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Full Time Travel: What It’s Really Like to Travel Full Time

December 10, 2020

A full time traveler sitting on a balcony with a backpack in front of a mountain.

I remember back in 2017, having big dreams of becoming a traveler. I wondered to myself, “what’s it really like to travel full time?” Is it as glamorous as all of these Instagramers make it out to be? How much do I need to travel the world and make my dreams come true? Is it easy? Man, my head was filled with questions all about travelling full time! I finally did it in 2018, and I was in shock.  And I’ve got to be honest…When we first sold everything to travel full time, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew when I became a traveler, there were going to be great days and bad days. But I also knew that I would still need to take days for downtime because, let’s be real, travelling full time is exhausting! I didn’t, however, expect any of this…

Related: 10 Best Digital Nomad Jobs That Let You Travel Full Time

 

Full Time Travel Feels Like Vacation EVERY DAY

It surprises me all of the time, but during our seasons of full time travel, life feels like vacation every day. We get to see the most beautiful beaches in the world, climb the tallest mountains, and see the best sunsets. We go on boat rides through the islands, swim with colorful fish and coral, and jump into each city’s nightlife. I’ve tried food I never thought I would like, gone on motorcycle trips through the mountainsides, and learned that travel is the best thing for the soul. Full time travel feels like a vacation – except you’re actually exhausted all of the time, but feel so alive that you live off endorphins and coffee.

Some of our favorite Travel Spots Include that will definitely make you think my life is a vacation include:

The Philippines

Our time in the Phillipines always includes days on end in beautiful blue water, lounging in the sand, and hanging out in a hammock. The Philippines is one of the places in the world that forces you to take a break and be present. Here are some of our favorite adventures in the Philippines!

India

Honestly, India is one of the places I was most scared of visiting. Before visiting all I ever heard of India was their rape culture and slums. But after spending a month traveling through India, it was NOTHING like that at all! I got to see gorgeous villages, attend a royal wedding, and indulge in every buttery naan you can imagine. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I would moved to India for a year just so that I could keep exploring! And to show you just how beautiful India is, check out the video below to see us stay in an India PALACE that one time we got invited to the Indian Wedding of the CENTURY!

Cuba

I love the ocean and I love Cuban food! So the week I spent with my husband in family exploring Cuba was nothing short of magical! Especially when you get to visit gorgeous beaches like Varadero, with a freshly made mojito in hand. Someone take me back there. Right. Now.

Full Time Travel is NOT as Expensive as You Think

Before I started traveling full time, I thought that only the rich got to see the world. It wasn’t until I became a traveler, that I realized how inexpensive it can be. Since 2018, my husband and I spend an average of $1,500 a month between the two of us on travel. And that’s living the high life. We eat all of the food that we want and stay in reasonable, private accommodations. Do we have enough in that budget to explore? Absolutely! That travel budget also covers the tours and activities that you can watch on our YouTube channel!

You Can Keep your Full Time Travel Budget Low by Choosing Countries Wisely

Although you’ll notice we’re not traveling to some expensive places like the Maldives, we don’t visit grungy locations. Many of the beautiful places our travel budget has taken us to include:

  • The Philippines
  • India
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Indonesia
  • Taiwan
  • Cuba
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore

and more!

How much money do I need to travel full time?

If you’re sitting at home wondering how much you need to travel full time, it doesn’t have to be a lot. Especially if you’re a solo traveler, your options for budget experiences triple! We’ve stayed in dozens of hostels that run no more than $3 a bed! But if you want a more in-depth look at how we travel full time on a budget, click the link below to read our free guide.

Related: Travel Full Time for Under $1000 a Month: The ULTIMATE GUIDE

A full time traveler working on her laptop from a coworking space in Chiang Mai

Making Money While Travelling Full Time is Easy

I know it doesn’t seem like it, but making money while traveling full time is not hard. When we were first trying to figure out how to sustain this digital nomad lifestyle, I’ll admit, we had no idea what we were doing. And about 8 months in, we ran out of money and ended up sleeping on the floor in Australia for 4 months. But now that it’s been a few years, we’ve worked on building many different online income streams so that we’re never sleeping on the floor again! Some ways we’ve made money on the road include:

But if you want even more ideas on how to make money while traveling, download our free cheat sheet, 50 Creative Ways to Make Money While Traveling below!

Travelling Full Time is Exhausting

Between time changes, daily outdoor activities, and managing our YouTube channel, we barely get any sleep. Being a full time traveler means that every week we unpack all of our belongings, go see as much as we can in the 4 or 5 days we’re in a city, and pack up all over again. I will admit, this digital nomad lifestyle has made us full-on coffee addicts! We used to be morning people, and now we are lucky if we get up before 10 AM! The times we do get up before 10 AM, we’re zombies for the first three hours. #noregrets

Now, in the vein of honesty, you can imagine that the pandemic has slowed down the pace of our travel significantly. We’re fortunate that when the pandemic struck, we were in Thailand, one of the few countries in the world that was unscathed by the pandemic. Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve instead slow traveled Thailand while we wait for the world to open up. Also, continuing on the honesty train, not everything about this lifestyle is sunshine and rainbows. If you want to know more about the negatives of full time travel, I recommend you read the article I’ve linked below.

Related: The Digital Nomad Lifestyle: 10 Painful Truths

When you Travel Full Time Culture Shock is Real…Even When You’re Open-Minded

I went to school for Psychology and am generally more open-minded than a lot of my peers. I thought I would be exempt from feeling uncomfortable while adapting to a new culture. But if you read my first Onsen experience while I was in Japan, or the reason why I’ll never go back to Hanoi, Vietnam, you’ll learn how wrong I was. Full time travel forces you to grow in ways you didn’t think you could, and honestly sometimes in ways you wish you didn’t. Though I don’t regret any of my travel experiences, I’ve learned that just showing up to a country without doing research is not the best way to go about it. If you want to know more about my nitty-gritty experience with culture shock in Vietnam, you’ll enjoy the article I’ve linked below.

Related: Living in Hanoi, Vietnam- Why I’ll Never Go Back

Even Though Full Time Travel is the Best, Sometimes I Just Watch Netflix All Day

Before I became a full time traveler, I thought I WOULD NEVER spend time in my room. I believed that I’d spend every second doing cool things, or eating delicious food. Although I do have the freedom to do all of those things, on most days I’m just chilling at home, catching up on my remote job (you can learn more about that here), or watching Netflix. As a matter of fact, I recently got a Nintendo Switch, so now my free time is consumed with beating Super Mario. I know it seems crazy because the whole point of traveling full time is enjoying the outside world, but balance in such a crazy lifestyle is key to staying sane.

Annette and Daniel Fortner from Chase for Adventure getting on their first flight.

Full Time Travel Makes You Want to Travel Minimally

There’s something about carrying everything you own on your back all of the time, that makes you super conscious about what you have. When we were first researching what to pack for full time travel, we bought a bunch of stuff we thought we need. As a matter of fact, if you want a good laugh, here’s our packing video from before we started traveling, and here’s the one from almost 2 years in!

Every time I have to pack up all of our stuff and lug it to the airport or train station, I want to throw more of it away. I remember early on in our full time travels, I was compelled to wear the same outfit every day just so I didn’t have to carry my closet. With that said, if you’re wondering what to pack for full time travel, or want to travel ultra-light, check out our complete packing list and guide below!

Related: Best Travel Gear for Minimalist Travel- Everything You Need to Know

Staying in Shape is Hard when You’re Travelling Full Time (if you’re Lazy)

Okay. Listen up, when this article was first published back in August of 2018, this is what I wrote and what it was like…

“Food abroad isn’t exactly the healthiest. I went from eating a mostly vegetarian diet back home to eating chicken or choosing to starve. Asia is also world-famous for stir-frying EVERYTHING, so expect to eat the greasiest, most delicious food in the world! You’d think with all of the walking that we do that we would stay in good shape, but it fluctuates. Without any real western gym around, it’s hard to strength train unless you’re trekking mountains. Although we LOVE trekking, trails are not available everywhere we go. We have fully embraced the fact that some weeks we’re going to look like fitness models, and others we are going to feel fat. The lifestyle is still worth it.”

Now just days away from 2021, the world is a totally different ballgame. Staying in shape while traveling is easier than ever. My husband and I transitioned into a mostly vegan diet without any issues in most of Asia. Given, there are a few countries (I’m looking at you, Vietnam) where having dietary restrictions is complicated. But every city we’ve visited in the last year has had a proper gym, healthy food options, and plenty of ways to keep yourself fit on the road. With that said, if you’re too lazy to get yourself to the gym, and don’t have the discipline to choose healthy food, you’re going to run into trouble.

A group of full time travelers on the Ha Giang loop in Northern Vietnam.

You Make the Coolest Friends when you Become a Traveller

Traveling has allowed us to make friends with people from all around the world. As a matter of fact, most of our best friends are people we’ve met during our travels! This is because when you’re traveling, you’re usually your most authentic self, and so is everyone else. Because you’re only in a place for a short amount of time, you end up having super deep conversations with strangers. You connect with them in a totally different way than you would if you met someone at work back home.

As a matter of fact, while were in Vietnam we met a couple named Danni and David. We had been following them on Instagram for a while, and realized we were both going to be in Cat ba Island around the same time. Within 2 days we moved in together, bought motorbikes, and spent the next 2 weeks on the back of a motorcycle driving through the Ha Giang Loop in Northern Vietnam. We even got to film their proposal a few days later in Meo Vac! Warning, if you watch the video below, grab a box of tissues!

It’s amazing to be able to connect with people who are just as open-minded and free-spirited as we are. Because of the awesome people we meet, we know tons about other country’s cultures, political climates, and social standards. We’ve also learned dozens of card games ready to rock a party near you!

A woman in China with Chinese kids around her

Travelling Full Time Makes You Smarter

Full time travel has taught us so many skills I’m still amazed. Things like adaptability, critical thinking, the ability to read a map, and confidence! We’ve also learned so much about the world while traveling. Because of all of the people that we’ve met, we get to learn about other cultures, religions, and history straight from the source, instead of some textbook. We didn’t learn about the Vietnam war from an American textbook, we got to live in Vietnam and visit memorials. We’re constantly learning about different perspectives, having difficult conversations about opposing viewpoints, and growing our minds. Even outside of that, in the last few years of full time travel, we’ve learned other languages and even how to cook other cuisines!

Sometimes I Just Want a FREAKING Burger

I know, it’s basically blasphemy when there are so many delicious local options that I can choose from. But when you travel full time, you often go months without having a meal from back home. It’s an amazing and rewarding lifestyle, but sometimes there’s nothing like a Whopper from Burger King to make you feel like you’re back home, even if it’s just for a second. Thankfully, in places like Thailand, you kind find tons of delicious Western food, especially in cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Smaller cities and in countries that are less developed, you definitely have to stick with the local cuisine.

A full time traveling couple on the Ha Giang Loop in Northern Vietnam.

Travelling Full Time is the Best

There’s no way around it. Becoming a full time traveler is easily the best decision we’ve ever made in our lives. We get to make our own schedule, see the world, meet people, make new friends, and explore. We feel so free now that we live every single day with a purpose and presently. I never get excited about tomorrow, because I’m so busy loving and experiencing today. That’s a feeling I never thought I would get and I’m so grateful for the life we get to live now. If you’ve been considering this full time travel lifestyle, but don’t know where to start, check out our free mini course: 30 Days to Becoming a Digital Nomad! Within it I break down:

  • The best ways to make money while traveling full time
  • The limiting beliefs you have to overcome before hopping on that one-way flight
  • And the biggest mistake aspiring full time travelers make

Click here to get lesson 1!

Related: How to Travel Full time on a Budget

 

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