Are you considering leaving your conventional life behind and embarking on a full-time travel adventure? In 2019 we made the decision to sell our house and pretty much everything we owned to live a more abundant life traveling as a couple full time.
The idea of traveling the world nonstop may seem exhilarating, but before making such a drastic lifestyle change, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons. We spent months contemplating our decision and looking at all our options before selling everything we owned to travel. Full-time travel can offer incredible experiences and personal growth opportunities, but it also comes with challenges and sacrifices.
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How We Became Full Time Travelers
It’s been quite a journey for us, and we thought it would be fun to share a little background on how we got to where we are today.
It all started back in early 2019 when Michelle found herself unexpectedly laid off from her full-time job in commercial real estate. Just three months later, she landed a remote job, and that’s when the wheels started turning for us.
Meanwhile, Joel was working as a film producer, constantly on the move for work. Living in Nashville, Tennessee, we both began feeling a bit restless. We had numerous conversations about what our next steps should be – selling our house, renting it out, or using it as a home base while traveling. After careful consideration, we decided to take the plunge and go all-in. We sold about 95% of everything we owned, including our house, and embarked on a life of full-time travel.
And here we are, four years later, still on the road, still exploring new destinations. We’ve learned so much along the way, and we thought it would be helpful to share the ups and downs of this lifestyle with you. Whether you’re a couple or an individual, we want to give you a glimpse into what it’s really like to travel full-time.
In this article, we will explore 14 pros and cons to keep in mind when considering the adventurous path of full-time travel. Whether you’re just starting to contemplate this lifestyle or are already on the road, read on to gain valuable insights that will help you make an informed decision about adopting a life of constant exploration.
Pros of Full Time Travel
1. Cost of Travel and Accommodation
Cost is often a major concern when it comes to traveling, but the good news is that it’s actually cheaper than most people think, especially if you’re coming from a city or state in the United States with a high cost of living.
By embracing slow travel and staying in one place for a month or longer, we are able to secure discounted accommodations, especially during the off-season.
In the US, Trusted Housesitters are a great option if you don’t mind taking care of someone’s animal. We also look for monthly discounts on Airbnb, although we usually try to avoid them. Other options we’ve enjoyed include using Furnished Finder, Booking.com, VBRO, staying at RV parks, or staying with friends and family.
2. Minimal Monthly Bills
Not having to worry about monthly bills is such a relief for us! Since we don’t have a mortgage, homeowners insurance, or property taxes, it’s a weight off our shoulders. Plus, during most of our stays, we don’t even have to pay for water, electricity, or the internet.
However, we do make sure to have health insurance, both in the US and while traveling. We use Safety Wing, which is fantastic medical travel insurance.
Even though we’re always on the move, we decided to keep our car in the United States. So we do have car insurance, but luckily, a friend kindly lets us store it at their house when we’re away. All in all, our bills are minimal, and we couldn’t be happier about it!
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3. Ability to live a minimalist lifestyle
Becoming a minimalist was an unexpected journey for us, but it turned out to be a liberating one. As we embarked on our full-time travels, we started with multiple suitcases and heavy bags. But as we ventured overseas, we realized the need to simplify even further.
If you’re curious, we even filmed a packing video where you can see what we packed.
The absence of clutter and the joy of having fewer possessions have taught us a valuable lesson – we don’t need much to find happiness. Living out of a carry-on suitcase for such a long time has truly shown us how little we need to lead a fulfilling life.
4. Live Like a Local
If you’re slow traveling like us, you can truly experience a place instead of just doing touristy things for a few days. Staying in a destination for 1-3 months allows you to make friends with locals, other expats, and fellow travelers.
Taking local transportation, frequenting your favorite coffee shop or bar, and dining at local restaurants allows you to feel like a part of the community. You’re not just in vacation mode – you’re actually living and working, running errands, and exploring the area at your own pace.
You don’t have to be a YouTuber, travel blogger, or content creator to enjoy this lifestyle. In fact, most people we meet are working remotely for a company while they travel full-time. We understand that not everyone shares our lifestyle, but for those who do, the rewards are truly remarkable.
5. More Time With Friends and Family
We get to spend a lot more time with family and friends, which becomes increasingly important as we grow older. At the end of the day, our experiences and relationships with people are what truly matter.
Take our 6-week road trip across the country, for example. We got to see Joel’s parents, check out his sister’s new house in Arizona, catch up with friends we met in Bulgaria in Salt Lake City, meet up with friends in Phoenix, and spend quality time with family in Colorado.
It was such a fantastic trip, and we feel incredibly lucky to have had the time to do all that and see so many amazing places. But it’s not just about the people we already know – we’ve also made friends from different countries and backgrounds, who bring fresh perspectives and outlooks into our lives. The best part is that we can even meet up with these friends in their own countries, which is really cool!
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6. Opportunity to make new friends and experience new cultures
Experiencing new cultures and meeting new people is one of the main reasons we absolutely love to travel! We’ve met so many incredible folks over the last couple of years and have had some seriously awesome experiences. Traveling opens up your mind to all these different ideas and ways of life.
It really makes you question things and see things from different perspectives. Plus, it teaches you some important life skills like empathy, patience, and how to be more flexible.
7. Live a More Active Lifestyle
When we travel, especially in Europe, we tend to be a lot more active. We find ourselves walking everywhere and taking advantage of public transportation. Whether it’s walking to get groceries, going out to dinner, or even heading to the gym, it feels like a huge pro for us.
It’s such a luxury to be in a town or a bigger city that is walkable or has easy public transportation.
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Cons of Full Time Travel
8. Full Time Travel Can Be Isolating
Full-time travel can sometimes be isolating, even when you’re traveling as a couple. This is especially true when you find yourself in a new country, where everything is unfamiliar, or when you’re exploring during the off-season and there aren’t many people around.
Our experience in Portugal, specifically in the Algarve region in January and February, was a quiet one. The place was practically empty, and while we weren’t necessarily lonely, we didn’t have the chance to meet many other travelers.
9. Traveling Has Lots of Highs and Lows
Traveling can be such a rollercoaster of emotions. There are definitely some major lows and some incredible highs. For example, in 2022 Michelle had to undergo surgery, which meant putting a halt to our adventures for a solid four months.
Then, there was that unexpected bout with COVID-19 in Prague. We ended up being confined to our apartment for a whopping 10 days, leaving us with just a brief window to explore the city. Flying was out of the question, so we had to completely revamp our travel plans.
During our time in Saranda, Albania we encountered less-than-ideal weather. It’s not easy when Joel battles seasonal depression, so that added an extra layer of challenge.
But, that’s the nature of this lifestyle – the lows can be tough, but the highs make it all worth it.
10. Full Time Travel Can Be Physically and Mentally Exhausting
Traveling can really take a toll on you, both physically and mentally. Especially if you find yourself in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, it can be mentally draining. Simple tasks that we usually take for granted, like going to the grocery store, suddenly become quite an adventure.
Thankfully, we have Google Translate to help us out. Even ordering food at a restaurant or figuring out public transportation can become a challenge. Your mind is constantly on high alert, trying to process all the differences around you.
And let’s not forget about the physical exhaustion too – those long plane rides, the discomfort, the jet lag, and the struggle to lift heavy suitcases onto trains. Not to mention trudging uphill in the cold rain to get to your apartment, being extra careful on slippery sidewalks, and avoiding wet cobblestones in places like Lisbon.
It’s all part of the experience, though. Just accept that you’re going to be uncomfortable, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Hopefully, it won’t last too long. So hang in there and push through it!
11. Fear of Missing Out, The FOMO is Real
Traveling full time can be quite challenging, especially when you’re working for yourself and don’t get to explore as much as you’d like. That fear of missing out, or FOMO, is definitely real!
As entrepreneurs or remote workers, it’s important to find a balance between work and exploration. Depending on your situation, you may have to decide how much time you can allocate to sightseeing in each destination.
For those who work remotely for a company, it’s possible that your work hours might fall during the night, causing you to miss out on social gatherings or daytime activities. It’s all about finding that balance between work and play. This is one thing we’re still definitely working on.
12. Not a Lot of Alone Time Traveling as a Couple
Traveling full-time as a couple can be an amazing adventure, but it also means you don’t get a lot of alone time. Especially when you work and travel together, finding some personal space can be a challenge. Living in smaller spaces like apartments or hotel rooms overseas can make it even trickier.
However, it’s important to prioritize giving each other space to maintain a healthy relationship. Consider going to a cafe by yourself to work or find a coworking space where you can have some time to focus.
13. Difficult to Maintain a Routine
Establishing and maintaining a routine while traveling full time can be quite the challenge. Depending on how different the culture is, it can easily throw you off track.
It may take a solid two weeks for us to settle into a brand new place.
Stores, restaurants, and even grocery stores often have their own unique operating hours, and things may take longer than you expect. If you’re coming from the United States, where stores are open all day and open till 10 or 11 at night, or even 24 hours, it can be an adjustment.
14. Staying Fit While Traveling
Staying fit while traveling full time can be quite difficult. It’s not always easy to find a gym nearby, especially if you don’t have access to a car or public transportation. Additionally, when you’re in a different country, it can be tricky to find the equipment you’re accustomed to, requiring you to adapt your workout style.
Is Full Time Travel Right for You?
So that’s how our journey began – with an unexpected twist of fate. Michelle’s layoff turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it led her to a remote job that set us on the path of full time travel.
We weighed the pros and cons, considered our options, and ultimately made the decision to sell everything and embark on a full-time travel adventure as a couple.
It hasn’t always been easy, but the incredible experiences and personal growth we’ve gained along the way have made it all worthwhile. If you’re thinking about leaving your conventional life behind for a life of travel, take the time to carefully consider the challenges and sacrifices that come with it. But if you’re willing to embrace the unknown, the rewards can be truly abundant.
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Or if you’re feeling generous you can buy us a much appreciated glass of wine (or whiskey)!
Joel and Michelle