When I sold everything to travel, I couldn’t imagine a time when I’d say I’ve been on the road for 10 years. But here we are, 10 years later. I’ve travelled through and/or lived in over 50 countries in that time. And I’ve learned a lot about what “full-time travel” really means. Here are eight myths about the full-time travel lifestyle that I’ve learned along the way (often the hard way!).
Myth: Full-Time Travel Is an Extended Vacation
Full-time travel is a lifestyle rather than a trip or vacation. When travelling full-time, there’s no “regular life” or “home” to return to, like there is if you are travelling for a limited time. This creates a different mindset around foundational ideas like what home is, and ultimately, how to create that sense of home abroad.
Myth: Full-Time Travel Is for Rich People
Most full-time travellers work in some way to financially sustain their travels. (For more on this, try consulting resources like Working on the Road: The Unconventional Guide to Full-Time Freedom.) If not for money, then for free accommodation, as with volunteering or house-sitting.
Even people who don’t need to financially subsidize their travels often enjoy exploring various ways to get free accommodation around the world. Why? Because it’s a culturally immersive experience that allows travellers a taste of local life. I wouldn’t have enjoyed staying only in hotels and hostels for 10 years.
Myth: Full-Time Travel Is Expensive
It can be, but trust me: it doesn’t have to be. I’ve been tracking and publishing my expenses on my website since 2010. On average, I spend $20,000/year (all in, business expenses included) to live around the world. Some years I’ve spent less, others more, as life dealt me different circumstances and opportunities.
Myth: Full-Time Travel Is for Young People
Quite the contrary; I’m seeing growing contingents of people in their 50s and 60s who are taking early retirements and engaging the world in new ways. Whereas I once felt old for travelling in my 30s (now 40s), I’m seeing the demographic of full-time travellers shift.
Myth: Full-Time Travellers Are Tourists
Although full-time travellers can play tourists, it’s not our only modus operandi. When I spent three months house-sitting in Switzerland a few years ago, the neighbours were flummoxed when I didn’t visit all the touristy sites in my first few weeks of arriving. That wasn’t my aim. Although touristy experiences have their place, many full-time travellers prefer an afternoon at a café or community event.
Myth: Full-Time Travellers Are Expats
We may not be tourists, but neither are we expats. Expats (generally speaking) set up new homes in countries abroad. Full-time travellers may have various home bases, but they tend to be more transient. If you apply for residency in a country, then you’re likely becoming an expat.
Myth: Full-Time Travellers Are Always on the Move
I’d never have lasted 10 years if I had always been on the move. In fact, in one year I travelled so fast, I needed six months to recuperate. When travel is a lifestyle, slow is generally the way to go. Slow travel also provides culturally immersive experiences and is much easier on the pocketbook.
Myth: Full-Time Travel Is Running Away
I’ve been accused of this a few times. “What are you running away from, Nora?” they’d ask with a knowing look. Although some people adopt travel lifestyles to escape some aspect of themselves or their lives that they’re unhappy with, I don’t believe it’s the standard. Instead, with the ability to work remotely, we have more opportunities than ever to explore beyond our own backyards. I never felt I was running away with my full-time travel lifestyle; rather, I’m running towards new ways of seeing and living life, and doing so in new ways every day.
One of the greatest things I’ve learned about full-time travel is that there are no rules. You can create whatever lifestyle you want, where you want, and for how long you want. So… where do you want to go?
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