In the days of yesteryear, life on the road, or full-time travel was a gift enjoyed only by those wealthy enough to afford being on the road or for those lucky enough to have job that paid them to jaunt around the world on their employer's dime. The concept of location independent was in its infant stages at best; most people were tied down to a brick-and-mortar job of some type, requiring them to be on site for 50 weeks out the year.
Then came the Internet. The moment of singularity. Leaps and bounds of progress. Suddenly it wasn't a requirement to be tied down to a physical location for work, life on the road was possible. Email and Skype videos and Google+. Hangouts have allowed for instant communication to happen no matter where a person might be located in the world, allowing anyone, anywhere, to potentially transform themselves from location dependent to full-time traveler working out of cafes, apartments, hotels or co-working spaces anywhere in the world.
But despite these technological advances, it can still be a confusing maze of options when it comes to determining exactly how to take your life on the road. Everyone is familiar with the budget form of traveling, backpacking from hostel to hostel, and most people realize that hotel living is out of their price range unless the company is footing the bill. So how is it that those of us who travel for a living make it all work out at the end of the day?
The simple reality is that in today's age there are many different types of travel. If your budget can afford it, the hotel option still exists, and for many working professionals it is the better choice due to high-quality internet, room service, daily maid service, pool and gym access, business centers and beyond. But what about the other, more budget-oriented options?
If you are the backpacker type of traveler who doesn’t mind spotty Internet, the occasional cold shower, and mingling with others in a shared kitchen, the hostel route is the best choice. While not all hostels are created equal, many of them do offer private rooms with en-suite bathrooms to keep you out of the crowd, and they are generally the most affordable of the traditional routes to choose from for life on the road.
Full-time road warriors like myself tend to opt for fully-furnished, long-term property rentals. The best part about this is you can generally find accommodations in countries around the world for a fraction of what they charge in the United States or the United Kingdom.
As a general rule, I’ve found that a 1 to 2 bedroom place runs in the 400 to 600 USD a month bracket (including all your utilities/Internet), and you have all the comforts of home, as well as the added security of having a “home away from home” where you can lock your gear away, go out for the weekend, and come back to your own place.
One of the advancements of the Internet is Airbnb. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you need to know about it. It’s a mixture of hotel, bed and breakfast with long-term rental, since you can book by the day or rent by the month, and you’ll find a wide variety of properties available in just about every city around the world. The platform is continually growing since its launch, and they have provided a springboard for anyone, anywhere in the world to quickly and easily find a middle-of-the-road priced accommodation for a life on the road without the need for contracts and leases and down-payments.
But if you are a serious budget hunter, you can do one of two things. The first is Couchsurfing. It’s a social media platform designed for people who enjoy traveling around the world and shacking up in other people’s homes…for free. The downside is that you can really only stay a night or two, or sometimes up to a week if it’s a generous host, but people around the world have made their homes available for travelers to use as stepping-off points for destinations. It’s a great way to make local friends and find yourself with a personal expert for whatever city you happen to be visiting.
The second (and more long-term) option is house sitting. This is something that has been around for years, but the Internet has made it more accessible. The basic concept is that you watch someone’s house for them while they go on vacation or business, and in exchange for trimming the grass, feeding the dog/cats and keeping the house clean, you get to stay for free.
The contracts vary and you are sometimes stuck in a single location without the ability to get out and sight-see more than on a daily basis (such as if you are watching pets), but it’s a great way to find a place to hunker down and get some work done without a lot of distractions while enjoying a basically free cost of living in destinations around the world.
And finally, you have the sponsored travel option, which is really something that is only available to long-term, full-time bloggers who have built up a reputation and a following with their blog. The general idea behind press trips with sponsors is that in exchange for blog posts and publicity at your social media channels, you can earn free hospitality, food, tours and even transportation depending on the depth of the pockets your host has, and what kind of arrangement you can negotiate.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your budget is. Anyone can travel the world full time, it’s just a matter of determining which type of travel suits you best. From backpackers to working professionals, there’s a little slice of the world out there for everyone, and it’s simply a matter of choosing which one tastes best for you.
T.W. Anderson has been traveling the world full-time since January of 2008. He is the author of books which detail how to build a blog, brand and income and travel the world without a budget. His website is Marginal Boundaries.com
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