2 Years of Travel, 23 States, and 3 Countries: Only $4000

Nathan's Travels

It’s tax time for this digital nomad, which means at least one thing: nerding out in Excel!!

Yes, it’s that time of year when I get to play waist-deep in the program that become one of my best friends during all my years of “being-in-an-office” work.

As I look back at another year of expenses, I get to relive all the amazing stuff I’ve been up to. Pretty cool that a spreadsheet can do that. :)


But fear not—I won’t (overly) bore you with numbers, charts and graphs—this is instead to show you HOW LITTLE I’ve spent over the last two years, in hopes that you might see how more travel is possible for you, too.

And… there’s something at the end if you’re looking to finally make YOUR dream trip a reality!


First up: where have I gone over the last two years?

23 States: Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, California, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado

Some states more than once; easily over 100 destinations total.

3 Countries: US, Canada, and Mexico


Now let’s get to the numbers!

What did I ACTUALLY spend in getting from place to place? You know: flights, trains, buses, subways, shuttles, etc.

  • For 2011: $2027.52
  • For 2012: $2098.71

This INCLUDES my flights out to and around Hawaii, across the US, and first-class cross-country trips on Amtrak.

So yes, to travel for two years in the US, it only cost me $4000. That’s less than some people spend (or earn) in a MONTH in the States. Insane, right?!

Just $2000 EACH YEAR to check out 23 US states, Vancouver (BC), and the former “murder capital of the world,” Juarez, Mexico (still alive)!


Of course those weren’t my only expenses. But a lot of the things I pay for are what I’d have anywhere, including if I lived in just one spot:

  • Cell Phone
  • Dining Out
  • Entertainment
  • Groceries
  • Health

No Rent or Car Payments for me (which save thousands), but travelers do incur some other atypical fees…

Like Nomad Incidentals: those things that come up as you travel, like hotel/hostel stays, gifts for hosts, etc.

  • In 2011: $1094.61
  • In 2012: $1399.07


Now by this point, you’re probably thinking, “there must be some other numbers he’s hiding.” Or, “I bet he still spends as much as most people because of food.”

Sure, Groceries were my #1 expense both years, with Dining Out a close 2nd. I’m completely fine with all that, because I believe that health (of which food is a HUGE part) comes first.

What I eat will directly impact my health—not to mention, these are things I’m literally putting into my body—why skimp?

Ok: here you go…


What were my TOTAL expenses for the last 2 years?

  • 2011: $18,250.34
  • 2012: $17,071.18

Total: $35,321.52


That’s just about what I used to spend EACH YEAR when I lived in LA (with a car, renting a guest house, etc.).

It’s pretty crazy when I put that perspective on it, and think about all the things I’ve done and places I’ve been since I made the decision to go in another direction and live on the road.

In fact, I’m writing this post from a top-floor condo in the hills of Sayulita, Mexico, where I’m staying with friends in a giant guestroom for two weeks.


not bad, huh?


Never thought I’d be here, but they invited me, and I thought, “why the heck not?!”

It didn’t even cost me that much to get here…but that’s a story for 2013’s financial wrap-up. ;)


So how have I done all this?

Mainly with travel hacking: learning how to quickly accumulate lots of frequent flyer miles through credit cards, and then redeeming those points strategically.

No, it’s not illegal.

No, this doesn’t affect my credit score. (I’m at 800 with one of the agencies.)

This is one of the funnest things I’ve ever learned and done. I’m actually in the middle of planning a trip to Kenya this summer, all with points, saving literally thousands of dollars in the process! Boo-yah!

I wrote more about how I do this recently with my family’s Christmas trip to Maui for only $573.

Yup, totally possible for you, too.


But guess what? You don’t HAVE to get into the hacking if you don’t want to.

Maybe you want to travel more locally, or go to one region where you can get around cheaply.

The point is: you don’t need the kind of money you *think* you need to start traveling.

You may already have what you need *right now*—no more saving required.

Just go. Start discovering this world however you can. Don’t put your dreams or your life on hold. :)


Can’t wait to see you out there!!



I promised you something up top: here it is…

My best bud Jacob is helping people go on their Dream Trip (for free!), and I just happen to be part of the awesomeness as his secret travel-ninja. ;) If you’re interested in learning more, check this out!


My final question to you: where you going first?

I’d love to hear your response + any other thoughts you have below.


From the road…




Former life: actor/office worker/virtual assistant; lived in Los Angeles for 11 years. Since then: sold nearly everything, took a $5 flight to Hawaii, lived there for 3 months, wrote an eGuide about all of it, and still traveling. Currently: digital nomad - looking to improve myself, have fun and serve others.