She Has Saved Over $100,000 In Accommodations! This Traveler Shares Her Top Tips For Traveling The World On A Budget
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14th Jun | 4 min read

In 2006, Nora sold everything she owned in Canada (including a busy financial planning practice) to embrace her dreams of long-term culturally immersive world travel. She traveled full-time for 12 years, before returning to Canada to establish a home base from which she continues to travel for about 6 months a year. On her website, Nora teaches people how to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way, while also sharing her many travel adventures (and mis-adventures). You can connect with Nora on GAFFL and follow her adventures closely on

Why I Travel

I actually started my full-time travels with a partner, but we broke up on the road (which was an eye-opening experience about how travel accelerates the natural progression of a relationship). Since those days, I’ve traveled solo and with various partners and friends. All in all, I’ve spent at least 6 years on the road cumulatively as a solo traveler. 

I love solo travel because it is liberating (I can do what I want, when I want, where I want), and it’s often easier to meet people as a solo traveler. Also, it’s a bit easier to balance my online career when I’m not beholden to a partner’s agenda. 

In this article, I break down the pros and cons of solo travel, as well as a couple of travel and family travel.  

In this video, I share tips for traveling alone as a woman

I’ve Met Many People During My Travels

I don’t even know where to begin! I’ve met dozens - hundreds, even - of new people on the road and I stay in touch with a huge number of them. 

If I were to choose one fun memory to share it would be when I was in Jakarta. I had actually been staying in Bali when Mount Agung started erupting and I felt the need to evacuate because I was worried about getting trapped on the island with the airport closed due to ash eruptions. Through a friend, I knew somebody in Jakarta, and they agreed to host me in their home for three weeks prior to my scheduled onward travel plans. I landed in Jakarta and met a perfect stranger who, along with his family, became my own adopted Indonesian family. 

To describe the picture I attached, I was invited by my friend to a party she was attending with other women in her community. What she neglected to tell me was that these women always chose a theme - a color, or a costume of sorts, and everybody would dress according to the theme. (They were big into selfies and pictures, and these themed parties made the pictures more interesting). As you can see, the theme was yellow. Not knowing, I wore green. Haha!

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One of the best ways to meet people when you travel, and also to have a very culturally rewarding experience (AND to save a ton of money!) is to volunteer in trade for free accommodation. I’ve made so many friends around the world this way, and it’s so much more enriching than staying in hostels and hotels. All in all, I saved over $100,000 on accommodation by getting it for free around the world, and volunteering is just one way to do it. I write more about that here: How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World.

How I Choose Where To Travel Next

On the whole I like to allow my destinations to choose me, usually in the form of a unique opportunity (for example a house-sitting gig, or staying with a friend, etc). When there isn’t an obvious choice, I consider the season, how to get there for a reasonable cost, and what I can do when I’m there. 

I traveled full-time for 12 years. That said, I had a few home bases along the way, where I set up shop for anything from three months to two years (and traveled from that base regularly). Now that I have a home base in Canada, I travel cumulatively for about six months of the year. Usually about four months of that is during the winter (I prefer to go somewhere warm when it’s cold in Canada), and another two months of trips throughout the rest of the year that can be anything from a few days to a few weeks long. 

As a former financial planner, I haven’t faced any major financial challenges along the way. However, that’s because I continue to apply the principles of good money management and financial planning. I write more about that in my Financial Planning Guide for Travelers

My Top Budget Tips For New Solo Travelers

First off, read my Travel Money Guide (it’s free) to learn all about savvy money-tips for travelers. Then, sign up for my free 2-week email course on financially sustainable travel  Even if you don’t want to sell everything to travel full-time, you’ll get lots of great tips to travel creatively and rewardingly for way less money than you ever imagined possible. 

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Join our subscriber list to receive the best tips on solo travel, helpful travel guides, inspirational travel stories, and more. You can unsubscribe anytime with just one click.



    Nora - The Professional Hobo
    July 19, 2020 at 4:17 PM

    Thank you for featuring me! This was a fun interview.