Find out how to become a digital nomad family and how our family of 6 affords to travel the world. Use these 5 steps to full time travel to help you achieve a nomadic lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of. Whether it’s road tripping the US living in a travel trailer full time, flying around the world or worldschooling, these 5 simple steps will help you get there!
How to Become a Digital Nomad Family in 5 Steps
It’s been a few years since our family ditched the normal life and became full time travelers and digital nomads. We spent a year exploring Europe, living in a different country every month. We spent several months road tripping the US and Canada living in a travel trailer full time. I spent 4 months backpacking through Europe with four kids by myself.
We’ve since settled down for a bit to get the kids braces, tend to family, and other things that require us staying put for a bit. But I still get a lot of questions about our nomadic lifestyle and how we did it.
By far, the number one question that I get asked is “How can you afford to travel full time?” so I’ve finally decided to sit down and lay it all out for you. Obviously, everyone’s situation is different and this won’t work for everyone. I am just explaining how it has worked for us and how I think a lot of others can reach their goal and hopefully can figure out how to travel full time.
1. Find Digital Nomad Jobs
I think most of the people who contact me asking how we can afford to travel full time either a) think we are loaded, b) think we quit our jobs and sold our stuff and are living off that, c) think I make a ton of money off my blog (haha) or d) think we are crazy! Ok, they might be right on D! The truth is that Paul has a job where he can work from anywhere that has (good) internet and cell phone service.
I would not recommend that anyone (especially with a family) quit their job to travel full time without a way to make money or thinking that your blog will make enough money to support you (sorry to be a Debbie Downer)! Here are some articles you can read about becoming a digital nomad:
- 5 Easy Ways to Make Money Traveling
- How to Make Money While Traveling(These were kind of interesting)
- 42 Ways You can Make Money and Travel the World
- How to Make Money While Traveling The World
- Tips on How to Travel with a Full-time Job
To be honest, a lot of these are geared toward solo travelers without families. There are lots of other ways to find digital nomad jobs. The best way might be to ask your current job if you can work remotely or even if you can commute into the office once a month or some situation like that.
Many companies are moving in that direction these days and it makes sense. You save probably an hour or 2 commuting and can use those hours to be productive without the added stress. Don’t be afraid to have an open conversation…you’ll never know if you don’t ask! This might be one of the biggest hurdles in figuring out how to travel full time!
If you’re not working full time, but going to school right now, you can learn how to travel as a student for free.
2. Ditch Your Mortgage (or Rent)
There is no way we could travel full time while still paying a mortgage or rent. We were renting our house at the time, so packed up or gave away most of our belongings and ended our lease. We own houses in California that we had previously rented out so that was already taken care of. So end your lease, sell your house, or rent your house out. This is one of the biggest steps because it means you are officially “homeless” and that can be really scary. But once you get used to the idea it’s a bit freeing.
If you don’t want to sell your house or rent it out permanently, putting your house on Airbnb might be a good option for you. We rented our house on Airbnb for several years and had a great experience. Having this income from Airbnb allowed us to afford our housing as we traveled. If you’re nervous about this option, you can read my article about how to list your house on Airbnb.
3. Ditch Your Car
If you plan on being gone for a year, or several years, and you are making a hefty car payment, sell your car. We foresaw that one of the biggest expenses while traveling was going to be renting a car, but we found several alternatives that worked for us. If you are a family of 5 or under you may not have this problem because small rental cars are significantly cheaper than renting minivans or cars that could hold 6+ people.
We did a short term lease with Renault that cost us about $600/month for a brand new 7 seater car that included all maintenance and insurance. Our car payment at home was about $400 for our minivan plus $100/month for insurance and more for any maintenance, such as oil changes, etc. So, for us it evened out!
We eventually ended up buying an old Land Rover Defender in England and restoring it because we are classic car nerds…this isn’t necessary, but if you want more information feel free to ask! Also, depending on where you are heading, a car may be unnecessary. In Europe for example, the public transportation and rail systems are far better than in the U.S. It’s a matter of preference, but you may be able to save more money by not even having a car.
4. Book Your Travel Arrangements
Now that you don’t have a mortgage or rent to pay, you’re well on your way to being able to afford a digital nomadic lifestyle! It’s time to set up your housing. If you can afford to, I recommend saving up and being able to afford to book your housing at least 3 months in advance. This will give you a better chance of having cheap housing in the locations you want during the time you want. We always stayed under the amount we were paying for rent before we left (so, essentially we saved money traveling full-time…read more about how we spent less traveling full time than we did at home)!
Always stay at least 1 month at a time. It can be up to 60% cheaper to do this! You can get tons of insight if you read my post about living in AirBnB’s full-time. There are plenty of other alternatives to AirBnB, such as Trusted Housesitters, Sabbatical Homes, Worldschooler Exchange, Home Away, Home Stay and more, but our preferred method is AirBnB because we have had fantastic experiences and it is more personable than other things we have tried.
We love the connections that we made with our hosts, especially while staying long term. There are millions of homes on Airbnb, searching is easy, payment is simple, and communication and customer service are great. If you haven’t tried AirBnB, you can get a $35 credit here. I would love to hear any experiences you have with other ways to stay when you travel.
One of the best ways to travel full time and not break the bank is to make sure you’re saving big bucks on flights. We never pay crazy amounts for flights and always watch and wait for deals. When you’re flying 6 people, this is a necessity! There are SO MANY good flight deals out there right now! I could go on about this for ages, but you will be better off reading my post about how we fly for cheap or nearly free!
5. Don’t Be on Vacation
This is where I think we get people saying “you must be loaded” because they think we are on a constant vacation. When you’re on vacation you tend to eat out every day, do every activity available and not do any work. When you travel full time, you’re NOT on vacation. We eat out maybe once a week and I cook all our meals at home and shop at the local market with the locals. We are working a normal 8 hour day (with more flexible hours). We are worldschooling our children. We are not on vacation, we are LIVING in another country, just like we would at home, but a little different of course!
I hope this will be helpful for those wanting to know more about how to travel full time and how to be a digital nomad family. It’s not for everyone! If you love stability or knowing exactly where you’ll be by Christmas or the comfort of your own bed, this might not be the lifestyle for you; but if you want to see the world and not go broke then you’ll be on your way!
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21 thoughts on “How to Become a Digital Nomad Family in 5 Steps”
Thank you for sharing!
This is great. Bravo! I also raised my kids in several different countries. They have turned out to be amazing young adults. I am currently backpacking across SE Asia for a year with my youngest who is a teen. Dream big, live bigger!
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I am currently “homeless” and traveling around by house sitting with Trusted Housesitters. It’s been a great experience for a year so far! I especially love your last point about not being on vacation. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions about the digital nomad life.
Isn’t it amazing of what we are capable of these days?! I feel like this never would have been possible 10 years ago even!
Excellent tips on living the digital nomad life. Your kids a very lucky to get to experience so much of the world at such a young age. I wish my parents had read this when I was little! Though, I’d still prefer to skip all of the tips and just be as loaded as everyone assumes 😉
Hahaha! Oh my goodness..wouldn’t that be so nice?!
These are all great tips for families considering taking the leap to become a digital nomad family. So important that you mention to “not be on vacation” every day, as cooking meals at home and maintaining a work routine are components that make this life choice work.
Yes so true! We’d never be able to afford it all if we were eating out and not getting any work done! haha!
I love #5! Often people think that just because we are exploring the world that we are on vacation al of the time. Kinda the same with being a. blogger full-time, they think we just have fun all day long. 😉 Congrats on your success and sharing your tips.
Yes!!! This is so true! Even my kids think I stay home and “play” on my computer all day LOL!
Hi there. Just wanted to speak up for those of us who DO make a ton of money from our blogs. We fully covered all living and travel expenses for several years on blog income. We were on the road 6 years, full time. Like you, we’re stuck a while right now, the house needed to be fixed up and sold – but we still cover all at home costs from my main travel blog. It can, most certainly, be done. It’s easy, but a lot of work, a lot of hours, but travel blogging was the job I was born to do, alongside educating my kids – almost grown now. They have their own websites now in various niches and will never have to get a job working for somebody else, unless they want to – or Google and the internet cease to exist – which could happen! But funding a digital nomad lifestyle on the back of a travel blog is very possible .
Definitely agree! These numbers are from 5 years ago and we could definitely fund our travels from blog income now. But I have a lot of people just getting started who think they can fund their travels the second they start a blog, which is absolutely not possible! I don’t want to give anyone false hope. I think you need to have a stable income, whether from the blog or something else, to travel fulltime, especially with multiple kids. I don’t think I’d ever take a leap and try to rely on blog income for at least 2 years.
Yep, you’re absolutely right in that, I see so many gap year families ( they come to me for blogging help ) thinking they’ll just blog about what they’re doing for a year – it won’t work. Blogging is a commitment and travel blogging involves many years of dedication to travel. Too many people think it’s just writing a diary that people will be interested to follow.
Hi! My Family of 6 has also been planning to travel fulltime, any tips? Btw, your blog has been a big help in our planning!
Hi Alessandra. That’s awesome! These tips are my best advice for sure. And just making sure you have a steady stream of income before you leave because there are always mysterious expenses that can pop up! Let me know if you have any questions!