In this series, we’re exploring the various careers of world travelers, and how they make ends meet financially while living abroad. Yes, financially sustainable travel is possible!
In 2012, LeAnna and Andy Brown decided it was time to see the world. They wanted to start somewhere in Europe and started applying for jobs all over. Eventually, Andy won a job in Bavaria Germany, which ended up being the perfect base location for checking out the rest of Europe. Here is how LeAnna and Andy Brown earn their living and travel the world!
Where have you been?
In the four years we’ve been in Germany, we have been to almost 40 new counties, including most of the EU, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and much of Southeast Asia.
Please describe what you do for income.
I currently run the blog, EconomicalExcursionists.com where I help people figure out how to budget travel and travel hack. This allows me to work from just about anywhere in the world!
Andy is a “real” adult with a “real” job as a computer programmer. Meaning, he has a traditional job where he typically works 40 hours a week.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
I work about 30-40 hours a week on writing and the blog, but that is give or take depending on where we are at in the world!
Andy is required to work 40 hours a week. However, he was able to find several loopholes in the fine print for taking PTO, allowing him to bank up tons of hours to cash in for later or work holidays to save for later days, all allowing for us to travel for extensive periods of time. There are some weeks where he is working 80 hours in one week so that he can take off an entire week without having to take any time off! It is pretty creative and takes a lot of dedication on his part, but when we get to travel so much and not have it affect his pay, it is totally worth it.
How much money do you make?
We are extremely fortunate due to Andy’s job, financially speaking. One of the reasons why we have chosen a “real job” approach to life as opposed to just being nomads is that we wanted to have financial security. Honestly, it is not for right now, but we want it for the near future so that we can be “financially independent,” meaning that we only will rely on ourselves and our savings in our near future. He makes about $95,000/year (due to living internationally and getting really great tax breaks), which I know what you are thinking….well of COURSE you can travel as much as you want!!! But, that isn’t the whole story…
We are also EXTREMELY frugal people. Instead of looking at how much we make and go hog-wild, we set a budget that we are able to spend annually and then stick to it; no matter the income.
Instead of looking at the annual income, you need to actually look at what we allow ourselves to live off of. We live on about $35,000 a year, which includes daily expenses, food, rent, car payments…and yes, TRAVEL. Many people say we must be rich because of the amount of travel we do, but the truth is, we are able to live and travel on a pretty bare budget. We don’t even allow ourselves to look at the top dollar, because we know our budget is $35,000…so we can’t go over that.
So, the truth is, if we can travel the amount that we do and still live off of less than $3,000 a month, I believe most people can (if they are willing to make it a priority).
With EconomicalExcursionists actually only being a few months old, I currently make pennies with the blog, but am hoping to start bringing in some residual income from our FlyerMiler Travel Hacking tool as well as other revenue sources as it continues to grow. The long term goal is to have me start making enough money to help Andy cut back on work, allowing for even more flexibility for family and travel time.
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
The keyword here is “Lifestyle.” We are not elaborate people and are quite content with the simple things in life.
With that being said, we also travel continuously but we also travel hack most of our destinations, don’t pay for television services at home, only share one car, and I’ll even cut Andy’s hair, just to save a few bucks! Between pinching pennies and travel hacking, we are able to have enough money to have food on the table, a small apartment, and are able to travel to just about anywhere we want.
Any money that we make in addition to our annual budget is put straight into investments, retirement and savings funds that we won’t touch until we are financially independent (aka aren’t working any longer).
See also: Financial Planning for Travelers
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
Things are quickly changing for the EconomicalExcursionists! Baby #1 is on the way, which we know will drastically change our amount and type of travel! The intention and hope is to continue to travel a while longer within Europe after Baby B is born, but of course, we’ll have to see! (Follow up with me in a year when I am sleep deprived and have a teething baby in tow!)
However, once our Europe tour is done, that doesn’t mean we are willing to hang up the maps quite yet. When we return to the States with a small family in tow, we intend on buying an RV and traveling throughout the US. It is embarrassing how much of the rest of the world we have seen when we’ve barely even touched on our own home country! Our goal will be to continue to penny pinch our way through traveling and show families that travel is still possible and affordable!
Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?
Don’t worry what other people think!!!
I cut Andy’s hair myself to save a few bucks (and no, it does NOT always look great!) I also have a “rule” where I won’t pay more than $10 for an article of clothing (uuum, hello, that is practically a Ryan Air flight right there!) and instead of turning on/up the heaters, we are more inclined to throw on an extra layer of long underwear. Do we get “made fun of?” ALL THE TIME! But guess what? My life isn’t any worse without those expensive new shoes AND I get to see the world! So, I win!
Also, don’t worry what people will think about your lifestyle in general. If traveling is what you want to do, then find ways to make it happen! People may think you are being foolish or throwing away a career or opportunity back home. But, if you know that seeing the world is what you need to do, then do it for you, not them!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Many people think that you can’t have it all.
Most travelers, and adults in general, think that you either are a permanent nomad that barely scrapes by with enough money to eat or you have to be “real adults” with “real jobs” where you work 9-5 every day and only get a few weeks off a year. The reality is, you can find jobs that are flexible and allow for travel if you look hard enough. But the truth is, you can define what you want. Sure, it may take digging and relentless research to find the right company, job, etc but if travel and living affordably and comfortably is important, then you make it priority….and then make it happen!
LeAnna and Andy Brown just celebrated the birth of their first child (yay!), but they’re still busy online; LeAnna just released a completely free e-course that is a beginner’s guide to travel hacking, called 5 Days to Free Travel. Check it out!