Amy and I spend around nine months per year traveling the world and crossing items off of our bucket lists. At any given time, you may find us: learning salsa in South America, sailing Ngalawas off the coast of Mozambique, racing auto-rickshaws through the bowels of India, or just soaking up some sunshine in Thailand. For us, however, the “professional vagabond” lifestyle isn’t about spending every waking moment on the road. It’s about having options; the freedom to choose how and where we spend our time. It just so happens that, more often than not, we choose to spend our time doing interesting things abroad.
Let’s be honest, for most of us the idea of perpetual travel is somewhat far fetched. It’s fun to think about, but in reality, it is often written off as little more than a pipedream. This is exactly how I thought about the professional vagabond lifestyle before I started to live it. I believed that I needed to make my fortune while I was young and able.Then I would have time to then enjoy it all when I was old and probably decrepit. Fortunately, I found out that it was possible to do both at the same time (Phew!). I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to enjoy my adventures without the constant worry of dislocating my hip.
In reality, my wife and I aren’t unique. Millions of ordinary people enjoy this lifestyle simply because they took the time to figure out how to finance it. Once you know that it’s possible, financing full-time travel is simple enough. The hardest part is making a firm decision to go for it.
A Simple Goal
Before we discuss the financing strategies themselves, let’s define the goal a little more clearly. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that you want to gain the freedom to see and experience the world on a full-time or near full-time basis. If this is your goal, then you needn’t worry yourself with things like becoming a millionaire or even increasing your income.
If you live in the first world, you’ll probably find that you can experience most countries for far less than it costs you to live in your hometown. For example, you can live like a king in Thailand on the equivalent of minimum wage in the US or the UK. The goal, therefore, is not to become rich. It’s simply to detach your income from your physical location. In an ideal world, you’d also detach your income from your direct involvement, as well, though this isn’t necessary.
Below are five strategies that you can use to achieve these goals. If you read them with a proactive mindset, the chances are high that you’ll find at least one that excites you. Before you settle on a course of action, be sure to read through all of the options. I’ve saved the best for last.
Important: The suggested resources below are provided for your benefit only. We do not have a relationship with any of the recommended websites.
A freelancer is a person who sells services to customers on a contract basis, rather than working as an employee of a single company. If you have a skill such as: creative writing, translating, graphic design, bookkeeping, computer programming, social media management, or online marketing, then this may be a good option for you.
As a freelancer, you’ll be able to sell your services to a global client base, and work on projects irrespective of your physical location. Also, because you don’t work for a specific company, you have the freedom to set your working hours. This flexibility makes it easy to structure your work around your lifestyle, rather than the other way around.
Thanks to the Internet, becoming a freelancer has never been easier. Websites, such as Upwork.com, take a lot of the pain out of things like finding clients, issuing quotes, and collecting payment. There are also many books and courses available online that will show you exactly how to get started.
#2. Remote Employment
Remote employment differs from freelancing in that you continue to work as an employee of a single company. The idea is to establish a remote working agreement with your employer whereby you continue to perform your responsibilities but from a location of your choice. This approach gives you a degree of financial stability without being bound to a single physical location.
Timm Ferriss was the first to make remote employment a popular option, in his book, “The 4-Hour Workweek.” Since then, thousands of people around the world have successfully implemented this strategy. Technology makes it possible to perform most jobs from any physical location (just ask any freelancer). The biggest challenge you face is to convince your employer that, in addition to being possible, it is also beneficial to the company.
I know, I know, your boss would never agree to this, right? If this option feels like a good, albeit totally unrealistic fit, then I recommend looking into it further before writing it off completely. Others have done it before you; you just need to find out how.
#3. Moving Employment
Moving employment involves finding a new job that, by it’s very nature, necessitates travel. A good example of this is working on a cruise liner. Cruise ships require a variety of skilled and unskilled staff including: photographers, entertainers, personal trainers, massage therapists, casino dealers, bartenders, and more. Here you’ll get to travel the world on a floating resort while enjoying free food and accommodation.
Another good example of moving employment is working on yachts or superyachts. Before writing this section, I spoke to a friend of mine who has done this for several years. In his opinion, working on a yacht is one of the best ways to see the world. He did caution me, however, that anyone looking to follow this route needs to be willing to put in some hard work. With a small team, everyone onboard is required to pull their weight, often literally.
While the above examples are the most popular, there are many similar job and volunteer opportunities out there. Take some time to do your homework and find a position that suits your desired lifestyle.
Cruise ship jobs:
#4. Travel Blogging
Travel blogging isn’t the easiest option, but in the long run, it’s one of the best. The idea is simple enough: you travel around the world and write about your adventures. As you do this, you build a database of subscribers and social media followers. Once you have a responsive following, it isn’t difficult to monetize it by selling products, advertising space, etc. If you play your cards right, you may even be able to convince companies to sponsor your trips.
One of the best things about travel blogging is that, unlike the options listed above, it will ultimately build momentum. As you create a body of high-quality content and grow a list of responsive followers, you’ll start to earn income that is disproportionate to your daily effort. In other words, it requires the same effort to run a blog with 100 000 subscribers as it does to run a blog with 100 subscribers.
Unfortunately, its biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. You don’t start with any momentum. This means that you’ll have to invest a lot of energy in the early stages of your blog with little to no reward. If you feel that this is the option for you, I recommend starting with a more immediate strategy, such as freelancing, while you build your blog on the side.
#5: eCommerce Business
When I talk about “eCommerce”, I’m referring to a website that sells physical or downloadable products to a specific group of people. My first eCommerce business, for example, sold cycling safety products to avid cyclists. We advertised our products using Facebook, customers bought them on our website, and our system automatically delivered them to the customer’s inbox or address.
I decided to go this route for two primary reasons:
First, while the business does build momentum over time, it’s possible to generate substantial profit almost immediately. BuyCycleSafety.com is a prime example of this. The business went from a cold start to generating around $1 000 per day within six weeks.
Second, and most important, an eCommerce business can be automated. Once your website and ads are running, they don’t need constant supervision. On average, it takes me less than two hours per week to manage a profitable eCommerce website.
In my opinion, starting an eCommerce business is the easiest option on this list. To help you get started, I’ve created a couple of free resources:
Just Do It!
Tomorrow becomes never. No matter how small the task, take the first step now! Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek
The most difficult step is always the first one because it requires a decision. I encourage you to take the first step right now. Choose a path, do some research, and see where that takes you. You never know; it may take you further than you ever thought possible.