Exotic temple in Bangkok Thailand near my home

How World Travel is Cheaper than Staying Home

How can you afford to travel around the world like this and go to all these exotic places?

I’m asked this just about daily now since we’ve been in Southeast Asia. It was a common question before, but especially since moving abroad.

There are several things we do to make money so we can afford to travel and see the world, but for the most part, the people asking are looking at it from the wrong angle. Most of the time people view travel and exotic places from the perspective of a vacation that one saves up for while otherwise slaving away at a job they may or may not like.

Vacations are Expensive

Fancy hotels, rental cars, resorts, and other expenses of taking a week or two off from your life is a huge undertaking. Flying to the other side of the world is simply more than most will ever do (when I say most in this case, I’m talking about Americans. The rest of the world seems to travel far more than those of us from the U.S.) Usually, we get those paid vacation days accrued so we at least don’t lose the income while we’re away.

We aren’t on vacation.

We just wanted to see more of the world. So we chose this method as one of the many options available. We’re slow traveling at the moment, living in one spot and taking small side trips to see other areas and countries while based out of Bangkok.

Angkor Wat
Worth getting up early to watch the sun rising.

For someone in the U.S. to go spend a week in Siem Reap, Cambodia exploring Angkor Wat and the many other temples in the area, it would cost thousands of dollars to do so, and you’d have to make all manner of arrangements up to and including finding someone to feed the fish while you’re away.

If we decided to go do that now as I write this post this evening, I could be there exploring that world’s largest religious monument tomorrow, and it would cost me less than a hundred bucks. We spent more time than that while we were there a couple weeks ago, but the point is that we’re just in a region to explore places near here since we based ourselves here for a while.

We may start moving around more in the coming months, but there is a lot to see and explore, as well as a few places we want to see again and get to know better.

Live Large for Little Money

The other aspect of living this way that you need to consider when thinking about this exotic lifestyle is that the cost of living is much lower here than in the States or other places. We’d like to live in Japan at some point for example, but it’s considerably more expensive than living here.

Our guarded apartment on the 9th floor of a 10-story hotel in a decent area in the middle of Bangkok costs us somewhere in the neighborhood of two hundred bucks a month. Our water bill averages $4 a month, and the electricity runs between twelve and forty bucks depending on how much we run the A/C.

Since wifi is important to us, we pay somewhere around $24/month for unlimited bandwidth. It’s necessary for working and communication, so we make it a priority when looking at places to stay.

Oh and we’re still working. We’re not on vacation. We’ve just set our lives up this way.

Most of my income comes from my Copywriting Services, and I have income from various forms of affiliate marketing I do as well. The same work I was doing the past few years while still in the States, that I can do from anywhere, so my location is irrelevant. There are plenty of ways to make a living without having to be dependent on showing up at a specific address every day.

She works remotely as a contractor for her old company. She especially needs the internet for things like conference call meetings through Skype or Google Voice and logging into their servers, but most of what I do can be done offline (writing), so long as I can log on for updates and communications, I can do that from virtually any coffee shop in the world nowadays.

I’ll put together a list of different ways people make a living from the road if anyone’s interested or stuck for ideas.

Sacrifice? Not to Me

There is a considerable amount of trade-off in what we do versus a typical lifestyle like the way we also used to live.

It’s obviously more transient, so the concept of “having a home” may not be as concrete a meaning as a childhood home where your parents still live. If you like having the same friends and family and other familiar places around you every day, you probably aren’t going to be a big fan of another hemisphere and culture. But it has things you can’t get at home, too.

We don’t have a lot of “stuff” despite that we still find ways to accrue things while we are moved in over here. That will change again depending on how frequently we start moving. We have a little induction cooker and make most of our own meals, as well as an electric fan at the moment. But those may not be practical to bring with us if we are living more out of backpacks, on bicycles or motorcycles, or whatever we decide to do next.

Spending: Experiences or Things?

Obviously buying more things requires more spending too. In addition to the geo-arbitrage of living in a lower cost country, not spending money on things we don’t need or want is something we do. We don’t own a tv or a cable/satellite bill, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, vehicles to care for and insure, expensive cell plans, or many of the other toys and things many people haven’t considered living without.

It sounds like we don’t have any fun at all if we don’t even watch tv or buy stuff for ourselves. But we do spend money on tools such as computers, cameras, and other tools that allow us to work, make art, and otherwise do the things we love. We trade our money for experiences we get to have and make our own good times by exploring the world, meeting people, experiencing other cultures, and making our own art.

I’ll post an updated packing list and gear reviews for things that have worked well for me these past 6 months on Monday.

There are many ways to travel, and we are trying to find what works best for us. The big things to consider if you’re after this kind of lifestyle are funding, what trade-offs you might need to make, and figuring out what’s really important to you. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s a lot easier to do than you might think. It may be a huge change from where your life is now, but it is very much worth the trip!

If you’re traveling already, how do you move about? Do you live abroad, move around from place to place, or float around on a boat? What would you add to the list of challenges and differences over living at “home”?

If you’ve thought about doing something like this, what has kept you from doing it, where are you in your plans, or what other concerns do you have?

Let me know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “How World Travel is Cheaper than Staying Home

  1. When I lived on Mulholland Hwy (Santa Monica Mountains), neighbors had a retired couple from England staying with them for several months. The couple had build up long distance relationships with folks all over the world, and would go stay with them for extended periods. They were fascinating and great dinner companions (we’d have large dinner parties, like people used to do before TV). Their hosts enjoyed their company and I know did not charge rent, and may even have paid for their food as well… so their main expense was just the travel. Obviously, we can’t all have enough rich friends to do that! Accumulating “stuff” is a lot like building and decorating your own prison… it really limits your options.

    Great post.

  2. Great post. I can’t believe how cheap it is to live in Thailand! It’s crazy compared to the costs of living in the UK. I’m considering becoming a digital Nomad and living in various places around the world. I’ve actually just written a post linking to this article, I won’t place a link here as I don’t want to be flagged as spam or something, but anyway, great post. Thanks!

  3. I am semi retired. I got rid of all my crap and now travel around and help others do the same. I am a professional organizer by trade which allows me the flexibility and freedom of travel I am getting ready to explore overseas opportunities in this field I like to do speaking events and that is one way that I can make money on the road I currently live in a 2014 Mercedes Sprinter van that I had converted into a Class B motor coach I have been able to travel around the United States and enjoy various activities and ventures I am currently looking at opportunities in Panama and Brazil or maybe Southeast Asia as a jumping off point to some world travel as a military wife I was able to see much of the world and I have always been an adventurer thank you for sharing your story its a great inspiration

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