Do you Have to be Rich to Travel the World?

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Several years ago, a not very rich family set out to travel the world. Today, they’re still travelling. It’s been an incredible ride, we’ve loved it and we’ve had many adventures. The financial aspect, well, it’s complex. We had a lump sum when we left home and over the years we’ve learned to make money online. This was how we started, back in 2012. We had no idea then that our lives were changing forever and that we would find a way.

You Do Not Have To Be Rich To Travel The World

Do you have to be rich to travel the world

This is our story, a bit of background about us and how we started getting the cash together, if you’re looking for tips on saving money try this post, ideas for changing your life and becoming free from the rat race, try this one. This post is old but it sets the scene.

This is what I wrote back in 2012, one of my first posts as I learnt to be a blogger.

There will be serious financial jiggery pokery needed for us to finance this venture. All four of us live on 1 salary at the moment, a chef’s salary. Chefs aren’t paid well.

So how do we expect to travel the world for years at a stretch on almost zero income?

We Got Ourselves A Decent Lump Of Cash

rich to travel the world
London, 2003, where we started the financial ball rolling with our first house renovation.

We spent a few years in London redeveloping two small properties to sell on. It was hard work, I was pregnant, twice, we lived through a British winter with no heating, hot water or kitchen . I lived off microwaved ready meals and salad and washed with a bucket and a kettle. We both have special memories of this time, the Christmas we spent barbecuing turkey over charcoal in the frosty white garden stands out as one of our most romantic.

We ate it in our bedroom because that was the only room where the floor was down. James, at that time, was a fairly junior chef in a central London hotel, working terribly long hours. He would come home in the middle of the night and start stripping walls. I remember him whooping for joy as the old paper came off, layers and layers of it, over one hundred years worth, taking most of the plaster with it, because he was doing this for us, his family.

So we did it, we were happy doing it and it was immensely satisfying when our first flat sold at the asking price on it’s first day on the market.

We had already announced to the world that we were moving to Australia, so it came as a shock to everyone when we started looking around for another disaster of a property to renovate. This was shortly before son no 2 was born.

“You can’t move house just for 6 months!”

“Yes we can!”

We did. And we sold after 6 months, just catching the top of the market before the whole thing crashed. Again, not luck, planning.  We were warned the crash was coming in one of those serendipitous meetings that can change your life

So that gave us a nice little nest egg to put on the mortgage and give us a decent standard of living on a fairly low income, necessary for me to quit work and be home with the boys in our new life in Australia.

The upshot being, our mortgage repayments are fairly small.

Do You Have To Be Rich To Travel The World
The first flat we renovated and where both children were born, revisiting six years later.

So What Can A Not Rich Family Do To Save Money To Travel The World?

How to finance this trip?

This is the Chef’s department, it’s amazing what he can do with numbers in his head.

The house will be rented. Rental income will more than cover costs and will give us a small income.There is also the option of renting our home and moving to a small flat (or tent) soon, before we actually leave. That would give us the rental income and our outgoings on utility bills would be considerably less.

We have been saving. A lot. I have been put on a weekly budget. I have ( almost) given up wine, a major sacrifice. Wine and I have been very good friends for a long time.

I have stopped filling our house with decorative stuff we don’t need, just because a shopping spree makes me feel better.

I am using up all the stuff we have already, that goes for every scrap of food in the pantry, clothes long buried in the back of the wardrobe and toiletries we’d forgotten that we had. It’s amazing what you find when you start clearing out cupboards. I haven’t bought any clothes for myself in almost a year now, I never thought I’d say that.

Many things surplus to need have been sold and we still have more to sell.

I do a bit of facepainting in the market, maybe I should get more proactive with that.

I’m starting to make a little money with this blog, not much, enough to pay for my lovely new backpack. Somebody offered to pay me for help with writing their homeschool curriculum the other day. Maybe this is something I can explore. I could possibly make some sort of science based study guides, science is my subject and a lot of homeschooling Mums find it a challenge.

We May Make Money As We Travel

If you are under 30 working and earning as you travel is pretty easy. Over 30s ( that’s us) have a tougher time, we can’t get working holiday visas.

Other than the blogs, (there are now three of them), the Chef may be able to work for a while in the UK to top up the bank account, this will work for us as we have family that we can stay with for free, if we were having to pay for accommodation, it just wouldn’t be financially viable.  Registering with a temping agency pays better than a normal contract for chefs and many other industries.

So, there are ways and means. We did this before, 10 years ago for our first year long trip, we can do it again. At the end of the day, long term slow travel is cheaper than living at home.

Every dollar in the bank brings us closer to following our dream of travelling the world long term. It’s a very big incentive. We’ve booked our flights, we know we are leaving, we know we will have enough to travel for at least one year, probably two. Stick around, sign up to follow the blog and see how we get on!

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

9 thoughts on “Do you Have to be Rich to Travel the World?”

  1. Fair play Al! Just been reading through all your posts, you properly deserve such an awesome adventure, I’m soooo jealous!

  2. Amazing, amazing. I had no idea you two renovated some flats in the UK. You worked hard for your dream to travel and made it or are making it happen with the kids in tow.

  3. Maybe I need to go back and read some earlier posts, but it’s really late (or early) here on the east coast of the U.S., so it will have to be done on another day —- or, you can just tell me, “Where are you off to first?” My father (parents) took us off to live abroad twice when I was a child—a year in Mexico when I was 9-10 and a year in England when I was 15-16 (back when they still had O levels!) The first year he took a sabbatical from being a public school teacher (unheard of in those days) and he was an exchange teacher under an official program when we lived in England. Will you have home bases some of the time? In both countries, we had a rented house we lived in, but we traveled whenever possible from there. I’m looking forward to following along.

    • Malaysia, in July. We’ll just make it up as we go along, slow travel is always cheaper travel and it’s all about stretching the money as far as possible. We may spend a few months in the UK with my Mum or brother at some point, free accommodation and The Chef can work for a while. The kids are homescooled, that won’t change. I have O levels, too! Thanks for being here Suzanne!

  4. Hi Alyson… I love this post. I keep saying to people that dreams CAN come true no matter how far our of reach they seem! And this goes to show, if you put your mind to it and your heart into it, anything is possible!

    I love your story! Now that I have found you I will be following your adventures! I love hearing about other long term travelers! We’ve been on the road for 12 months and we are absolutely loving it! I can’t imagine going back to the ‘white picket fence’ life.

    Congrats on all your successes thus far and here is to many more of them!


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