I always kind of hesitate to answer money questions on my website. For it depends on so many variables to define a budget.
It is personal taste, the longing for luxury, the urge for gadgets and the countries you visit that makes a budget question hard to answer.
But I can speak from my own experience and then you can learn from that and draw your own conclusions. There are multiple types of world travelers. And your budget highly depends on which type you want to be:
Do you keep your home address and travel from time to time with a plan to cover all of the worlds?
Do you leave your home, but keep it for the future and take a sabbatical for a year or 2?
Do you sell everything you own and become a non-stop traveler and live out of a bag?
The last group can be divided into several different groups as well:
those that travel fast, hop from airplane to airplane
those who travel slow and stay in one country a long period of time (like me)
those that live in retirement money and savings
those that work while on the road (like me)
One can say that travel fast, asks for more money, if you are on and off airplanes, you need to buy tickets. There are plenty of websites that offer cheap tickets, but you might find it very hard to find the right, date, and price. If you travel with a schedule you might get stuck in ticket prices killing your budget.
If you travel without a plan you can scan the internet for example for mistakes in ticketing and buy expensive tickets for ‘wrong’ prices. But this way you never know where you are going and visas might get int he way of your plans.
When setting a budget you have to consider all:
travel costs (bus, boat, plane, motorbike, and even bicycle)
vaccinations (some countries require certain vaccinations like yellow fever
food and drink
personal hygiene (shampoo, deodorant, tampons, sunblock, mosquito repellent)
back up finances (in case of emergencies)
gadgets and gear
clothes and shoes
medication and/or first aid kit
And for some countries even taxes.
Those costs may vary in different countries, one of the reasons I travel in Asia at the moment is because it compliments my budget. Life is more affordable here than for example Europe or any other first-world destination.
So before you depart on a too small a budget, make sure you have all your needs covered. For example, I do all my laundry by hand, that does not mean I do not need laundry money: I do need to buy washing powder.
Thinks wise and think twice before you decide your budget is set. And always have more money to spend than you think you need, there will always be unexpected costs. Another example, visa prices in the Philippines keep going up, recently the price was raised again with a head tax of 250 pesos. I know it is only 5 euro, but still, it adds up. it is wise to have a stretch in your finances.
I have seen too many backpackers stranded, selling bracelets to finance their next trip or visa extension. And I think that is so pathetic.
So how much money do you need to be a world traveler?
More or less, depending on what kind of hotels you are staying and how much you pay on airfare, you need 2,500 US$ to get buy.
That is when you travel constantly if you travel slow, your budget will be lower. I can live on 750 Euro, which is 850 US$ more or less. I rent a house and I live a minimalistic lifestyle, but not a poor lifestyle. I go out for dinner, ride an expensive motorbike and save up every month for visa extensions and trips.
I do not have enough money I just become a digital nomad
You have to keep in mind that on a tourist visa you are not allowed to work, even selling bracelets is not allowed. So being a digital nomad is a kind of shady business. Every bureau of Immigration knows it exists and many countries close an eye on it happening.
But more and more countries are aware of the growing number of digital nomads. Thailand, for example, is redefining ‘working on a tourist visa’ and even in the Philippines people are refused re-entry because the immigration officer suspects them working. And many are. Funding businesses on local people’s names and thus violating visa rules make it harder for the real nomad who is just minding his own business online and not working for a local company.
So you might be a wise person to have some savings back home or some sort of income to prove you can take care of yourself outside the online business you are running.
In that case, I let others pay for my trips
Now for those who get paid to travel the world….well, yes…..dream on……first of all you need a huge capital to invest in yourself to become an influencer. Or be lucky and have that lucky hit. But those hits are becoming more and more scares. The reality for most of the so-called ‘influencers’ out there is that they spent a lot of money to get invited to free trips.
And we all live in this world realizing that nothing is for free. A free trip often demands you to write a positive article about hotels, countries, and sight you have visited, participate in group photos and ‘selling your name’ to the location visited in a positive way. While you might not have enjoyed it at all.
I always doubt how that combines with influencers wanting to be genuine and authentic.
Another way to get paid to visit foreign places is to sign up for volunteer projects abroad, but again, you are the one paying for your own stay and insurance there, after all, it is a volunteer job.
What I am trying to say is: Do not believe everything you hear and see on the internet.
There are plenty of ways to finance your world travel, but most important is that you, yourself can finance your world travel. Everything else is but a dream that might not come true.
So facing reality: your monthly steady income (after taxes) should be between 1,000 to 2,500 us$ at least to get started and travel some parts of the world.
Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.