We have been living a fulltime travel lifestyle since 2017 when we sold our house and most of our belongings on the Gold Coast, Australia ready to head off for an adult gap year. During our fantastic gap year, we came to a few conclusions:
- We really loved it and there’s so much more to see out there, so we weren’t ready to go back to our old ‘normal’ life.
- To us, the sacrifices we had made and keep making are so worth it.
- We would develop a plan and a budget that enable us to enjoy a travelling lifestyle as long we want.
As with most things in life, there are both pros and cons to this type of lifestyle, so is this lifestyle of travelling fulltime for everyone?
READ MORE: TAKING AN ADULT GAP YEAR TO TRAVEL
“Sometimes, you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be.”—Unknown —
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What is a Travelling Lifestyle?
When we talk about a fulltime travelling lifestyle, we are referring to a lifestyle of travelling for over a year living out of a suitcase. Most fulltime travellers we have met do have a home base where their belongings are. For us, it is at mum’s house on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. We return to this home base once a year at Christmas, but we are also lucky enough to have another home base in Vasteras, Sweden where the rest of our family lives.
How to Live a Travel Lifestyle
Most people believe living a fulltime travel lifestyle is only for the rich. When people ask what we do and we tell them, they assume we have won some money, have a rich family supporting us, or they tell us how lucky we are.
Unfortunately for us, we did not win any money or have rich families that support us. Also, we are not always lucky. Luck plays no part in the situation we are currently in living a life of travel.
We have worked hard, saved hard, and been financially savvy and frugal to get where we are today!
We also no longer have our own home or car which has been tough during our “lockdown” here in Australia due to Covid. We are also away from friends and family for extended periods of time every year. Sacrifices have been made, and continue to be made to live this life.
Considerations on Whether a Travel Lifestyle Is Right For You
Whilst there are many pros to a fulltime travel lifestyle, rarely do people discuss the potential factors why this sort of lifestyle may not be suitable for everyone.
Below we have discussed some of the main factors that need to be taken into consideration if you are seriously considering this sort of lifestyle. These are our personal opinions but every person has their own unique personal situation i.e. age, family situation, financial needs etc. We hope the considerations detailed below will help prepare you to make a more informed decision.
Family and Friends
For those with a large and close group of family and friends, the decision to travel fulltime overseas will be more difficult.
Time and distance effects all relationships, even the relationship with your closest friends. You may still remain close, but that friendship may not remain the same. The lack of face-to-face contact on a regular basis can leave both parties out of the loop and feeling more like acquaintances.
Inevitably, you will miss out on some of the small and big moments that will happen in your loved one’s lives. Unless you have a very lofty budget that allows you to fly back and forth, you may not be able to attend your Mum’s 75th birthday, your nephew’s wedding, the christening of your grandchild etc. You won’t get to taste the amazing cake your sister baked (or the burnt steak her husband cooked), or see the new deck extension at your parents’ home.
Technology now makes it a lot easier to keep in regular contact with family and friends. You will see the photos on Facebook and get the updates via Messenger or Zoom, but it isn’t the same as being there in person. It can also be made more complicated with time differences and the need to work around busy schedules.
The time we spend with family on our visits home (Australia or Sweden) is now of a much higher quality. This is mainly due to the fact we stay at one of our family members’ homes over an extended period of time. When we lived in the same country, this was always reduced to visits of short periods of time over weekends due to our busy work / business schedules.
Home and Belongings
Are you a person who loves the creature comforts of having your own home and all your belongings around you? This is an important consideration to take into account if you decide to live a fulltime travel lifestyle.
One of our concerns when we initially decided to take an adult gap year was what to do with our home. Should we rent it out or sell it? Renting it out would provide a nice income but there was also the added complexity if something was to go wrong with the home or a tenant.
Prior to making our initial decision to travel, we had decided we wanted to downsize eventually, so our final decision was to sell our home and most of our belongings, and really simplify things. While this did mean we would not have our own home to come back to, having a home base with family has worked well for us as we all get along very well.
On the road, we occasionally chat about how much we loved our home and how at times we miss it. We miss our big king size bed, comfy La-Z-Boy lounge, big screen TV and the ability to cook whenever we want in a great kitchen. Never more so than now that we are still stuck in Australia with our international borders closed, do we wish we had our own place. However, it has been wonderful to spend lots of time with my mum and talk about her life and family history.
We have kept a few treasured belongings here at my mum’s house, but we either sold or gave away the majority of them. When living a fulltime travel lifestyle, we have to live out of a suitcase so all our belongings for 12 months of travel for hot and cold weather must stay under 20kg, including a fair bit of camera and tech gear). We now value the experiences our travels give and will continue to give us, rather than material possessions and ‘stuff’.
Love Your Job / Career Progression
Are you someone who just really enjoys your job and working in general? Do you feel like your work is an extension of who you are, or a part of your personality? If this is the case, a fulltime travel lifestyle may not even be a consideration for you. The majority of those we meet travelling fulltime have not felt this way about their work at all.
Alternatively, if you are someone, like I was, who was on the career progression ladder, the mindset shift required to realise you can’t have both – career progression and a travel lifestyle, is the reality (for most).
I spent 10 years putting in an enormous amount of work to slowly climb the ladder to get my permanent management position, only to realise once I had achieved what I wanted, it was not at all what I was expecting, or really enjoyed.
Now we work to live, not live to work.
Need to be Comfortable with Yourself or Partner
When living in your home country, you build and surround yourself with your own personal communities. These can be family, friends and work colleagues. When living a fulltime travel lifestyle, this is not the case. While we have met some fantastic and inspirational people in our travels, it can get lonely if you are used to having lots of friends and family around you.
You need to be comfortable with yourself if travelling solo, and even more so if you are travelling with a partner.
There are many benefits to travelling with a partner including sharing experiences and memories that will stay with you for a life time. However, this was a big concern for Jonas and me initially as we had never spent this amount of time together for an extended period of time. We had concerns whether this would make or break our relationship, but this was a risk we were willing to take to see if this lifestyle of travelling fulltime was something sustainable for us as a couple.
Travelling fulltime and spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together often in a small, single room hotel does not allow for much alone time. We experienced this first hand at the beginning of last year when we underwent nearly 4 weeks of back-to-back quarantine in a tiny cruise cabin and then small hotel room.
If you have problems in your relationship, travelling together will probably exacerbate these problems until you find a way to communicate and sort them out. You will both need to make compromises on a daily basis whether it is about which country to travel to next, where to stay in a city, choosing accommodation or a restaurant, and which sights you want to see.
Finances / Budget
When making the decision to live a travel lifestyle fulltime, most people will need to quit their regular job in their own home country and live off savings, investments or another form of income. There is no regular pay check appearing in your bank account each week / fortnight / month. The lost security of a regular wage can be discomforting for some.
For most of us travelling fulltime, even for the majority of digital nomads on the road, keeping to a budget is essential. In some cities you can live like a king or queen on your budget, but in other cities, it is tough to make ends meet. It can be juggling act but one that needs to be kept in the forefront of your mind during all aspects of your travel planning.
Lack of Routine / Structure
When we were living in Australia, our day to day lives were ruled by routines and structure. We had a daily mid-week routine around our work schedules and commitments i.e. time we got up / went to bed, grocery shopping etc. Sadly, by the time the weekend came by, we were both so shattered from our working week we rarely made any exciting plans.
When travelling fulltime we have few, if any routines or daily structure. Each day is an unknown… We travel slowly so we don’t feel the pressure to pack as much as possible into our days checking off the ‘must see and do’s’ in each city. We get up when we want to, we spend our days with a healthy balance of work and doing interesting things, and we decide what and where to eat on the spur of the moment.
The majority of our decisions are made on the fly and as a result, we have accepted invitations from people we have met briefly and had the most amazing experiences and met some wonderful people.
One of the biggest challenges on the road is getting into a good fitness and nutrition routine. Jet lag, weather, your location within a city, the size of your hotel room, etc. can all be factors which make it difficult to exercise and get into a routine. We try to walk as much as we can when we go sightseeing in a new city to compensate a little for this.
Also, there will be times when the local cuisine is very carbohydrate heavy and lacking in vegetables. Also, red meat will not always be readily available in some cities. This can provide a challenge at times to ensure your body is getting enough nutrition.
Impatience / Frustration with Language / Cultural Barrier
When travelling, there will be times when you experience impatience and / or frustration with misunderstandings caused by a language / cultural barrier.
In a lot of Asian cultures, if you get angry and raise your voice causing public embarrassment, the person you are directing this disrespect to loses face. Causing someone to lose face lowers them in the eyes of their peers.
Misunderstandings and frustrations will happen when travelling in a foreign country, especially if you do not speak the local language. It is important to accept this, remain calm and patient until both parties have reach a positive resolution. We have found that sometimes letting someone be wrong is just better than pointing out they are wrong. Also, a smile goes a long way in these situations.
Embracing Uncertainty and the Unknown
If you like certainty and routine in your life, a fulltime travel lifestyle will come with its own set of frustrations.
For most, this can be one of the most challenging aspects of fulltime travel. There is a certain amount of uncertainty that comes from the unknown. For example:
- Have I made the right decision or not i.e. accommodation, part of the city to stay in?
- Will I love or hate this city? How long should we stay? Where shall we go next?
- What will friends and family think? Will they support my decisions?
- Will I have enough money? What if we get affected by theft or scams?
Are You Ready to Live a Travel Lifestyle?
Travelling fulltime is not for everyone! It is not always a bed of roses, but with some adjustments, sacrifices, open mindedness and flexibility, you can make it a reality and make it work for you and your circumstances. We really love the freedom, the adventure, all the places we get to see, the experiences we get to have, and maybe most of all; all the lovely people we get to meet.
READ MORE ABOUT OUR STORY HERE
Are you thinking of living a fulltime travel lifestyle? Have you thought about the considerations mentioned above and how they may impact you and your decision?
Are you currently living a lifestyle of travelling fulltime? Have we missed anything? Please leave a comment below.
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