Money, money, money, money!
Of course, this is a topic that EVERYONE is curious about! I think one of the biggest hurdles to making travel part of your lifestyle is figuring out just how to fund it! I have actually been doing some research in this area for a project I am helping with and there is not a lot of information out there on exactly how all these traveling families earn their living. Big thanks for those of you who do share so you can inspire others!
A bit about our family travel lifestyle….
Our family is not fully nomadic. Back in the day when we first started out, we thought we wanted to be fully nomadic. It seemed so romantic to sell all of our possessions and figure out a way to travel the world indefinitely. We had a lot of time to think and scheme on exactly how we wanted to set up our lifestyle back then (we were waiting for our house to sell and it took over a year!). We came to the realization that we did not want to travel indefinitely. We realized that we really like to have a home base and that cultivating community is a huge part of what we love about our lives.
With that in mind, we decided to create a lifestyle where we could travel for part of the year and have a home base for the other part. We aren’t big fans of winter, so traveling to warmer locations in the winter months seemed like the ideal scenario. At first, we felt six months a year would be a great fit. Now, however, we know that 3-4 months fits our family a bit better. It is just long enough to get homesick but not so long that we are longing for home instead of enjoying the journey.
In the beginning, we financed our first trip by selling our home. Once we returned from our six-month backpacking tour of Asia we were able to purchase the house we now live in. Our current house is tiny by North American standards at 742 sq ft (68 sq meters). It was also terribly run down when we got it (so run down it was not liveable so we lived in a motorhome for a year). As Mike is a carpenter and I have a good eye for design, we completely renovated the home ourselves (which took almost a year and a whole lot of sweat equity). Because we decided to downsize to such a small home and were able to put so much of our own labour into it as well as second hand and scavenged materials, we now live in our pint-sized palace debt free.
Having a place to lay our heads without a mortgage weighing us down is, in my mind, the biggest reason we can afford to travel. My advice to those who want to travel AND have a home is to get out of your mortgage as quickly as possible. Sell the big house, downsize, buy a fixer-upper, move to a cheaper part of town, or a cheaper part of the country! If that is not possible then buy a home that you can rent out as a vacation rental while you are away or find some other way to have someone else pay at least part, if not all, of your mortgage.
Once we returned from our first six-month backpacking journey in Asia and finished the renovation on our home, we continued to travel every winter. Our travels were funded by my husband Mike’s work as a carpenter. He is self-employed and there has never been a shortage of work for him. When we got home from a trip he would start accepting work and when we were ready to start traveling he would stop! As we had no mortgage we were able to live off of and save money on what he earned as a carpenter.
One of the biggest ways we can save money for travel is by living small. We reject consumerist culture and prefer to shop at thrift stores and garage sales. We grow a lot of our own food, raise chickens for eggs, and have raised pigs and chickens for meat. We do our best to spend less so we can save more and spend our money on what makes us truly happy.
Our earning scenario has now evolved into multiple income streams.
It seems that every time we come back from a big trip we have a new business idea and the passion and energy to create another stream of income! Not only do we meet many amazing families who inspire us on our travels, we also have the time to keep re-examining our lives which always seems to give birth to new passions!
We now have six income streams instead of one. None of these incomes could finance our lifestyle on their own, but having several gives us security should one of them fail.
- Mike still works as a carpenter but we have been actively working on getting him out of this business as the job is so physically demanding.
- We earn a small amount of advertising income on a local website we started.
- We import clothes and sell them at a local market in the summer months.
- We started a small organic bulk food business where we sell bulk quantities of dried organic goods to our local community four times per year.
- As part of our organic food business, we landed a gig selling organic popcorn popped with organic coconut oil at a monthly concert a local winery puts on in the summer months. It is good money for the hours spent, we get excellent advertising for our business, and we get to watch five free concerts a year!
- I work as an online virtual assistant. This job fell into my lap. I was not looking for this type of work…it wasn’t even on my radar! My friend Brandon, whom we met in Thailand and Bali posted on his Facebook page that he was looking for a virtual executive assistant. Brandon is also a long-term family traveler who writes at Pearce On Earth. After much deliberation, I decided to apply for the position and I now work part time helping him with his projects. It has been a fantastic fit for me and the best part is I can now earn an income wherever we are in the world, as long as I have an internet connection!
- Number seven is coming! We have decided that we would like one more income stream…something that Mike will enjoy doing that will allow him to work part-time from home. We don’t have any firm ideas yet but we have found that when we open ourselves up to possibility, the universe provides inspiration!
We have come a long way in the income earning streams since we first started out and relied solely on Miks’s carpentry business. We are not making a ton of money, but it is enough to pay for our simple lifestyle!