Andrew and Peta Murray from Top Wire Traveller have been travelling full-time for a while now. Maybe you’re thinking of doing this too. How much does this dream lifestyle cost month-to-month? Andrew and Peta share their experiences so far.
So you’re dreaming of travelling full-time. No time restraints, no deadlines and the freedom to go where you want, when you want. The idyllic lifestyle. But is this really achievable? How much does this lifestyle cost, and how can you afford it?
The short answer is, it depends. It depends on your current lifestyle, your financial position, your preferred style of travel, and what stage of life you’re at.
We’re both still working age, our kids have left school and are independent. Remote outback travel is our ideal style of travel. We worked long and hard before we were able to drive out the front gate and hit the road.
The Secret To Starting Your New Life
If you’re serious about full-time travel, you need a plan. Our goals were clear, and we set these goals eight years before we switched to our life on the road.
Our two primary goals were to start travelling in 2018 and be debt-free. Being debt-free is critical. You need to clear the decks and start your travels with no other financial commitments. Why is this so important?
Well if you have debts to pay, then you won’t be truly free. We spent years leading up to our departure madly saving and paying off our house. By paying off our debts, we were able to start our new nomadic lifestyle with a clean slate.
Consider the alternative for a moment.
Say you’ve committed to travel full-time, wandering Oz at will. Maybe you’ve decided you’ll have to work occasionally to top up the bank account. Temporary work is a great way to meet people and get to know the region you’re in.
But, there’s a big difference between working to top up your bank account and working to pay off your mortgage or a large credit card debt. The former is a choice you’re making… the latter is a permanent burden ever-present in the back of your mind.
So plan to be debt-free before you leave.
So How Much Does It Cost?
For us, we allow $1,000 per week for two of us. “What???” I hear some of you say. “We could live like kings on $1,000 per week!!”
Be careful though, our weekly budget covers everything. For instance, look at vehicle costs alone. Repairs, servicing, road service, normal wear and tear items like tyres and brakes, rego, insurances, fuel.
Budget for things like phone bills. You might also have a satellite phone or Emergnecy Position Indicating Radio Becaon (EPIRB). They’ll be on a monthly or yearly plan. You might have paid online subscriptions, health cover, another car you’re keeping at home “just in case” and so on. Allow to replace lost or broken gear and remember, clothing wears out. Itemise every expense and decide if each one is a “must have” or a “nice to have”.
We own our house (remember debt-free mentioned earlier?) and rent it out. This generates income, however we still need to pay land rates plus maintain a repairs and maintenance kitty for the house.
If you have a house and don’t rent it out, then you’ll still be paying all the bills… water, electricity, gas, land rates, telephone.
The remainder of our income comes from writing web content (articles, re-writing websites and so on) for other businesses. I suppose that makes us digital nomads!
A Simple Formula
Our costs are fairly consistent week to week. Of course, there are the big hitters like truck rego and insurances once a year. But we’ve already budgeted for these in our $1,000 per week figure.
We like to travel to remote places, those out of the way places with no one else around. However, we also need regular Internet connection for our work and travel website. And we like to keep moving. Away from Internet reception, we tend to move nearly every day. Then we’ll stop in a town with reception and work solidly for a few days.
Interestingly, our weekly costs don't really vary much. If we’re travelling, we’re spending lots of money on fuel but little on food and accommodation.
Once in a town, our fuel bill disappears, however, accommodation, food and entertainment cost rise accordingly. The more time you spend in towns, the more money you’ll spend.
So we’re finding there’s a simple formula in how we travel. From a financial perspective, remote travel vs staying in towns works out to be a similar cost.
Avoid The Crash Diet
Spoil yourself occasionally. Still, do things you enjoy, maybe a pub dinner, a tour or even that helicopter flight over Purnululu you’ve always wanted to do.
Whatever you do, don’t go on the financial equivalent of a crash diet. You’ll be diligent for a while, carefully minding your pennies. However, the novelty will soon wear off and a binge will inevitably follow. Then you’ve blown your budget.
Always keep in mind you’re living the life you’ve dreamt about for years. Think about your lifestyle now and the things you’d like to maintain. Maybe you want to continue your weekly dinner night out or that expensive bottle of port you like.
That’s fine. Just make sure you budget for it.
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Reality Or Pipedream?
So can you really afford to travel full-time? Well, it depends on you.
We know of pensioners who travel and live solely off the pension. They allow so much per week for fuel, then stop once they’ve spent their fuel budget and don’t move until their next pension payment.
We also know of people who’ve had a financial windfall and don’t care how much they spend.
Most of us fall somewhere in between. Regardless of your estimated weekly budget, if you’re absolutely determined to live the dream lifestyle then you’ll find a way to make it happen.