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Footing the Bill of Full-Time Travel: Tips from Boys Beyond the Border

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Last Updated on September 17, 2021 by Leslie Stroud

Hello and Talofa! We’re the Kuresa family and have been slow traveling internationally since September of 2018. Our family consists of: Emily (Mom), Tyson (Dad), Aiden (8), Connor (6) and Emmett (4). We’re originally from California but had a short stint in Utah before leaving to travel full-time. So far we’ve visited Thailand, China and Indonesia. We have plans to be in Malaysia, Hawaii, Cambodia and Vietnam over the next 6 months. We’re loving our new, unconventional path in life, but it’s not all glitz and glamour. We still have regular family struggles, anxieties and fears that we fight to overcome. We live a budget-travel lifestyle and know if we can make this work, any family can!

How do you afford it all? 

Cutting straight to the chase, there’s three ways we are able to do this on a long-term basis. 

1) Cut our revolving expenses:

We knew when we left on our new path, we wanted to rid ourselves not only of our past routines, but also our routine monthly financial obligations: rent, credit cards, student loans, debt. We made it a goal to pay off as much as we can so we didn’t have these over our heads while away. We paid off our credit card debt and paid a year for our storage unit. The only monthly expense we have while we are gone is a car payment since we want to have our car when we return and we’re getting closer to paying it completely off. Based on what we know now after 6 months of travel, we think it would be better to pay off cars, sell or lease them before leaving as we learned to not value those types of things any more. 

Monthly savings by doing this: $500

2) Sell—or donate—most of our possessions: 

It felt cleansing to go through all of the things we’ve accumulated after almost 10 years of marriage. You don’t realize how little you need in life! We took a houseful of what we thought we needed and by the end of going through it all, we ended up with a small set of “essentials”(loose term) that are now sitting in a small storage unit back in Utah. We actually ended up donating a lot of it, but having an estate sale will help you alleviate clutter and also help you net some financial backing. 

Savings by doing this: Net $5000

3) Work! 

Depending on how long you plan on traveling will determine how much you can afford. Since we are planning to travel for about two years, we needed active income as our savings wouldn’t allow us more than about 6 months realistically. We had a savings of about $10,000 in addition to what we made from our “estate” sale although we already booked our flights and accommodations for 6 months of our trip beforehand. Not much, we see families start with much more. But, having things planned and paid for already helped, Emily is a planner and likes to have things taken care of in advance if possible. 

Tyson did end up quitting his main job back in America that he was working, but now works part-time online teaching English in the evenings. This has helped a ton as it’s our main, active source of income. He’s also working on a couple start-ups as well. Being free from the mundane, corporate grind has giving him the ability to explore new avenues of business and passions. 

Some things to think about: 

Here are some additional ways that have helped our family budget during travel while being able to still have amazing experiences: 

  • Be conscious of where you begin! We began in SE Asia because it’s very affordable once you’re here, family-friendly and great weather. Our money goes a lot further in SE Asia than back home in America, especially since we cut about 70% of our income before we started when Tyson quit his main job! Some other affordable areas to begin would be Eastern Europe and South America. 
  • Longer stays! We stay in Airbnbs most of the time and integrate some resorts/hotels every now and then to treat the boys (and ourselves) with things we don’t normally have (breakfast, cleaning, kids club). Normally if you book longer you pay less. Our sweet spot has been between 4-6 weeks. At that length, you get a significant price drop. Plus, being able to stay longer has given us a chance to get a short routine, see more places, and enjoy the local culture. Another tip is to work directly with the host and cut out the middle man. If you want to negotiate the price, contact the Airbnb host, and see if they’ll work directly with you instead of through Airbnb. Although this will negate the assurance and peace of mind going through Airbnb, you can negotiate even more discounts. 
  • Eat in! A feature we often look for in an Airbnb is a working kitchen. Eating out, regardless of where you are in the world adds up! Locating the nearest grocery store and produce market has allowed us to buy in bulk and cook for most of our meals. We end up eating out a lot less and saving money by eating in. We choose a certain amount of days a week to eat out to experience the local cuisine. 

We understand that each family is different, unique and our lives are all different. But, you’re here right? You’re reading this. This commonality of wanting to give your family an experience of a lifetime has brought us to these crossroads and how amazing is that?! Just remember, there’s many of us and plenty of us ready to give support and advice! Who knows. Like other families we’ve met while traveling, maybe we’ll also cross paths along the way! 

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