for one full year before I am 29. I will have to save for quite a few years.

  33. Quita

    Nancy have you ever thought about doing the Peace Corps?

  34. chep flight tickets at ease

    There is a lot of valuable travel tips in your article , these tips can be really put to good use, plus you get to know the real flavor of the place , get to know people , make lot of friends, but on the contrary it need real time, and don’t you think there are major travel safety issues with this.

  35. howdy

    I’m sure being a youngish attractive woman hasn’t contributed at all to opportunities just cropping up…

  36. El Rorro

    Am I the one to think there is a missing item in the list?:

    Sexual favors?

  37. David Turnbull


    You said “Finally, I agree that long term travel might badly effect your employment chances when it comes down to settle down. Yes “having traveled” is great on the resume of someone early in their careers but by the time you reach your mid-thirties people are looking for real job experience rather than suggestion that you wanted to cop out from the real world.”

    What’s the point of being employed if not for the ability to have experiences such as these? It’d be better to not get “ahead” in the job world, but have had amazing experiences traveling around the world than to be the CEO of a huge company that’s had limited experience in the world.

    Also, if you’re self employed (freelancer or otherwise) your argument is negated.

  38. Soultravelers3

    Excellent Nora, you tell it ’em!

    We have been traveling the world as a family on an open ended global jaunt since 2006 and loving every moment. We live really large on 25K total costs for a family of 3 and could do it on less if we did not prefer so much luxury.

    It has been the best possible education for our child as a global citizen of the 21st century and tremendously rewarding bonding as a family for all of us.

    Not only does she experience more of the world than most by immersing deeply, she also spends more time with BOTH parents, than most children or fathers get.

    We have been to 4 continents, 29 countries so far and traveled over 76,000 miles ( most slowly overland) using every type of transportation from cargo ships to camels.

    We are a case study for the new edition of Tim’s 4 Hour Work Week and I want every to know that it is easier, more enriching and cheaper than most people realize.

    It is very doable for an ordinary family as today one can work and school any where. It is a growing trend and quite amazing on how much the trend has grown in this last year.

    Studies show that 70% of families dream of doing extended travel. I want them to know that it can be done and is more than worth doing!

  39. Soultravelers3

    @justjenn- I just want to let you know YES it can be done with a 7 year old and it is amazingly rewarding to do this with a child, plus the best possible education that you could give your child.

    My daughter was 5 and reading well when we began our open ended world tour in 2006 ( we are about to put up part 2 montage video soon) and she is now 8 and it’s been even more enriching and rewarding than we expected.

    Check out our soultravelers2 website, Youtube videos, or @soultravelers3 on Twitter ( etc) for more information about extended world travel as a family and with kids.

    If you combine books with your travels, you will be amazed how much even a young child will get out of the experience when it is slow travel that they can study before, during and after.

    Don’t be afraid to do exotic travel as a family either! It has often been a highlight for us. My daughter was just 6 when she did a violin concert for 60 kids in the Sahara!

    Not only is the deep immersion valuable, but innovations in education add to the value as education is one of those things that is in a major paradigm shift right now. Through travel 2.0 we have met the top innovators in education & collaborate with schools from around the world.

    We had no idea how that would also improve her educational opportunities with things like taking piano lessons over live webcam with a teacher on another continent, doing online classes with kid’s from around the world through John Hopkin University’s CTY Program ( & others), online libraries, keeping her own blog as well as physical diaries, going to local schools etc, etc.

    You will not find a better education than life as a field trip! My child has seen many more ancient civilization ruins than most will ever see. She not only read Homer while in Greece & Turkey, but dug up ancient shells at Troy & talked to archeologists on site there, at Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Pompeii and other places.

    That is just the tip of the ice berg….bottom line? Go for it!!

  40. Kelly Sutton - One Month Here

    I definitely, definitely agree with point #11: travel slowly. In fact, I’ve made an entire month out of it myself after reading the 4-Hour Workweek. Conventional “backpacking” is a good way to make sure you see everything and experience nothing. I feel like I’ve discovered some hidden secret.

    So far my little experiment is proving to be a lot of fun. I’m incredibly focused, meeting great new friends, staying out until the sun rises every night, honing my German skills and truly content with my life.

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading Nora’s post and will be stay tuned to her future travels.

  41. jerry

    Yeah…this would be great if I didn’t have $100,000 in law school loans.


    Instead I have to find real jobs in other countries. The benefit there is lots and lots of excellent food.

  42. Sitez » links for 2009-05-19

    […] Travel full-time for less than $14,000 per year « I Will Teach You To Be Rich […]

  43. Adam Pieniazek

    Great tips but I wouldn’t call spending $14,000 “free”. Sure it’s cheap, relatively, but certainly not free. Not sure why the emphasis on free came through in the end there…

    Anyway, wonder how much you could have saved by biking about instead of flying. Obviously, you’d have to fly or take a boat to some places but biking around the continents once you get there could potentially save a nice amount of loot. Especially if you carried camping gear with you (though of course, bike + gear would run you a few thousand before the trip even started).

  44. Zirkel

    How timely… One of the most comprehensive cheap travel resources I’ve come across. Thanks!

  45. KB

    I think it’s important to distinguish the difference between wanting to travel more ON VACATION and wanting to travel as a lifetsyle. Sure, if you ask me what I’d like to do more of, I’ll say “travel”, but I’m talking about a week away here and there every few months- that would be my ideal. Maybe one trip that could last a few weeks where I could go from place to place. But I want to be on vacation- I don’t want to have to work while I’m there or cook my own meals all the time; the whole point, for me, is to relax, see some cool things, and have fun!

    Different people have different definitions of “travel” and certainly different ideas about what is ideal for them. This article kind of assumes we all want to be nomadic travellers roaming the world at random.

  46. Alex K

    Great post!

    To the people wondering how this will affect her career prospects in the future… you just don’t get it, do you? You’re not going to live forever, and you are working away the best years of your life. Who cares how many zeros your bank account has if your life was spent in a cubicle.

    Nora you can surf my couch any time.

  47. hustler

    Thank you so much for all the tips. I would love to do more of the things I want to do and spend less time working. It is inspiring to see someone fulfilling a dream instead of just working towards someday maybe doing something worthwhile.

  48. Retirement Scenarios » Travel full-time for less than $14,000 per year

    […] this great post from Nora Dunn, a professional world traveller – Travel full-time for less than $14,000 per year – which is probably mainly aimed at younger folks but which still has some great advice and […]

  49. Travel full-time for Less Than $14,000 per Year |

    […] is a great article by Nora Dunn on IwillTeachYoutoBeRich. It has so many fantastic ideas and links to valuable resources that I had to mention it […]

  50. Jade

    Grouse info Nora,
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  51. Traveling Cheap. « Thinking Big.

    […] […]

  52. Another Good Read « Nomadderwhere

    […] Travel Full-Time for less than $14,000 a Year by Nora Dunn  […]

  53. Katie, Tripbase

    Great tips thanks Nora. Not buying souvenirs is a real gem – so tempting but so easy to simply cut out all together…

  54. Re-un-tarded

    Did I really just read an article saying that you can save money by not buying souvenirs? Yeah, you can also live longer by NOT jumping off bridges. Hey, can I be a blogger? If you’re going broke because of souvenirs you need a psychiatrist, not a financial advice blog post.

  55. Re-un-tarded

    Oh yeah, one more thing. It’s probably easier to have all these opportunities fall into your lap if you’re a hot chick like Nora. I doubt an ordinary looking 30 something guy like me could hook up all these free opportunities and jobs in other countries. All they want from me when I go anywhere is my wallet.

  56. km

    For those of you who have traveled on the cheap, what are some of your favorite places to go? Particularly those that are reasonably safe for women. I’d love to hear some destination suggestions.

  57. » How much does it cost to travel the world for a year? :: Vagablogging :: Rolf Potts Vagabonding Blog

    […] Dunn’s conclusion? You can travel the world for $14,000 a year. […]

  58. Powered by Tofu

    Great list! I use to find cheap flight deals. It’s kind of like Which Budget, but actually pulls prices/schedules from the budget airlines (easyJet and Veuling). I used it to get from Athens to Casablanca, via Madrid, so I bought 2 tickets, but it was still cheaper than any other carriers and I got to check out Madrid!

  59. Ralph

    Wow! This is an extensive list. I first found about how inexpensive traveling could be from your friend Tim Ferris’s book “The 4 Hour Work Week”. I’m partial to the tip about working while traveling. I think that is the best way to be productive and profitable while seeing the world.
    It’s usually effect only if you are doing the job that you love.

  60. Michael

    Another tip is to take overnight trains and buses between cities/countries. If you can skip 1 night at a hotel by sleeping on the train, you basically got the train ride for free.

  61. Michael

    At km:

    Southeast Asia is really fun, cheap and generally safe for women. I saw a surprising amount of women traveling alone while I was in Thailand and Laos. Just meet some other girls who are also traveling alone, and they will probably be happy to room with you. You can also stay in dorm-style guesthouses where there are only women.

    Nepal is my all time favorite destination, however it’s not the safest place for women as it’s less traveled and shady at times. But again, if you meet some other travelers then you’ll be fine. You can hike up mountains and view the Himalayas. The views are breathtaking, the people are friendly, the food is fantastic, and it’s ridiculously cheap (almost any meal will be under $1).

  62. How to get 150,000 people to read your blog post in 1 week « I Will Teach You To Be Rich

    […] an example, here were the results of Nora Dunn’s travel post earlier this week, which drove nearly 100,000 pageviews in 72 hours. I’ve already invited her […]

  63. Nicholas MacDonald


    “Oh yeah, one more thing. It’s probably easier to have all these opportunities fall into your lap if you’re a hot chick like Nora. I doubt an ordinary looking 30 something guy like me could hook up all these free opportunities and jobs in other countries. All they want from me when I go anywhere is my wallet.”

    100% untrue. I (and many other ordinary-looking guys in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s) have found plenty of opportunities and jobs in China and other countries throughout Asia and the world… you really only have to show up. It is as easy as she makes it sound. (In many of these countries, being female, attractive or not, can be a disadvantage, as well- don’t forget that men often have a leg up in many areas)

    Cynicism isn’t always right- which I know from personal experience in these matters…

  64. Rob

    Russ is an idiot. Awesome information for those INTERESTED in this. Thanks!

  65. Excuses #2: Affording It « Tales from Technomadia

    […] And so on… For some indepth tips on how to keep travel affordable, check out Nora Dunn’s excellent article Travel full-time for less than $14,000 per year.. […]

  66. Today’s pretty much worthless piece of trivia: Travel blogs are like neighbors. « Sand Dollar Adventures

    […] Back to Nora. Sometime non-travel blogsites even get into the travel writing realm (hey, get back into your own topic), as this one money blogger guy had Nora provide a list of ways to save money while traveling. […]

  67. Technomadia

    This is a fantastic resource, Nora – thank you so much.

    As full time travelers, my partner and I are constantly being asked how we afford to do it. We’re currently developing a series of articles addressing many of the common excuses we hear from folks –

    Our travel is a bit different, in that we’re mainly living and working in the US, traveling in a small solar powered trailer. We both took our careers on the road with us, as they’re location independent. As long as we have internet and power, we can do our software development, tech consulting and R&D from anywhere, and when we can also pull into a location for the length of a contract if we wanted to.

    But even so, we utilize a lot of these suggestions in our travels – traveling slower reduces our fuel consumption. Volunteering – whether formally with an organization to helping out on a friend’s ranch – reduces our lodging costs while increasing our experience. Not living like we’re on vacation and remembering we’re exploring a lifestyle that we want to be sustainable.

    For those that aren’t desiring traveling full-time, these sorts of tips may not be worth what is seen as sacrifices for your limited time away from normal life. But for those looking for ways to make travel a long term sustainable lifestyle – these are spot on!

    – Cherie

  68. Weekly Roundup: Picking Up The Pace Edition | Frugal Dad

    […] Travel Full-time for Less Than $14,000 Per Year.  This post had shades of The 4-Hour Workweek, and I loved it!  Not necessarily because I am able to implement any of these ideas with a wife and two small kids, but because it really gets you thinking outside the box.  Bonus:  Some pretty good travel tips included as well!  (@ I Will Teach You To Be Rich) […]

  69. Russ


    Get a grip, I SAID the article was interesting and informative. I just objected to the blithe and incorrect generalisation that this sort of lifestyle is a universal ambition.

  70. How to Travel the World on $14k a Year | Little Black Guidebook

    […] of a backpack with no house doesn’t appeal to me. Still, there is a part of me that looks at posts like this one and says: “I could do that!” This entry was posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at […]

  71. “You can travel the world for $14,000″ « Our Excellent Adventure

    […] This seems like an exciting and curious claim, but I’ve just pored over travel writer Nora Dunn’s 11 tips for thrifty adventures (via Dunn, a freelance writer, seems to break down all of my stress […]

  72. Katie

    I love the suggestions! Thanks.

    For some added ideas, most hostels offer work for accommodation, especially in busy areas that get lots of backpackers. Plus I’ve used gumtree and craigslist to find rideshares that are free or less expensive than a bus/coach – but use judgement just like couchsurfing. Plus I always take advantage of opportunities to meet up with travelers I’ve met in the past – facebook is great for staying in touch and asking for a place to stay when you come to visit.

  73. Go Nanaimo Blog | 10,001 Ways to Live Large

    […] group includes journalists, counselors, financial consultants, teachers, homemakers, and of course, perpetual travelers like Nora Dunn (who most likely provided items like nine ways to see the world for free, three easy […]

  74. drew Cannoli

    Great info. Thank you!

  75. Intelligent Speculator | Ramblings

    […] Very interesting travel tips in “Travel Full-Time for less than 14,000$/year“. […]

  76. Omar

    I envisioned myself traveling while reading your article. I want to travel. I just have to do it. Thank you for the links and the information.

  77. Jennie W


    Wow…this is invaluable! Thanks for posting… This is helping me figure out the nuts and bolts of long term frugal travel. Very inspiring and touching…especially your part about the cyclone fundraising.

    And thanks to the guy who mentioned Evernote. I’m downloading the version for the web… this is going to help store all kinds of info for easy access once on the road!


  78. VolunTourism Review For Week 20, 2009

    […] For those who are thinking about ways to save on travel expenses, Nora Dunn offers Eleven (11) Tips on how to “Travel Full-Time For Less Than $14,000 Per Year“ […]

  79. madrid flight deals

    Really cool blog. I found it on yahoo. I am looking forward to read more posts.

    Can anybody tell me whats the best hotel in Madrid for my honey moon? I going to married next month..

    Thank you

  80. Josten

    Very inspiring i plan on traveling the earth

  81. Mostafa

    Your Article is a mine of tips. That makes me consider traveling under other interesting angles.
    Thanks for that

  82. Stephen Wise

    Awesome article. This is exactly the way i think. I’m going to travel this summer now that exams are over. I plan to grab that passport, save about $1000, and check out the cheap airfare/cheap housing. As Josten said, It is inspiring to travel the Earth.
    Alot of people seem to think traveling is nothing more than busy airports, tedious planning and scheduling. Really it isnt that hard, and shouldnt be thought of as Traveling the World, with different countries and governments. Put that aside, and think that we are on Earth, and can easily experience Earth as a single place, by exploration of every culture and lifestyle

  83. Peter

    I was travelling by myself but it never got lonely as I always had Zsa Zsa, Beryl or Chrystal to go and strike up a conversation with at the Front Desk, no matter how busy they were they were always genuinely interested in my needs and conversation. I had an action packed week. This was the week that Nikki was having its one year anniversary. I went jet skiing, did a snorkel and conch tour, went horseback riding, did some shopping, did ATV’s (ran into the bush a few times) and of course laid out at the beach and got burnt a bit. Visited the local Irish pub quite a bit, always something going on there.

    For more information in Nikki Beach Turks and Caicos Resort Islands visit

  84. Martin

    Great post! Good to spread the knowledge to those that don’t know.

    In Europe (I’m from London) we call this lifestyle “backpacking” and many many young people embark on it after leaving school, college or university, usually for 6-12 months. There are loads of resources on the internet about it.

    What I will contribute is the following:

    1) Look into getting a round the world ticket for continental hops. I got a 36000 mile one with Star Alliance airlines for £1200 (in 2007). This took me from London – Japan – Australia – NZ – Fiji – USA – London. Within that I used local plane, train, bus and donkey to visit 18 countries within the year.

    2) Travelling alone can be lonely, but you meet many good people, and about 4 great people.

    3) Budget some “bling me” money. Every month I would check in to a 5* hotel for a night or two. It helped break the monotony and a comfy bed does you wonders!! (The worse I did was to sleep on a piece of wood in a drug den in Cambodia).

    4) I see many people talking about what happens when you return back from travelling. In my case, I became more focused on what was important, used the people skills and confidence I gained to increase my salary by 500%, and had some amazing photos to remind me of days gone by. I admit that I dont feel “settled” back in the UK, but I dont attribute that to the travelling – more to the rain!!

    Hit me up if you want any more info about my trip or travelling in general. I’m no guru but I’m sure I can help!!

  85. Eric

    This is an incredible post! I haven’t fully dug into the details with everything, but I certainly appreciate this post!

  86. Best for Last - May 29, 2009 |

    […] Travel Full Time for Less Than $14,000 a Year – if you wish you could travel more, but “life keeps getting in the way”, read this post. It has nothing to do with internet marketing or business. But I thought the ideas and resources in this very thorough post were fantastic. I’m sure to use them for my own travel adventure… just as soon as I get an opportunity. […]

  87. Travels in the Riel World - …cultivating a global curiosity » Travel full time for surprisingly little money

    […] what Nora Dunn promises you can do. The self-styled professional hobo, she recently wrote an article on how to travel full time for a whole lot less money than you’d think it would cost. This is […]

  88. Carnival of Blogs #19 | Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

    […] Dunn wrote a great article about how to travel the world on 14,000 dollars. It’s become something of a viral hit and is a must […]

  89. MaylaSaathi Tillackdharry

    Been there done that travel thing. Would not do it like Nora describes – scary!

  90. Corbin at ibackpack Canada

    Great post! It’s like you’ve accumulated every good article on travelling on the cheap and organized the chaos! I constantly have friends and family ask how I pull off traveling so much. Explaining it is nearly impossible. How do birds fly? Why are rainbows awesome? I think i’m going to carry the URL to this everywhere I go and just tell people. Go here. Read this. You’ll have a better idea then. Thank you for this!

  91. Working Nomad

    i think there is a limit to how much you need though, its all well and good having a small budget but you have to be able to enjoy yourself too as it seems pointless to travel for travels sake!

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  93. feleciacruz

    YES!!! leaving in January for at least a year! releasing an around the world MIX-TAPE !! thanks for your helpful info!!

  94. Ian

    Really good tips, i spent like US$10000 so i beated you :D… camping is a good choice and walking between cities too if there is nature to enjoy. also I tried to spent more time in chepa countires, if you are travelling around europe, Eastern Europe can offer really good sights, and Western Europe can be travelled really fast. also for UK try Megabus… this company is also in canada i think but i still not have benn ther to test it… its like the ryanair of buses, offer great trips for 1 pound if you travel at dawn or night, and principally on tuesday and thursday. also National Express has great deals in spring, offering also 1 pound tickets between cities… for example, between London and Cardiff i purchased a ticket for 5 pounds!!!

    Between europe the best thing are buses, take night buses and you can take a comfortable sleep and save the money of the hostel or camping!

    well thats some of my knowledge, thanks for the links to find free acommodation and that kind of stuff!

  95. Sharon

    Always wanted to travel and had been to Europe for about 14 days, 7 countries but had spent around $3,000, that is a lot compared to what you shared above.

    Many good ideas and really dreamed to be able to travel round the world for life!! Wow that would be fun! You have many interesting ideas and very useful advice, must keep in mind when need to travel, thanks Nora.

  96. Sharon

    Thanks for the so many recommendations you had given, by the way I am a Singaporean, nice to know you are visiting quite close to Singapore, as Thailand is just north of us. Enjoy yourself!

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  101. Eugene Krabs

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

  102. prufock

    Good tips. Maybe the next article could be “How to make 14 grand while traveling full time.” Not everyone is going to make that kind of skrill freelance writing or blogging.

  103. Cat

    Great tips… About souvenir shopping: I never buy souvenirs from shops, but I almost always take something home with me — from restaurants! We had a lovely carafe of wine in a handmade custom pottery carafe in Santorini, and I asked the restaurant owner if he’d sell me one. He did for 10 euro.

    My stepmom does this too. She loved the plates at a pizzeria in Italy and they sold her two to take home. 🙂

  104. Carla

    Great ideas. I am wondering though if there are ways to travel cheap that doesn’t involve labor. Though I am young, dealing with a chronic illness and doing harder labor than what my doctor would allows me to do would defeat the purpose of a vacation. Also, my travel time is pretty limited (maybe two weeks!) so I doubt I would want to sped a large block of time “working”. The other ideas sound doable though.

  105. quinsy

    Wow, to the folks who are commenting on Nora being young and attractive as a criticism of her piece, you must not have traveled much. Being an attractive young woman is like walking around with a “harass me” sign taped to your back in a lot of places in the world. I know some travel fanatics who have decided to give it up simply because they’re sick of constantly being barraged with come-ons and being grabbed by strangers, or worrying about getting raped. My favorite travel spot was just marred by a rape and attack on two young women from Australia (tried to cut their arms off). simply terrifying. Traveling is much easier for an average looking guy. Job opportunities while traveling have to do with ability to speak English or do hard labor in a lot of cases. Do you really think these organic farming volunteers are all hot supermodels? No, I’ve seen them, they tend to be unshaven hippies.

  106. Kathy AO

    Wonderful! Thanks for writing this.

    Twelve years ago I spent a year in Japan teaching (yes, with a work visa) and spent my vacations checking out Japan, China & South Korea. I still correspond with my friends there! Then I found a round the world ticket for about $1000USD, unfortunately for only two months. I spent most of that time in Southeast Asia. My goal was to meet interesting people and find out what was important to them, eat great food and take amazing photographs. I highly recommend formulating a purpose for yourself when you travel.

    As to harassment, sure, some people will just assume you’re available. First, be sensitive to local customs, including dress and behavior. Then, buy yourself a wedding ring. Finally, get to know people who live there and make friends, they will tell off obnoxious suitors – and salespeople – for you in a more effective manner than you could ever manage.

    There’s no need to be lonely anywhere if you’re truly interested in the people who live there, not just the items they’re selling or the scenery around. I was taken to family homes, brought tea by friends as soon as I showed up in street the morning, given local prices at tourist shops for the few things I really wanted to have, and myriad other kindnesses that people extended to a respectful traveler.

    My whole trip ran under $3000, and it would have been much less if I hadn’t sprung for two specialty plane tickets that cost more than the original ticket – but I only had two months to work with. Overland would have been much cheaper. If you want to travel, go do it, and good luck to you!

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  108. Sally Parrott Ashbrook

    Wow, what a fantastic guest post this was! Thanks, JD and Nora. I’m off to explore a few new websites. 😀

  109. Working Holiday Australia

    Great post! I just traveled to Australia on a working holiday and for the first time in my life I stayed at hostels and pinched pennies. I had the time of my life. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive.

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  113. Solo Road Trip

    I’m not under 30 anymore (or even 40 come to think of it). And while my budget has expanded with my age (and correlating time in the work force, good money mgt. skills, etc.), travel for long distances/long time periods is stuck in my head as an expensive prospect — one that I really can’t afford. Until I read this article! I have a new lease on the travel bug and I plan to implement at least some of your advice. Thank you!

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  117. elizabeth

    When you say “Don’t buy souvenirs”, you really mean “Do buy souvenirs, just not the cheap kind that I find tacky.”

    Really, I think the biggest trap is getting robbed, which will cost a lot more in money and gung-ho spirit than any tsochke.

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  120. Ryukyu Mike

    Excellent post; you’ve really done your homework on this !

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  122. Mike

    Great post. We found many of the same strategies have rung true with us having travel/freelanced for the last year. Particularly flights, being part of the community, and shopping smart. We spent 6 months in the Philippines and ended up spending about $16,000 for the both of us. Far from roughing it. We made 90 scuba dives while we were there and lived in a 2 bedroom house on the beach for most of that period. There’s a detailed budget on our travel blog if interested.

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  124. Jess

    Wow. I’ve had a desire for many years to take on the world and now I’m more open to the oportunities that could possibly change my life.
    What suggestions does anyone one have to get past the fear of possibly having to take the trip alone.

  125. Thursday’s Travel Post #27- Different Types of Travellers « The Travelling Adventurer

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  129. fractalbrothers


    Get a grip, I SAID the article was interesting and informative. I just objected to the blithe and incorrect generalisation that this sort of lifestyle is a universal ambition.”

    well, then, just don’t comment. Seriously, nobody gives a shit that you don’t want to travel.

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  145. G. Michael Schneider

    What you have done is quite amazing, and I applaud you for your creativity and for your ability to enjoy life and travel on the cheap. But let me go you one better. If you are a skilled professional–say a doctor, lawyer, engineer, software developer, pharmacist, architect, artist, musician, clergy, etc.–not only can you travel for a lot less than $14,000 per year but you can travel for free by having other people invite you to work in their home country for a short-term period, say a summer, a semester, or a year. My wife and I have lived and worked in 15 different countries for periods ranging from 2 to 8 months, never once reaching into my wallet, and never once giving up my “day job.” Too often we think about free travel only in terms of teaching English, being an au pair, or waiting on tables. But if you have a useful and marketable skill, read my blog “On The Other Guys Dime” and see how to travel on the other guys dime.

    Michael Schneider

  146. Roy

    Very informative articles, take a while to digest all of this. Thank you.

  147. Jacqueline

    U.S.$14,000 seems a bit steep but I guess it depends where and how u want to travel. I travelled around the world from 2001-2006 and in the first 6 months I spent only US$1,500. That was after I’d bought my air tkt. from London to Pakistan. I then traveled overland, I spent 2 months in Pakistan, 3 months in India and 1 month in Nepal…I did plenty of activities horse trekking, white water rafting, day trekking…I did day trips with random locals who seemed to think it was fun to loan me their cars and be driven around for the day…in Most of Asia I think if u eat local and street foods u can manage on $500 a month or even less whereas if u spend a month in Bali and eat in a half decent restaurant twice a day it’s prob more like $1000 a month. It’s totally up to you, I left the UK with less than US$2000, stopped off and did working hols, got a few jobs along the way – some that paid way more than I’d earned back home and was still travelling 5 years later. Been settled & working in the rat race for last 10 years now but planning to travel again in the next year or two brilliant fun and it opens a world full of possibilities.

  148. Kay

    Nice practical write up. Its much easier for westerners with less travel restrictions or visa waivers to travel round the globe, than visa nationals who need to apply for visas to almost all countries.

  149. anselem

    Nice piratical writeup you have made it easier and helpful to me
    thanks a lot

  150. Godwin

    Am not yet rich and i want to know more about this topic and i will be grateful if i can know more

  151. Douglas Wingate

    When it comes to souvenirs, remember is that usually the best souvenirs are not the ones you impulsively buy at a shop. For example, when I was in Korea, I bought a pair of neat looking jandals for only a few dollars, because it was summer and I needed loose footwear. I took a flight across the ditch towards China, and ended up walking a whole partition of the Great Wall in those jandals, leaving my feet in a bloody mangled mess. However, I have kept those jandals, and whenever I see them, I am reminded of the epic journey I took. For a few dollars I had a souvenir that was unforgettable. A true souvenir is not just something you buy from a shop – it’s something that has some significance to it. It’s not necessarily even paid for. In China, the local I spent time with would take me to this delicious yoghurt shop. She would buy the yoghurt and she didn’t need the cups, so I took them. Examining them afterwards I realised that they are very wonderful looking cups, resembling finely carved ivory. They’re not a typical souvenir, but they always remind me of eating tasty yoghurt in Beijing. These days I use those cups as pen holders, incense holders and other things

  152. Helary Dufan

    Great post thank you, very helpful

  153. Angel marth

    You are bound to make the most out of your weekend break as there’s a lot lying in world tour store to offer to the tourists from all walks of life. World tourist attractions should be explored or your weekend break would remain incomplete.
    Great story shared here.

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  155. dr.blais

    easy when you get free food and places to stay and every thing else for being a girl, guys have to work twice as hard and if we want any fun we have to pay for it

  156. Lisa

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  160. Tod

    Great list! I agree with trying out Volunteering while you travel, definitely gives you a great opportunity to know the locals and their culture better.

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  164. AndreaT

    Beautifully written article and a great list! Thank you for sharing!

  165. Kenny

    Very informative. Thank you

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  167. Elizabeth D. Tierney

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  170. Cherry Sewell

    Great article… lots of tips I’ve used, but lots I haven’t. Thanks! But next time – please DO tip in Australia – it isn’t ‘expected’ (as in no service charge on the bill), but it is how most wait staff earn enough money to make it worthwhile… 🙂

  171. Aditi Chopra

    Hi Guys,
    I along with my 3 friends are planning a trip to Manali in Jan 2014 (3-4 days trip). After referring to a lot of threads on various sites i came to following conclusion, need your valuable advice’s and suggestion regarding the same.
    a) We will start from Delhi by train for Chandigarh and from Chandigarh we have planned to book a taxi upto Manali, will that be ok?
    b)We will start from Delhi at 2:35 PM via Janshatabdi so in that case we will be reaching Chandigarh around 7:30 PM, so what do u suggest should we stay in Chandigarh that night and start early next morning or we should start from Chandigarh and halt some were in between, my main concern is that i dont want to miss the scenic beauty that falls on way to Manali. So if anyone can tell me how further from Chandigarh i should go and halt my night Journey ?
    c) I would appreciate if you could refer me some good hotel names in Manali and also some good drivers whose company can be fun as per your previous experiences. Also the aprrox cost for the Taxi Trip (Chandigarh -Manali- Chandigarh) and hotels.
    Thanks in advance for your valuable advices and suggestions.
    Warm Regards

  172. Vida

    Wow! I love travel, especially to Europe. Your methods are certainly interesting and different. Makes for an unforgettable experience.

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  177. Heaven

    This is such and inspiring blog post. I think everyone’s dream would be to travel the world and meet new people and experience new things.

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    I looking for the various destinations inside Canada. I am looking for a vacation. After hours I quit. Can you please suggest me which is the best place for traveling in now days.?

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  184. John Williams

    Found your blog. Its really nice on world trip.I appreciate your article. If you want to go a world trip then you should have to know the information about the different place in world . So thanks for sharing all that important information.

  185. john

    thanks for the information about cheap hotels. Thanks for the post.

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  188. Regina Bates

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  189. cas kelly

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  192. Amber

    Such a comprehensive resource, both the original post and comments. Thanks for putting this all together Nora!

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  200. Bakveng

    wow Great article thank for sharing your experience

  201. Isan

    The truth is that you don’t need much money to do great things and go to beautiful places, take for exemple Cuba, beautiful country, sunny most of the year and the people are awesome.
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  202. mani

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  206. Sara No Aech

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  213. Jennifer Schlueter

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  214. go-indochine

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  216. Kathy Lum

    Really great tips! I can’t wait to put this to the test with my two teenaged children.. (I think one year homeschooling would be okay..) However, I can’t quit my day job yet because I have the ‘braces’ situation for my daughter. Any suggestions on traveling abroad and a really good benefit plan that would pay for braces?? Random… I know!

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