How can I afford to travel is a question that often appears in my inbox or pops up on travel forums.

How can I afford to travel the world long term?

How much money do I need for a year of travel?

How much does it cost to travel the world without a home base and as a nomad?

Not everyone wants to be a nomad but many wanderlusters are curious about how to cost out a few months of bucket list travel or perhaps a grown up gap year.

So the ‘how can I afford to travel’ question is often to try to definitively find out how much money is actually needed ‘in the pot’ to travel and pay for food and accommodation while travelling longer term.

And there lies the problem in answering how much it costs to travel.

Because a lot depends on if you’re high-maintenance or minimalist.

What seems like a lot of money to one person seems very little to someone else.

Also, what type of traveller are you?

Are you travelling solo or as a couple?

Are you a retired adventurer or a digital nomad?

Are you looking to tick everything off your bucket list?

Every person’s situation and expectations from travel are different.

Which is likely why I’ve avoided trying to answer this question so far!

It stands to reason that if you want to fly first class and stay in five-star hotels then you’ll need a huge pot of cash to travel.

And, maybe that’s not an issue for you?

But, if you are someone who needs to keep to a budget to travel then perhaps I can advise you?

Perhaps I can share my own secrets with you on how to maintain a lifestyle of travel?

On how the backpacking husband and I cope financially for the long term.

How we’ve managed to be location free and to keep travelling for over ten years.

It could be just a British quirk but I do think talking about (having or not having) money can be awkward.

It’s a bit like a confession, isn’t it?

At worst, it might come over as boastful.

Did we win the lottery? Are we rich?

No and no. But I might qualify the answer saying we might not be financially rich but we are rich in travel experiences.

We have certainly explored many ways of travelling over the years.

From high-end luxury flashpacking to shared facilities while backpacking.

And everything in between.

And, right now, we have no plans to stop travelling.

So in this post – I’m talking about my own money – and that makes it rather personal.

But if it helps to dispel the myth that you have to be wealthy to travel then it will be worthwhile.

First, we’re going to explore what kind of traveller you might be.

Then, I’m going to tell you exactly how we can afford to travel the world.

How we manage to balance travel expenses and protect our assets.

And, I think you’ll be surprised!

How can I afford to travel the world long term?

Table of Contents



The Backpacking Housewife travelling in Thailand. Janice Horton
Chiang Mai, Thailand

People have various reasons for enjoying solo travel and many are happy (as I have done on occasion) to leave a partner behind while they go off to explore parts unknown.

There is a freedom to traveling solo that allows individuals to set their own schedule and make spontaneous decisions.

This flexibility can lead to more adventurous or unique experiences.

Although, on the flip side, some solo long term travellers say they occasionally experience decision fatigue from constantly having to plan and make choices about their itinerary, accommodations, dining options, and activities.

Also, one of the most commonly cited drawbacks of solo travel is the potential for loneliness.

But traveling alone often encourages interactions with locals and other travellers that can lead to making new connections and forming friendships along the way.

Overcoming challenges solo can build confidence and resilience and allows individuals to pursue their specific interests or hobbies without compromise.

Whether it’s photography, hiking, or cultural immersion, solo travellers have the freedom to focus entirely on what they love.

Traveling alone can often be more budget friendly as individuals have full control over expenses.

Although, my solo travelling friends do tell me, it can cost more to travel solo because you can’t benefit from cost sharing especially when it comes to accommodations being sold on room per night.

Solo travel allows individuals to tailor their experiences to their own preferences and interests, ensuring a fulfilling and meaningful journey based solely on their desires with the freedom to explore the world on their own terms.


Honduras, Central America

Couples travel offers its own set of advantages. I have on occasion travelled with a friend but mostly I’ve travelled as a couple with my backpacking husband.

There is of course always the potential while spending extended periods of time together for disagreements that test the patience and communication skills of both partners!

I’m happy to say that we thankfully get on well and enjoy each other’s company even after being married for 40 years and spending the past 10 years together 24/7!

Couples travelling together allows for shared memories and experiences, deepening their bond and creating a strong sense of connection and a strengthening of the relationship.

Traveling with a partner provides emotional support and companionship, making it easier to handle challenges together in unfamiliar or potentially risky situations. Partners can watch out for each other and provide assistance if needed.

Partners can divide tasks such as planning and booking accommodations, making the logistics of travel more manageable.

Couples can often split costs for accommodations, transportation, and meals, making travel more affordable compared to solo travel.

Traveling as a couple does require compromise and collaboration. It helps to have the same interests, preferences, and travel styles. Compromise is a tricky one – as it can often mean feeling obligated to meet each other’s needs and preferences – when making decisions or exploring new destinations.

Overall, couples travel provides the opportunity for partners to strengthen their relationship, create lasting memories, and enjoy the journey of exploration and discovery together.


Tulum, Mexico

You might be early-retired empty-nesters like the backpacking husband and myself?

You might have decided to quit the rat race and retire early to travel and have fabulous experiences in other countries.

Or you might be of retirement age and planning to travel while you have good health and a pension to keep you comfortable in your senior years.

However you have retired, I expect you’ll still want to keep an eye on your budget, to avoid draining the pot.

I absolutely believe that travel in your 50s and 60s and in retirement is the perfect time to embrace a sense of adventure.

To explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, try new activities, and push your personal boundaries.

Travel provides the perfect opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, sample different food, explore new destinations, learn a new language, and immerse yourself in new and exciting cultural activities.

All experiences that may have been previously out of reach to you due to work or family commitments or financial constraints.

Do read my post on Third Age Travel: A Rediscovery of Travel.

Traveling in retirement can also have numerous health benefits for increased physical activity, improved mood, reduced stress levels, and enhanced cognitive function. I can heartily recommend it and if not now… when?


Cairo, Egypt

Can you be described as someone with an adventurous spirit who is passionate about life and enthusiastic about pursuing their dreams?

Have you created a list of destinations, new experiences, and goals that you are dedicated to checking off no matter how adventurous or ambitious it may be?

If so then you are a bucket list traveller!

Bucket list travellers are lifelong learners who are eager to expand their horizons, broaden their perspectives, and immerse themselves in new cultures, languages, and traditions.

They approach each adventure with a sense of optimism and excitement, curiosity, and open-mindedness, eager to soak up every moment and make the most of their experiences both big and small.

They understand the value of making memories and embracing the journey.

Bucket list travellers are committed to living life with purpose, passion, and a sense of adventure, knowing that every adventure brings new opportunities for growth and fulfilment.

If this is you – what’s on your bucket list?

Cultural TravelLer

Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia

Cultural travellers are interested in immersing themselves in the local culture, history, and traditions of the places they visit.

If you are a cultural traveller then you’ll often seek out temples and museums, historical sites, festivals, and authentic culinary experiences.

You’ll prefer to interact with locals, learn a little of the local language, and engage in activities that provide a genuine insight into the customs and the etiquette and everyday lives of people in the destination you have chosen.

You’ll have an appreciation of art, music, and look for opportunities to attend concerts, performances, exhibitions.

Travel may be used to pursue your own cultural and creative interests such as writing, photography, art, or music, with the freedom to dedicate uninterrupted time to these pursuits.

Do read my Step By Step Guide to Slow Travel.

Cultural travellers are often interested in responsible tourism practices that support local communities, preserve cultural heritage, and minimize negative impacts on the environment.

They seek out experiences that promote sustainable tourism and contribute to the well-being of the destinations they visit.


La Digue, Seychelles

Travel can also be a time for focusing on wellness and health, whether you’re looking for a spiritual retreat to practice mindfulness, a digital detox, or outdoor activities, wellness travel offers a valuable opportunity for personal growth.

Some are look for relaxing spa treatments and mind-body practices such as tai chi, qigong, pilates, yoga and meditation to reduce stress and promote mental clarity.

Many wellness destinations offer a variety of fitness activities in natural and scenic surroundings.

The photo above is of me cycling through an avenue of palm trees in the Seychelles.

Some wellness retreats offer holistic therapies and alternative healing modalities, such as acupuncture, reiki, aromatherapy, and sound healing, to restore balance and promote healing on physical, emotional, and energetic levels.

Group TravelLer

Water Cay, Caribbean

Group travel provides an instant social network of like-minded individuals who share a common interest in the destination or itinerary. This can be particularly beneficial for solo travellers or those looking to meet new people and make new friends.

Many group tours are led by knowledgeable guides or tour leaders who provide valuable insights, historical context, and insider tips about the destinations visited. This expertise enhances the travel experience and allows participants to learn more about the places they’re visiting.

Group travel often includes pre-planned itineraries, accommodations, transportation, and activities, eliminating the need for participants to organize logistics themselves. Saving time and reducing stress and allowing you to focus on enjoying the journey.

Traveling in a group can enhance safety and security, particularly in unfamiliar or remote destinations and provide assistance in case of emergencies.


Dordogne, France

Many people these days work as digital nomads and are in their pre-retirement years but location free while working remotely.

Although, as I’m often a working nomad myself, I know having very good internet access is important to keep up with online paid work. This situation can put restrictions on where in the world you can feasibly work for longer periods of time.

But more and more digital nomad visas and high speed connections are now being offered around the world.


Koh Chang, Thailand

Maybe you’re taking time out of the workplace to travel while you’re still reasonably young and fit?

Sabbatical travel offers an opportunity to take a break from the demands of work and recharge mentally and physically.

This can help prevent burnout and improve overall job satisfaction upon returning to work.

Maybe you want to train and qualify for something new or have ambitions for adventure travel.

Do read my guide on Over 50’s Guide To A Midlife Gap Year.

Adventure TravelLer

The Nile River, Egypt

Are you someone who continues to pursue adventurous and exhilarating experiences well into your later years, defying stereotypes about aging and embracing a life of excitement, challenge, and exploration!

Are you always eager to embark on new experiences, push your limits and even seek out adrenaline-pumping activities, ranging from scuba diving, skydiving, bungee jumping, trekking to remote destinations, or climbing challenging peaks?

Do you prioritise physical fitness and health to ensure you’re capable of participating in adventurous activities?

Do you draw on your lifetime of knowledge and skills to make informed decisions and appreciate the journey?

Adventure travellers are determined to live life to the fullest and serve as inspiration and role model to all age groups.

Demonstrating that age is no barrier to adventure and it’s never too late to pursue your passions and explore the world.

Whether you choose to travel solo or with like-minded companions – if all or some of the above describes you – then you are an adventure traveller!


Sepilok, Borneo

Volunteer travel, often referred to as voluntourism, combines the elements of travel and volunteering, providing a traveller with the opportunity to make a positive impact while experiencing new cultures.

There are lots of volunteering organisations online but do your due diligence and proper research before committing.

I have volunteered on a turtle conservation project, on a remote island off Malaysia, which was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Do read my article Volunteering: Sea Turtle Conservation.

The backpacking husband has volunteered on environmental conservation projects around the world offering his skills as an experienced and qualified scuba diver.

For example: he has volunteered on coral reef conservation and been involved in shipwreck salvage in the Caribbean.

Both exciting and rewarding projects for him while travelling.

Volunteering while travelling can involve participating in various on environmental conservation, reforestation efforts, wildlife preservation, or beach clean-ups.

Also community service projects such as building houses, schools, or community centres, renovating infrastructure, or assisting with environmental conservation efforts.

It can mean engaging in educational initiatives, including teaching English, providing tutoring sessions, or assisting local teachers in classrooms.

Some volunteers with medical or healthcare backgrounds offer their services to provide healthcare assistance in clinics, by organizing health outreach programs, or conducting health education workshops.

Volunteering in orphanages involves providing care, support, assisting with daily routines and offering companionship to children in need.

Some voluntourism programs focus on animal welfare involving activities such as caring for rescue animals and supporting sanctuaries.

Volunteers with specific skills, such as IT, agriculture, or vocational expertise, may provide training workshops to help local communities develop sustainable skills and improve their livelihoods.

Do you want to volunteer for a project you feel passionate about in another country/continent?


The surprise here is that it’s probably much less than you think.

As long as you remember that you’re not on holiday all the time and that it’s important to be travel savvy.

For example: a flight might cost a lot but once you’re there you can travel using budget airlines and trains and buses.

It’s far cheaper to travel around Asia, for example, than around the USA or UK or Europe.

The same can be said for the cost of accommodations and meals.

But then we are back to the question of expectations again.

Are you high maintenance or a minimalist?

To be clear, the backpacking husband and I might be minimalists, but we do maintain three uncompromising essential elements to our travel standards in regard to personal security, transportation, and accommodation.

We need to feel safe and comfortable and clean and in that order.

We maintain these standards and stay on budget by mixing up our travel experiences with low-priced travel, mid-priced-travel, and the occasional splurge on luxury.


So how do the backpacking husband and I cope financially in the long term?

How have we managed to be location free and to travel for over ten years?

I suppose it’s because learned to be travel savvy.

Ten years ago we sold everything we owned – our house, cars, furniture and stuff – to liquidate our assets into cash for when we set off on our travels to provide a safety net.

But that was ten years ago.

We now travel with hand luggage only and we have few possessions.

For us, no property means no responsibility and no associated costs.

And, in return, there is both physical and financial freedom.

So the secret to travelling long term is perhaps in keeping costs down to a minimum.

To compare: what are the basic living costs in your life?

I’m guessing from past experience you’ll be paying out on: a mortgage, property taxes, insurances, home maintenance, utility bills, car payments, car tax and car maintenance, etc.

Now… imagine life without any of those expenses.


I see our financial situation as maintaining a fine balance of expenses vs assets.

We do need money to travel – to sleep securely with a roof over our heads – and to eat.

And I like to keep a spreadsheet when costing out a travel venture.

That way, I’ll have all the dates and reference numbers and details and costings all in one place.

It’s really easy to forget and get confused while travel planning and it helps to balance the budget!

Many of my travel posts have costings to show how much (or how little) we paid for flights and accomodation.

Check out my 14 Days and Five-City Japan Itinerary to see how this ENTIRE TRIP cost us less than 1000 GBP.


Flights and other transport costs are a major expense so it pays to be practical savvy.

Do make sure your bank cards are travel friendly and not going to charge you exorbitant fees for using them abroad.

Most importantly: Is your passport valid? How many free pages do you have? How long do you have before it expires?

Where are you planning to travel to and how long will you stay?

What are the country’s current entry requirements?

Do you need to apply for an entry visa or can you get it on arrival?

Do you have all the recommended travel vaccines?

What about travel insurance? What level of cover do you need?

Do read my own article and comprehensive Guide To Travel Insurance for Over 50s.

I do also recommend you get a no-obligation quote right now (affiliate link) from World Nomads.



What’s the average cost of a flight to where you are going?

Should you get a one way ticket or a return flight?

If you book a one-way do you need an onward flight ticket to satisfy an entry visa?

Is it less-expensive to fly midweek rather than on a weekend? Probably!

Is it a direct flight or is there a layover and for how long?

Will you realistically make the connecting or onward flight?

Make sure to check important dates at your destination country and avoid the extra expense of travelling on public holidays.

Examples would be the Lunar New Year in Asia and during Ramadan in Muslim countries.


We use Skyscanner (not a paid link) to source and cost and plan our flights.

But we ALWAYS book directly with the airline. This is because, if there are delays or problems with the flight, the airline won’t be able to assist you if you booked your ticket through an agent or other third-party.

Set up travel alerts to show when flight prices drop to your chosen destination.

Then when you see a flight at your target price – book it – don’t refresh the page or it will be gone!

Be flexible on dates and don’t dismiss considering flights that have connections or long lay overs.

Join airline loyalty programmes and collect points for free future flights or upgrades.

On arrival at your destination: plan how will you get from the airport to your accommodation.

We always use cheaper local transport options rather than expensive taxis.

We even did this on holidays with the kids years ago. All the other families would exit the airport to pile into a taxi or a waiting private coach. But we always took the stairs down to the public bus depot to take a local service bus!


For a one or two night stay, I enjoy staying in a hotel.

We can sometimes book a room or a suite on accumulated hotel points.

If not entirely for free on points then on a basic room rate with a welcome upgrade.

So do join those hotel chain loyalty programmes!

I also love a budget hotel for a few nights and look for breakfast included.

If not a budget hotel, then a private room in a hostel is perfectly okay too.

For a stay of a week or so and for a more personal and homely touch, then private homestay is wonderful, and is often my preferred choice of accommodation.

If we’re planning to stay somewhere for more than a couple of weeks or months – which we often do – then we like to rent an apartment, or a house, or a hut on a beach, and live like locals for a while.

I mostly use (affiliated link) Booking Dotcom to source and book accommodations.


We also often do housesitting in between our travels. This means we enjoy staying in someone’s home free of charge in return for responsibly and conscientiously looking after their house and property and (sometimes) animals while the homeowner is away.

Housesitting suits us very well. It allows for precious down time to relax between travels.

Housesitting also helps big time in balancing out our budget with rent-free accommodation for a while.

We’ve done housesitting in the Caribbean but most of our housesitting is done with extended stays in France.

I’ve written a comprehensive post on housesitting that you might like to read if you’re curious about housesitting and wondering how to go about applying for housesits.

Click the (affiliate) banner or the Promo Code Button to find out more about Trusted Housesitters.


Another way we’ve occasionally enjoyed free accommodation is when we’ve been volunteering.

Volunteering is a fabulous way to travel and to have amazing travel experiences.

The backpacking husband, who loves to scuba dive, worked to achieve his life-long dream of becoming a PADI IDC Staff Instructor over the first three years that we were travelling.

He trained as a Divemaster in the Caribbean and he did his Instructor Development Course in Thailand.

Now he volunteers on coral reef, conservation, and wreck salvage projects all over the world.

We’ve sometimes been given a place to stay in return for his time and his expertise on these projects.

The backpacking husband is a highly qualified scuba diver



Whether home or abroad you need to eat and drink. As choice and preferences for food and drink are such personal issues, it’s hard for me to cost it out for you.

All I can do is tell you that while we’re travelling we often find local food is often a lot less expensive – especially in countries like South East Asia – than in our ‘home’ country.

If we’re renting a house with a kitchen for example, I’ll usually shop and cook.

But if we’re somewhere like Thailand it’s generally cheaper to eat out.

We do like a nice restaurant. But we are also more than happy to enjoy street food.

Street food in Asia is amazing and some even have a Michelin Star!


So, in our situation, we keep a close eye on spending.

But how do we continue to make money while travelling?

The backpacking husband and I were both 54 years old when we started to travel long term.

And, as mentioned, we’d liquidated all our possessions to fund our initial travels.

At the age of 55, the backpacking husband drew one of his private pensions.

This gives us a small regular monthly sum to help towards our regular outgoing costs of food and accommodation.

At age 60 he drew a second small private pension.

We are now both 64 years old. Unfortunately not yet eligible for our State Pensions.

For our State Pensions we’ll have to wait until we are aged 66.

So, right now, my backpacking husband is retired.

I’m still officially self-employed but I don’t work all the time.

I tend to work sporadically and then binge work when travel and time allows.



When I do work, it’s not on one thing, but lots of little things that add up to something.

Firstly, I’m a self-published author. I sell my books worldwide through Amazon KDP Publishing as ebooks and paperbacks.

Amazon KDP pays royalties on book sales monthly.

See my Books Page for my complete list of published novels.

I’m also published by HarperCollins in London with my Backpacking Housewife series of books.

I receive monthly royalty payments on sales from HarperCollins.

I also receive annual royalty payments from ALCS and PLR (Author’s Lending and Public Library) for my books borrowed by the public through the British Library System.

I work as a Freelance Book Editor. See my Author Services Page for my rates.

This means I work on manuscripts with authors aiming for publication.

My job is to carefully read the work and provide a helpful and fully explored structural report on all aspects of the writing.

My expertise is based on my own experiences as an author over the past 20 years, and from working with a top publishing house and writing industry professionals, also over many years.

I’m generally fully employed for several months of the year from doing editing work.

I also get paid to write lifestyle articles for magazines and travel features for online publications.

In addition, I write for my travel website here at The Backpacking Housewife Dotcom.

As you browse through my website, you might notice I have banners and text linking to affiliate partnerships.

These companies include: Amazon, Trusted Housesitters, World Nomads Travel Insurance, Booking Dotcom and Klook

These are partners whose products I buy for myself and so would recommend to you.

I earn a small commission if you click through one of my links and decide to make a purchase.

I’m thankful to you if you do choose to use my affiliate links as it helps support the cost of running this website.

I also do a lot of unpaid work too like media interviews and podcast interviews that I really enjoy.

These interviews allow me to chat with other travel lovers and wanderlusters and also give promotional opportunities.

These opportunities will hopefully increase sales of my books or hits on my website and resulting commissions.


And, if I can think up any other little revenue streams, I’ll certainly let you know!

Now, you might be thinking, that’s all very well. But how does that help me?

My point here is that you might like to explore your own hobbies, passions, skills and strengths.

And reimagine how you might commercialise those things to bring in an income while you travel.

Some ideas that come to mind include teaching yoga, teaching English, or another language while abroad.

I’m sure you can think of more and some that you might be able to turn into a money making opportunity?

Yes, it will likely take time, as often these things do.

But I challenge you to think big and be bold about it!

It was while we were travelling that I got my three book deal with HarperCollins.

The Backpacking Housewife series of books

It was also while we were travelling that the backpacking husband did all his dive training.

So… that’s it. That’s how we afford to travel the world long term.

We think big and spend small!

And, right now, I’m reminded of one of my favourite travel quotes:

It’s nice to get out of the rat race but you do have to learn to get along with less cheese.

Gene Perret

This is a very personal post for me in talking about money. Has it helped you?

Has it been encouraging and has it reassured you that perhaps you don’t have to be rich to travel?

I am of course always aware that being able to travel – however you travel – is a great privilege.

I’m very thankful that I can travel and have no regrets about having taken the big step ten years ago to going nomad.

Has this post got you pondering on your own travel style and personal resources?

Are you thinking about how you might apply this information to your own future travel ambitions and plans?

Do let me know in the comments or contact me.

Ask questions!

I’d be delighted to hear from you!


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Ellie -

Hi, thank you for a great read.
Me and my fiance are considering selling our property to go travelling. We still have a big mortgage so won’t have huge amounts of cash however we are prepared to be minimalist travellers.
One thing that we are worried about is applying for visas without having a fixed abode. Are you able to offer any advice for this?


Hi Ellie – thanks for reading my post and for getting in touch. Will you be using an address in your home country to redirect your post and to use for banking and travel insurance forms etc – perhaps a family member or a willing friend’s address to which you can return to as a base if needed?

Amanda Bickford -

Hi I am 53 and a civil servant with a pension I can take at 55 unfortunately I have a mortgage holding me back ! Myself and husband have done a bit of travelling and backpacking when we were younger. Iv still got wanderlust. ! Do you keep a base to return to at all? I am considering selling up in a couple of years or renting out the house . Loved your books 😊


Hi Amanda – thanks for leaving your message and I’m delighted you’ve loved my books! I do think mid-50s is a perfect time of life to travel and I would urge you to make it work however best it suits you. We haven’t had a base to return to that we own but we are really lucky in that several good friends have places we stay in on occasion – second/holiday homes we can rent a while/offer to pay the bills on – to allow some time to ground ourselves from time to time. Do let me know how you get on please?

Erica Baker -

What an interesting article. I do admire your lifestyle but I guess the decision to sell all worldly possessions takes some guts? I’m a retired 67 year old (although I took the opportunity to take early retirement at 58). I have been travelling very frequently for the past 9 years either independently or, with small group adventure tours and/or with adventuring friends. Since retiring, I allocate myself a fairly generous annual travel allowance which is then frequently replenished by judicious spend from my monthly pension(s). Sometimes the trips have been ‘paid back’ to my allowance from my pensions before I go, which is a great feeling! Clearly, I don’t travel as much as you but I’m often away for 6 weeks at a time. Next trip Japan, South Korea and Taiwan! 🙂


Hi Erica – it’s lovely to hear about your retirement and travel plans and they sound in perfect balance for the long term. I’m excited on your behalf for your next trip – as I have not long returned from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, myself. I do hope you will enjoy reading my travel posts and find them helpful in planning your trip. I’ll be adding soon to my South Korea postings but already have lots for you to peruse on Japan and Taiwan. A fantastic trip. Have fun and happy travels!

Lucie Alexander -

Thankyou for sharing your personal experience on the finances Jan. You have included some really great tips and advice for us early retirees as we are planning our next adventure and were just wondering how we will fund it! 😆


Hi Lucie – thanks for your lovely comment. I’m really happy to know you found this post helpful as early retirees. Happy travels! Yay!!!


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