Recently we’ve received a lot of emails asking us how we financially supported our travels since we decided to take the plunge to live a life of travel in our unconventional life.
I realize that we’ve written a lot of inspirational pieces about following your dreams and pushing yourself to step outside your comfort zone, but we haven’t given real practical advice in quite a while. So we decided it was time to share some of our tips and tricks to living an unconventional life.
How to Live an Unconventional Life of Travel
Our journey to becoming full-time travel bloggers was not a quick and easy one. We had many failures and setbacks along the way. It took time for us to find what we wanted to do with our lives and what would make us happy. We knew way back in 2003 and we wanted to be together traveling the world forever, we just didn’t know how to make that dream come true.
I realize that many people have that dream, but we felt it deep in our bones. It was more of a yearning than a fantasy. When we were traveling, we felt at home. We knew that on the road was where we were meant to be.
In 2004 we were like many backpackers traveling around South East Asia, but unlike the many others out there, we were already brainstorming with ideas of how we could continue to travel for the rest of our lives. We knew we wanted more than just a one-year escape.
We didn’t have the answers yet, but we knew that we couldn’t keep working at our current jobs for the next 20 years hoping that we’d one day be able to retire and finally live our dreams. So we started making plans. Check out more travel jobs by our pals at goats on the road.
Steps to Living a Life of Travel
1. Change your spending habits
We used to spend a lot of money on things that didn’t better our lives. We’d buy $4 lattes, go out to dinner several times a week and we’d buy new designer clothes. The more popular the brand name, the better.
On the weekends, we’d drop $200 on a meal and not even blink at the cheque, and then we’d go to movies spending a good $50 on tickets and popcorn.
Well, all that changed when we decided we decided that we were going to live a life of travel once and for all.
2. Find Affordable Things to do
It was a big decision but we decided to put away enough money to sustain ourselves for a year. We knew that once we took the plunge, we would have to go 100% into fulfilling our dreams, so we needed a nest egg while we worked to become professional travel bloggers.
We ate at home and cooked at home. We made our own gourmet coffees, and instead of going out to the movies all the time, we rented movies. When we wanted to go to the bar, we instead had a glass of wine at home and invited friends over, it was much more affordable.
Our activites changed from spending money on expensive meals and nightclubs, to doing free and exciting things on the weekend like mountain biking, rock climbing, or snowshoeing.
We didn’t drop cash at the bar, on expensive meals, or on expensive weekend getaways to a suite in Niagara Falls anymore. We did as many things as possible for free.
Wwe went camping and spent our time outdoors.It was much more fulfilling and a lot easier on our pocketbooks.
Note: At this time in our lives, we still didn’t know how we were going to become full-time travelers, we just knew that we wanted it to happen one day and that we had to be ready when we finally figured it out. By having a nest egg and by not having anything tying us down, we’d be ready to jump at any opportunity.
People have often said to us “I wish that I could do what you do, but I can’t afford it” Well if you really truly want to travel. It can be really easy to save and build a nest egg. We sold our house and most of our contents and went back to renting a small one-bedroom apartment.
This freed up a lot of our income to put towards our travel savings fund. Getting a small one bedroom apartment that included utilities, cable and parking helped us plan our monthly budget.
4. Get Rid of Debt and Wasted Expenses
We also went down to one automobile. We used to drive two cars and paid an expensive monthly lease. But when the leases came due, we let them go and bought a used car. Our monthly payments were less, and our insurance cost less too because we no longer had to pay for the collision coverage since our car was so cheap. If our car was damaged it didn’t matter because we paid next to nothing for it anyway. We drove that car for the next 10 years.
5. Keep All Options Open
Like many people, we knew we wanted something more in life, but we didn’t know what it was that we wanted. We were frustrated. I remember always saying to Dave “If I only knew what I wanted to do with my life, I know I’d be successful.” The problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. The only thing we both knew was that travel was to be a part of it.
So, we studied ALL THINGS TRAVEL.
We went to seminars talking about Teaching English as a Second Language, we went to travel trade shows, we watched travel shows like Pilot Guides and Don’t Forget Your Passport.
Little did we know we were honing our adventure skills
We took up as many adventures as we could. We learned how to rock climb, mountain bike, scuba dive, and snowboard. We became avid campers and built our adventure gear arsenal to an impressive list where we actually started to look the part of Adventurer!
We said to ourselves, “one day maybe one of these skills would come in handy.” At the time, we didn’t know it, but all those skills eventually came in handy. We used to call ourselves “Jacks of all trades and Masters of none.“
6. Nothing is Waste of Time When Searching for your Purpose
We had doubts, of course, we did. We thought, maybe we’re wasting our time and energy trying new things all the time, but we knew that we had yet to find something that we truly loved.
We enjoyed everything, but we didn’t have the passion that some of our rock climbing or scuba diving friends had for one particular sport. Our friends found their passion and all they wanted to do was rock climb around the world, or go scuba diving when they went to a destination. They couldn’t care less if they saw the local culture or witnessed incredible landscape. They wanted to explore under the sea or a new climbing route and that was great!
It just wasn’t for us. We wanted it all. We wanted to be able to climb in one location, dive into another, and shop at the market in yet another. We realized that we wanted it all!
Our lack of focus helped us become true explorers. It was our “Jack of All Trades” mentality that eventually lead us to become travel bloggers.
7. Focus on Strengths
Once we decided that we wanted to have the word “Adventurer” on our business card, we made plans on how we were going to make that happen. After exhausting all possibilities we decided to focus on our strengths.
We had been working in the film business for a long time and learned from the successful people around us. I watched television hosts promote themselves and create their brand and identities and Dave picked the brains of photographers and cinematographers on the movie set.
We knew that we were good at self-promotion and that we knew the TV business well, so we decided to sell an idea.
8. Do Something Epic
We knew that we would have to do something epic to stand out from the crowd. In 2008, backpacking around the world was becoming very popular. When we did it in 2000, not many people were leaving their jobs to travel the world, but now it seemed to be that everyone was taking a sabbatical.
If we did something epic like bicycle from Cairo to Cape Town people would take notice. So that is what we did and Canada’s Adventure Couple was born.
We had a dream of turning our adventures into a TV show. We hired a publicist, sent out press releases, and announced our epic journey. We knew we loved traveling together and that we had the mental stamina to succeed in this race down the continent.
9. Make a Plan
We invested a good chunk of our hard-earned money into this cycling race. We saved for a year putting every penny away and buying new bikes, training, and investing in the entry fee and flights. We didn’t want to take part in an epic adventure only to return to our jobs and resume our lives.
We made a plan that within two years of signing up, we’d be traveling full time. That gave us something to focus on. Having a time limit and a plan to make it happen, kept us focus don our goal. We had no choice but to to figure out a way to keep the momentum going.
10. With Failure Comes Success
We tried pitching a TV series that had a lot of interest but eventually failed. That didn’t deter us though, we had made a lot of TV appearances and were becoming minor celebrities in the online world, so we decided to nurture our 15 minutes of fame and turn it into something bigger.
Drawing on our nearly decade of travel experience, we created a blog that had a focus. We decided to focus on being inspirational and to show people that happy couples are not obsolete and that marriages can last and that the opposite sex can have fun together.
Right from the beginning of creating ThePlanetD, we knew what our message was going to be. We wanted to show that adding a bit of adventure into your everyday lives can help you feel more fulfilled. We wanted to show people that if we can do it, anyone can.
It took us a long time to figure out our purpose, but we never stopped searching and if you really want to change your life, you can do it too. Don’t let age, money or fear stand in your way, if you want something bad enough, you CAN make it happen.
So the message is, never give up, never stop searching and seize the day. What are you going to do to live an unconventional life of travel?
- How to Travel Around the World – The Ultimate Travel Resource
- 21 Ways to Get Paid to Travel
- How to Start a Travel Blog in 11 Easy Steps
- Our 27 Best Travel Tips from 10 Years of Travel
- How to Achieve Your Life Goals
- How Travel Can Change Your Life
- Best Travel Jobs to Spark New Ideas for Your Future Career
58 thoughts on “How to Live a Life of Travel: Tips to Getting Started”
We too live an unconventional life. We have 13 children, work remotely, home educate and yes, we travel with ten of them too! It *is* possible to live a life of travel – we did two months of the Balkans earlier this year and are about to set off for another couple of months. Want to know more? Let us know!
Thanks for laying this out there. You guys and your adventures are always a huge inspiration to us! Love #3 “We kept all our options open” as we try to live by that same motto. It really makes things so much fun and introduces you to some crazy and exciting experiences of a lifetime. Happy travels!
Thanks John, I’m glad that you are living the life you want as well. We agree, keeping options open is very important. YOu need to be willing to try something new and be open to new experiences. It opens up a whole new world.
LMAO at the first pic:legendary!
Congrats, it has been awesome to follow part of your journey and thanks for the inside scoop 🙂
Ha! Glad you liked it. That’s Dave’s signature pose. At least lately, ever since we downsized, he does a lot of jumping like that.!
Looks like a very happy couple! You two are living with your dreams. I owe you a lot, very inspiring story. Thanks for sharing the tips, I find it really useful. You can manage to save and budget together. Congratulations!
Thank you Marie! Glad we could inspire you. If you really set your mind to something you can do it too. At one point in our lives we didn’t think we’d ever be able to travel the way we wanted to and yet here we are now. If we can do it, anyone can too!
That is a very inspirational story! My wife and I have managed to carve out a life of travel by working in Denali National Park 8 months per year and having four months off. Many of the resorts and tour companies are seasonal up here and it is perfect for travel.
I just need to cut out those $4 lattes and I can do even more…
Wow! that’s fabulous Jeff. Denali is beautiful. I know what you mean about the $4 lattes, we still love them too.
Thanks for this blog and for sharing with us. Me and my husband are planning for a trip to African countrie’s and its first time for us where we have to visit many countrie’s, so I am nervous about the planning that how do I mange everything but your blog gives me confident about the trip. Thank you so much.
LOVED this. Luckily, my boyfriend and I were students when we discovered our love for travel so we didn’t spend a lot of money or lived in an expensive way. That made it pretty easy to take the leap – and we’re actually able to have a better life than we did in Denmark and still spend less. 🙂
Very interesting post, though! And lots of great tips that we need to follow up on. Especially about gaining more recognition and create a brand like you guys have! So inspirational.
We kicked off our nomadic lifestyle with a bike journey as well – around Europe in 3 months on city bikes, normal clothes and no training. We made it and had an epic journey. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your advice.
Awesome article! I hope others will be inspired too to travel and to save, save a lot of money for they travel escapade.
Interesting read indeed! I think turning your lifestyle pretty much upside down and opting for a life on the road requires a certain balance. The biggest hurdle might be the monetary one, but it’s probably the same with all big plans and achievements: mindset matters! I think someone who can tick of the first points on your list is probably almost on the way… 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Oliver. You are right, all big decisions in life require balance and yes, any big plans whether travel related or not can follow these simple rules. It is possible to change your life if you are willing to sacrifice a little to achieve your dream.
Enjoyed your article and great sense of adventure…I too, have been traveling all my life and now based part-time in the Philippines. I have 7 channels, with over 21 MILLION viewers from 87 countries. Take a look and learn from some of my videos…..
Main channel: http://www.youtube.com/globalvideopro1
Great post! Great ideas! Thank you!
We left the rat-race and have not looked back. Who wants to be “normal?” Life is a journey not a destination. Live it! Take care.
Congratulations on leaving the rat race Curtis. All the best to you!
There’s really no need to clip coupons to save money; it’s not that effective anyway. The best way is to do what you did: downsize, minimize transport costs and cook. I love how you slowly realize what you want to do in life. It’s all about the journey!
Thanks Dela. You are so right, downsizing is key. So many of us in North America live beyond our means. I think back to how little I lived on fresh out of college. If we all kept living simply, we wouldn’t have the burden of all the money problems. For some reason, people feel that as they age, they need to have more ‘things’ and that just weighs them down. We are now in a good financial situation after 6 years of pursuing our dreams, but we have no desire to go back to buying a bunch of things again. Life experience is what we are loving.
This is an eye opening post. Makes one realize that we can all achieve so much with just the right strategy and not necessarily resources. Inspiring and it made me start booking amazing tours. The journey is the destination!
Congratulations! Good luck with your tours.
This is great advice, both inspirational and practical.
Thank you Mariellen!
Firstly congratulations for hanging on and living your dreams. Here I would like to speak about one of my uncles who loves to trek even at this age (he is in his 60s). He’s a quiet man. The only time I get to see a gleam in his eyes is when someone talks about travel… and I shout out in my mind…”I get that oldie..”
Sounds like you have an amazing uncle! I know how he feels, I can feel excitement come over me whenever I get the chance to talk about our own travels.
You two are an inspiration. I am so glad you are living your dream. Thank you for sharing these great tips!
Thanks Mary. I think the two of you have been living the dream as well! Congratulations right back.
Very cool post. Reducing down to one car is something I know our family needs to do if you want to start saving a significant amount, we’re just finding it so hard to bite the bullet on that one!
I know that it can be difficult to go down to one car, especially if you have kids and have to pick them up from sports or dance or hockey practice. It does save a lot of money though. Between car payments and insurance, it’s literally hundreds a month!
Very inspiring post. Traveling is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle and it is wonderful that you are now able to reach so many people to inspire them to add more travel into their lives through your adventures.
Thank you Katherine. That has been our goal in recent years. We want to let people know that it is possible. For so many years we didnt’ think it was possible to change our lives. Now that we have, we want to inspire others to take a chance and follow their dreams. If two regular people like us can do it, anyone can.
Thanks for your tips. Best of luck with your on going travels. Great read.
Great tips- that are good for day to day life as well!
Great Escapes , oh yes I have a number of interesting trips to choose from. I find it fascinating and also confusing when it comes to planning my travel, so I've opted for an unconventional way of travelling that can fund me while I spend time in the air, or on a beach.
Beautiful & Inspiring post!
There’s a point when you just gotta let it all go and dive right in, even if you have no idea what you’re diving into. I left my old work life behind to move down to Mexico about 9 months or so ago and I’ve never been happier.
Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t take a ton of money. It’s just as you said you need to change your perspective, your spending habits. It’s amazing how freeing it can be to not worry about little things like a tv(that’s what the internet is for), brand name clothes(you know you don’t need those $200 pair of jeans), or dining out all the time, even if that only means Mickey D’s. After that the money starts stacking up. 😉
If you wanna travel the world or just become an Expat the only thing stopping you is you, do whatever you can to achieve that dream!
Congratulations Devlin. Wow! It must be amazing living in Mexico. That is something we’d like to in the next year or two. Spend an extended period of time in Mexico. And you hit the nail on the head. Dropping a few of the extra expenses seriously helps the money add up. We had a lot of fun while still being able to save money, jut by changing our habits a little bit.
Good for you Don. Any great adventures planned?
Thanks for this post. Great to hear some behind the scene stories.
I left my home country a year ago, to move to London and last week I left London to travel the world – starting in Sri Lanka, where me and my boyfriend are at the moment.
It´s scary and amazing at the same time to follow your dreams. I will keep follow your adventures here 🙂
Wow! Have a great time in Sri Lanka, it’s one of our favourite countries. And congratulations to traveling the world! Well said to, it’s scary and amazing all at once, but that’s what makes you feel alive. Being comfortable can be very boring. A little fear keeps like exciting.
You are not a failure though at first you fail. But I can say that you became a successful traveler and writer. You are right at first it is difficult. It takes a lot of perseverance and dedication.
You said it Carl Joe, we didn’t have instant success, but when you know what you want, you will keep trying until you succeed and we have no intention of stopping. There will always be ups and down, but we’ll keep on working at what we want for the rest of our lives.
Saving and budgeting is indeed one of the best thing to do. Thanks for the tips that you’ve shared. I find it really useful
Thanks James, I’m glad we could share a few tips with oyu!
It’s always great to see people follow their dream and lovely to see Don’s comment about getting the travel bug at 60! 🙂
Agreed, it is never too late to get the travel bug and change your life. It’s a whole new world, you dont’ need to be 20 to follow our dreams.
Congrats on hanging in there and making your dreams to travel full-ltime come to fruition! AWESOME!!! We share the same deep passion for traveling and try to save our money to go to Europe about once a year. Our friends ask us the same kind of questions or take little "jabs" at us about the financial part and often ask how we can afford to do this. We tell them travel is "our addiction" and to feed our habit, we do many of the same things as you….such as eating at home and making lots of soups from scratch, only getting basic cable service, driving older & easy/low maintenance automobiles with great gas mileage, no big screen TV's or fancy electronics/phones, working from home, buying most of our clothes from second-hand stores, no beverages except for water when we go out for dinner, saving all our spare change, etc. Once we are on our adventures, we really enjoy staying in simple accommodations like small hotels and hostels, having "picnic" lunches and dinners with local foods from the grocery store and 'self-guiding" our trips with well researched itineraries and utilizing public transportation, whenever possible. All of this really adds up in the course of a year and equates to literally thousands of dollars!!!! We gladly sacrifice and make these relatively easy lifestyle changes, to have that money to travel!!! Best wishes for many more adventures, Cheers 🙂
Great advice, thanks for sharing Nora. You make a great point about water only when eating out. I think the most expensive part of the bill is often beverages. You can always go home afterwards to enjoy a glass of wine at a fraction the price. We don’t way to live like Paupers, but cutting back can make a big difference. I say, don’t cut back to the point of making yourself unhappy in life, but definitely cut back on the little things that you can do without. Best to you too!
Couldn’t agree more with you! More than saving and budgeting, I think the passion to travel should be there. Like I am very bad at saving, but I still manage to travel because I really want to!
Good for you Renuka, it sounds like you do well at making your dreams happen.
Awesome post, i'm just getting the bug for travel at the ripe age of 60, my wife has always loved to travel, but me not so much. I've just subscribed to your newsletter and i'm looking forward to reading more of your articles.
Thanks Don! Congrats on living your life to the fullest!
The reason we were able to leave the comfort of regular paychecks a little over 6 months ago is encompassed in your first 3 points. The last 2 are a bit of a work-in-progress, but it’s always encouraging to read about your success. Keep up the stellar work! Good luck!
Great article for all travel lovers! 🙂
Awesome article double D, shared on Twitter!
What’s amazing about all of these kinds of stories is how different they are with respect to their specifics and yet so very similar in their general approach. For the most part everyone who has ever done something like this tells a story of having a dream, shedding material things, and relentlessly working toward their goal. The execution of those steps all take different paths – some people write books, or barter web development services, or create promotional travel videos, or whatever – but they all basically had to first let go of the familiar and then chase after their dream with dogged determination. I know, because that is our story too.
Congrats you guys. Happy travels.
Well said Brian. It’s true, you need to let go of the familiar and chase your dream. Soon, the unconventional begins to feel comfortable.