The Vault: An Interview with Financial Planner & Travel Writer, Nora Dunn

After I got to know Nora when interviewed me for her blog, I just knew I had to interview her for mine. Most people I know say money is the reason they can’t travel. Well, Nora has been proving them wrong since 2007 as she left her home in Canada to continue her writing career on the road.

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Tell us about yourself!

In 2006, I sold everything I owned (including a busy financial planning practice) in Toronto, Canada to embrace my dreams of long-term immersive travel. I’ve been on the road ever since!

In order to sustain myself financially, I developed a location independent career as a writer. It worked out well, since I wrote about travel for finance publications (for example my current monthly “Dear Nora” column on CreditWalk), and about finance for travel publications. On my own site The Professional Hobo, I write about how to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way.

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What are some common questions people have about travel and financial sustainability?

The most common email I get is “Nora! I totally want to do what you do! Where do I start?” … which is a pretty open-ended question that is almost impossible to answer. It encompasses issues like how to sell everything, where to travel to, how to find travel/volunteer opportunities, how to save money on travel expenses, and of course, how to make money on the road. These are the kinds of issues I address on my site and in various books I’ve written.

With regards to financial sustainability, what should individuals, couples or families think about before embarking on an extended overseas experience?

Financial sustainability on the road is two-fold: One part is about saving money on travel expenses. You can do this by getting free accommodation around the world (which I specialized in, and believe me – I was not roughing it), and employing creative strategies like using frequent flyer miles to fly for (almost) free – which I do in business class thankyouverymuch.

The other side to financial sustainability is in earning money, which you can do in a myriad of ways while traveling (I wrote a couple of books about both of these topics, which you’ll find links to below).

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What are some financial strategies to employ before moving abroad?

Two things: First of all, get your financial house in order. Clear your debts (or ensure you have a steady stream of income that can cover debt payments), have some savings, and establish an emergency fund that can get you home in a pinch from anywhere in the world.

Secondly, if you’re intending to earn a living while traveling such as through a blog, establish the foundations of your business well before you take off to travel. I made the mistake of not starting my writing career in earnest until I started traveling full-time, and not only did it consume a lot of my time, but it also earned me little more than pennies for the first couple of years.

What are some financial strategies to employ while abroad?

I like to keep a base amount of money in my bank account, and I transfer any excess to a high-interest savings account. Conversely, if I’m low on cash at any time, I can transfer money from my high-interest savings account to my bank account to cover expenses.

I also like to use credit cards wherever possible; it saves me ATM fees, earns me air miles, protects me from being robbed of cash (been there done that), and it’s easy to pay online whilst tracking my expenses.

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Should individuals contribute to a retirement account while overseas? If yes, at what age should they start and how much should they contribute?

I’m all for having retirement savings, because there will likely come a time when you’ll be unwilling or unable to work – even if it’s something non-physical like writing.

Whether you contribute to a retirement account (such as an IRA) while overseas depends on a few factors, including your tax situation (and whether you have enough income to benefit from the tax deduction), your income (and whether you’re earning enough to contribute), and your existing savings (for example I saved enough money for retirement in my early years before I started traveling, and it’s just growing and compounding for me now).

What are some resources you’d recommend to our readers to help them with financial planning?

A few books to help you travel in a financially sustainable way, designing the life of your dreams: 


ABOUT NORA

Longing to Travel - Interview - Nora Dunn - Professional Hobo - 5Since early 2007, Nora has been on the road, traveling slowly through over 50 countries and five continents. She I have lived a variety of lifestyles by working in trade for her accommodation. Her location independent writing career, including her work on her own site The Professional Hobo,  takes care of the rest of the expenses. As such, she can travel in a financially sustainable manner like this for as long as I wish. And she plans to.

Connect with Nora on Facebook and Twitter.

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