Meet The Cou­ple Trav­el­ing The World On $750 Per Month

ForbesWeekly - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALEXANDRA TALTY, FORBES CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Back­pack­ing on the cheap through south­east Asia or Cen­tral Amer­ica is the bread and but­ter of fru­gal trav­el­ers. Trav­el­ing through Europe and Aus­tralia with­out de­plet­ing your funds? That is a dif­fer­ent feat en­tirely. How­ever, travel writ­ers and pod­cast hosts Meagen Collins and Tom Wil­liams were able to make their way through th­ese more ex­pen­sive con­ti­nents on less than $750 per month on av­er­age per per­son. They key: a slow sched­ule, a pen­chant for house-sit­ting and a flex­i­ble itin­er­ary.

“Trav­el­ing has been part of our life for a while,” says Collins, 32, who met her boyfriend, Wil­liams, 34, on the road. Set­ting off to­gether in April 2013, the cou­ple is about to hit their three-year mark as no­mads and so far, they have no plans to set­tle down. To­gether they have vis­ited over 75 coun­tries at a slug­gish pace.

“The only way we’ve sur­vived this long is slow travel,” says Wil­liams. The Bri­tish na­tional ad­mits that af­ter 14 months in In­dia where they changed hos­tels ev­ery three days, the cou­ple needed a break from the con­stant move­ment. When they ex­plored Europe in 2015, they opted for a slower pace, fol­low­ing off-sea­sons around the con­ti­nent and pick­ing up house-sit­ting gigs when pos­si­ble.

One of their cheap­est months in Europe in­cluded spend­ing $402 in Por­tu­gal thanks to an Airbnb room that ran them a mere $11 per night. Al­though it was tech­ni­cally win­ter, the coast of Por­tu­gal boasts a mi­cro-cli­mate that al­lowed them to en­joy warmer weather than else­where on the con­ti­nent.

The cou­ple tried to house-sit or Airbnb through­out Europe to keep lodg­ing costs low.

“Flex­i­bil­ity is key,” says Wil­liams. By stick­ing to the off-sea­sons, like France in Au­gust or Por­tu­gal dur­ing the cold months, they were able to snag free house-sits or ul­tra-low rates on apart­ments for the month. They trav­eled slowly, spend­ing up to three months in one lo­ca­tion. This al­lowed them to lock in an apart­ment or room at a lower rate than if they switched ac­com­mo­da­tion ev­ery five days.

De­spite their bud­get, the cou­ple wants to see and do as much as pos­si­ble.

“There are so many places in the world where all the mu­se­ums are free on Sun­days,” says Collins, a na­tive Aus­tralian. While in Eng­land vis­it­ing Wil­liams’ fam­ily, they tried to take ad­van­tage of all the free ac­tiv­i­ties that were avail­able to off­set the high cost of liv­ing.

Collins adds that, “Be­ing able to cook for your­self saves a lot of money.” Some of their fa­vorite bud­get coun­tries in­cluded Morocco, Ro­ma­nia, Spain and Hun­gary. Af­ter find­ing an apart­ment in Bucharest, Ro­ma­nia for $350 a month, the cou­ple stayed for three months. It is the long­est time they spent in one place since they be­gan trav­el­ing to­gether nearly three years ago.

“We found a word for apart­ment in Ro­ma­nian and looked up that,” says Wil­liams. He rec­om­mends find­ing cheap lodg­ing and restau­rants by trans­lat­ing “restau­rant” or “apart­ment” into the lo­cal lan­guage and then search­ing that phrase. The cou­ple uses this trick all over the world. Collins says, “It is about find­ing a mom-and-pop place.”

To fund their ad­ven­tures, the cou­ple started out with $30,000 in sav­ings gar­nered from nine months of work­ing in Aus­tralia. It lasted them 18 to 20 months into their jour­ney and now they live off the in­come gen­er­ated from their blog. They also go on spon­sored trips, but gen­er­ally those don’t pay and will in­stead of­fer sight­see­ing or lodg­ing for free, like a week in a ho­tel or hot air bal­loon­ing in Turkey, in ex­change for a write-up on their blog, FiveDol­larTrav­eller.com.

If you are plan­ning on fund­ing your travel with a busi­ness, the cou­ple rec­om­mends think­ing about what kind of fo­cus your busi­ness will have. They be­gan writ­ing about bud­get travel, which was a “huge mis­take,” ac­cord­ing to Wil­liams, as there is very lit­tle money in it.

“Do your re­search first and see what else is out there,” says Collins. “See what you are pas­sion­ate about.”

Collins con­tin­ues, “It doesn’t mat­ter when you start, it is about qual­ity.”

As for get­ting around, the 30-some­things love to fly, as it saves time and, if done prop­erly, can save money. Search Wikipedia to find a bud­get air­line for a spe­cific re­gion or coun­try as that leads to bet­ter deals. They also use web­sites like WhichAir­line.com or Skyscan­ner. com to find air­fare mis­takes, which can lead to hun­dreds of dol­lars in sav­ings. Lastly, they sign up for email lists and Face­book ac­counts where sales are pro­moted.

“Ev­ery­body wants to try to find this life­style. And they feel if you com­mit to that mort­gage, you’ll have that debt for the next 20 years,” says Wil­liams, who was prompted to travel long term when he was about turn 30 and re­al­ized he could travel or buy a house. He says that many of the long-term trav­el­ers that they meet de­cided to start their jour­neys for sim­i­lar rea­sons.

“We have to ad­mit we do work a lot of hours in the week to sus­tain this,” says Wil­liams.

At the mo­ment, the pair is in Chang Mai, Thai­land. Af­ter speak­ing with me, they were about to go to the cinema, some­thing that helped keep travel fa­tigue at bay. At $3 per ticket, it’s a cheap way to avoid go­ing crazy on the road.

They plan on head­ing to Aus­tralia in Fe­bru­ary, at the be­quest of Collins’ mother. Then, it’s off to the Philip­pines in the spring to ex­plore its thou­sands of is­lands.

Wil­liams says, “The fact that we are even plan­ning that far in ad­vance is sur­pris­ing for us.”

CAIAIMAGE/PAUL VIANT/GETTY IM­AGES

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