Nancy and her family cycled 17,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina living off mainly rental income from investment properties. We are so pleased to have her share her story on how they did it and how much it cost them.
How much money was in your pocket/wallet/bank account when you started on your travel adventure? And how did you decide that was enough to get started?
We had enough to live on fairly comfortably for several years in our retirement account. Although we hoped we wouldn’t have to tap into that, we were willing to do so if we needed to.
We had ATM cards from our bank accounts – 2 different accounts in case something happened with one of them. We withdrew money every few days in local currency. We also learned the hard way to withdraw about a week’s worth of currency as soon as we crossed into a new country and stash it just in case we couldn’t find a working ATM – we spent that money our final week in the country.
What methods do you currently use to make money while you travel (in order of most value)?
We have invested our retirement money in rental properties, and the rental income makes up a large portion of our income right now. We also have a blog, which brings in a bit. And I’m a writer with five books out, so that brings in a bit. I do some personal coaching. I am also a bead artist, and sell both my bead work and loose beads. None of these income streams are huge, but together they add up.
I can’t remember any that outright failed, but some things have been more successful than others.
At one point, my husband started a website about travel technology about all kinds of technological stuff that travelers might need to know about. Unfortunately, rather than going general, he went with specifics – like which brand/model of camera holds up the best. That was simply too much work to keep up with.
Our rentals bring in, after expenses, about $1,500/month. We tend to live very cheaply, so could live on that if we needed to. All the rest is additional income that is nice to have, but not essential.
As you've travelled the world and met other travellers, what is the most unusual way you've heard of other people creating an income on the road?
I heard of someone who was a dominatrix to support her travels. I didn’t even know such a thing existed.
How much do you spend (on average) each month?
Flights/transport: Very little. We ride our bikes, so transport costs are low.
Accommodation/utilities: About $600/month. If we are in more expensive countries, we camp to keep costs down. If we are cheaper countries, that amount will get us a basic hostel.
Food: This is big for us. Because we demand a lot from our bodies, we need a lot of quality food. Probably $700/month for the four of us.
Tours & Entertainment: We always set aside $500/month for extra one-off expenses. That could be a tour to Machu Picchu or the Galapagos, or it could be used to buy replacement parts for our bikes. We didn’t use that budget for months on end, then would splurge and spend thousands in a week.
Miscellaneous: $100-ish. Replacing clothes as they wore out or whatever.
Mobile/communication: $100-ish. We used local internet cafes to maintain our blog.
Total outgoing expenses: Roughly $2,000 per month.
What have been the ways that you've saved the most amount of money?
Given that the most expensive part of travel is getting from point A to point B, if you can minimize those expenditures, you’ve got it made. We used our bikes for that. I can’t imagine how expensive our travels would have been if we had to pay for buses/trains/planes.
What's things have been the biggest waste of money for you?
Machu Picchu. It’s very expensive to get there, even though we were sponsored for 50% of the costs. The site, although spectacular, is overrun with tourists and has become nothing more than a standard tourist trap. Given the fact that my husband had wanted to visit it for many, many years, I am glad we went, but I would not want to go again.
What is the best money generation/management tip that you read/heard that impacted your life?
Buy rentals, and hire a property manager. We pay our manager 8% of the rent, and she is worth every penny. Because of her, we can gallivant around the world and not worry about our houses – she deals with it all.