Earn $5 a Day? You Can Travel Forever

Hiking in Järvafältet, Sweden. By Martin Edström.

“If you can earn $5 a day, you can travel forever.”

That’s Andy the Hobo Traveler’s motto, at least. And he can talk: for close to 11 years, Andy has been perpetually travelling the globe, with no intention of returning home.

Related post: How to Make Money with Your Travel Blog

For most of us, travel is a finite experience. Our trips may be long, but they always have a Point A and a Point B: a beginning and an end. Most of us return home; some people relocate to a new home; but we always arrive home.

Not Andy. Thanks to the success of his two websites, HoboTraveler and HoboHideout, Andy has been able to travel perpetually for over a decade, making his way through 77 countries across the globe. A little while ago, I asked Andy to share his story.

Andy’s story

I had a successful business. I was making good money, had a boat, two houses. But I was bored.

“I was bored with life in the United States. I had a successful business. I was making good money, had a boat, two houses. But I was bored. I wasn’t married. I was always waiting for the day when I’d get married. Then one day I just took off.

“When I first left, I went down to Mexico for a one-year sabbatical. I wanted to see if I could earn money from the internet. At the time, I was working as a real estate broker, I was very good at marketing and sales, and the internet was blossoming. So I decided to take a sabbatical, move down to Mexico, live in a hostel and work eight hours a day trying to make enough money off it. I didn’t plan to travel forever.

“After about a year, I realised I didn’t want to go home under any circumstance.

“Later, when I was in Costa Rica, I met a German guy, who said to me: ‘After being gone this long, you’re addicted. You’re going to have trouble stopping.’ I never forgot it.

“I decided almost eight years ago that I didn’t want a home. For the first two years I was still thinking I’d go back.

“I was in Khao San Road in Thailand and I’d just made $5 that day through my website. I thought to myself: ‘I don’t ever want to go home again.’ You have to be able to have perpetual income no matter where you are on earth.”

Related: Cheap flights

The art of perpetual travel

If the idea of travelling forever sounds appealing to you, you’re not alone. While I haven’t been able to find any other travellers online who have been travelling perpetually for as long as Andy, there are others out there living their lives on the road.

Over the next few weeks, TravelBlogs will be featuring a series of articles and interviews with some of these perpetual travellers. People who, like Andy, have decided to spend their lives on the road.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to TravelBlogs to receive updates whenever we feature a new blog or publish a fresh article.

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Discussion »

  • #1Kara

    I am so impressed. You are living my dream. I’m thinking as soon as a get my degree I will be on the road. Permanently. :) Enjoy!

  • #2Beth Whitman

    This is great in theory, but it’s very difficult to do.

    I have been working towards paying my mortgage through my site and blog so I don’t have to “work”. But, all of my “work” is travel-related anyway, so is it really work?

    Really, I just want to have the flexibility to come and go as I please and with the way the US news/fearmongers are going on about the economy, I want to hit the road NOW!

    Beth Whitman

  • #3Kyle Shields

    Wow Andy’s is an amazing story. I still don’t understand though how he can make enough money on the road to perpetually travel. It sounds like fun, but I don’t think I’d have the guts.

  • #4Kent Walker

    Beth, I think I see your problem in your post. How could you ever travel forever while forever tethered by being a homeowner? Even if it were paid off, you’d have to rent it, keep it fixed up during/after the lease, property taxes, etc. Granted in the current market this is easier said than done, but if you’re making enough through your website and blog to pay the mortgage, if you sell your house you are on your way. The common theme I see in people who want to travel forever but can’t is they’ve got themselves saddled with huge anchors like that but fail to see that that is precisely why they can’t do it. That’s the only thing that makes it difficult. We Americans are so driven by the need to possess things, and it’s a VERY hard habit to break.

    Incidentally, I just sold a business in May, sold my truck, my motorcycle, and most of my TONS of possessions and bought a 27-foot sailboat, which is now the closest I have to a home. Break those chains, and when you travel to Belize, look me up! I’ll be in the pretty blue boat, hopefully anchored off Caye Caulker.

  • #5Joachim in Oslo

    Impressed too!
    I love to travel, although never thought of being away for so long.
    Been away for 4 weeks at the most.

    But what if more and more people are following this idea?

  • #6j

    This sounds like a great idea:) It is good to see the world, no responsibility except providing food and shelter for yourself. Even so, I think it would get lonely doing it alone. But to see the world like that is great. But with rising food costs, don’t expect to spend only $5 a day forever!!! In Bosston, the only things you can buy for less than $5 is from the .99 meal at Burger King or McDonalds!

  • #7Erica Johansson

    Inspiring interview and a beautiful photography. Thanks for this!

  • #8J Nizzle

    5 bucks a day. I think that is totally possible. If you don’t mind those living conditions. How long can you sleep on the ground? Or better yet in some seedy places that work with a 5 dollar budget. What is the quality of food you are eating? How about not showering for a few days? Mexico, Costa Rica are not best places to be but I guess that you get what you pay for.

  • #9Melanie

    Mexico and Costa Rica are not the best places to be? Um, ok. I guess it’s all in the perspective. If you’ve bought into the standard American lifestyle deep enough, I guess other ways of living and other standards of living won’t necessarily work for you. But if you consider for a moment that maybe that attitude toward what matters in life isn’t the only one with value, well, perhaps Costa Rica doesn’t seem like such a “drag” after all.

    For me, any opportunity to immerse myself in another culture for a significant length of time is beyond measure. To me, that’s the REAL measure of “quality of life”. YMMV, of course.

  • #10Eric

    Well said Melanie. This kind of lifestyle is absolutely impossible without foregoing a lot of stuff that people in the West think is necessary. In a way, that’s one of the most liberating things about it – the sense of ditching all the more or less unimportant stuff, in favour of the bare essentials: food, shelter, clothing, etc.

  • #11Arnold - Mr.Gadget

    Yes! I earn over $5 a day! Holidays here I come :)

  • #12Traveller Thougts

    lol i earn roughly over $50 a day and it works out on its own (no need for daily work), this looks like a possibility but even I don’t think that it would make sense to live off that – like $50 a day is lot but I mean I haven’t touched any of it – literally not even a dime. Straight into my savings – and yea I guess I’m building a nest egg. Doesn’t make sense how he could live off $5 – I mean hotel or boarding would be more. Unless you stay at some real dives or hostels, and eat garbage or whatever you can get. Kinda scary actually.

  • #13Krazd

    $5 a day pays for food/place to sleep? I would think it would be more in European countries

  • #14Ross Hill

    I can’t wait to read this series, as I consider doing it myself.

  • #15hoz

    I’ve been reading Andy the Hobo Traveler for a couple of years. Though he did take sojourns through Europe early on lately he has settled on tropical areas around the world. Second and third world countries where five bucks goes a long way towards food and shelter. Still, I don’t think the 5 bucks covers all his expenses now including travel.

    Nowadays I think Andy makes much more then that.

  • #16Darren Cronian

    Part of the problem is you get used to the luxuries you have in life. I could resign from my job, and live off what I earn on my blog, BUT, I am used to the luxury of living in a nice apartment, travel 2,3,4 times a year, have the latest gadgets and live comfortably.

    If I was to travel the world I would have to give all that up.

    Yes, it would be great fun, meeting new people and learning about different cultures but do I want to give up everything I have, be it materalistic, to do that.

  • #17Marrakech Holiday

    That sounds incredible! What a life. I could only imagine what that lifestyle must be like but I can also imagine you might miss the regular lifestlye and family and friends at home. Also $5 in this day and age won’t give you anything but a flat stomach! Like Darren said, you will have to give up all the luxuries that are now a part of most peoples lives.

    Having said that, if I was in the position to do the same, I would love to give it a shot!

    Thanks for the interesting post.

  • #18Chris Smith

    I’ve followed Hobotraveler Andy Graham through his website and Travel Blog for about 8 yrs and he’s the real deal … he prefers $5 days like it says but with a burgeoning travel presence on the Internet he can spend like a flashbacker and get a room with cable TV, WiFi and a private bath (OK, maybe a Suicide shower) for $10/day. He lives out of a backpack and though there are fast winds about him but he doesn’t sleep on the ground any more than the rest of us. If he didn’t travel so often, he could rent a house and spend $5 or less, no sweat. The less he spends the longer he can travel, that’s the math. Adventure travel is an ordeal but the world’s so worth it, don’t tell yourself you aren’t cut out for it or aren’t planning to leave in the near future. Don’t kill your dreams, they’re for living out without excuses.

    The Hobotraveler put me solo on my 1st Chicken bus with 80-90 Mayans and waved goodbye - Happy trails, hahah. Ask around in 2 wks and you’ll find me in Panajachel, Guatemala renting an apartment for USD $150/month or a house with a gardener for 2 bills a month.

    - Chris Smith

  • #19NewWrldYankee

    I have no concept of how this is possible – I am def going to check out Andy’s site and see just how he does it. Is that even possible???

  • #20Tajo

    I’ve been away for two years now, and I completely agree with the sentiment that once you’ve been away for too long, it becomes impossible to think of going home. For me, life is about having the freedom to stop somewhere for a while, get to know the people, and then when I feel like it, simply pack my bags and be off to the next place. To do that all I need is the clothes on my back, a camera, and a laptop, although to be fair I could probably ditch the laptop.

  • #21The Fitness Diva

    This is actually a dream of mine, and I’m trying to figure out how to fulfill it. I will definitely take some notes here! ;)

  • #22Travel for the Over 30s

    Its funny to see the comments – people either get it or they don’t! Obviously if you can get a hotel room for $10 in somewhere like Asia you can get a longer rental for a fraction of that. Food is so cheap that the locals eat out rather than have kitchens. Unfortunately most in the western world need to surround themselves by “stuff”

  • #23Schnell Abnehmen

    What an incredible story! After seeing Andy travelling perpetually with a 5$ budget a day, I’ve just realized how badly we are ripped off in our daily lives: we couldn’t even live in the same place with 5$!

  • #24the candy trail ...


    Greetings from Korea … I find $5 way too very lean a budget, I find work along the way so life is fun on the road. I’ve been traveling, wandering since 1988, since age 21 – originally from New Zealand but since been to Iraq to Antarctica to Sierra Leone, to about 100 countries beyond. I am an extreme global nomad …

    Regards – MRP AKA thecandytrail.com

  • #25Tiffany

    I wish I could just wander the globe, at least for a year. I’ve wanted to travel for so long. I have a young daughter though and I wouldn’t want to raise her on the road. Still, this is a very fascinating topic to me. I’m going to go read the rest of the articles…

  • #26bill mann

    Very few people know the real story here, though. Andy Hobotraveler is actually the twin brother of famous American actor William H Macy. His drinking and obsessive traveling and blog writing are a result of his disappointment and bitterness about his and his brother’s original plans to develop a comedy act together. Bill lost interest, started taking acting lessons, and made it big, while Andy was left behind. Andy (Hobo) is only now finding peace in his heart, and recently reunited with Bill after 22 years of not speaking to him. A heartwarming story, when you think about it….

  • #27Carlo

    What a wonderful story. I am so very grateful with your story and with your life. I am Carlo Delos Santos from philippines and I am very much interested to earn $5 a day in the internet and go travel too. How I wish I could find a legitimate online job.

    Thank you very much for this inspiring story.

    God bless you always…


  • #28Jordan St Claire

    God I hate when self-righteous ninnymuggins’ post on stories like this, verbally assaulting people who perhaps enjoy our standard of living here in the Western World, basically labeling us ignorant capitalist pigs for enjoying what our we, along with our ancestors before us, have struggled to build and provide for ourselves. Just because we don’t share the need to drop everything and run off to some corner of the globe (however cheap and ‘liberating’ it may be blah blah blah) does not mean that we are in some way stupid, blinded, or otherwise. We just happen to appreciate life here, get ahold of yourselves you hypocrites.

  • #29dan

    I met a person name Eric in Muang Sing, Lao last summer. He have been travelling for years as well. (Can’t remember how long) His ‘occupation’ was jewllery trader. Often he would go from countries to countries swapping stuffs at stores, markets and even tribes that would value his possession. It is a very interesting life. You see and experience different parts of the world. Make friends and come and go as you wish. But it also would require lots of ‘giving up’ to do to make it work. No family, home, stable income or sometimes food. You would also have to quite witty and entertaining to live out some situation. But if you can do that and have less obligations in life, why not? At least for few years.

  • #30Clicint

    I’m about to enter high school, and I’m really considering this as a way to live. I write constantly so I could be an author for my money, or a trader. I like to collect so I could have a constantly changing collection of things to sell, and keep some of the things for me if I really like them. I would travel by houseboat, keeping it well fueled from my work, and getting food this way as well.
    I just want to travel the world, I want to actually LIVE before I die. There’s better things in life than working at Cellular South forever.
    I talked to my stepdad and he said whatever I wanted to do in life I could do if I tried.
    I think I’m gonna do it.
    What do you guys think of my ideas?

  • #31Dom

    I love the idea of this story. For me there is little in life as liberating as traveling. I think the internet is opening up travel for people who in the past would not have gone traveling. The internet is global and therefore if you are web savvy you have a global skill that can take you anywhere. I am rapidly trying to come up the ol’ internet curve to benefit from this.
    I still look back a few years however, to before the internet, and look at the people who took off traveling then without the fallback of the internet. Those who trusted themselves to be OK and then learned to be OK. Making friends and enough to get by wherever they went – what freedom in mind, spirit and body – although on my own journies there have been times when I wished I was safely tucked in behind a desk!

  • #32john

    great advice, once i finish college in summer 2013 I’m selling all my possessions and getting out on the road permanently, not a day ever go’s by that i don’t think about it

  • #33bj

    Why do people in life most often say I must wait.
    I must get rid of this or that first, I must do this or that 1st-
    We all make choices in life, and wait myself included – maybe those who desire to do should just go, do, live, I have no idea how it is possible to live such a dream but I am going to go find out.

  • #34Natalie

    It sounds good and am I glad that Andy managed to do it however I couldn’t live on $5 dollars a day. I like the small luxuries in life.

  • #35vrtno pohistvo

    Andy, you are my hero. I never have the curage to travell alone. I love to travell but not alone. Probably Iam scared. I meet a guy thaht travelled arund the world for 2 years, he returd back home. Now he is totaly decicated to learnig pepele of fast reading and ayurveda.
    His travell change his wiew of life. Today we live in capitalism, we are born and raised as a fighters, we fight for good reviews, titles, we are full of jealousy…
    We have feelings for others when we hear something bad, when we travel to the poor countries and we see poverty… On the other hand we are plastered to our homes and worm houses. We are so used to comfort ability that is really remarkable that there is a few people like you are.
    Once again you are special!

  • #36justin

    Cool story man. I am following in the guys foot steps. Backpacked from southern Africa to Northern Africa, and am now in south east Asia. I have a pretty good nlog, with great pictures, but how does everyone make theirs pay? I think mine has allot to offer, since most Americans do not travel this way, but love to read about it. Any suggestions?

  • #37Michaela

    You can’t live on $5 a day just about anywhere in the world (and I’ve lived in 20 different countries). You can however build up a web presence and make enough money that you can travel like Andy does.

    I haven’t worked a ‘real job’ in more than 5 years and have no interest in ever doing so again. But…I don’t own a home (don’t want to!) and don’t own a lot of possessions. Like Andy, I’ve no interest in EVER living in America again. It’s a scary country.

  • #38Lyndsay

    I have actually met few people who does that, I mean working online and can do endless travels. One was a real old friend who introduced me to blogging and money making schemes online, I was just not paying attention then. Now that I have experienced travelling alone, and meeting more people that are making money online too, the knowledge an old friend gave me is starting to kick in. Suddenly, I want to maximize that opportunity, of the possibilities it can give me and even though I am back to the working world again, I know I will be able to do it at some point in time (to earn atleast $5/day), and I used to earn $1/day out of my blog (but I became lazy so its down to cents again). I’ll make sure I’ll benefit online soon for my travels.

  • #39Laine

    It’s incredible but not impossible.
    The problem is that we have some ties, sentimental, emotional, financial, personal…which put sometimes more burden on us than giving us freedom. Some are easier to give up than others. But we don’t won’t to do efforts but prefer complaining.
    here it goes

  • #40Kelly

    This is an inspiring story. I have been researching and reading up on becoming a nomad for months. Does anyone who has gone through this process have any suggested reading material?

  • #41Ray

    Sounds great, Im married now so wont be doing that anytime soon although I did meet my wife while travelling, still it would be a great way to travel and live if you can make money while doing so, i take my hat off to you Andy.

  • #42Marcin

    Very impressive life style. I am just curious of the logistics of the never ending journey. I am sure that the memories and experience will bring even more income if Andy decides to write a book about his journey. Again, very impressive.

  • #43AdventureRob

    More and more people seem to take this up, and the ‘years travelling’ slogan is getting more impressive, I’m coming up to year 3 already. Granted I’ve averaged higher than $5 as I’ve spent 10 months in Oz and 12 in Japan which are 2 of the most expensive places in the world to spend any length of time in, but $5 a day is definitely achievable if you’re happy with the third world places and don’t need the ‘usual’ gadgets.

  • #44Alf Welch

    What a lifesyle. Invest in a good metal detector and wander the popular beaches.You’ll gaurantee to pick up more than 5 bucks on a twilight walk. Hey why am I telling you this !! I might meet you coming the other way one night. That’ll halve my take!!

  • #45Summer travels

    Very impressed. I really admire you for this way of life.The freedom you’ve got, It sounds to me like a dream come true.I hope someday I will be able to make such a big step in my life.And by the way, have you ever been in Bulgaria. Come to visit us some time.

  • #46Joel Stottlemire

    I love this blog. You have exactly summed up my life plan!



  • #47Barrie

    I travelled 67-71 Europe Asia Australia. Busked fearlessly in southeast Asia for a year aged 19 and got by just fine. In Aussie I worked as a wharfie in Darwin where I met a Belgian ex-seaman called Jules. I returned to UK worked mostly as a carpenter, rebuilt a cottage, raised a family and one day in 2000 saw a familiar face in a Woolworths store in Herefordshire. It was Jules. We had mutual friends in that area – they met several years before picking grapes in France. Jules had never stopped. He had cropped all over the world,worked Eco projects here and there, made a few quid – just enough. He was 72, fit and still living out of a rucksack & lodging a while at my mate’s house. He had a calm overview of the world, crazy to some, same as me back then. I once called it the Law of Infinite Possibilities. But I had lost it.
    I became single, tough but re-inspired that such things were possible I bought a round the world airticket and travelled for 8 months and rediscovered that law by sending back articles to a woodwork magazine about carvers, boatwrights, temple builders, furniture makers in Asia, the Pacific, the US which paid a chunk of it. I have returned to India a couple of times since and sold a couple more articles. It was wonderful. I met such great craftsmen.
    The internet has reduced that kind of revenue but things remain possible. You have to be brave/crazy and believe in that old Law!

  • #48Jack Lee

    I used to do this.

    I hit forty, and decided to just travel to America and see what happened. I’d hitched all over Europe, but never really went much beyond that. I’d always enjoyed living on next to nothing, and having the option of moving on whenever I felt like it.

    Getting to America, I settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’d run out of money and was intending to sell whatever stuff I had that remained, and buy a flight back to the UK. But I met someone who gave me a ride, asked him if he had a home and job for me, and I ended up staying.

    I miss being on the road, though. But the thing is, you never do make connections. You never do put down roots, and explore what it is to love someone, love pets, have a family, and survive.

    Although I loved the life of traveling, I always felt as though something was missing. I can remember traveling across Spain one time and just above me a stork was flying, really slow, along the same road. It was one of those special moments in life you never forget. But what was missing was having someone to share the moment with.

    Even at 56, I still think I’ve got it in me to just up and away. I did it at 40, when I felt it was too late, and left all my possessions, put some dirty socks and a few bits of memorabilia into a small suitcase and set off for America, with no intention of returning.

    But that is exactly what life is: you set off on an adventure, and there is no return.

    I chose America from the roll of dice. Ever read “The Dice Man”?

    That was me, 16 years ago.

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