Seek Adventure While Your Money Works For You

You can seek adventure while you earn passive income via investments and side gigs. Digital nomads around the world are doing this today and you can too if you understand how to build income streams and travel on a budget.
Adventure is dirt cheap. You don’t need fancy mountaineering gear to explore new parts of your hometown or find an off-the-path beach in Mexico.

One-way flights are half price.

Adventure can be a fresh side business, a new romance (hopefully not a dirt cheap one), or anything that gets you out of your normal routine.

International travel is the ultimate adventure because it removes you from your comfort zone and places you where streets are unfamiliar, the culture unknown, the food distinctive, and the language sometimes baffling.

Sometimes I reference a formative period of my life when I traveled the world for 14 months. My 18-country trip cost me about $10,000. That’s $714 per month or $24 per day.

In my latest quarterly update, my average monthly investment income (aka passive income) reached $682.90.

That’s almost the same as my monthly budget while traveling the world.

I traveled in 2001-2002 when the dollar was stronger and costs were lower. But today it’s still inexpensive to travel overseas if comfort isn’t a priority. If I didn’t have a family to support, I could travel the world perpetually on my passive income.

My 26-year-old self would be envious.

Eliminate the Largest Expense

A daily average travel budget of $24 was actually a bit high. Due to a major change in plans, I didn’t optimize my big travel expenses to align with the length of the trip. My original trip was supposed to only last four months.

I spent about $1,300 on a multi-leg flight from the U.S. to Beijing and from Singapore home. I was married to those flights because the ticket was so costly.

You can seek adventure while you earn passive income via investments and side gigs. Digital nomads around the world are doing this today and you can too if you understand how to build income streams and travel on a budget. That flight itinerary, which lasted only two days of my eventual 420-day trip, consumed 13% of my budget.

If I were doing it again, I’d buy a one-way ticket, seek adventure, then buy a cheap flight home when I was ready.

No matter how tight your travel budget is, there’s always room for improvement, especially if you increase the length of your trip. Nowadays, with all the free information about using credit card sign up bonuses to get free flights, the biggest expense is taken care of.

That gives budget travelers more money to spend on food, accommodations, and bonus excursions.

If you plan a long-term adventure, you can do it for a very low cost. And if you have passive income working for you, travel can be perpetual, as long as you aren’t tied down to a stinkin’ job or oppressive mortgage.

Time, Money, and Travel

Every time I learn a friend is planning an extended trip (~3 weeks or more), I tell them the same thing. They never listen.

You will need more time and less money than you think. – RBD

When they return, they regret not staying longer. Happens every time. As your time away increases, cost per day decreases. If you’re going to spend all that money anyways, why not extend the trip?

Usually because of work. That’s why.

The one-week vacation, popularized as a side note to the 9-to-5 job and the American Dream, is expensive per day. A week is enough time to travel long distances and incur the costs to do so, but not long enough to lower the cost per day.

As everyone knows, a one-week vacation is not enough time to truly relax. With all the packing and travel time, returning on a Sunday and going back to work Monday is the worst.

But as the length of your trip increases, better values come to light. You see this with AirBnB. The costs to turn over a unit is high, so renters incentivize visitors to stay longer, often at a deep discount. Or with resorts and tours, the longer the trips, the lower the cost per day.

Long ago, I wrote a blog post illustrating how time and money relate to the type of traveler you are. The “holy grail” of travel, so to speak, is financial independence. This is a core reason why I’m pursuing early retirement.

If I Were 26 Again

Age 26 was the perfect time to travel. If I could do it all again, I would. Traveling for long periods today is so much easier.

For one, communication was limited to internet cafes back then. Backpackers didn’t travel with iPhones or laptops. To communicate with family you had to find a reliable internet cafe and pay for time on a shitty computer with an unfamiliar keyboard. We had Moleskine journals instead of blogs and weren’t shy about sending postcards.

Now travelers just need WiFi and a smartphone.

Even more empowering, widespread connectivity and lightweight laptops open up the possibility to work remotely, via employment and creative entrepreneurship.

Earn a few hundred from passive income, and just a few hundred dollars more from some kind of online business or remote work from a site like Fiverr, and you can travel or live abroad perpetually.

Of course, I’m not the first to figure this out. Travel bloggers scattered worldwide are screaming at the top of their lungs that this lifestyle is possible. So possible, that I’m sure the WiFi-ready cafes of Chang Mai and Cusco are over-flooded with travelers/digital nomads with their noses buried in laptops.

And why not? What better way to spend your 20’s than exploring the globe by living off passive income and earning a little extra on the side?

That’s what I’d be doing if I was 26. Family building, saving for retirement, a real career, and everything else can be put on hold.

We’re Not all 26 Anymore – So Now What?

I know, I know. You’re not 26. Maybe you have kids and a mortgage and you’re pursuing financial independence, but it’s still a long road to get there. Travel will have to wait until retirement. Right?

That was my original plan. Work until I’m 55. Quit. Travel the world with Mrs. RBD while the kids are in college or starting their careers.

But that’s at least another 13 years away. I’ll be 13 years less healthy. In 13 years, today’s undiscovered destinations will be overrun by tourists. Waiting 13 years is just too long.

That’s why I’ve modified my retirement goal and accelerated our saving and investing. We only have so much time on earth. Office buildings are toxic. It’s part of why I started this side business. To empower the future me and create more options for my family that doesn’t tie us to a full-time career.

And I’m still not being that aggressive. People are rejecting full-time work and designing their lives around flexibility and happiness instead of material objects and dream homes every day. It can be done with a family and at any age.

That’s what I want, but perhaps not bad enough since I’m still commuting to a job every week.

Can You Really Build Enough Passive Income to Seek Adventure Perpetually?

Back to the title of this blog post. It’s taken me 14 years to build $682.90 of monthly passive income. Most 20-somethings won’t be able to generate that kind of investment income in a decade. But people in their 30’s, 40’s, and beyond sure can.

If you’re young, should you wait to travel until your passive income covers your monthly travel expenses?

No, definitely not.

Choose to travel first. Then figure out the details. 

What do I mean by that?

If you want to travel, set a goal to travel. Just like setting a savings or retirement milestone, motivation will push you to achieve your goal. Pick a date or frame, then make a plan to get there and follow through.

Start building income streams now.

Change shit up to improve your cash flow. Invest the savings into investments such as Dividend Aristocrats, ETFs with a decent yield, or real estate via Fundrise or other platforms.

Eliminate recurring monthly payments.

Cut the cable cord to save even more money. Do you want to watch House Hunters International or do you want to travel? That’s the choice you face.

Automate and simplify your finances to streamline your life.

Learn to earn credit card rewards bonuses to cover your flight.

Start an online side hustle and become location independent. If you don’t know where to start, invest in a course to teach you how.

Stash cash away. If you can save just $2,400, that’s easily 100 days of adventure spending $24 per day. It’s possible.

Combine your chunk of cash with a few other income streams. Maybe work the front desk at a hostel in Santiago for a free bed and eat nothing but empanadas for a month. You’ll be amazed how far you can stretch your budget.

Maybe you don’t like travel. If so, you probably didn’t make it this far down the page.

Middle-aged like me? Got family? Feel stuck in your day to day life?

That doesn’t mean you can’t seek adventure. Go find it.

Photo credit: nuno_lopes via Pixabay CCO Public Domain

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14 Responses to Seek Adventure While Your Money Works For You

  1. Please note: Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
  2. TheRetirementManifesto May 25, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    I love your 4 box matrix, it really demonstrates the concept! I’m 12 months from FIRE, and have a million miles with Delta. Should be able to fly for free the rest of my life. Can’t wait!

    • Retire Before Dad May 25, 2017 at 8:15 am #

      Wow Fritz, a million miles! Great planning. Miles should be required for a comprehensive retirement plan.

  3. Melissa May 25, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    What never ceases to amaze me is how many people I know that just aren’t interested in travel. A lot of times it’s not even a money factor. They travel to the same nearby destinations every summer, and that’s the extent of their travel. When I tell these folks about our adventurous travels, we’re always looked upon with some suspicion or disdain. “How did you plan THAT one?” Or, “Why did you decide to go THERE?” I am definitely NOT one of those people, and I’d love to travel even more than we already do, so I love reading articles like these!

    • Retire Before Dad May 25, 2017 at 10:42 am #

      Supernova… we are in the minority. People think it would be cool to do some serious traveling, but don’t pull the trigger. It can be uncomfortable. With kids now, that’s definitely true. I’m all for going to the same beach every summer. But at some point, when there’s time and money, there’s better opportunities to explore. We’re not in that mode today, but we will be again.

  4. brian503 May 25, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    We typically take a trip to CA each summer to visit family. It kills me to spend a good amount of money to get there and have limited time to enjoy ourselves. Rewards and miles have helped soften that over the last few years.

  5. FiscalVoyage May 25, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    I agree. 1 week vacation is not enough time. I had a Europe trip last month for a week and I wanted to be there for like a month. There will be a day when I can take long vacation and really get to travel. Another great post RBD.

  6. Joe May 25, 2017 at 3:42 pm #

    I think traveling is a lot more fun when you’re young too. Kids don’t mind crappy accommodation, they can eat anything, and they don’t need any meds. It’ll be a lot tougher to travel when we’re 55.
    We’re planning to take a year off to travel in 4 years. It should be a ton of fun, but a lot of work preparing. We can’t just pick up a back pack and go anymore. We got kid, school, medication, and all kind of stuff to think about.

    • Retire Before Dad May 25, 2017 at 9:25 pm #

      Younger travelers are more fearless. I did some risky things I wouldn’t consider doing today. We’re taking a flight soon with the whole family and it’s going to be a challenge packing and flying for sure. Thanks for the tweet.

  7. Financial Velociraptor May 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

    Very inspiring even if travel isn’t my thing. Have a great time, bro!

  8. Joe May 25, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

    After reading ‘Europe Through the Backdoor’ by Rick Steves I went on my first of 7 backpacking trips in 1999 at age 42, solo. When I was traveling around America, I would travel in chunks of states on one vacation than do another part of the country on my next vacation. I used that same thinking when I backpacked. I planned my trips, with a set itinerary so I always would stay in the hostel or guest house of my choice. I booked in-country flights before I left for my trip. The longest vacation was 6 weeks in Asia in 2008 . There is nothing more exhilarating than international traveling, at any age! Planning is the key! Plan for possible blowups-I did. At an ATM machine in Bankok, the machine kept my card on a Friday. Fortunately, I made a friend co-owner on the account before I left home. I emailed her about my situation and asked her to call the bank to ensure I could use the card after I got it from the bank on Monday morning. That worked out fine and I got the card back and was still on pace for the remainng 3 weeks of my trip.

    The beauty during this roadshow as I call them, is my investing dollars were still working for me back in America! The dividends were still buying more shares when I was away.

    European parents travel in neighboring countries with their children too! I would witness this in hostels, usually at breakfast I would see the families at the tables before setting out on the day’s adventures.

    • Retire Before Dad May 25, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. My first backpacking experience was also in Europe, in 1998. The dollar was very strong at the time and the Eurorail made it easy. Sounds like you’re a planner. It’s more important to plan when your time is limited. But I liked not having to plan because you can pivot and go somewhere else if you meet someone or if another opportunity comes up.

      Glad to hear you’ve done solo travel and you’re older. Solo travel is really cool. You meet so many more people and get way out of your comfort zone. I wasn’t lonely much when I was solo, but did have my moments. I once met a 75-year-old French woman in a hotel in Yangon who was traveling solo. So cool to see someone living it up like that1

  9. SB@OCAAT May 28, 2017 at 2:36 am #

    Yes, your risk-taking ability seems strong when you’re young. Still I guess it’s important for you to develop a budgeting strategy regardless of your age. A solo travel at the age of 75 is awe-inspiring, but you just can’t afford to deviate much from your plan even under adverse circumstances. Be it an old friend that urges you to stay back for more days or if you need to get a medical check up, you can’t afford it without planning!

  10. BeetsandLilacs June 16, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    Inspiring article, thank you for sharing!

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