It isn’t abnormal to see someone taking the trip of a life time, or multiple trips, and wonder how people can afford the things they do.
It is easy to think, I certainly couldn’t afford to do that kind of a trip, so how can they?
There is a few different ways that people have evolved to create more flexible lives for themselves, and it’s probably more common than you think. We will quickly look at two probable outcomes just to get them out of the way. You look at someone embarking on wild and wondrous trips, living the life fancy free…
You wonder how can they afford to do it?
Well one possibility, they can’t. Its possible this person can’t afford anything they are doing, and they are pilling on debt to escape reality in a way. Another possibility is they have/had an extremely wealthy relative of some kind, and have obtained a life long allowance.
Keep these things in mind if you ever feel troubled in your own life while looking at someone else’s adventures. They could simply be burning the candle at both ends and will eventually land back on home soil, completely broke, and asking if you have a couch for rent. But it isn’t always this way, some people are extremely strategic and calculated because their goal is to be more flexible and be able to travel when they want.
Travel costs money!
Travel can cost next to nothing or it can cost everything. The range is pretty wide. No matter what the cost is a person is either wealthy, or not so wealthy. But extensive travel/activities is possible for both. The not so wealthy just have to make lifestyle choices that support their goals of travelling.
If you see a couple or a person that is constantly traveling and isn’t really well off, there is a possibility that they have forgone other luxuries in order to start ticking things off their bucket list.
Think about it. If a person can rent or own for $1000 per month instead of $2500 per month, that’s $18,000 saved over the year. In some affordable travel destinations a person could live for 6-12 months off of $18,000.
When wondering how people afford to do things, remind yourself that you probably could too. Think about these things:
- Do you need as big of a living space as you have? Could you reduce your cost of living by say $250 per month by downsizing?
- Do you need your second vehicle? Do you need a vehicle at all? Sometimes depending on your location it can be cheaper to simply rent a car when you need one. Maybe this saves you $150 per month.
- If you absolutely need a vehicle, instead of buying a new car for $35,000, buy one that runs and drives for $3500 and do as little maintenance as possible and see how long it lasts. Rinse and repeat.
- Do you need those new clothes, and if you absolutely do, why buy them at full price when a second hand store will have them for 80-90% off of the regular price. Thrifting for clothes is becoming increasingly more popular these days as fashion trends take a hard turn for the retro and vintage looks we all thought were gone for good. This could save you $150 per month.
- Need that TV package? Or could you just rough it with Netflix or even better simply renting movies as you need? Maybe this saves you $50 per month.
- Instead of eating out, entertain at home, jump on Youtube and tap into your inner chef. Saving can vary wildly with this, depending on what you’re making.
You get the point. These are random numbers. For some maybe it wouldn’t be possible to save this much. But for others maybe they could save substantially more by taking action with spending habits. Considering just those numbers, what travel could you do with an extra $9,000 every year? Probably a lot.
You can either afford to own stuff, or you can find a healthy medium and afford to do stuff as well. Simply look at your bank statements every month and decide for every cost:
- Do I need this to survive, and
- Is it really adding any value to my life that would exceed the value of the things I want to do.
Granted, people who have kids are face with a tougher challenge. Being able to afford things and thriftiness is taken to a whole new level. But travel is still not impossible! I am reminded of the couple whom embarked on a road trip in a vintage car. Their original plan for 6-months from Argentina to Alaska transformed into 17 years across 73 countries around the world, and they added 4 children to their family along the way.
It simply comes down to your income and living situation
The world travelling family likely did this in ways that most people do who enjoy prolonged travel or a multitude of activities. People that can afford to do things have most likely prioritized, and done trade-offs.
Maybe they sold their home, maybe they rented out their home to cover its cost. They didn’t spend big dollars outfitting a high-tech over-landing machine. Maybe they got rid of extra cars, campers, or other motorized toys that largely just sat around and cost a boat-load of money. They might of never stepped foot into a modern shopping mall again. Maybe they wore the same outfit twice!
For people who aren’t fabulously wealthy and want to afford to do things, these are the kind of sacrifices that sometimes need to take place in order for them to increase their standard of living. The best part? They wont feel like sacrifices once they are done. A person will feel better knowing that they have more flexibility and less material things to worry about.
Also consider work situations. Could you be doing something on the side that nets you some extra cash? Maybe working remotely and making some extra money? One of the most common questions long-term travelers get is “how do you make money”, as is, how do they afford to do what they do.
It’s a fair question! Don’t be afraid to ask, and get some ideas of how you could create more flexibility in your life.
Go online, to get offline
It is possible to get ultra-thrifty while on the run as well, and it’s never been easier.
There are numerous ways to travel on the cheap these days utilizing apps and websites to find the best deals possible. They vary depending on your flexibility and comfort level. If you are comfortable car camping in a remote location for free, then you have reduced your cost by at least $100 per night not staying in a hotel.
Love pets? You will want to check out TrustedHousesitters.com. If you want you can be selective and stay in the homes of wealthy people all over the world, basically for free while you care for their furry family members for as long as they are out of town.
iOverlander is another useful app for wild campers and road trippers. It contains a filterable map that can show you all of the free places people have camped at in the past whether they be nice secluded road side turn outs, abandoned properties, beach side parking lots with lazy security etc. It will also show the location of showers, RV facilities, laundry locations and all kinds of amenities needed. Anyone considering road living should have this app.
And as always, Airbnb, or Hostelworld.com can render some cheap accommodations as well if roadside camping or couch surfing isn’t your cup of tea.
Thriftiness blogs are everywhere, whether its home life, or travel life, and the financial gains/savings can be massive over time. Get searching! If you need some more inspiration, check out “Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things” from The Minimalists.
It is simpler than you think
All in all, if you are wondering how other people can afford to do things: they are super rich, they can’t, or they have made some critical choices regarding savings and income allocation. For some, the decision not to have kids might be enough to live the life they want.
You need not look further than what you own, and what you are buying. The way you go through your entire life can easily be compared to living life on the road out of a backpack. Think about the things that you have, the things that you buy and the things you need. Remember that material things need to be taken from place to place, require storage and transportation solutions, and need to be cared for.
Think, do I really need this thing? Is it worth carrying around for my entire journey? Or would my money be better spent on an experience, or creating a larger buffer for financial peace of mind or possibly emergencies that could arise. Any material purchase you will have to make space in your life for, both financially and mentally. The more you own the more your things slowly begin to own you and then you begin to wonder… how does my co-worker, friend, or relative afford to do all those things?