Financially Sustainable Travel: My 2014 Income

by Nora on April 27, 2015

Each year, I publish my cost of full-time travel, as well as my income for the year. I do this not to set the bar for what you should earn or what you should spend in order to make your travels financially sustainable; rather – as the years go by and my own income and expenses vary – to demonstrate that there is no bar.

Here was my income for 2013.

Here was my income for 2012.

Ditto for 2011.


2014 Income Sources

Note: I earned income in US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, British Pounds, and other currencies. All has been converted to US Dollars for ease of comparison.

Freelance Writing: $15,726

This is considerably less than the $30,000 I made last year (and is more in line with what I earned in 2012). But it’s also an expected decrease given that 2013 included a few large one-time lump sum payments. I also dropped a few gigs this year, and picked up a new one with CreditWalk.


Affiliate Sales: $9,808

Affiliate sales are up 15% from last year, partially due to an ever-increasing income from Amazon, which alone came to almost $5,300.


Advertising: $3,703

This is a hair more than last year; I choose my advertising ventures carefully and vet them for suitability to my readers, so I never count on advertising income to be massive.


Book Sales: $1,567

This represents the ongoing sales of my two books How to Get Free Accommodation Around the WorldΒ and Tales of Trains: Where the Journey is the Destination. Towards the end of the year I also released Tales of Trains on paperback, so these sales not only represent digital downloads, but also Amazon paperback orders.


Other: $280

This category is mostly comprised of royalty payments for a Hollywood movie I was in (a few lifetimes ago) and for my first book (10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget).



…..which is about $12,000 less than last year. This was expected, since I received a few lump sum payments in 2013 that upped my income accordingly. I’m not mourning the decrease in income either; if you compare it to my cost of full-time travel in 2014, I still earned more than I spent (by a few thousand), so all is good.


What’s on for 2015?

The recent launch of Working on the Road: The Unconventional Guide to Full-Time Freedom represents over a year and a half of work, and I’m thrilled it has finally hit the market. I expect it will kick out a nice little chunk of income in 2015, and will generate passive income in months and years to come. In recent years I’ve been attentive to developing various forms of passive income (such as affiliate sales, books, and more), and 2015 will be a year of reaping the dividends of this work.

If you’ve read between the lines in the last few months, you’ll know I’ve been bound for some life changes. I’m no longer inspired by a life of sitting in front of a computer and being tied to the internet every day, and I’m taking measures to find other ways to earn money and engage the world in a different way.

As such, you’re going to see me on social media less often, and I’m scaling down the number of posts I publish on this site. (I used to publish three times per week; now I’ve reduced it to one to two posts per week). I also dropped most of my freelance writing gigs at the end of 2014 to make time and space for new opportunities. Having said that, I’m not entirely sure what those new opportunities will look like, but I have a few ideas:

  • When I first landed in Peru in March 2014, I started doing some work with plant medicines, and in a few months I accomplished exponentially more in terms of personal development and healing than 10 years of psychotherapy could possibly have afforded me. In my love for working with the medicine, I started to assist with ceremonies (providing a little bit of income), and I will be carrying this process through 2015 and I’m even doing an apprenticeship. (More on that in a future post).
  • I also have some opportunities with a potential business partner to start putting together some different types of retreats that will include adventure activities and spiritual exploration. And I’ve been talking for years about putting together a retreat for people who want to learn the ins and outs of financially sustainable full-time travel; this might be the year to get off my butt and organize one.

These opportunities (and whatever might lay around the next corner, which I’m open to) are quite exciting for me, but won’t exactly pay the bills for quite some time. Thus, I expect my income in 2015 is going to drop. But I’m prepared for this with some savings that can float me for a while, and my home base in Peru has a low cost of living that makes a transition like this possible.

In 2006, I redesigned my life to embrace my dreams and recapture my passion and inner flame, which had quelled. It led me to a life of full-time travel and eight years of unparalleled adventures.

Now, I’m doing it again.

I’ll be musing more on this in weeks and months to come; it’s an interesting process, and in some ways, I’m finding it more difficult this time than I found it to sell everything I owned (including a busy financial planning practice) eight years ago.

But life is for living; and I’m excited to sip from the cup of the unknown and venture into new lands, ideas, and passions. Here’s to an amazing adventure in 2015!


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elles April 27, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Great to read about your involvement with plant medicine and I especially like your idea for the retreats you want to put together! Combining adventure activities with spiritual exploration – that is my perfect mix!!! If you ever need an employee for those retreats you can call me haha! >> I’m an outdoor education instructor & I’m getting a yoga & meditation teacher certificate in the near future! πŸ™‚
Plus I love travel; your blog has helped me along my way (wooffed at Mana retreat @ NZ, housesit gigs,…).


2 Nora Dunn April 27, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Hi Elles,
Thank you so much! And I’m thrilled you discovered Mana Retreat….cool place, huh? πŸ™‚ I’ll let you know if I need help with my own retreats too. πŸ˜‰


3 Eileen Chadnick April 27, 2015 at 3:51 pm

What an inspired, courageous and authentic life you live Nora! I am truly in awe of how you really live your values and the learning, growth and evolution your choices have brought you. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what’s next for you. Thanks for sharing!


4 Nora Dunn April 27, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Eileen! Thank you.
How wonderful that our relationship harks back to my financial planning days! Of all people, you’ve certainly seen me go through a transition or three! πŸ™‚


5 Chelsea @ Broke Girl Gets Rich April 27, 2015 at 5:59 pm

I always love reading how people are able to travel on a budget – I think it’s one thing that inspired me to set out and do it on my own.

Last year, I made less than $10,000 and still managed to spend most of the year traveling through Asia. It was wonderful!


6 Nora Dunn April 27, 2015 at 8:24 pm

That’s awesome, Chelsea! As you well know, travel can suit many budgets and incomes; glad you’re able to see the world on any budget!


7 Tiffany April 27, 2015 at 9:40 pm

Hey Nora, I always appreciate how you post these years in review. Thanks for sharing and putting all the work into your site! Best, Tiff


8 Nora Dunn April 28, 2015 at 7:02 pm

Cheers, Tiff! πŸ™‚


9 Jamie V April 28, 2015 at 9:14 am

I’m so glad to see/meet another person on the plant medicine journey! I read your linked articles and it filled me with joy to see how they’ve also helped you (it’s rather amazing how much it can help!). Seeing you pursue more work in the area is very encouraging: I’ve been thinking about going back to Peru and not only participating in more ceremonies, but I’d like to offer my own assistance for others – I truly believe in its healing qualities and helping others experience this. Perhaps when I am able to go back and find a retreat to call home for awhile, I will run into you! Thank you for this post (and all the others – I’m sorry I’ve just been a lurker til now!) and I sincerely look forward to reading about this path you are on. Take care and best wishes, Nora!


10 Nora Dunn April 28, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Thank you so much for your support, Jamie! Maybe we’ll meet in Peru some day….


11 Turner April 28, 2015 at 10:24 am

Now that’s interesting. I didn’t know you published these numbers. I’m making more working full-time in the states, naturally, but it’s all about tradeoffs. I think rather than going back to freelancing I’d rather try to get my book written while working here (or taking a LONG vacation) and see where that leads.


12 Nora Dunn April 28, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Hi Turner,
When I lived in Canada, I made over 4 times as much money…..and you know what? I discovered that above a certain income level, I wasn’t living a “better” life….it actually cost me more money to make more money!
I’ve also made more money in recent years while traveling, but again, I’m in search of my “happy place” where I don’t have to work that much and still can make (more than) enough to live.
It’s certainly a work in progress.
I vote for the long vacation option so you can write your book. Sounds delicious!


13 Sasha April 30, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Hi Nora,

I’ll be very interesting to see how you transition. After about 7 years travel, 5 of it full time while working online, I, too, began to tire of being tied to the internet and my computer. So I thought that coming back to the U.S. and taking a full time job for a short while I build new skills and develop my other interests would be a good idea. I have found, though, that after being location independent (5 years) and self-employed (10+ years) that things are not working out. The lifestyle, the culture, the people, the way of thinking are all too limited and too limiting for me. So I, too, am journeying inside to find what I want to do next and how I want to do it.

Here’s to life changes and smooth transitions! I hope yours goes very well πŸ™‚



14 Nora Dunn May 1, 2015 at 10:23 am

HI Sasha!
Your journey and transitions sound very interesting. I too, would have trouble returning to North America and our old ways. I hope you find a new, satisfying, and fulfilling direction! Yay for transitions. πŸ˜‰


15 rebecca May 1, 2015 at 4:41 am

Inspiring to read! Thanks for the figures. πŸ™‚
Well done on making more then you spend


16 Nora Dunn May 1, 2015 at 10:24 am

Thank you, Rebecca!


17 Madisyn May 1, 2015 at 7:26 am

Wow! What an honest post. I am looking to get serious about my blog but have no idea how, where or the amount I could one day possibly make (with hard work of course) thank you for being so honest and open about your income. It’s nice to see another Canadian blogger doing son well πŸ™‚


18 Nora Dunn May 1, 2015 at 10:29 am
19 william ellett ( glenn ) May 5, 2015 at 9:52 pm

hello Nora
some of your photos are wonderful….
is that stream at base camp?
I’ve been a vagabond forever and can relate to all the scenarios.
for me you inspire me not because of your budget, but just you travel so well…
I’m a big fan of trains so will bee reading it soon…
thank you for the inspiration


20 Nora Dunn May 6, 2015 at 4:55 pm

No the photos are from the sacred valley of Peru. But there are many similarities between the Andes and the Himalayas!
Thank you for your kind words. πŸ™‚


21 Tricia @ The Adventure List May 17, 2015 at 1:14 am

Good luck with your new adventures. I think you would be great on the retreat homefront. Looking forward to hearing how you make it work for you.


22 Nora Dunn May 18, 2015 at 10:50 am

Thank you, Tricia! Stay tuned….. πŸ™‚


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