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How to quit your job and travel the world, from people who have actually done it

female traveler looking at lake

Another day has come and again and there you are scrolling through your Instagram feed seeing all the amazing pictures of people who seemingly quit their jobs and now travel for a living.

It’s. So. Exhausting. It’s like watching the SportsCenter version of everyone else’s lives.

The truth is, if you dive into their stories a bit deeper, you’ll likely find out that they too were once working the 9-5 and daydreaming about seeing the world, not from the other side of a screen, of course.

So, let’s talk about how they do it.

How did they leave their day jobs and afford to travel the world and have such incredible experiences?

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First and foremost, the common denominator is planning.

Plan to quit your job and travel the world

Traveling costs money, but you knew that. But have you ever done the math to see how much money it would really take to support yourself on the road for one full year?

Influential travel blogger, Matthew Kepnes, for example, has written a book titled How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. Matt and hundreds of others have followed his simple method to travel for less than what many people pay for rent and groceries.

nomadic matt traveler
Photo: nomadicmatt.com

If you’re quick at math, you’ll notice that $50 per day means you’ll spend around $1,500 per month—or $18,250 per year. And while that seems like a lot initially, keep in mind: you’re trading your mortgage/rent, grocery bill, and commuting costs for this amount.

If you added up all of the average costs of the life you’re living now, you’d be shocked to realize what you spend. Here’s what the average American spends on:

  • Paying down a mortgage loan: $12,732 / year
  • Commuting to and from work: $2,600 / year
  • Eating fast food: $1,200 / year
  • Buying groceries: $6,600 / year

There’s a rude awakening!

You’re spending $23,682 per year to live in your home, commute to the office, eat fast food at lunch, and buy dinner from the grocery store.

Meanwhile, adventurous couples and families who have discovered the secret to saving up and traveling spend just $18,250 per year (that’s 30% less) seeing the world and living in incredible places.

Meet people who have done it

One couple, Nat and Robson, recently blogged about their journey to complete financial and location independence.

Rob and Nat love and road blog
Photo: loveandroad.com

Here was their breakdown of annual costs to travel the world for one entire year.

Category Cost % of Total
Transportation $9,172 24%
Accommodation $6,882 18%
Eating out $6,280 18%
Party $3,542 9%
Others $3,526 9%
Groceries $2,611 7%
Insurance $2,200 6%
Attractions $2,117 5%
Purchases $1,122 3%
Health (doc & RX) $883 3%
Souvenirs $194 1%

But saving $18,000 isn’t quite as easy as some blogger might have you believe…

So, below, we’ve included tips from top travel bloggers on how you can earn and save $18,250 — the amount you need to trade your current cubicle lifestyle for one that gets you out into the world.

Remember, the world is a book. And those who never travel only read one page.

Tip #1 comes from Shannon at A Little Adrift: acknowledge that it’s not as expensive as you think.

shannon odonnell travel blogger
Photo: alittleadrift.com

“It’s not as expensive as you assume, and most anyone … has the ability to save for travel if it’s a true priority.

I don’t live off of a trust fund. My family is quite poor and I made it through college on merit-based scholarships.

Instead of counting on help from family, I budgeted for the trip. I sold my couch, my clothes, my cups. I sold my car too, and I saved ruthlessly in the countdown months. I took on side-work to sock away money, and then, I worked on freelance SEO from the road for the entire year.

And through all that, I came to the same conclusions as those backpackers who have adventurously gone before me: travel is cheaper than you think!”

Tip #2 comes from Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift who travel full time and make six figures from their blog, Goats on the Road.

travel blog couple
Photo: goatsontheroad.com

What can you learn from them? To cut out expenses you don’t really need in order to hit your target budget number.

For instance, Swift eliminated her regular $200 haircuts to save $800. The pair saved an additional $800 by ending their daily coffee house runs.

Not going out and eating more meals at home netted the couple a few thousand dollars.

They also cut down their cell phone, cable, and the internet to the bare minimum packages.

And the couple was strategic with their spending. They found the best credit card to use that offered a cash signup bonus and a high cash back reward.

But they didn’t want to take all the fun out of life either: the pair allowed $50 a month to spend on whatever they wanted — drinks, magazines, coffee. But that was it.”

You’ll be surprised how quickly you can save for your dream adventure abroad when you cut out the daily costs that you have become so accustomed to.

Which now means your list of excuses for not doing this is shrinking. But that brings us to the next point — risk.

Take a risk by quitting your job and traveling the world

Most good things in life require risk. But if you truly believe, or want to test out the theory that experiences bring more happiness than material possessions, that’s going to require some sacrifice.

Another pain point… Many people think if you quit your job to travel the world that you have to keep doing that. No, no, no. Start by setting a plan for six months or a year with some buffer room in your finances to return home and find a new job.

take a risk, man on cliff

Now, if you’re working toward becoming a partner at a law firm, that complicates things a bit. But if you don’t see yourself in a few years at the same company you’re working for now, why not save, plan, and take a risk?

You may discover something about yourself that fuels the rest of your career. Or, perhaps, like many before you, you’ll find a way to cultivate a following online and make traveling your full-time gig from that point on; that’s what The Bucket List Family did.

Use cash back rewards and loyalty programs

Many travelers use services like Hotels.com to book rooms because for every 10 nights you get 1 free. But alongside that, they’ll take it step further by going through Ebates (Hotels.com is a participant) and they’ll earn 3-6 percent cash back on each of their transactions. Every dollar saved helps with the cause.

Aside from racking up lodging rewards and cashing out there, another common tactic these travelers use is to sign up for credit cards that have incentives. That way they are earning money as they spend. Here are 3 commons rewards cards that frequent travelers use.

Having a cash back rewards card kinds feels like…

dumb and dumber here ya go money gif

Some cards have annual fees, others don’t. It really depends on what you are comfortable with and what type of rewards you want to see. Most of these cards offer a bonus incentive of points or miles when you sign up, but there is usually a minimum spending limit of $3,000 in the first three months of having the card. After that, you’re golden. Plan accordingly.

Go outside your comfort zone and stay with locals

Sites like Airbnb are great, but they can still cost more than getting a “less private” accommodation through sites like couchsurfing.com, where you can meet fellow travelers, pay less for accommodation, and make lasting friendships. People who use Couchsurfing actually tend to think of it as a social community instead of a just taking care of lodging needs.

P.S. Couchsurfing may be easier if you’re a solo traveler.

Just Do It / Make It Count

You don’t have to be sponsored by Nike to take action. Now you know the math, and it’s time to make something happen. But, since I brought Nike into this, here’s some final inspiration.

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