Guest Post: How to afford full time travel with Dotting the Map
We are the Fuller family. There are six of us- Reid, Hilarye, and four kids ranging from ages 9-3. In April 2018 we left our suburban life in Knoxville, Tennessee to hit the road with our fifth wheel to explore our beautiful country (the United States). Our travels are not limited to the RV, we have also been on cruises, international trips and are working hard to become debt-free so that next Fall we can trade the RV for backpacks and go abroad.
We’ve always traveled extensively with our kids. By the time our oldest was a year old she had been on over seventy flights. But as our family grew it seemed to be that time spent traveling became less and less.
By the time we got to our fourth kid we knew we were ready for a change. It had always been a dream to travel full time, sell our possessions and go nomadic but we didn’t think about it seriously until Reid’s Dad passed away. It helped us realize that nothing in life is guaranteed and you only have one life for living.
We made a commitment to do this lifestyle and to become debt-free while we were doing it. We didn’t want to come back from being nomadic in worse shape than we left. We wanted it to enrich our lives in every way possible.
I’m not going to lie, the first six months were hard as we tried to get in the groove of balancing travel, work, and school. It was difficult to remember that we were not on a vacation and toilets still needed to be cleaned, money needed to be earned, and kids needed to be educated. Another thing that was difficult was learning how to adjust our budget so that we could enjoy this lifestyle but still pursue our goal of becoming debt-free.
Two things people always ask us about when they meet us or learn about what we are doing are how we afford this lifestyle and what our budget looks like.
Neither of us are retired so we definitely are working full time if not more on the road. It’s a valid question so we do try to answer as appropriately as possible but it tends to be a bit of a mixed bag answer. We have had a family travel blog for over eleven years that we do get sponsorships for. Some of our travel does get comped for gathering stories and images but overall I would say 90% of our travel we fund ourselves. We have an Amazon business where we sell a mix of our own products as well as arbitrage. Reid is an amazing photographer who is often hired for real estate and destination photo shoots. We also both work online as English Second Language teachers. You can see why that is a complicated question to answer!
Truthfully it’s a lot but we love what we do and we are currently working Dave Ramsey’s baby steps to become financially free to open even more doors for our family in regards to travel and our future.
Our budget will drastically change next year when we go overseas, but people are always so surprised at how affordable this lifestyle can really be! The best part about it is that you can make it as extravagant or as budget-minded as possible. Obviously because we are working towards our financial goals we try to keep our burn rate (the amount you spend a month) as low as possible.
An example of what our monthly budget looks like for traveling the US in an RV with a family of 6:
Travel related activities: $200
Truck and RV Payment: $750
Campgrounds: $200 (we have a campground membership we bought into that we try to stay at for the most part that doesn’t cost us anything so some months we don’t use this money)
RV/Truck Repairs: $250 (this goes into a sinking fund for whenever we need to get the oil changed, new tires, or get brakes fixed)
We also have business expenses and other expenses that are individual to our family but just to break it down to give you an idea.
Becoming nomadic was one of the best things we have ever done for our family. Our children have become well rounded, make friends at the drop of a hat, and have had so many enriching experiences that have blessed our lives all around. Plus we have grown so close through this experience and created so many memories that I pray will bond us for the rest of our lives.