So you're ready to become a full-time traveler to go out and explore the big beautiful world. Jolly good on ya, I say! It can be an amazing lifestyle that will give you a lifetime of memories, but it isn't for everyone. Before you tell your boss he can take your job and shove it as you dance out the door, there are a few things you should consider.
Traveling full-time can be rough, and you want to make sure you're prepared for it before you burn the ships and start down this path. (Hint: maybe don't burn the ships - you never know when you might need them again.) To make sure you're ready for the coddiwomple lifestyle, here are eleven things you should consider before you take off down the road.
Most people don't start thinking about downsizing until they're retiring, and even then, they generally have an enormous amount of crap. If you're traveling full-time you're not going to have room to tote all your junk around.
You will need to downsize and sometimes downsizing can be difficult. It might not be difficult for you, but it could be difficult for someone else you're close to. The fine china your mother-in-law gave you when you got married, what do you do with that? (Sell it at a garage sale for twenty-five cents, obviously, because who uses fine china?)
The point is, downsizing isn't as easy as it sounds. You have possessions you're attached to that you'll need to part with or place in storage. If you have people who you're close to, feelings will inevitably be hurt when you have to get rid of things they've given you. Just have a method for your madness when you start downsizing and remember: things don't bring happiness.
Ok, if you can't budget while you have a job and steady income, you won't be able to budget while you're traveling. Figure out how to budget before you start living your nomad life. Traveling can be as expensive or affordable as you want to make it, but it doesn't matter how affordable you make it if you can't stick to a budget. If you start traveling and you can't budget to save your life, you'll be in a worse place than you started when you fail.
Which brings us to point number three...
You can sit down and make a budget and even stick to that budget, but if you can't afford that budget, you're destined to fail. This might sound like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people don't understand this.
Before you do anything, identify all your sources of income and write them out. Are you're income sources fixed, or are they variable? How stable is the source of income? Is it from a side hustle you have, or is it a disability or retirement pension from the government? Once you have your total income amount, reduce it by 20-30% to create a margin of safety. If your income is all from stable sources such as government pensions (if it is for sure stable), then you could either skip the margin of safety or reduce the amount.
Next, look at what you are spending now and use that as the base to identify your expenditures. Start deleting the things you know you won't have and add the things you know you will. Start assigning values to those items - if you don't know how much something will cost, research it. You want to be as accurate as possible. Then do the same thing you did with income, total all your expenses up and add 20-30% to it for a margin of safety. Subtract your expenses from your income - the result should be positive. If not, you need to either add more income or reduce your costs. It's that simple.
Take care of your debt before you go. Get your finances in order before you start traveling. The last thing you want to be worrying about while you're on top of Machu Picchu is if you paid your credit card last week. I'm not saying you need to make sure all your debt is paid off (although you should at least get rid of your consumer debt), but you need to have a plan to keep payments up to date. However, the less debt you have, the fewer your expenses and less income you'll need to travel.
This might not apply to everyone, but there is a segment for who it does apply. If you're making money off of traveling by blogging or Instagram or writing sponsored content, travel is your job. The question is, can you handle that, or will it ruin travel for you?
Some people don't dislike their job because they don't enjoy it - they dislike their job because they have to do it. If you're traveling because it puts food on your table and a roof over your head, can you live that way and enjoy it? You'll find many blogs out there from people who couldn't handle it anymore and stopped traveling. Have a heart to heart conversation with yourself and make sure this is something you want to do before you start.
Unless you're a hermit, your social life will be dramatically different. Your friends won't be there to join you at the bar when you want to go out on a Friday night. Traveling can be an extremely lonely venture, especially if you're traveling solo. If you're traveling with friends or with a significant other, it's less lonely - but even then, the loneliness can occur.
Our human fabric is built on relationships, and when you're constantly moving relationships are hard to build. Even if you are an introvert, it is still hard not having those relationships or have a constant in your life. That said, the world is more connected than ever, and there are more opportunities than ever to stay in touch with friends and family and even make new friends along the way.
But, be sure and consider how changes to your social life might affect you. If you struggled during Covid-19 lockdowns because you couldn't see anyone... well, maybe think about traveling full-time a little more. Traveling might be the best thing for you, or it might not, that's for you to decide.
Unless you happen to have an unlimited budget that will allow you to fly back home at will, you're going to miss family functions. Depending on how close you are to your family, this might or might not be a big deal to you.
Missing family events and even seeing family is one thing to think about that doesn't just concern you. You might not give a hoot in hades about this, but your family probably does. You'll need to determine how to address this.
*Start soapbox speech*
Not everyone agrees with me on this, but your life is your life to live. You need to take care of yourself and do what makes you happy. If you want to live life traveling, then live life traveling. Don't let your family or friends dissuade you from traveling, if that's what you really want to do, just because they'll miss you. Sorry, but that's not an excuse to prevent you from pursuing your dreams and being happy. It's extremely selfish and manipulative of someone to make you feel bad while you pursue your dreams because it's not what they want you to do.
That doesn't mean you give your family the bird and leave. It's a fine line that only you are going to know how to address. I don't know your family, so I can't give you advice there.
*Ok, back to your regularly scheduled programming*
Don't just quit your job and fly to Mali on a whim. Duh! Ok, but really, come up with a plan. Know what you're going to do and how. That doesn't mean you need to plan out every destination, but you need to know how you're going to make this happen.
Mostly, this is finances. If the money is there, you can figure out the rest. Determine how you're going to get the money and go from there. But make a plan and stick to it. Test your plan before you go. If you can make money from home without your day job, chances are you can make money remotely while traveling.
Don't just think about finances though, think about what you're actually going to do when you start traveling. What does that look like for you? Write that down. Write down your goals. Determine why you are traveling and what do you want to get out of it.
I discussed our basic plan we have to coddiwomple across the globe in a previous post. It focuses on finances because if we don't have that down, we won't be able to go - the rest we can figure out.
So this one is getting easier and easier these days. Many places have free WiFi you can connect to and get online. But not every place does, and if it does, it might cost or it's just too slow. However, almost everywhere in the world has local cell service that is super cheap (unlike the U.S.)
If you're looking for a good cell phone plan you can use anywhere, Google Fi is a good option. With Google Fi, depending on where you're traveling you can send and receive calls and texts from the U.S. to Tajikistan and almost every country in between at no extra cost. We use Google Fi and love it.
You're quitting your job to travel the globe. Chances are your health care plan is going to go with your job. Do you know where you're going to get your new health care coverage from? Does it cover international health costs? Does it include preventative care or just emergencies? Do you even need preventative care coverage? Are you going to need medical evacuation insurance? The answers to these questions are going to be dependent on how comfortable you are, your health, and where you'll be traveling.
I will write more on this topic later in a separate post, but for now, just know this is something you need to think about and budget for before you start coddiwompling around the world.
There are several different nomadic lifestyles out there that involve different methods of travel. You'll need to think about what lifestyle and travel mode fits you best. The last thing you want to do is jump on a plane to some far corner of the world and not have a plan after that - unless that's your style, in which case go for it, you brave soul, you.
I've written another blog post on how to find your traveling lifestyle. The short version is you need to know what you want to get out of traveling and why you're traveling to begin with before you can settle on how you're going to travel.
Arguably, this is probably the most important thing to consider before you go gallivanting around the globe. If you have a significant other, do they actually want to do this too, or did you twist their arm and convince them they had to want it. If this is a one-sided ordeal, it's going to be miserable for everyone involved. Make sure you're significant other is on board with your plans before you start traveling.
If you know you want to do this and they aren't sure they want to commit to it long term, see if they'll try it out for a year and see how it goes. They might like it, and you might hate it. Who knows! Either way, it will give you both time to determine the best path forward for both of you.
There will be considerations you'll need to think about that are personal to you. The eleven things I listed here are a good place to start. Ultimately, you need to start planning and brainstorming how you're going to make it work and you'll think of things you need to consider I haven't even thought of. But start with this list and go from there.
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Until next time, Happy Coddiwompling!