I Quit My Job And Traveled In An RV With Only $2,000 In My Pocket

Two years ago, my boyfriend and I quit our jobs, sold our stuff and hit the road. It was a goal many years in the making, and one which was quite possibly the craziest thing we’ve ever done.

In the months leading up to July 1, 2015, we had been fervently making preparations. My partner Will is from New Zealand, and having lived abroad in both the UK and Canada for seven years, we felt it was time to head back to his homeland and make a life for ourselves. As many people know, moving towns, let alone hemispheres, is not an easy task, and one which requires meticulous planning.

And to add a dash of chaos to this already hair-pulling task, we had decided to see as much of North America as we could before we left for New Zealand. That plan became more and more ambitious as time went on, with a four-month road trip of Canada and the U.S. turning into an eight-month jaunt through both North America and Mexico, which then became a 12-month expedition through all of North and Central America! Little did we know that the traveling mayhem didn’t stop there, as our travels would continue for another four months after that one-year mark, and encompass not just two continents but three.

Oh, and this wasn’t just any road trip. It involved a beat-up, 24-foot, 1989 Ford Econoline RV. This RV was to not only be our means of getting around over the next 16 months, but our home. We had bought a rusty home on wheels!

Jumping to the present, safe and sound in New Zealand, I still shake my head in wonder at the things we accomplished during that time not so long ago. We climbed active volcanoes in Guatemala, ran from grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park, swam in shark-infested lakes in Nicaragua (yup, you heard right — lake sharks!), kayaked across glacier-fed lakes in Banff National Park, sauntered through the ruins of ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, and oh so much more. We packed more experiences into 16 months than many people would have in an entire lifetime.

Jealous? You have every right to be. And if you’re like most of our friends, family and former work colleagues, you probably would have doubted that we could have pulled such a feat off before our journey began. Some people even thought we were downright crazy and got a sort of glazed look in their eyes when we described our travel plans.

But while your jealousy might be understandable, there’s absolutely no reason why you couldn’t do exactly the same thing as us. You could travel wherever you please, for as long as you please, and do whatever the heck you want. The sky is literally the limit. Here are some of the things you should know to make such a trip possible.

You don’t need a lot of money to travel full-time

By changing your priorities, you can find the money to fund travel.

Mine is not a rags-to-riches type of story, but it isn’t far off. I came from a comfortable middle-class family and had never gone wanting, but when I went out on my own things quickly got difficult. I graduated with a degree in interior design in 2009, around the same time that the global economic downturn was in full swing. Nobody wanted to pay a graduate interior designer to work for them in such hard times, and most of my graduate classmates were accepting unpaid internships in return for getting that sought after experience everyone valued so highly.

I wasn’t willing to move back into my parents’ house in order to make working as an unpaid lackey possible. Instead, I scraped by with a piecemeal collection of jobs, never really managing to save anything and always with a giant student debt hanging over my head. Then in 2014, I decided on a change in career paths and began training as a holistic health coach. Soon, I had my own health blog. I was able to use my content to secure jobs as a freelance writer. I spent my days working at my boring, underpaid 9-5 job, and my nights writing about the things I loved: health, wellness and clean living.

From these dual income streams, I was able to save up a couple of thousand dollars. Together with my boyfriend’s savings and the money he made from selling his car, we were able to fund our road trip. We bought an RV for under $2,000, spent another $2,000 making it road-worthy. By July 1, we were all set.

From that point on, I was able to pay for my share of the travels with the money I made from writing. I always made sure I had at least $1,000 in the bank for emergencies, but otherwise I was able to travel in comfort and do anything I wanted with those online earnings. The point here is that you don’t need to have a fortune stashed away to travel — especially if you find a way to continue earning as you go.

There are hundreds of ways to make money while you travel

You can travel and work at the same time by finding gigs online.

In my opinion, one of the differences between a tourist and a traveler is that a tourist is simply there to see the sights and then go home. A traveler lives in new and exotic locations and, more importantly, earns in these locations. Will and I would often stay in towns and cities we liked throughout our travels for two weeks or more, renting affordable apartments and using the downtime to work on our online pursuits. Will blogged about our travels and our Paleo lifestyle, and I blogged about ancestral health and started an online business coach venture. We always set aside enough time to work and ensure we had enough to keep traveling, and always avoided dipping into our savings.

The obvious choice for you to make money, then, is to blog. It can literally be about anything, as long as you’re passionate about it. Got a hobby you love? Buy a domain and write about it! Got a sport you’re super into? Millions of people would like to read about it! It’s very easy to monetize online content, provided you’re willing to put in the hours and you’re an authority on the subject.

If blogging isn’t your thing, you could contact any number of adventure outfitting companies and ask if they’d be willing to sponsor your travels in exchange for you promoting their products along the way. We always kicked ourselves for not doing this — there were so many cool things we did which those companies would’ve loved to pay us for!

Then there are organizations that pay people to edit their clients’ work. Will spent a couple of months doing editing for academic clients from non-English speaking countries who wanted their scientific articles published in American journals. He also did some work for a company who helped write essays and assignments for school kids.

Even if none of this sounds like your cup of tea, the takeaway here is that there’s a whole world of money-making possibilities out there. Possibilities that can not only pay for your travels, but allow you to travel in the first place. All it takes is a small leap of faith!

— Liivi Hess

Recommended Articles