Why Long Term Travel Makes Money Sense

One of the major obstacles people face when trying to decide whether to fit a big trip into their life plan is a single certain anxiety-rich word — money. And because a lot of people think taking time off to travel doesn’t coincide with being financially responsible, they’re quick to throw their travel dreams into the doldrums of possession-addled security.

But because we’re sensible people we also realize that there are multiple ways to look at any one issue. Let’s start there.

The first step to overcoming the perceived financial liability of world travel is to differentiate between two very different concepts: expense and value. With a little common sense you start to see how long-term traveling is actually financially justifiable over the short vacation-style trek that most Americans so often turn to.

Consider the terminology:

Expense: the actual dollar cost of something purchased.

Value: the purchased item’s perceived worth.

Moving forward, take the typical two-week there-and-back-again type of trip and compare it with say, an RTW (round-the-world) trip. Bearing in mind the above definitions you start to see how the latter’s scale is a much better gauge for overall satisfaction.

Here are three typical American international vacations. For argument’s sake, let’s see how they stack up:

  • San Francisco to Sydney and back.
  • San Francisco to Thailand and back.
  • San Francisco to Paris and back.

Add these up and you’re looking at about $4000 – 5000 for plane tickets, depending the season you’re traveling.

Now take a look at what you can get for $5000 on an RTW. That same $5K gets you 3 different continents, nearly 20 cities, with the added benefit of not rushing around day after day, without the mind-numbing hours spent sitting on return flights, and without being forced to leave a place before you’re absolutely ready to.

Pictures in VeniceThen there’s the added bonus of getting to see more of a certain country, the pleasure of local cultural immersion, and a true feel for the traveling lifestyle, which can be amazingly liberating. Finally consider the value you’ll eventually attribute to that long-term travel experience over any quickie vacation to one place only.

The Daily Costs – exercises in frugality

Spreading out your expenses (a.k.a being frugal) comes naturally if you’ve got time to do it. Travelers on a two or three week whirlwind feel obliged to cram expensive activities together, following up an expensive day tour with another expensive tour and then an expensive trip through an historic landmark and so on until you’ve depleted a budget that would’ve realistically taken months to run through had you had the time to spread out those desired activities.

Still need convincing?

It’s pretty obvious traveling long term has benefits no short trip can give you, but if you’re worried about your source of income, or what you’ll do when you get back, which just about everyone does, read through some of the motivating articles at Briefcase to Backpack. Sherry Ott and Michaela Potter have made it their mission to help people take the leap from vacationer to vagabond, with a vision and excitement that’s hard to deny.

Have anything to add? Put your feelings down in the comments section.

* Photos by the author