Dying to hit the road full-time but not quite ready to take the leap? Here are some easy ways to prepare yourself NOW — in your everyday life — for a future of full-time travel.
Some will take time, some you can finish in a few hours, but each will get you a BIG step closer to the day you can call it quits!
1. Stop wasting & start saving money.
Shopping for fun rather than out of necessity is a great way to WASTE money.
Switch to shopping ONLY for things you need. Set up a savings account and deposit a designated portion from each paycheck into it. This will serve as your emergency fund once you’ve hit the road.
2. Ditch your contracts.
Chances are your current cell phone plan is pricey and offers little flexibility. Switch to an international GSM phone (here’s what I have) that’ll allow you to easily grab a plan abroad with a local provider when you’re traveling. Look into contract-free options in the U.S. that allow you to pay month-to-month.
I kept my cell number by porting it to Google Voice ($20 one-time fee), and now when I’m traveling in the U.S. I pay just $30/month for a T-Mobile plan with 150 talk minutes, unlimited texts, and unlimited data. When I’m traveling abroad and don’t need service in the U.S., I simply don’t pay for those months.
Identify other contract services you’ve subscribed to, and get out of them when you get the chance. “Cancel anytime” plans are okay, but ask yourself if you really need them or would be better off saving that money.
3. Research a destination.
Choose a place you’ve always wanted to visit and find out how much it costs to live there. Look up monthly rates for a room on Airbnb (get $$$ off your first booking with our link), and search for one-way flights to your destination. If you want to take it a step further, research how much it costs to move to a second destination from that first one.
While some new nomads choose Asia to start with because the cost of living can be low, we picked Europe because it was MUCH cheaper to reach AND return from (See How to Fly from the U.S. to Europe for <$200.)
We also found a place to stay for under $600 for a whole month in Norway — the most expensive country in the world! (See How to Find a Safe, Comfortable and AFFORDABLE Place to Stay on Airbnb.)
4. Begin planning how you’ll make money while you travel.
You need a location-independent solution. The earlier you get started the sooner you’ll see success. Get some quick ideas in How to Make Money While You Travel, and see how real full-time travelers make a living in our Interview Series (begins July 20, 2015).
5. Avoid long-term leases like the plague!
Man, a year is a LONG commitment. And TWO? Now you’ve got me running. But in many cities — especially big ones — there are usually options for short-term renting.
Stick to those short-term options so you have more flexibility to leave when the time is right for you. Which brings me to my next point:
6. Think about timing.
You don’t have to set a date just yet, but considering timing is a good idea. For me, quitting my full time job at the end of February worked out pretty perfectly. Flights to Europe were lowest in March (~$200 one-way from Los Angeles). Also, only two months of full-time income for the tax year, plus cashed vacation time and (later that year) a few thousand from a cashed deferred compensation plan) was a small enough chunk of money that I owed NO taxes for that year. I ended up with a pretty hefty tax return (~$3K) that completely replenished my emergency travel savings.
7. Stay inspired.
Start a Pinterest board to collect travel ideas and resources. Subscribe to emails from inspiring travel bloggers or follow them on social media. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!
Print out some inspiring travel quotes and post them around your home and office.
Focus on keeping your eyes on the prize. Do what YOU need to do to keep yourself inspired to make your full-time traveling life a reality.
8. Read. Read. Read. All the tips you can!
There are a multitude of resources on the interwebs from traveling couples and solo travelers who quit their jobs to travel. We’ll be interviewing some of them in the coming months here on North to South.
Below are a few articles from our blog to get you going. Start with the one that’s most interesting to you!
Tips and Inspiration for Preparing to Quit Your Job and Travel Full-Time
See what our “world leap” looked like in these 7 Steps to Quit Your Job and Travel Full Time.
Read about the day I decided to call it quits in It Started with a Date: The Coffee Shop Conversation that Doomed My Desk Job.
Debating whether or not it’s worth the effort? Read 10 Reasons I’ll Never Regret Quitting My Job to Travel.
See how surprisingly cheap it can be to get to Europe in How to Fly from the U.S. to Europe for Under $200.
About the Author
- In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.
- Travel Life2019.01.14Our Year in Review: New Heights, New Wheels, and a Refreshed Photography Focus 
- Travel Life2019.01.11We Bought a Van! And this is our plan…
- Travel Gear2018.11.20North to South’s Gear of the Year 2018
- Colorado2018.11.13A Magical Morning at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (Denver, Colorado)