Not many people plan to live a nomadic lifestyle. It’s something that creeps up, gradually sinks in and becomes a way of life.
For some, it lasts a few months. For others, it spans into several years. I didn’t plan on moving and travelling almost continuously for seven years. Neither did many of my like-minded friends that are scattered across the world. It was something that happened. The buzz of movement and new places can be addictive. It’s exciting. It’s also expensive.
I’m now living in Austria where I will be based for the next couple of years and the thought of a period of stability has led me to thinking about how I’ve managed to fund my lifestyle since 2009. I have been asked countless times how I can afford to move and travel with some people believing I have been on one long holiday. But the reality is lots of hard work, saving money, multi-tasking and being adaptable. So here is how I did it.
Working Holiday Visa
Looking back on it all, the biggest saving grace was my British passport and the working holiday visa. I was able to live and work in New Zealand for three years with temporary work visas. Of course, I travelled and moved but the visa allowed me to look for work wherever I went. It was the same in Australia and Canada. As a result, there were periods of intense working and saving to fund the next trip and working in those countries allowed me to travel to the Pacific Islands, Indonesia, South East Asia and the US.
There is no point in working intensely to save money without making adjustments to your lifestyle. When I first started saving money to travel, I switched to a vegetarian diet which is significantly cheaper (and healthier). I also cut down on socializing, expensive haircuts, shopping and buying take away coffee. Yes, it has been said before, but all the little things really do add up.
Volunteering is a great way to pursue a hobby/activity and meet new people, especially for those on a budget. I love yoga but it can be hard to find the money for a studio pass when saving for the next trip. So, in exchange for a class pass, I have volunteered my time at three different yoga studios (one in New Zealand and two in Canada). The work wasn’t glamorous and involved cleaning bathrooms and studio floors, but it allowed me to practice daily without cutting into my budget. I also met many wonderful people and was fortunate to bond with inspiring instructors.
I believe that being adaptable is the most important quality for the travelling life. Change is the name of the game when living nomadically, especially when it comes to work. Before I left the UK in 2009 I was a newspaper reporter, and I have since enjoyed working professionally in the media in New Zealand and Canada. There have also been times when I have had to swallow my pride and work elsewhere to make money. I have worked in several different restaurants and cafes. I worked at a kiwi fruit factory after the restaurant I was working at unexpectedly closed down. And I spent a few months at a call centre. Basically, travelling is not free (for most people), but there is always a way to make it happen with dedication and the willingness to work.
They are my top tips for funding a travelling lifestyle. It’s not always easy but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have made many amazing friends over the years, visited beautiful parts of the world and experienced different cultures. Family and friends have also been a huge support and maintaining relationships is as fundamental for enjoying travel as it is to make money. So, happy travelling and feel free to comment below with any tips for making a nomadic life work.