Financially Sustainable Travel: My Cost of Full-Time Travel in 2014

by Nora on April 13, 2015

Since 2010, I’ve published my cost of full-time travel; an uncensored breakdown of all my expenses for the year, demonstrating that full-time travel often costs less than living in one place. (At the end of this article you’ll find links to cost breakdowns for previous years).

What I Did in 2014

Here’s a quick summary of what 2014 held for me:

(See Also: 7 Countries and 34,000 miles: This Was 2014)

  • Two weeks in Panama
  • Three weeks in south Florida
  • A two-week personal retreat in mid-Florida
  • Five weeks in north Florida
  • A quick trip to Toronto Canada, enroute to:
  • Three months in Peru
  • Seven weeks in and around Toronto, Canada (with a quick trip to the Florida Keys in there)
  • Two weeks in the south of Spain
  • A week in Pesaro Italy
  • A few days back in Canada enroute to:
  • Four more months in Peru

Price Tag for 2014: $28,179

 

Monthly Breakdown

All amounts have been converted to US Dollars for ease of comparison.

JANUARY

Panama, USA

$2,417

After finishing up a house-sitting gig in Panama, I flew to Miami to stay with a friend for the rest of the month. My accommodation expense (much higher than normal, at a whopping $950) was a pre-payment for the personal retreat in Gulfport I treated myself to in February.

Transportation: $239

Food & Drink: $492

Groceries: $330

Phone: $36

Personal: $250

Business/Banking: $83

Gifts: $39

Accommodation: $948

 

FEBRUARY

USA

$1,686

After a couple of weeks of personal time in Gulfport Florida, I flew up to Santa Rosa Beach (Florida) to stay with a dear friend of mine. Accommodation was free, so I spent a bit extra stocking up on some personal items.

Transportation: $258

Food & Drink: $280

Groceries: $308

Phone: $13

Business/Banking: $239

Personal: $370

Medical: $110

Gifts: $108

 

MARCH

USA, Canada, Peru

$3,602

I stayed with my friend in Santa Rosa Beach through mid March, at which time I flew quickly up to Canada to catch a mystery shopping flight down to Peru.

The inflated business expenses include over $100 in withdrawal fees (before I upgraded my bank account to include unlimited foreign withdrawals), and medical expenses included some prescriptions as well as treatments for a frozen shoulder. The tour/activity expenditure included some Peruvian treks including a five-day excursion ending in Machu Picchu.

Transportation: $1,240

Food & Drink: $339

Groceries: $139

Phone: $14

Personal: $54

Business/Banking: $238

Medical: $447

Accommodation: $687

Tours/Activities: $444

 

APRIL

Peru

$2,038

I enjoyed discovering the delights of Peru in April.

Medical expenses include a series of healing sessions to fix up my frozen shoulder, and tours/activities include hikes, work with plant medicines, workshops, Spanish lessons, and more.

Transportation: $6

Food & Drink: $188

Groceries: $187

Phone: $7

Personal: $134

Business/Banking: $86

Medical: $121

Accommodation: $667

Tours/Activities: $642

 

MAY

Peru

$1,682

May was another blissful month in Peru, with more healing, hikes, and cultural exploration.

Transportation: $34

Food & Drink: $114

Groceries: $109

Phone: $11

Personal: $103

Business/Banking: $181

Medical: $36

Gifts: $48

Accommodation: $539

Tours/Activities: $507

 

JUNE

Peru, Canada

$1,611

Around mid-June, I flew back up to Canada to spend most of the summer with family and friends in and around Toronto.

Business/banking expenses included an annual credit card fee and accountant’s fee for filing my taxes. Accommodation was free since I was staying with friends, and tour/activity expenditures took the form of one last Peruvian trek.

Transportation: $222

Food & Drink: $336

Groceries: $177

Personal: $179

Business/Banking: $240

Medical: $80

Gifts: $122

Tours/Activities: $255

 

JULY

Canada, USA

$1,520

After a quick sponsored trip to the Florida Keys in early July, I spent most of the rest of the month with my Mum at a cottage in Muskoka, Ontario.

The transportation expense was to rent a car for our cottage time, and again, I had no accommodation expenses.

Transportation: $495

Food & Drink: $293

Groceries: $127

Personal: $374

Business/Banking: $104

Medical: $47

Gifts: $80

 

AUGUST

Canada, Spain, Gibraltar, Italy, Peru

$3,653

August was a big month, with a trip to Spain to visit some friends (and a side excursion to Gibraltar), then over to Italy to visit another friend. I returned to Canada at the end of the month before hopping on a plane back to Peru.

All that continent-hopping explains the transportation expenditure, and eating out in Europe isn’t cheap, hence the food & drink costs. The good news was that again, accommodation was free, so I spent some extra cash on gifts for my generous hosts.

Transportation: $2,152

Food & Drink: $647

Groceries: $375

Phone: $7

Personal: $164

Business/Banking: $145

Gifts: $163

 

SEPTEMBER

Peru

$2,826

I used September to settle into my new home in the Sacred Valley of Peru, where I would spend the rest of the year.

The insurance expense is my annual premium for international health insurance, and tours/activities included more hikes, Spanish lessons, plant medicine workshops, and more.

Transportation: $12

Food & Drink: $146

Groceries: $112

Phone: $7

Personal: $140

Business/Banking: $155

Accommodation: $530

Insurance: $1,211

Tours/Activities: $513

 

OCTOBER

Peru

$3,405

I did surprisingly little in October given the amount of money I spent. Transportation was a futile exercise in purchasing frequent flyer miles with US Airways for an anticipated trip that they wouldn’t let me book, and business/banking expenses included internet, annual dues for web hosting, associations, and my newsletter platform.

Transportation: $1,713

Food & Drink: $149

Groceries: $218

Personal: $110

Business/Banking: $535

Accommodation: $527

Tours/Activities: $153

 

NOVEMBER

Peru

$1,815

If you subtract my US Airways fiasco expense from October, you come up with about what I spent in November, which seems to be my general cost of living in Peru (including business expenses), and leaves me wanting for nothing.

Even so I had hefty business expenditures this month, including an advance ticket to the World Domination Summit inΒ July.

Transportation: $4

Food & Drink: $108

Groceries: $142

Personal: $56

Business/Banking: $820

Gifts: $25

Accommodation: $500

Tours/Activities: $160

 

DECEMBER

Peru

$1,924

Because my purse was stolen in December, I had to shell out some extra cash to buy a new smartphone/camera combo, which I’ve listed as a business expense. Also, I spent a bit of money on the holidays (both in gifts and personal expenses) but other than that, December was a fairly quiet month.

Transportation: $40

Food & Drink: $200

Groceries: $230

Phone: $22

Personal: $279

Business/Banking: $499

Gifts: $107

Accommodation: $547

 

 

Summary Notes

2014 was an interesting year for me, and a continued evolution of my full-time travel journey. $28,000 is much lower than my ridiculous high of $44,000 spent in 2013, which included $20,000 in unexpected expenses like recovering from a near-fatal accident, my $10,000 passport saga, supporting my (ex)partner, and more.

But $28,000 is also more than the $17,000 I spent to travel full-time in 2010 and 2011 (and curiously, it’s almost exactly what I spent in 2012).

This is in part due to the fact that I didn’t focus as much on free accommodation strategies as I typically have in the past. With my online career doing quite well, I’m at the point where I value free time and less responsibilities, rather than trading my time and energy for free accommodation as with volunteering or house-sitting. The good news on this front is that accommodation expenses in Peru are minimal and affordable.

And as you’ll see in my upcoming post outlining my income for 2014, my expenses for the year were more than sustainable – in fact I was able to save money.

This – as I’ve said before – is the art of financially sustainable full-time travel; it doesn’t have to be synonymous with tight budgets and forsaking comfort. It’s about spending within your means, and on the things that are important to you.

For previous annual reviews of my cost of full-time travel, check these posts out:

My Cost of Full-Time Travel for 2013

My Cost of Full-Time Travel for 2012

My Cost of Full-Time Travel for 2011

Ditto for 2010

 

 

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Faith April 13, 2015 at 10:58 am

Thanks for posting this Nora! I’ve never left the US but I hope to next year. Seeing these income reports is inspiring as I work towards my goal of traveling next year. In the past, I would look at your Cost of Full Time Travel reports and feel discouraged thinking ” I could never earn what she does as a freelance writer” but recently something clicked/changed within. This is possible only if I believe it is for me. I just have keeping on keeping on a freelance writer. Thank you!

Reply

2 Nora Dunn April 13, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Hi Faith,
You got it! It took me many years to develop the freelance writing income that I have today….a nice dose of tenacity as well as….Faith….is required! πŸ˜‰

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3 Jennifer Rose April 13, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Thank you for sharing this REAL information! I would like to travel the entire world some day and it helps to know some actual costs of using this method beforehand!

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4 Nora Dunn April 14, 2015 at 9:27 am

Thanks Jennifer,
And as you might see from previous years’ reports, the range of money you can spend varies quite dramatically!

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5 Tiffiney Lozano April 13, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Hi Nora,

Thank you for your transparency with these posts–it is really helpful to see it broken down and consider where I could trim or splurge.

I’m really curious what you use for phone/data and how you keep it to $7/month? That’s fantastic, and I want to sign up!

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6 Nora Dunn April 14, 2015 at 9:30 am

Hi Tiffiney,
I travel with an unlocked phone and insert local pay-as-you-go SIM cards (or International SIM cards) wherever I go. I rarely if ever use data on my phone, so my telecommunication costs are minimal. Sure beats a $100/month plan, huh? πŸ˜‰

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7 Tiffiney April 17, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Sure does! Thanks Nora!

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8 grasya April 13, 2015 at 9:39 pm

Thanks for always being transparent.. I’ve travelled with $10-$25/day as average expenses so it will take a long time for me to grasp the idea of spending $2000/month xD… can’t wait to explore the other side of the world thru your tips though! ^_^

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9 Nora Dunn April 14, 2015 at 9:31 am

Hi Grasya,
Wow – that’s a great budget to travel with! And that includes your international travel costs and business expenses etc too? That’s all-in?

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10 Shannon Terry April 14, 2015 at 1:57 am

Hi Nora –

I just can’t help myself from commenting that I LIVE in Gulfport, FL! I found out about your blog & adventures from some post or another that Barbara Winter (author of Making a Living Without a Job which you may or may not know) years ago. Fellow house/petsitter & international traveler myself, working up my resume business to a point that I may do some version of following in your footsteps!

Anyway, just had to say hello after seeing my town mentioned (it’s a cute place, isn’t it?) If it’s not too personal, I’d be curious to hear what brought you here. (if you wrote about it I missed those posts)

Cheers!

Shannon

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11 Nora Dunn April 14, 2015 at 9:37 am

Hi Shannon,
Small world! I didn’t write too much about my Gulfport adventures as it was a week-long personal retreat for myself, but I did write a little bit here:
http://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/2014/02/tale-pics-serendipity-gulfport-florida/

Good luck with your resume business – a great location independent career to take on the road with you!

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12 Laura // Roam Far and Wide April 14, 2015 at 1:57 am

I so appreciate you sharing this. I was raised in a family where we were taught never to talk about money so to me it seems extremely bold. But it’s so helpful in understanding how you do it and what to expect. Thanks!

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13 Nora Dunn April 14, 2015 at 9:41 am

Hi Laura,
Indeed, money is a very taboo topic in many places/cultures, which is too bad; why is it that we will talk about the latest anti-depressants we’re taking, or our sex lives, before we will talk about money?
Not talking about money and not educating our kids about it doesn’t empower anybody – it just creates a generation of people who can’t manage their finances and are perpetually crippled by them.
(Sorry for the rant….that vein runs deep)! πŸ˜‰

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14 Dana April 14, 2015 at 10:21 am

I want to stay in Peru, too!!!

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15 Nora Dunn April 15, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Dana – LOL! It’s a good place to stay. πŸ˜‰

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16 Tim H April 14, 2015 at 3:32 pm

I’m a bit of a money tracking geek and look forward to cost roundups like this every year. Thanks for sharing Nora.

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17 Nora Dunn April 15, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Hi Tim,
Tracking expenses does get a bit addictive, doesn’t it? I actually look forward to reconciling my expenses each month! (I don’t think I’m normal).

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18 Ms. Canadian Expat April 17, 2015 at 2:13 pm

This was really interesting to read, Nora! Like others, I find it incredibly helpful and inspiring to see the breakdown. I plan to be location independent too and slow travel full-time, while making trips back to Canada to visit my family. I love how you march to the beat of your own drum. Keep up the fantastic work! πŸ™‚

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19 Nora Dunn April 17, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Thank you very much, Ms. Canadian Expat! Happy travel/lifestyle planning….see you on the road!

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20 Nancie May 5, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Great post, Nora! For me, the realization is that full-time travel doesn’t have to be over the top expensive. I travel 5 months of the year, but always come back to a full time job, so I never really keep a good tab on my expenses. Next time, I will try an make a point of tallying up the ‘bill’.!

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21 Nora Dunn May 6, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Hi Nancie,
It takes some work to track expenses, but I find it to be a very illuminating exercise. If you have an iPhone, this is one of my fav expense tracking apps:
http://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/2013/04/financial-travel-tip-76-tracking-expenses-with-trail-wallet/

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