How to earn money and pay to travel full time: one couple explains

Most people have a travel bucket list, maybe 10 to 15 countries.

It’s all 195 for this couple – and they’ve reached more than halfway.

Hudson and Emily Crider have traveled to 112 countries, but their journey together began long before that. Both hail from the “same small town” of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They met in fifth grade and started dating in high school, the couple said.

Speaking to CNBC via video from Chiang Mai, Thailand, the couple explained that their goal in college was to buy an RV and travel to all 50 states in the United States.

Hudson and Emily Crid in high school.

Hudson and Emily Crider

After marrying in 2012, they began saving for that goal, but just a few years later, Hudson’s father died of a heart attack. “It was a reminder for us that we’re not guaranteed another day,” said Hudson, 32.

That motivated her to “sell everything and buy this old RV,” Hudson said. The couple left their jobs — Emily as a marketing manager at an agency, Hudson as a financial planner — in the Washington DC-Baltimore area, said Emily, 31. Just two years later, they achieved their goal of touring all 50 states.

So they set their sights higher.

Now that the couple is pursuing their goal of touring every country in the world, they’re spending less than they did when they lived in DC, Emily said. “What we found most helpful was avoiding spending,” Hudson said. “We have no house, no car, no children and also pay attention to the budget.”

The couple have met people on the street who have children or a house they rent out for long-term travel, Emily said. “We truly believe there is no right or wrong way to travel,” she said.

Hudson and Emily Crid on safari in Kenya, Africa.

Hudson and Emily Crider

The couple is working remotely while away to support their travels, Hudson said. They teach English online, create content on YouTube and Instagram, and sell products like clip-on hand sanitizer holders on Amazon.

Though every traveler’s circumstances are different, being able to do online research and read reviews makes traveling “the most open-minded experience ever,” Hudson said.

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The couple’s unique travel style helps them save on groceries, attractions and local culture in the countries they visit, no matter the price.

The Criders have traveled to every continent except Antarctica, they said. The following is their ranking of the major regions of the world based on travel costs – from cheapest to most expensive:

  1. Asia
  2. South America
  3. Africa
  4. middle East
  5. Australia
  6. Europe
  7. North America

Dining is one of the travel categories that “people don’t budget for the least,” but it’s the cost that’s “easiest to add up,” the couple told CNBC. In Bali, Indonesia, they kept those costs down by eating street food like nasi goreng and spending just $1 per meal.

Trying street food is a “great way to sample local food and culture,” Emily said. Her favorite Asian cuisines include pad thai and khao soi from Thailand and Vietnamese banh mi, she said.

The couple saves on housing, their second largest expense, by placing homestays with locals. In Bali, they stayed with the “cutest family” for just $4 a night, Emily said.

Hudson tries an organ sandwich in Marrakech, Morocco.

Hudson and Emily Crider

The couple also uses, a website where travelers can find locals offering free accommodation. In Switzerland, they stayed with another couple who made them raclette, a traditional Swiss dish, and took them paragliding, Emily said.

Homestays are a great way to connect with locals, Emily said. “When you drive to a place quickly and photograph tourist attractions, you don’t always get the full picture.”

South America was the third cheapest deal on activities, averaging $15.00 per experience, the couple told CNBC. Many activities are free, they added.

The couple research and budget for the top activities they want to do before visiting any country, they said.

Hudson and Emily Crid on a hike in Patagonia, South America.

Hudson and Emily Crider

Do-it-yourself trips even extend to safaris, according to the couple.

In East Africa, Hudson and Emily rented a car and drove alone through the Serengeti.

Hudson and Emily Crider camp out in the Serengeti, Tanzania during their self-drive safari.

Hudson and Emily Crider

“It was a bigger adventure when we signed up, but it was a good way to save money,” Emily said.

Transportation usually means subways, buses or tuk-tuks instead of taxis and Uber, the couple said.

Hudson and Emily Crider in Petra, Jordan.

Hudson and Emily Crider

But a rental car can also be worthwhile.

The couple is the top spender on transportation in the Middle East, averaging $14.00 per trip, they told CNBC.

“If someone is going to Jordan specifically, rent a car — it’s a great way to meet local people,” Hudson said.

The couple spent $85 on a Sydney Harbor Cruise that passed the Sydney Opera House. “We’d rather spend a little less money on housing and food and more on experiences,” says Emily.

They spent the most on activities in Australia, averaging $42.50 per experience. However, transportation was the second least expensive, averaging $3 per trip.

The cruise was also an example of the couple creating content along the way, as they partnered with a company to promote the experience, Hudson said.

By saving a little in each category, the couple saves the couple a lot of money in the long run, they told CNBC. They did the same in Europe, which was the second most expensive for accommodation, food and transport.

It helps to spend less time in the more expensive areas, Hudson said. Compared to Paris, cities like Prague and Budapest are “equally beautiful” but have housing that is “half the price,” he added.

Hudson and Emily Crid paragliding in Switzerland.

Hudson and Emily Crider

To get around, the couple used the unlimited Eurail pass to travel to as many places as they wanted within a booked timeframe, Hudson said. Low-cost carriers like Wow Air and Ryanair are also “amazing” options, he said.

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“We would get a €12 flight and spend more taking the Uber to the airport,” he quipped.

They used Google to find places to stay based on budget, then booked through Airbnb or to get the “best deals,” Emily said. They usually have a “really cheap hotel or motel” in Europe, as it’s often cheaper than a hostel, she added.

Although New York is consistently the most expensive city in the US, it is a popular travel destination for travelers visiting North America, Hudson said.

The couple walked or rode the New York City subway system for $2.75 a ride, he said. They used Google Maps to get bus and subway travel times in almost every major city they visited, they said.

They also said they use blogs and Facebook groups to find public transport suggestions as well.

Hudson and Emily are trying to strike a balance between “comfort and cost” when choosing accommodations, they told CNBC.

That often leads to a choice between air conditioning and Wi-Fi, Hudson said. (They rarely compromise on WiFi.)

Reading a place’s most recent reviews gives an “up-to-date view of someone’s experience who is staying there,” Emily said.

“We don’t book places without reviews within the last four or five months.

A hostel room where the Criders stayed in Sydney, Australia.

Hudson and Emily Crider

Bonus points on credit cards also help save money, Emily said. “Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve Cards are our favorites because they can be transferred to many different hotels and airlines,” she said.

The couple plans future trips by using Google Flights to notify them when an airfare falls below a certain amount, Emily said. Instead of being locked into a specific goal, pick five places to visit and set notifications for them, she recommended.

As for Hudson and Emily, they have more places in mind.

They will be headed to West Africa next, they said.

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