August 20, 2019

How to Be a Professional Hobo

When Nora Dunn sold her financial planning practice, along with everything else she owned in 2007 to follow her dream of full-time travel, she knew she wanted to share her adventure., Dunn’s web site, chronicles how she’s managed to travel full time in a financially-sustainable manner for over four years. In addition to freelance writing from the road, she’s developed a few tricks for controlling costs.


Volunteering in exchange for accommodation is one of the best ways to control overhead expenses, according to Dunn. She’s taken care of dogs, painted murals, cooked and cleaned at retreat centers, milked goats, managed marketing plans and even led ecological treks on llamas. Another perk with volunteering she says, is the sense of home she receives from being off the beaten track and away from the hostel scene.


A self-proclaimed frequent flyer mile junkie, Dunn saves up her program points in order to upgrade her long-haul flights to business class. This strategy has previously cost her less than the price of an economy-class ticket! When she can’t manage to pull that off that minor miracle, Dunn enjoys traveling by train. The price is often less, and she prefers the extended scenery enjoyment that train travel provides.


While it can be tempting to accumulate souvenirs and activity gear while you’re on the road, the reality of lugging those items around often destroys the fantasy of the extra comfort you hope they’ll provide, according to Dunn. When it comes to gear such as bicycles, snorkeling gear or similar equipment, Dunn chooses to rent if possible. If at the end of your research, you feel you need to buy a particular item, try to buy used. You may or not be able to sell it quickly when you move on she advises, and donating something you didn’t pay a great deal for anyway doesn’t seem to pinch as much.


Moving at a breakneck pace is not only exhausting says Dunn, but it can wreak havoc on the long-term travel budget. Slowing down and getting to know the locals a bit before rushing off to the next destination will assist greatly in ferreting out the best deals. It’s also a sanity saver. Says Dunn, “In 2010, I traveled through over 10 countries on a whirlwind itinerary. Never sleeping longer than five nights in one bed, I emerged from the year completely exhausted. I had to simply stop moving for about six months to catch my breath.”

Photo Credit: Oakley Originals