Do you want the freedom to quit your job and live and travel where you please?
Ian and I did, and after having a serious discussion about the possibility, we planned carefully, saved substantially, and lived frugally to get started. Now we pour our hearts and souls into several online projects, making sure they’re profitable, enjoyable, and diverse enough to keep a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and smiles on our faces.
We’ve already talked in detail about the other steps we took to prepare for our travel life, but the money-making part is what we’ll discuss in this post. If you want to realize a sustainable traveling life for yourself, you need to have a reliable source of income.
Here we’ll talk about three common approaches to making a living while traveling.
1. Start Your Own Business
I used to be tied down to a desk job and a work schedule, answer to a boss, and ask permission to take time off… Now I make my own hours, assign myself projects, and take a day off when my brain needs a break. There are a multitude of start-up possibilities out there. You just have to create one that works for you.
Take some time to think. What do you enjoy doing that you could mold into a profitable, location-independent business idea? Try to come up with something that has minimal (or zero) upfront costs. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Like writing? Consider starting a blog on a topic you’re passionate about.
- Are you an artist? A graphic design business could be an option, or you may have luck selling your art on an online platform like Etsy or Society6.
- Have a special skill? Consider consulting, coaching, or teaching.
- Fluent in a foreign language? You could teach English lessons abroad.
- Are you a musician? You could teach others how to play a musical instrument.
- Maybe you’re good with computers. Most of the world isn’t. There are several business ideas there.
Regardless of the type of business you plan to develop, one of your first steps will be to build an online presence where you can market your new business. For that reason, I highly recommend learning the basics of creating a blog/website, too.
Be prepared: It takes HARD WORK, PERSEVERANCE and TIME to get a profitable boot-strapped business going, but the reward of working for yourself makes it well worth the effort. For the best chance at success, test out multiple business ideas, and don’t be discouraged if your first (or second… or third…) idea doesn’t work out. I don’t know any successful entrepreneurs who haven’t “failed” several times first. Lastly, be sure to budget plenty of time to get your location-independent business up and running — and profitable — before you plan to hit the road.
Steps to Take Now
1. Start reading about topics you’re interested in exploring as a nomadic entrepreneur. If you’re not sure where to start, entrepreneurship, marketing, blogging, and social media strategy will ALL come in handy and thus are all good topics to research. If you’re having trouble coming up with business ideas, try reading The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.
2. Save. Save. Save. Start living frugally now. Not only will you save more money by doing so, you’ll also be used to the frugal lifestyle you’ll need to lead (at least for awhile) once you’ve quit your steady full-time job.
3. Build a website/blog where you can market your business idea. This part is important, and the earlier you start, the sooner you’ll reach success as an entrepreneur. How to Start a Successful Blog in One Hour, a free Kindle book by Steve Scott, will walk you through the process.
2. Find Work As You Travel
If starting your own business sounds like too much work or too big a time commitment, there are alternatives.
First, you could work remotely for your current (or a past) employer. I used to pick up part-time graphic design gigs from previous employers while working a full-time job elsewhere. Though I don’t need the extra income anymore, I bet I could still land some assignments if I asked. Anything you can do remotely will work.
Second, and along the same lines, you could find a new employer to do remote work for. Stay-at-home moms make this happen all the time. Mine did!
Third, you could search for odd jobs on the road. This can be more restricting than the first two options, and your options may be limited if you’re traveling to a foreign country, but this is definitely a possibility worth researching. Depending on your personality, it could also be a great way for you to get to know people in a new place. There are also some non-traditional options — housesitting, for instance — to consider as well. Travelling Weasels provides a fantastic FAQ on housesitting to help you decide whether or not it’s for you.
Steps to Take Now
1. Make a list of potential work you could do remotely for your current or past employers. Contact those employers to explore potential opportunities.
2. Search for remote job opportunities in your field(s) of expertise and apply to the ones that sound interesting to you.
3. Begin researching part-time job opportunities in the places you’d like to visit. Familiarize yourself with special requirements (work visas, etc.) for those places.
3. Do a Combination of Both
It’s always a good idea to diversify your income sources. Then if one source runs dry, it’s not such a big deal.
If you’d love to fully support yourself working as an entrepreneur but don’t see it happening right away, then doing a combination of both may be a good option for you. It’ll certainly get you started sooner than planning to rely on entrepreneurial income alone when you’re just beginning.
Most people I know who travel full-time at least had a plan that kept their options open when first starting out. The more options you give yourself, the better off you’ll be. Our businesses are thriving and continuing to grow, but I still have graphic design as a back-up option if that changes.
Steps to Take Now
1. Follow the steps in #1 and #2 above.
2. Identify some reliable back-up options for yourself. These options may not be your favorite things to do for work, but the important thing is that you know you can do ’em, if you must.
These three travel-friendly money-making approaches are a mere introduction to the possibilities for making a living while you travel. It’s likely you’ll identify even more money-making opportunities once you’ve made the leap. But formulating a plan for income creation before you leave will make your transition to a traveling life a smoother and less scary process.
More Tips and Inspiration for Preparing to Quit Your Job and Travel Full-Time
See what the rest of our journey looked like in these 7 Steps to Quit Your Job and Travel Full Time.
Read about the day I decided to call it quits in It Started with a Date: The Coffee Shop Conversation that Doomed My Desk Job.
Debating whether or not it’s worth the effort? Read 10 Reasons I’ll Never Regret Quitting My Job to Travel.
See how surprisingly cheap it can be to get to Europe in How to Fly from the U.S. to Europe for Under $200.
About the Author
- In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.