You might dream of a vacation getaway to zest up your life. Or maybe you dream big and you long for a way to be retired and traveling nonstop, instead of working and commuting in the daily grind. You probably wonder how to have an endless travel itinerary — where every day is like a vacation.
We knew a long time ago that an endless travel lifestyle was plausible. We knew this because we tested our theory. We used one easy way to see if we could travel forever.
I will share the method we used. You can take that information, and put it to work in your own life, to determine if you want the Earth Vagabond lifestyle. Whether you want nonstop travel or long-term travel for much of the year, this method will help you make lifestyle decisions.
Are you ready for the single, easy method we used?
It’s so super simple – anyone can do this:
We took vacations to inexpensive places and lived more like locals than tourists.
That’s it. That’s the method we used to test if we could live with an endless travel itinerary in early retirement.
Our vacations were like “trial runs” for a retired and traveling lifestyle.
But what does that really mean? ‘To live more like a local than a tourist on a test run?’ I will break it down into five simple steps.
The details on these test runs are written for people who have already taken at least some steps toward early retirement. If you haven’t gotten started on that yet, please see our post on the first four steps anyone can take at anytime towards early retirement.
Test run: How to have an endless travel itinerary
1.) Get at least 10 days off from work
For more than a decade, we saved up our vacation time so that we could take a week or 10 days off and go somewhere in Mexico or Central America once or twice a year (most years). We chose those locations because it was easy to get there by plane when we had limited travel time during our careers. Dreaming of places on the other side of the globe, such as Southeast Asia, fueled our desire for an endless travel itinerary. Seeing the world is impossible when you are on limited time.
If you can find the time to go further from home while on vacation, you’re lucky!
2.) Plan your budget & destination
Go someplace you want to see – any place that calls to you. After all, this is a ‘vacation’ from your daily grind, so you should have some fun! We used Playa del Carmen and Tulum, also Punta Allen, Mahahual, and other sites in Mexico. We also planned visits to Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica. We saw huge lakes, volcanoes, remote islands, beautiful beaches.
First, we selected inexpensive countries that were easy to get to from the U.S., and then we looked at what we wanted to see in those countries.
3.) Research places to stay — away from tourist zones
If you want surf, Baja California is close and easy to west coast states, but it doesn’t have to be around tourist-mecca Cabo San Lucas. Or, if you want adventure, fly to Panama City and take a jeep over the mountains or a double propeller plane over to the San Blas Islands.
Airbnb wasn’t around when we made our test runs. We used mom-and-pop hotels with small kitchen amenities or hostels. We saved money with some meals at ‘home base.’
It is not possible to always have a kitchen, and it’s not possible to get away from hotel pricing on short trips. But if you downsize a little from the typical expensive vacation-mode, you can get a better idea on costs and local living styles outside resort fantasy lands. We knew we were more likely to have an endless travel itinerary if we skipped the five-star resorts.
Just don’t book an all-inclusive resort in Cancun. You get the idea.
4.) Record every dollar you spend
This is pretty straightforward — but it may be the most important point!
Smart phones didn’t come along until 2007(ish) and we were already on test runs for years by then. We took pocket-sized notepads and recorded expenses by hand. When we returned home and back to work, we opened up the notepad and examined our spending. We saw that if we spent $300 – $500 in a week’s time on everything, it would likely cost four times that for a month.
This is how we estimated how much money we would need to keep going nonstop on an endless travel itinerary. We knew we would need $1,500 in savings each month, minimum.
Our guess was correct. Today we spend that amount – or less – from our savings. We also have passive income from a long-term rental unit in Ohio. That income is icing on the cake, and we try to average $2,000 a month total.
If you are new to this site, we break down many of our monthly budgets. Some examples:
You cannot make educated guesses on what your expenses will be in the long-term picture if you do not know how much money you spend while on these short-term test runs.
5.) Push your limits the next time you take a vacation
In the beginning, way back in 2002, we looked for the best airfare deals and that’s how we picked our destinations. Later, we spent a bit more money — but still looked for deals — so we could experience new places and push our limits. By 2013, we were comfortable flying into Managua, Nicaragua.
By the time we were ready to try full-time slow travel in 2015, we had already been to a few places in Mexico and Central America where most vacationing tourists don’t usually go. So we already knew we loved experiencing places of all kinds – tourist meccas and also more remote destinations. We knew we liked variety.
Sometimes, we didn’t book a hotel first – we just arrived and asked around. Those were the good old days! Spontaneous adventures! That’s fun for a week – but now we are on a lifestyle adventure, not a vacation test run. Today we tend to book for a month at a time, and we are limited in selection if we don’t book early.
The biggest test came when I moved to Tulum, Mexico, for five months. Would I get homesick? Would I miss a working life? Would I want to go back to the U.S.? NO, NO, and NO. LOL.
My point for your later and final test runs is this: spend extended time somewhere before you go all in for an endless travel itinerary. Especially if you are going to do this as frugal travel. Simple living versus resort living can be an ocean apart.
Don’t live vicariously through us — live your life!
When people find out we retired early to travel the world nonstop, they can’t seem to believe it. Often people say they are living vicariously though us. Don’t be one of those people. If you want to do this — you can at least try this vacation test run method. Get out of the tourist areas. Get out of your comfort zone. Stay on budget. Stretch your travel limits. Grow your mind. Feed your soul.
Continuous travel definitely is not for everyone. But everything starts with something, and so why not give it the test-run try? And if you decide an endless travel itinerary isn’t for you, you might discover you would prefer a month of travel, or six months, or some amount of time that feels right to you. Or, at the very least, you’ll have had some vacation adventures — outside the tourist zones.