Meet Nora, The Professional Hobo Who Traveled 10 Years And Saved $100,000

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Jovago Pakistan recently interviewed Nora Dunn, the Professional Hobo who in 2006 decided to change her life completely. She sold her financial planning practice in Toronto Canada, got rid of all her belongings to free herself for the adventure of a lifetime.

The interesting part is that she has been traveling for 10 years and saved $100,000. 

Read her interesting story here.

Let us start with a formal introduction. Who is Nora?

I’m otherwise known as The Professional Hobo.

In 2006, I sold everything I owned (including a busy financial planning practice) to embrace my dreams of traveling the world full-time. I’ve been on the road ever since, traveling through and living in over 50 countries.


How and when you developed interest for traveling?

My passion for travel has been a lifelong one. Early in childhood, I developed an interest in getting to know other cultures, languages, and ways of life.

Throughout the next few decades, I took many vacations, but never managed to gain the insight I was looking for, with only a couple of weeks to explore.

Eventually I realized that in order to immerse myself as fully as I wished, I had to make travel a lifestyle and not just a vacation.

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How you plan and manage your finances for traveling?

With a background in financial planning, I’ve always been attentive to conscious spending of money.

When I sold my business, it kicked out a 2-year stream of income that I knew I could live on while I traveled, if I was careful about how I spent it.

Thus, early on in my full-time travels, I learned some interesting ways to travel creatively without spending a lot of money. For example, I discovered a variety of ways to get free accommodation around the world, and it was fodder for one of my first books, called How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World.

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What is that triggers you to travel to an entirely new destination?

I love to explore! But instead of choosing a new destination, I usually let my destinations choose me, in the form of a unique opportunity – to volunteer, stay with friends, house-sit, etc.

While visiting a new destination what two things your love to explore the most?

For me, arriving in a new destination is an exercise in learning how to live there.

Where do I buy my groceries and how? How do I get around? What are the local cultural practices? And where can I meet new people? I get great satisfaction from feeling like a “local” after spending some time somewhere.

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Do you have any funny travel stories?

I have lots of funny travel stories! For example, when I lived in Australia, I had a kangaroo that fell in love with me and followed me around for six months, wherever I went.

Later on in Australia, I took some epic train rides, including riding 11,000kms of trains in 11 days – all to see if it was possible to become bored on a train. (That became fodder for my next book, called Tales of Trains: Where the Journey is the Destination).

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Have you had any bad experiences whilst traveling?

Oh dear, yes! I’ve had quite a few misadventures. I survived three natural disasters, a handful of heart-wrenching breakups, a few diseases, and more. You can read about all of them in a post on my site called Brace Yourself: Travel Isn’t All Roses and Lollipops.

How do you manage when interacting with people without speaking their language?

I try to learn some of the basics of the language in whatever country I visit.

English is also a great first language to have, because it’s widely spoken. Quite unintentionally, I’ve also found myself spending quite a bit of time in English-speaking countries.

I’ve spent the last few years in Latin America, where I’ve had the chance to become fluent in Spanish.

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Which destination you felt is not actually like you had imagined before?

I try not to arrive at a new place with any expectations, and thus I’m rarely surprised or disappointed by what I find.

Any 3 money saving tips you would like to share while traveling?

On my website I teach people how to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way.

This doesn’t mean you need to travel on an extreme budget; rather, it’s a matter of learning how to spend creatively. For example, there are many ways to get free accommodation.

I also like to fly long-haul in business class – for less than the price of an equivalent economy ticket (mostly by creatively using frequent flyer miles or mystery shopping). Lastly, a great way to save money while traveling is to travel slowly; the less you’re on the move, the less money you’ll spend.

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One of your popular stories says you saved $100,000 in accommodation while traveling. How did you that?

I get free accommodation!

This can be done through volunteering, house-sitting, home exchanges, hospitality exchanges, and even living on boats (which I did for three months straight in the Caribbean). You can learn more about that in my book How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World.

What do you like the most about traveling?

I love meeting new people, and making friends around the world. In keeping with my original motivations for full-time travel, it’s about “cracking the code” of different cultures and mindsets around the world.

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What do you dislike about traveling?

You might find this odd, but I really dislike travel planning and booking flights. I always get “click paralysis”, as if I’ll find a better deal as soon as I commit to something!

What do you take back from your expeditions?

Because everything I own fits into a bag, I have to be very careful about what I buy. Usually, if I buy something, it has to replace something else in my bag! So most of the things I buy are things I can use in my daily life. They’re like “wearable souvenirs”!

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Your trips low on the pocket or you like to make it extravagant?

I call myself a girl with champagne tastes who lives on a beer-drinker’s budget. I spend way less to travel full-time than you might expect; less than it costs most people to live in one place.

But I also stay in luxurious accommodation, eat amazing food, and I generally want for nothing. When I want lobster, I eat lobster!

Did you ever think of traveling to Pakistan?

Sure! If an interesting opportunity to do something in Pakistan arises, I’ll jump on it!

If you get a chance to visit Pakistan what are the 3 destination you would prioritize to explore?

I don’t know! It would depend on the opportunity I got to be in Pakistan. I’m open to what comes my way.

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What is Pakistan’s current perception in International travelers and international travel blogger’s community?

Good question. I’m not sure to be honest! I think because there has been a lot of unrest in that general part of the world, that many travelers are hesitant to visit Pakistan.

But any travelers I know who have been there have absolutely loved it. So hopefully that perception will continue to change with time.

With this Jovago Pakistan ended the interview session with Nora. 

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