What is budget travel and how is it done? I travel full-time by traveling on a budget and also in total luxury at the same time. And, when people tell me they can’t afford to travel, I tell them that I’m probably doing it on their disposable income alone, and I'm usually right.
I have a very unique way of traveling because I am a full-time housesitter and travel blogger. I don’t have any of the traditional living expenses most people have. Instead, I am bill free and voluntarily homeless.
I've learned over the years how to travel better, although I can also live pretty darn frugally if I want to, since I'm only one person (although I don't because I love to eat and drink Bourdain-style). Hey, you only live once!
i travel full-time
The secret weapon to how I travel full-time is to save money by having zero bills. I live-rent free by housesitting. I exchange care for free accommodation. That means I get to live in luxurious homes all over the world.
How luxurious are they? These homes often have all the mod cons such as top of the line entertainment systems, pools, hot tubs, chef-quality kitchens, solar shades, home gyms, and more... and, of course, amazingly sweet animals to love.
i write this blog
Secondly, I write this very darn blog you are reading now so that I can pay for travel and food, and also barter for goods and services by exchanging my personal resource, my time and work, for brand advertising and product promotion.
i travel slow
And lastly, I believe in slow travel, which has a great side effect of also being budget travel. The longer you stay anywhere, the lower your overall travel cost is.
So, if I can get free accommodation, food, and other stuff, then what the heck do I spend 6 grand on? My expenses are mainly food and transportation.
Zilch! Zero! Nada! Because housesitting. Housesitting lets me live for free all around the world. I use Trusted Housesitters, and they have a referral program that lets me give out 25% off discounts in exchange for free membership, so my cost is zero.*
Sometimes there are gaps between sits where I have time to explore different areas, new cities or countries. During these gaps, I'll either stay in a hotel for a review, book a hotel or book an airbnb with credits I earn from referral discount codes.
And I always get to stay in surprisingly nice hotels due to the constant flux of flight rescheduling, but those are always all on the airlines' dime! Thanks, airlines!
food: $400/m, $4800/y
Easily my biggest expense. Everything from local coffees to fresh fruits to dining out to beers. I love to eat and drink and this makes me super happy so I spend most all of my money eating.
I love trying local foods, street food, new cuisines, different restaurants and sampling local produce. And, stimulating the local economy and supporting vegan establishments wherever I go, of course!
I also do get lots of free food. Housesit hosts often leave a variety of stocked kitchens, pantries, cash tips, gift cards, and gardens of fruits and veggies. Neighbors may offer me home-cooked meals or produce from their gardens. And I often eat out at restaurants for free in exchange for reviews.
my favorite meal to review - cheeseburgers. check out more in the burger hall of fame.
There have been times I've had restaurant reviews every day and had so much food I could hardly even eat it all. Other times I've gotten a $1000 tip for a week housesit and splurged eating out and yet others when I get massive tips on a gift cards that gets weeks of eats delivered to my door. I've had unlimited access to wineries and breweries' vaults more times than I can remember.
Free food aside, my own out of pocket food expenses seem to average out to about $10-20 a day, which usually gets me at least one decent meal out at a restaurant every day (because I can’t really cook that well, or, at all), and sometimes two or three, depending on how expensive the country is or what I feel like eating.
transportation: $100/m, $1200/y
My second biggest expense. All those darn things that get you from point A to point B and want money for it! Trains, buses, trams, metros, ferries, taxis, ride shares, and airplanes. A necessity of travel.
But again, going back to slow travel, the slower you go (the more time you can stay in one place), the less you spend on travel. So if you stay in one place for one month, then you can usually spend less than $100 on travel to that place, depending on distance.
Most of my housesits are around 1-2 months so it evens out the travel cost to get from one to the next at about $100 a month. Sometimes I can spend as little as $50 on a train or plane ticket if it's close to where I already am. Sometimes I’ll travel farther, spend $300, stay for 3 months, and still average $100 per month.
When major transportation like a plane or train isn't absolutely essential, I just walk. I like to walk, I like to take the time to explore and not feel rushed.
So, given the option of a bus, tram or taxi over an hour walk, I’ll walk. Walking is free! It's safer than being trapped on public transportation. It's good for the environment and for you. We are bipedal mammals afterall.
online costs: $0*
Contrary to popular belief, websites do not run on unicorn magic. Us website owners have to fork out actual cash to keep all these things things up and running.
I’ve seen other bloggers get really carried away with adding on service or app or theme or plugin or whatever, but the minimalist in me likes keeping things simple.
That's why I use Jimdo, an all-in-one that's user-friendly and awesome. I got the plan with all the bells and whistles costing about $240 a year. That’s one payment for everything (domain, hosting, email, templates, storage, support) included. I use Jimdo's referral program so when you sign up, I earn money, which makes my expense zero.*
Housesitting: I used to use half a dozen housesitting websites, but I've paid attention to the traffic over the past few years and narrowed it down to just a few, including my favorite, Trusted Housesitters, which also has a 25% referral discount!
*This makes my housesitting costs zero.
grand total: $500/m, $6000/y
There you have it. That’s less than $6,000 USD in one year. This might seem extreme. I know because I see the looks of shock on people’s faces when I tell them. But this just happens to be how I did it. (And I am an extreme minimalist.)
I was never homeless nor starving. Quite the opposite. I spent my time lounging about in luxury homes, reading books, watching movies, and taking walks on beaches or in forests, checking out restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, farmers markets, and snuggling lots of all kinds of pets. And I got to enjoy really nice homes, adorable animals, tasty foods, and fun travel experiences. I got to live free.