Why Traveling is less Expensive than you Think it is

To an American at least, the world travel is tied to a few pretty concrete thoughts. Airplane, hotel, rental car, restaurants, suitcases, luxury. And a vacation never lasts more than 2 weeks- so you save for your one vacation all year and then spend it all in the two weeks you are free to travel. Yeah, I agree, that’s pretty expensive.

But there is a huge difference between that kind of rushing, spend it all kind of travel and the slowed down, long term kind of travel I am suggesting. Here is how I (and the many people who have left their jobs to travel indefinitely) see it. If you only have two weeks, or more likely, one week, to travel, then of course it will be expensive. You need to fly to your destination; there is no other choice if you want to spend more than a day at your hotel. You will gravitate towards the most expensive things- fancy restaurants, plays, and hotels, because they are extremely easy to find and book. You will pay a ridiculous premium to lay on a hotel-owned section of a beach and have waiters bring you pina coladas while you lay in rental lounge chairs. You will be required to spend at least a few hours shopping for souvenirs for friends and family who will be stuck at home until they are released from work for their one week of freedom.

Here is what happens when you are free to travel long-term. You don’t focus on getting to your destination as quickly as possible; the journey itself becomes a huge (and welcome) part of your life. Instead of flying, you craigslist ride share and couchsurf, or find a month-long job on a sailboat going to Hawaii, in order to get to your ultimate destination. While you do this, life is slow so you make good friends along the way. When you get to where you are going, you don’t have to worry about paying for anything at all because you found a volunteer program that is willing to give you food and accommodation in exchange for your help. You have plenty of free time to grow your online business to earn a passive income. Since you are staying with your volunteer program for 3 months, your hosts show you and the other volunteers you have become good friends with all the best local spots, the spots you would never have heard of if you were on an expensive week-long vacation. Now and then you buy fresh produce at the local farmers market where you practice your language skills. The next day you finish your volunteer work early and so you pick your next destination- summer is coming so you decide to work as a camp counselor in Colorado to earn some extra bucks, and meet wonderful like-minded people who enjoy being outdoors and making long-lasting friendships.

On a short vacation, you wouldn’t have time to do any of these things. I find short vacations stressful, and money just disappears. But go somewhere long-term, and you assimilate into the culture and learn how to live on an even smaller amount of money than you are living on at home. Though there are plenty of money saving tips and tricks (which I will get into in later posts) for long term travel, this is the meat of it. Long term travel is just, by nature, FAR less expensive than short-term travel, and it can, very seriously, be free (or paid).