Travel, especially international travel, is typically considered a luxury. Most folks think it’s reserved for people with a lot of disposable income and time. But what if you could travel the world more cheaply than you could live at home?
That’s exactly what one global nomad has been doing for over ten years. Meet Nora Dunn. This 40-year-old world traveler has been making her way around the globe since 2006.
Recently, Dunn shared some of her insights and experiences with Insider.
Dunn previously worked as a financial planner until one day she realized that she was helping other people achieve the lifestyle of their dreams, but was neglecting her own dreams. As Dunn says, “My dream has been, since I was 9 years old, to really travel the world, more than just taking vacations.”
So Dunn decided to set out to make her dream a reality. She sold her planning practice and virtually all of her possessions. Then she embarked on the journey of a lifetime.
If you ask her, Dunn is quick to say that she doesn’t travel the world – she lives around the world. Since leaving her profession and her home base, Dunn has traveled through and lived in over 50 countries. Throughout her time exploring, she has written blogs about her life as The Professional Hobo, and penned several books about financially sustainable traveling.
After all, Dunn was a financial planner, so she’s adept at analyzing her financial flow. Dunn has recorded and tracked her spending methodically, and she’s used her expertise to precisely map her savings. In the eleven years since she’s taken up her new way of life, Dunn says she’s saved over $100,000 in accommodation costs.
How? By being creative in finding places to stay and live around the world. Dunn doesn’t stay in ritzy hotels, nor does she buy into hostel or Airbnbs options. Instead, she springs for more immersive cultural experiences.
Sometimes she housesits, volunteers, and does home exchanges. Oftentimes she manages to stay for free with local families she meets on her travels. Dunn shares her experiences and insights on minimizing accommodation costs in her new book.
When asked about her cheap to free stays, Dunn says, “It really has been an amazing gift, not only because accommodation is the single biggest expense you’ll incur when you travel, but also because it’s a brilliant way to experience a slice of local of life.”
After she began tracking her expenses, Dunn was amazed to discover how little it actually cost to travel full-time. Of her travel life, she says, “It costs me significantly less than it ever cost me to live in one place.”
Dunn expresses that her travels aren’t a prolonged vacation – it’s her way of life. While she relates that she doesn’t make a lot of money now, she spends prudently while traveling. “When I get to enjoy things like free accommodation, and when I travel slowly, my expenses are inherently low,” says Dunn.
According to her, “Lifestyle travel has been a way of living in technicolor.” But not every part of her new way of living has been easy. Since setting out on her worldwide tour, Dunn has contracted various illnesses and survived three natural disasters. But she’s using her experience to teach others, about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Currently, Dunn is working on an outline for her next book, entitled, “’This Ain’t A Travel Blog: Stories From 10 Years of Living Abroad That No Travel Blogger Would Ever Publish.”
When asked to describe her life as a traveler overall, Dunn says,”Everything has been new and different and wild and wonderful.” It doesn’t hurt that she’s living for less than she ever did in her stationary life. But traveling on a budget doesn’t mean Dunn lives cheaply. “When I want lobster, I eat lobster. I wear nice clothing… [but] everything I own fits into a bag.”
We’ve all heard that less is more. Nora Dunn is putting this expression to work for her. While her costs have been low, Dunn has amassed a wealth of experiences on her travels. Maybe those of us with wanderlust on a budget can take a cue from this savvy globetrotter.
Cover Photo: The Professional Hobo