Do Long-Term Travellers Need Backup Savings?

Do Long Term Travellers Need Backup Savings

One of our YouTube channel subscribers emailed us last week to say they were about to spend all of their savings on a camper van to live in, and to be honest, their plan made me quite nervous.

In past posts I’ve shared our long-term travel budget, and the fact that we only have $500 in our retirement savings account but I never mentioned the fact that we also have a backup sum of money set aside because I didn’t think it was relevant, until now.

We never dip into our backup money, so it’s not actively helping us travel, but it does give us a substantial sense of security as we explore alternative lifestyles.  We might need it in an emergency one day, or we could use it to buy a cheap piece of land, start a small business or even take another year off.

I’m not saying that a backup savings fund is a requirement to travel because almost anyone can pull off a trip on a shoestring (or on credit) if they really want to.  But for long-term travellers like us who have given up their permanent home and the security of a steady income, it’s nice to know that we have a little pot of mad money to dip into if we really need it.

Happy Exploring!


18 thoughts on “Do Long-Term Travellers Need Backup Savings?

  1. Armando

    Still working on savings. Now getting into the 4th year of fulltime travel and with our work is definetly better. We usually spend around 1000€ a month, two person with gas, food, extra and traveling. All that in Europe. And now the bank account is a bit better!

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Armando – thanks so much for checking out our blog :) We love you guys! It’s always nice to hear from other long-term travellers who have similar budgets so we know we’re not crazy for spending so much/so little depending on who we talk to haha! Happy exploring :)

      1. Nancy

        Anyone still posting here? My husband and I are thinking of traveling RV-ish style, or hiking around Europe. . . or building a tiny house or log cabin on our farmland. In other words, we aren’t really sure. I’d love to get feedback. We are in life transitions since marrying 2 and 1/2 years ago. We both love art/painting/storytelling/writing. I just finished a counseling degree and my husband phasing out of farming (we are in our fifties:).

        1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

          Hi Nancy,

          Thank you for checking out the blog and sharing your lifestyle ideas. We’re in the same boat and would love to explore many different lifestyles like living on a boat, homesteading, building a tiny house, etc. The only way we’ve found to figure out if we like something is to try it out. Maybe you guys could find a way to stay in a tiny house for a weekend, go on a short hiking trip, attend a log home building workshop? It might help you decide which option you’re most passionate about. Another thing that we try to remember is that choosing one option doesn’t necessarily mean we’re giving up on the others. It just means that we can’t do them all at the same time.

          Have fun exploring and keep us posted on your adventures :)


          1. Don

            Try WWOOFing these are organic farms that you live on and work between 30 and 40 hr per week for housing and food. My son worked 2 months in Hawaii. From what I have seen you will be in a small bunk house with 2 to 4 others and a communal kitchen. You get to experience living small and farming at the same time.

          2. Danielle Chabassol Post author

            I’m glad your son had such a great WWOOFing experience, Don. It was one of our favourite ways to travel back in the day and I am thinking about doing some more in the future :)

  2. OldMack

    Sound advice re: mad money. Think of “Monopoly” when you are on the road: most of the board is owned, so you may need a “get outta jail” fund, or a bail out your ride fund. Also keep a rucksack filled with essentials in case some turkey deputy decides to unhorse you out in the back of beyond.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Ron,

      I love the way you compared real life to Monopoly – it does feel like we’re always landing on lots that are owned by someone else so it’s nice to get to spaces that are publicly shared :) Good idea for the emergency rucksack – I’d never thought of doing that before!


  3. Matt

    Totally agreed. I’m sure plenty of people do it successfully, but I can’t imagine leaving on an adventure like yours without a true “emergency fund” with a couple months’ living expenses. Financial peace of mind is worth a lot!

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Thanks for reading the blog, Matt! I’m glad we’re not the only ones who like a bit of security :)

  4. Jason

    I’m sitting out in the next few months for my first road trip, or exploration. As, I have saved up a few thousand hours as an emergency find ammo have all insurance and everything paid for and hope to make it across the United States and back within one year do you recommend a regular plan or a high top? Any help would be greatly appreciated and any advice in finding a proper van.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Jason – it sounds like you’ve got a solid backup savings plan in place which is great. To answer your question about which van is best, it really depends on what you’ll be doing with it and where you’ll be sleeping. Cargo vans (like ours) and family vans are more stealthy so you might be able to get away with parking on side streets/residential streets without getting caught. With a Westfalia or a high top van, you’re going to stand out a bit more and it will be more obvious that someone is sleeping in their van. You’d end up having to stay in Walmart parking lots and campsites. That said, a high top would obviously provide more space and comfort. We didn’t know which type of van we wanted and stayed open to all types when we were looking until one came along that was in good shape, for a good price, and then we made it work. I hope that helps! Take care and happy exploring :)

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