Poor Backpacker, Rich Forever

Travis W. King
11 min readJan 5, 2022

6 Travel Hacks and Habits that Have Already Saved Me Nearly 40k

Credit: The Walt Disney Company, I would imagine.

I haven’t been a proper backpacker for the past five years of my travels. You see, I started working. I became one of those “digital nomads.” I actually found myself right in the digital-nomad bullseye, working for one of the very first travel companies to cater to the growing flock — I became a Program Leader for Remote Year’s third-ever program. For their third year-long trip around the world.

At this point, I was still traveling, but now in a community, now with a new purpose, now with a fat paycheck. Well, not fat — but it sure felt fat. After volunteering 25 hours a week for pancakes and a hammock, after laying bricks for eggs and a bunk bed, after doing whatever needed to happen to keep my travels alive for nearly four years, making an average starting salary for a U.S. company had me feeling like Scrooge McDuck backflipping into a fountain of gold coins.

In those first four years of open-ended travel (which I wrote a whole book about), I punched a new, tighter hole, in my financial belt with every overnight bus, with every new passport stamp. I was addicted to the adventure, and I knew the only thing that could truly stop me was not being able to afford the next night in a shared dorm room. I didn’t live like Buddha in the forest practicing extreme asceticism, but I definitely didn’t miss a free hostel breakfast. I was aware of each dollar, each pile of foreign change in my pocket that would be able to buy bananas or a beer for only two more days until I crossed the next border.

I began doing many simple things to save, to create bigger and bigger piles of foreign change. From these saved pesos or baht, I could buy more and more bananas, peanuts, and Oreos. From eating bananas, peanuts, and Oreos for an entire meal, I could buy another night in a hostel — I was laying the tracks in front of the train while it was rolling downhill. It worked! The train kept going. The adventure continued.

Every last coin on fruit, chips, and peanuts. Photo by Roxanne Desgagnés on Unsplash

I ended up working at Remote Year for over four years, and those fat (read: average) paychecks added up. I’ve become far more financially stable than…

Travis W. King

Traveling, writing, & working abroad for 10 years. Former Remote Year Dir. of Community. Check out my travel memoir—Not That Anyone Asked—at www.traviswking.com