Everyone has dreamed about it. That day where you quit your job, sell everything you own and start traveling the world. The weight of bills, deadlines, monotonous routines, same thing day in and day out, all erased by a never-ending adventure of a life on the road.
You’ve decided you’re done living by the imaginary rules of life. You know those rules where your supposed to have 2.5 kids, buy a house, work for 50 years and then retire. Sorry sounds awful and I for one won’t have any part of it.
I have been living as a nomad with my wife Kashlee for the last 2 years and we have no thoughts of going back to our old lives anytime soon. We have learned a lot and by no means has it all been easy. Getting prepared to leave your life behind is mentally and physically challenging. Just like anything that has huge rewards, there must be a little pain in getting there. When we first started out we had no idea where to start or how to do it. We started documenting it as we went and created this kick ass guide to a new life. Once you finally get on that first flight or drive away knowing your not coming back anytime soon, it’s worth every moment.
Kashlee and I are going to show you how to prepare for full time travel and rock your new life living as a Nomad.
How to Prepare for Full Time Travel and Living as a Nomad
1. Get Mentally and Emotionally Ready
This is a HUGE change and will be emotionally challenging. One day you’re going to feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders. The next day you are going to be curled up in a ball on the floor having a meltdown. We have been brought up in an age of consumerism brainwashing. We have been taught that the more STUFF we have, the more our lives will be complete.
The fact you’re here learning about living as a nomad tells me you have already realized it’s all just a big lie. We may be enlightened but that won’t change the fact that it’s going to be hard. Remember it’s ok to have bad days. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Soon you will be valuing experiences over things and question why you weren't living as a nomad sooner.
2. Decide if you Want a Home Base
First thing you’ll have to decide is if you’re going to have a home base. When Kashlee and I first started traveling, we always had a condo to come home to. It was our safety net where we kept our so-called important things.
Our first year together we spent 8 months of the year traveling. What once was our safety net was quickly becoming a liability. Unless you have an unlimited budget (which we do not), something must change. We decided to sell the house along with everything in it. The only thing we kept was our tax papers and a few keepsakes. We never thought about the material items while we traveled so what was the point in keeping them?
We set up a much cheaper “home base” that we could visit family and friends for 2 months of the year in the summer. With the money we made after selling the house, we bought a camper and parked it on a piece of land that has annual bills of only $4000. Instead of paying $30,000 in mortgage payments, interest and bills for the year, we're able to allocate the extra $26,000 to travel and savings for retirement. Our home base has no address and is on a seasonal lot.
Whether you decide to be living as a nomad with no home base or downsize to something affordable, it’s totally your choice. We have close family in Canada and knowing we have somewhere to go in case of emergency is a peace of mind we enjoy and worth the extra cost. I lost my father 5 months ago so being able to come home quickly and spend time with our family was worth it. Life can throw you curve balls while your traveling, so it’s great to have something to come back to, if it fits into your budget.
Unless you have cut ties with everything, you’re going to need a place to receive your mail. Below are a few options you can use to receive your mail if you are going to be living as a nomad.
- Family or friend: This is a big ask so make sure it’s someone you completely trust and is close to you. You can change your address to their home so that they will receive your mail. Ensure you have filled out a release form at the post office so their able to pick up packages and sign for you.
- UPS Store: (This is what we use!) UPS offers boxes in their stores and will hold all your mail until you return. They also have complete signing authority to receive packages so that nothing will be returned to sender. The best part of their service is that they give you a true mailing address. Instead of a P.O box number which many companies will not accept, they give you a suite address. Average costs are around $140 usd per year.
4. Sell, Donate and Discard
One of the biggest changes will be going from a house full of stuff down to only what you can carry in a backpack or suitcase. This is not an overnight process and can be done in stages or all at once. Decide what your absolute essentials are by packing your full-time travel bag or suitcase. The realization of just how much stuff you have left over is going to be overwhelming. Don’t freak out and let the downsizing begin!
- Sell any of your items that hold any value on Facebook buy/sell groups, Craigslist, Kijiji or eBay
- Have a garage/yard sale with what you couldn’t sell online
- Donate any clothes/items that you can’t sell
- Throw out the remaining items you can’t sell or giveaway
Looking at those 4 steps makes it seem like a simple process but its definitely not! We started with selling everything we could in our condo, but we still held on to many items and rented a storage unit. After our first year of travel we realized that we hadn’t even thought of the items in storage nor could we remember what was in there. We further downsized by selling and throwing out the remaining items saving us $4000 per year in storage costs. Read more about how we downsized.
When we visit home base we make sure to not start accumulating more stuff with a very simple rule. Unless we are replacing something, we don’t buy it. The only items we store in the camper are keepsakes, family heirlooms and those pesky tax papers. Living as a Nomad you quickly learn what you need and what you don't
5. Start Saving
If you don’t have a way of earning income while you travel, be sure have enough money saved to fund your trip BEFORE you leave. Depending on which country you are traveling to, the cost of living could be very cheap compared to where you live.
It may not take as much time as you think to save up! We were able to live in Bali for two months at a fraction of the cost it would have been to live in Canada. Check out the cost of living in our Bali Travel Guide.
6. Do Your Taxes
Unfortunately, living as a nomad you still must pay your taxes. Before leaving for long term travel be sure to complete all necessary taxes to make sure you’re up to date. Different countries have different regulations when it comes to being out of the country for extended periods. Be sure to check with your accountant for tax breaks you may be eligible for.
7. Pay All Your Bills
Set up all your bills to come through email. Ensure you are fully caught up on payments. Once you have disconnected your phone and leave for full-time travel, businesses will have no way of contacting you. An outstanding bill could lead to a collection and negative score on your credit card. I know this stuff is terrible to think about but trust me, its all worth it once your staring out at the jungle from an infinity pool.
8. Get Travel Insurance
Seriously get insurance. None of us are invincible and the last thing you want while traveling is to be detained in a country because you can’t pay your medical bills. For full time travelers there is no better company out there than World Nomads.
9. Go to the Doctors & Stock Up on Medication
- If you take medications, be sure to get enough for the duration of your travels. There are many countries that have very strict rules for prescription drugs. Pain killers, Anti-depressants, ADHD medications and anti-anxiety drugs like benzodiazepines can be very difficult to obtain or are non-existent in some countries.
- If you are traveling with prescription narcotics be sure to check with the immigration rules of the country you are traveling to.
I was on prescribed Xanax for years and Kashlee was on an ADHD medication. For both of us, we weened our way off the medications with advice from our doctor. We were tired of the never-ending search to make sure we didn’t run out. Speak with your doctor first before stopping any medications.
- Get an overall checkup to make sure you are in good health for travel. This could include just speaking with your doctor on what advice they have, or receiving a medical if you have suffered from prior health conditions.
- Check with the country you are traveling to if there are any required vaccinations to obtain entry. As well be sure to research your destination of any known outbreaks to make sure you are protected. In Canada and the United States there are travel clinics that will advise you what vaccinations they recommend.
Smile knowing you are healthy and ready to start your life living as a nomad!
10. Credit Cards and Banking
- Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans. This will allow your credit card to be used anywhere you happen to be traveling. Banks will sometimes put blocks on cards when they see activity from other countries.
- Ensure you have a credit card and inquire on a limit increase. Traveling without a credit card can be very difficult and they are great in case of emergencies.
- Get a credit card that rewards you. For example, our Visa is linked to Aeroplan, so we pay for all our flights through points.
- Lower your cash withdrawal limit. Put your money in a savings account that can only be accessed or transferred online. Transfer cash to your checking account when needed for withdrawal. If your card is compromised or god forbid, you’re kidnapped, you’ll want to ensure that the least amount of money is stolen. (My bank card was skimmed in Bali and my account was emptied)
Banks do have insurance that cover these types of fraud and crime, but it can take time to get your money back during investigations.
11. Cell Phones - Cancel or Vacation Disconnect
Cancel your cell phone plan or put it on vacation disconnect. Each mobile carrier has different vacation disconnect plans that can cost as little as $10 per month. Now that my contract is up with my mobile carrier, I have permanently canceled my cell phone plan.
For my business I have an inexpensive 1-800 number that rings through my Skype anywhere in the world. When I arrive in a new country, I also pick up a local sim card. Your phone must be unlocked to use international sim cards.
12. Mobile Internet Device
Since our business travels with us, we also have a mobile internet hotspot. It works in almost every country and can have up to 10 devices connected at a time. Tep Wireless offers unlimited data for $10 per day. (Max 1 Gig of 4G per 24 hours). That way we never run the risk of having no internet when an important business meeting comes up. Read our review of Tep Wireless
13. Visas & Passport
Visas: Ensure to research entry requirements for each country you plan on visiting. Some countries will require obtaining a visa BEFORE arriving. The big ones being China, Russia and Brazil to name a few. Many countries offer Visa on Arrival which can be obtained at immigration. Do not overstay your issued Visa as it could result in fines or imprisonment.
Passports: Make sure you have sufficient time left on your passport. If you plan on traveling for extended periods, ensure your expiry date is at least 6 months AFTER you return to your native country for renewal. Most countries will NOT allow entry with less than 6 months left until the passport expiry date.
14. Funding Your Travel
The savings will eventually run out. Having a plan in place for funding your full-time travel in the future is key. Here are a few of the different ways you can earn income living as a nomad.
- Online Travel Agent
- Travel Blogger
- Teaching English
- Join a Remote Company
- Freelancing for Upwork or Fiverr
- Online Marketing Agency
- Direct Sales
- Affiliate Marketing
- Online Coaching
- Online store
- Launch A YouTube channel
- Become an Instagram Influencer
- Start a Podcast
- Write and sell an eBook on Amazon
- Create online courses
- Do Virtual Odd Jobs on Task Rabbit
- Buy and sell websites
- Online Personal Trainer
We Hope to See You Around The World!
Let the journey begin! Looking back we have never regretted one moment of living as nomads. The freedom it has given us to explore the world, meet new people and grow as a couple has been the greatest blessing. If you need help getting started with your nomadic journey let us know. Happy Travels!
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