Recently, my life has become a near constant barrage of questions. From the perspective of our friends and family, the sudden transformation that my wife and I have experienced makes little sense. One moment I was an overworked business owner with failing health, the next we were bouncing around the globe on a permanent vacation. Everyone wants to know how I did it. So here it is, this is the story of how I went from hospital bed to hammock in eight weeks.

The adventure begins…

I sat there, in a daze, listening to the monotone voice of a man who had repeated himself one too many times. “In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the panel above you.” I peered at the overhead compartments, wondering if any other emergency might warrant the use of oxygen masks.

We had ditched almost everything that we owned, said good-bye to our friends and family, and bought a one-way ticket to Bali. My wife gripped my hand nervously as the enormous aircraft meandered its way towards the runway. We were both wondering the same thing: “What the hell are we thinking?” The next couple of years would be far from ordinary: Bali, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and then, who knows?

This new way of life would be quite an adjustment. It had, after all, been less than a year since I spent the bulk of my time working like a crazy person and looking forward to my weekly panic attack. From my seat on Flight SA316, this 10-year period felt like little more than a bad dream. Who would have thought that I, of all people, could achieve such a dramatic change so quickly, or easily?

The hospital bed…

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.
Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey

I started my first business, a cosmetics distribution company, at the ripe old age of 13. As the Internet grew in prominence, I quickly transitioned to e-commerce and online marketing. By the age of 25, I was consulting for the likes of: Virgin, Old Mutual, HTC, etc. If you’ve ever worked with listed corporates, you’ll know that it’s about as fun as getting a colonoscopy. Around this time, a particularly unpleasant panic attack put me in the hospital and the ominous warnings from my doctor forced me to have my mid-life crisis a little earlier than most.

The world is overflowing with beauty, wonder, and adventure. There is more to experience than anyone could hope to fit into a single lifetime. Yet there I was, trading the best years of my life for a paycheck. As I considered my predicament with my new perspective, everything came into sharp focus. Something needed to change.

The first step was obvious. We needed a clear picture of the life that we wanted to live. So, one day, my wife and I sat down and started to list everything that we wanted to do, see, learn, and give. Several weeks later, we completed the first draft of our Vagabond Bucket List, which has become the central theme of this blog. With our bucket list in hand, we lacked just one thing: a vehicle that would finance it.

The eight weeks…

The path to success is to take massive, determined action.
Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within

In essence, we wanted to become full-time global adventurers. To the man on the street, this is an outrageously unrealistic goal. A quick Google search, however, revealed that thousands of people, from all walks of life, already enjoy this lifestyle. All that I needed was to find out how.

I decided to focus all of my energy on answering the question, “how do they do it?” As I studied this group of people, I was able to identify five primary strategies that were being used to finance their full-time travels:

  1. Freelancing
  2. Remote employment
  3. Moving employment
  4. Travel blogging
  5. E-commerce business

When done well, all of these options come with clear advantages. For me, starting an online business was the obvious choice. I have a wealth of experience in the arena, and online business offers something that none of the others options can: automation.

Most big corporates share a similar marketing strategy: throw $10 000 000 at it. Not having $10 million to spend, my partner, Nathan, and I went to the drawing board. We wanted to find an easy way to start an online business without risking much time or money. As we discussed our past strategies, and studied existing online businesses, we slowly put together a model that we called: “online arbitrage.” In essence, we were going to eliminate our risk by selling products first and produce/sourcing them second.

It took us about two days to set up our first business, which was a website that sold cycling safety products. When we were satisfied with our store, we posted a couple of ads on Facebook and paid for them to appear in front of potential customers.

The hammock…

Money isn’t the goal; money has no value. The value comes from the dreams money helps achieve.
Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad

While there was a bit of additional cleverness to our marketing, product selection, supplier relationship, etc. the process itself was really quite straightforward:

  1. Cyclists would see our ad on their timeline.
  2. When they clicked on the ad, they were redirected to our website.
  3. On average, 10 percent of these people ordered our product.
  4. When the money appeared in our PayPal account, an email would be sent to our supplier who, in turn, shipped the product directly to the customer.

We had no staff, no warehouse, no stock, and almost no overheads. In addition, it took us just 2 days to set up a website and find a supplier. The results were astonishing; within the first six weeks, our new business went from a cold start to $1 000 per day! I was utterly gobsmacked. During this period, I nearly developed carpel tunnel syndrome by repeatedly clicking the refresh button on my PayPal account. With time, we were able to improve our marketing tactics and generate even better results.

Just do it!

Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it…
Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

So often, we stick with our job because it’s comfortable. We trade the best years of our lives for a monthly paycheck and allow our time to simply pass us by. I started this blog for one reason: through my adventures, I hope to inspire others to have adventures of their own. Online business may not be the right path for you, but, if this is the case, I encourage you to go out there and find another option.

In my opinion, online business is both the simplest and most effective way to attain the professional vagabond lifestyle. For most of us, the problem is that we have no idea where to start! When I began my journey, I would have killed to get advice from someone who had already achieved my goal. Now, I would like to be that someone for you. If you would like to find out exactly how I set up my online business, click here to download my  “Vagabond Business Case Study“.

Finally, if you have any questions or comments related to my story, online business, or any of the other five paths, then feel free to post them in the comments section below. I don’t always have Internet access, but I will respond to all comments as soon as possible!

About The Author

My name is Ryan and I love adventure. I love it so much, in fact, that I spend around nine months out of every year traveling the world and crossing items off of my bucket list. The rest of my time is spent teaching others to do the same. Click here to find out how.

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79 Responses

  1. Chris

    Hi Ryan,

    Great stuff! Just curious, what did you do on May 20th that consistently jumped your sales above $1000/day? Cheers bro.

    Chris

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Yes. After the initial six-week period, we hit $1000 per day consistently. Since then, we have set up new businesses that do far better. Our first website was mainly a proof of concept.

      Reply
  2. Stephanie Duval

    It’s nice to know that it work for someone. I am doing the same. Building my online business in the travel world. I am actually Canadian living in Germany at the moment. I have lived in the Netherlands for about 10 years and travelled a lot. Looking forward that the revenus are good enought to just leave 😉

    Reply
  3. Ameer

    Hi Ryan

    Very inspiring story, I have search through numerous online techniques to increase personal wealth and all these guru’s do is give you enough information to bait you into purchasing their program. I read through your e-book and was very informative. I have implemented your techniques and went through the FAQ page as well under your blog. Would like meet up when you back in CPT again if possible.

    Reply
  4. Nate

    Interesting story! My bf and me are planning the same, but we gonna start right after graduation. My part will be freelancing and blogging, his part is (already) online buisness like you do.
    Hope, it’s going to work out for us too like it is for you!

    Reply
  5. Adi Voicu

    Hi guys,

    This is Adi Voicu from Romania. As Bogdan from Bucharest-Romania said earlier I have a large Romanian database of contacts in different cities whithin the country and a small one from different European countries and USA. I am a tour-type driver, guide and live-interpreter across Romania – this is how we make our living – targeted to foreigners and their vacation in Romania. I can not say we have the same lifestyle, but we and you guys are alike in some areas. The major difference is that me and my wife Anca we got our little 1 year old Eric-Andrei. Doing tours of Romania was fun when we did it both (with different customers, singles, friends, couples, familly) before the child came. We now feel we got stuck because of him (my wife is not able to do it anymore taking care of the child at home) even if he’s the greatest joy in life in some moments. And secondly, we got to see the same places some 20 – 40 times wich gets boring…

    The main purpose of this comment is that if there’s any way I can help with free lodging and guidance in different cities from any of my contacts – feel free to ask me. I would love to contribute to your lifestyle in the way I can… I had been helped indirectly in my job (someone else’s vacation was my vacation as well, and besides I got paid for my driving, romanian interpreter services and tour guiding services) and I feel I need to return it to someone else as well.

    The secondary purpose is that I would like to expand my life and my job at least to European countries. I find some barriers however: I can not drive from Romania to UK for example because that will put an end to my customers vacation because of long driving times , airplane rides seem a bit to far off, and all of that gets me wondering if we will ever get out of Romania loop where we are stuck. Any feedback on this matter will be greatly appreciated…

    Your fellow traveler and friend in Romania,
    Adi Voicu

    Reply
  6. Padrino

    hi Ryan!

    Incredible, awesome site!!!
    Nowadays, i’m in a bit of a crossroad in professional life, feeling more like a dead end…
    Always was fond and dreamt of becoming a “vagabond” like you guys
    And always the same question arose: “how to fund vagabonding?”
    I have to say i am amazed with the quality and quantity of information you so kindly provide, helping me to try to sort this one out.
    Many thanks and all the best for you, hoping we can cross paths one day while vagabonding and share a Tiger or Coral, or whatever the local beer is where we get to meet 😉
    Cheers!

    Reply
  7. Elisa Aguilera

    Hi. I am really grateful to find your article. I have a year and a half wondering how people do it. Because there is a lot of people doing it…I already get the idea that the best option is to be a freelance and/or offer an online service some how, however in fact i do not have any kind of experience. No idea where can i begin or how. I’m going to see the extra article you advise, however if you have the chance to reply to me, it would be great. How can i start an online business, design for example, i need money for that? for the webpage, the server, etc?…which would be the best service to provide? how did you get the option to just be a bridge between the customer and the provider? etc etc etc.

    In any case, thank you, very very much.

    Regards,

    Reply
  8. Flora

    Great story! I’ve traveled quite a bit when I was younger, backpacking, working, volunteering in Europe and Japan. I remember there were times when I woke up and not sure which city I was in. All that was cut short when I settled down and started a family at 25. But I’m certainly looking forward to pick it up where I left off when our kids are old enough for my husband and I to be away for months! Glad to learn another way to make that possible.

    Reply
  9. Marcus Julius

    Hi Ryan,

    great story and great journey! I had a similar life. Worked my ass off to maintain a certain lifestyle that I did not like at all. I had an expensive house with an even bigger mortgage. My ‘job’ sucked, because I had to sell lies with a smile. I was in Marketing and Advertising, and one day I could not tell the lie anymore. End 2011 I stopped telling it and quit everything I was doing, and bought a camper van. beginning 2012 I just started driving through Europe (I am from Amsterdam, the Netherlands). I ended up in south Portugal where I stayed for 2 years. Now I am back in the Netherlands, because there is no money left. After not working for 4 years straight and not believing in that lifestyle anymore I am kind of stuck. I want to travel again, and more intense then before, but I don’t know how to get it started. That’s my biggest challenge! I have done 1 thing for over 15 years and that is my limitation. I am good at it, but don’t like it anymore. So what’s next? I need to go soon, and it controls my life every day. I am curious what your advise would be. Sometimes you only need a little push in life..:-)

    Reply
    • Shannon

      If your background is in marketing, you’ll be just fine. You don’t have to market for evil! I stayed away from the field for years for that reason but now I do it my own way. I’ve created a travel blog, affiliate marketing sites, and am launching a few e-commerce sites in the coming week. Every one of these requires a high level of marketing knowledge to be successful, but it’s entirely doable! My advice would be to start learning more about affiliate marketing and drop-shipping. There’s tons of info on the Internet to help with learning both! Best of luck!

      Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Marcus.

      I agree with Shannon. Your marketing background can be a major asset if you decide to set up an online business. Not all marketing is bad. Good marketing is nothing more than exposing many people to great value.

      Reply
    • Suuz

      Hij Marcus! A Fellow traveler from the Netherlands here! Me and my boyfriend would like to call ourselves fulltime travelers too for quite some time now. For the past two years we are on the road, traveling and working half/half. We always work somewhere abroad (so not like the digital-nomad style, but hands-on on the spot) and that way we can finance our further travels. To keep our expenses low we also choose to do some voluntering every now and then, in exchange for food and accomodation. Not only will it save you a lot of money, but it’s an excellent way to get in contact with locals aswell!
      My point is, you don’t need a lot of money to get you started. We didn’t save that much when we started this lifestyle, and now we are two years further, seen some of the most beautiful places on the earth, met lots of inspiring people and guess what, we have even more money now than the amount we started with!
      If you need some more detailed tips on how to get started, you can always contact me!
      Hopelijk kan je snel je droom weer herpakken! 😉
      @Ryan, inspiring story! Living the dream!

      Reply
      • Karina

        I’m also hoping to do something similar and just work abroad and use the money to fund ongoing travels. I’ve just found myself getting into the yachting world. Working seasonal contracts for good money and in the off-season, I can travel. Well, that’s the plan. I want to, however, do lots of different things, find new challenges and unique experiences.

  10. Carla

    Amazing story! I’m trying to do the same thing, but having recently had a baby, I keep on finding myself lost in time and not getting a chance to dig into my business.

    I’ve already created a website, but I don’t sell anything on it yet.

    Here’s my question: Was selling bicycle stuff just something random or is it something that has always interested you?

    Thanks for sharing your story and I wish you all the best for you two and your business!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Carla.

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the post :)

      To be honest, I wasn’t interested in cycling when I set up my cycling business. I chose the niche because I saw that cyclists were extremely passionate about their sport.

      Good luck to you and your newborn, Carla!

      Reply
      • Carlos Sousa

        Hi Ryan,

        Regarding the quest for a Nich, what is your approach? You use Google tools or you only identify a niche product and try to figure out some drop seller at eBay? And how do you find the product on eBay? Which method do you use?

        Thanks a lot for your tips.

        By the way, I have just quit my job and also my wife is quitting. We have a two-year-old kid and, in August, we are going to start the project of our lives: A one year round the world trip!

  11. Olalla

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks a lot for your advice! I travelled around the world for a year when I was 31 (I’m now 36), but I just used my savings and didn’t have any income during that time.

    Since I am back in the “real world” I keep thinking about how nice travelling is without having to adjust to 15 days holiday per year.

    I always thought that e-commerce and online business was only possible for “experts”, but I’ll now read your case study to find some (more) inspiration.

    Thanks again!!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Olalla.

      Your “real world” is what you make it :) You don’t need to be an expert. You can shape your life and life your dreams with the strength of your will alone.

      Reply
  12. Mairead

    Hi, Ryan and Amy.

    You are such an inspiration and so kind to share your knowledge. I’m totally going to try this. With the Shopify set up, is one product enough to get started or will that look ridiculous? I have chosen my niche but am unsure about the Shopify part. I’m pretty computer literate so I’ve just signed up for an account.

    Keeping fingers and toes crossed!

    Continued success and sweet travels to you both – well deserved.

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hey, Mairead.

      Thank you for the kind words :)

      One product is enough for your initial test. We started with a single product, and it didn’t seem to make anyone uncomfortable.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  13. Hasani

    Hey Ryan,

    I was introduced to your website via a friend on Facebook. I’m super happy that you’re living your dream and jealous at the same time, admittedly because I want to do the same thing. The thought of leaving a boring traditional 9-5 and having the pleasure of
    seeing the world and coming and going as I please makes my heart come alive and thrills me to the core.

    My problem is I don’t know where to start. Your personal business world is something that’s totally foreign to me. I don’t know anything about anything. How do I discover a niche? Can you help me or give me some advice as to how I can set my feet in the direction so I can start trying to walk in the direction of my dreams. It would be much appreciated.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Hasani.

      If you want to free yourself with an online business, you need to commit to mastering a few new tricks. Becoming free is never easy, regardless of the route you decide to take.

      I give a lot of advice regarding the starting point here: http://www.theprofessionalvagabond.com/category/vagabonding

      Check it out and let me know if you have any questions :)

      Reply
  14. Sally

    Hi. You guys are my idols! After travelling for 14 months and coming back to reality and routine it is driving me crazy! So i am looking into just this.

    I can only find chinese suppliers for a product i am looking to sell. Do you work with chinese suppliers? How do you deal with the long lead times?

    Regards,
    Sally

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Sally.

      Ultimately, most physical products come from China. I recommend working with local drop shippers rather than importing inventory yourself.

      Having said that, if I were in your position, I would sell information products.

      I hope that this helps!

      Reply
  15. Virginia Belinaud

    Hi Ryan! I’m a doctor from Argentina! My profession doesn’t allow me to travel, and as you said ” Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. I’d love to do the same as you, but perhaps helping people around the world and letting medicine to be just a hobby. Any advice that you know about mixing online business and health care? Thank you so much for sharing and encourage me!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Virginia.

      If I were you, I’d turn my expertise into an information product. You may not be able to offer medical advice online, but I’m sure that you have a wealth of knowledge related to health and wellness for which people would be willing to pay.

      Reply
  16. Bogdan

    Hey man!

    I loved the ebook and I’d love to help you guys out with whstever you are doing.

    I have a Data Base of 2000 people in Romania, Bucharest.

    I’d love to talk about you guys or anything you would need help with.

    Let me know

    Sincerely,

    Bogdan

    Reply
  17. Gladys

    Ryan, you inspire me!

    I’ve been planing my travels since last year and only last month did I finally find the model I want to use. It was refreshing to know it’s a doable model as I read you post.

    I’m also from South Africa and I’ve been wanting to travel for years. Now I’m finally doing it. I finish the short course I’m doing in June and then I will be off to South America.

    Thanks for the time you took to really help people like me.

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Gladys.

      Well done for taking action! That is often the most difficult step. It may be tough, but never ever give up. You can do it!

      Reply
  18. Barry

    Hi Ryan,
    I was forwarded this article by a friend who thought I might be interested. Greta post to read and I’m glad you made it out of the comparate world alive.

    Reply
  19. Josie

    Hello from Germany!

    I have just completed my first week of my new “real” job after living on savings & traveling for a year & I already feel trapped. I can’t stop thinking about finally starting an online business for my graphic designs & pastries. Having to ask off work is absolutely killing me after getting used to being my own boss. Your story has been very inspiring & just what I needed to read! I will probably have some questions for you after reading your case study.

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hey, Josie.

      I’m glad that you found inspiration in my post!

      So many people have automated their income with online businesses. It is 100% possible. You just need to put in the effort required to figure out how they did it.

      Reply
  20. Beatrice @ Madeloiselle Nomad

    Hi Ryan, greetings from a hot Cape Town :) thanks for writing this. I actually was sent a link to your site from one of my friends. I’m always going on about being a digital nomad and my lifestyle choice is understood by very few people. There’s always the speeches about growing roots, settling down, get a normal job… But what’s normal? What’s normal if it’s giving me recurring depression and full blown anxiety attacks? So I have decided to take the plunge. Scary but so liberating. I am going in March. Have already downsized my belongings and adopting a 10-item wardrobe & 4 pairs of shoes approach to enjoy a minimalistic life. Thanks so much for being absolutely awesome and kind to help others do this too. And wow, I can’t believe we get to download your case study. I am going to get it right away and can’t wait to see what this is all about. I was going to go the freelance writing route (which I already do) and never thought online business could be for me until I read your post. You make it sound easy and as someone who’s totally clueless I might give it a shot :) cheers to you and Amy!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hey, Beatrice!

      That sounds insanely exciting! Where are you going first?

      I’m all about with the minimalist lifestyle. Some say I take it a bit too far, actually :) I find it to be an incredibly liberating way to live.

      Good luck with your new nomad lifestyle. Adventure awaits!

      Reply
  21. James Fircks

    Hi Ryan

    Automated income and endless travel…It seems like you’ve hit the proverbial jackpot! I’m really impressed, and a touch more jealous.

    I’m interested because I’m about to jump the South African ship and head across to Thailand, indefinitely! My girlfriend and I have managed to scrape enough together for 2 months of traveling in the surrounding countries before we supposedly have to start working (TEFL under way and networking for other possibilities in full swing). So I guess it’s just the automated income part to figure out, which is why your site and downloadable PDF really piqued my interest. I design websites and do ad hoc freelance work here in SA, and I’ve been delving the creative/innovative depths of my brain to think of a way of earning while I’m there so I don’t have to teach and can continue to explore. To little avail, unfortunately!

    This brings me here, where I think there could be something! I’m just wondering where your supplier would be based and how/why you are charging in GBP? Excuse my ignorance, but I’m not too sure how paypal works with foreign currency, and with the Rand plummeting, earning in dollars or pounds is becoming increasingly important!

    I hope this is the right forum for these kinds of questions (I would’ve sent you an email, but I guess you don’t want people flooding your inbox)! And I appreciate your time and any advice you might have.

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, James.

      First of all, well done on taking action! The first step is often the most difficult.

      I have already answered your questions in my “Vagabond Business FAQ“. Take a look and let me know if you still have questions at the end :)

      Reply
  22. Andre van der Merwe

    Ryan

    You absolutely, totally rock!

    I red this article almost a month ago and my insides haven’t stopped buzzing since. You have rekindled the nearly forgotten passion I cherished a few years ago of working on something that will generate a passive income for me and my family. I am a mechanical engineer and my day job is slowly but steadily swallowing me…

    My wife and I have a bucket list, which mostly includes travelling, but due to our busy careers have not done any of it for quite a while. We lived in Hong Kong for two years (2007-2008) and during that period did two amazing trips to Thailand and the Philippines. We want more of that!!

    So if you don’t mind, I’ll be popping some questions your way over the next while. I have designed quite a few websites using WordPress in the past and have experimented with E-commerce a few years ago, but couldn’t find a plug-in that worked properly or a product that sold well.

    Thanks for being an inspiration!

    With much appreciation all the way from South Africa,
    Andre

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hey, Andre.

      Thanks for the kind words 😀 I’m glad that my blog was able to reawaken your dream. I share my story with the world for this exact reason: I want to inspire others and give them hope.

      Feel free to send me any questions that come to mind. It may take me a little while, but I’ll answer every one of them.

      Reply
  23. Sego

    Hi Ryan. You are beyond an inspiration for me. Right now my life feels like I’m in a boat and I’m just sailing with no idea of where I’m going. I am married with 2 kids, 3 and 6 yrs, and everytime I think of quitting, questions start raising in my head like how am I gonna create a stable home if i want to travel, where are they gonna be in all of this, We are drowning in debt and what’s gonna happen with that and a 1000 other questions come up. I am crippled by fear, fear of failure and not being able to provide for
    my kids but I can feel that this is not my life. I’m miserable at work and the quality of my work is being affected now. I’m starting to get depressed and it’s affecting my marriage as well. How did you over come the fear? Do you have any advice? Thank you for doing this.

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Sego.

      Thank you for the encouragement. I’m glad that my story has been inspirational for you!

      It sounds like you are in a tough position. Your debt and responsibilities make it very risky to simply quit your job in the hopes of succeeding in business. The pressure would be immense!

      Rather than taking this approach, I recommend starting an online business on the side and building it up in your free time. This way, you’ll be able to pay off your debt and, when your business is doing well, quit your job without fear.

      How did I overcome my fear? Well, I suppose that I was more afraid of staying on the path than I was of changing it. I didn’t have a too many options at the time.

      I hope that this helps, Sego. Good luck!

      Reply
  24. Chelsea

    Hi Ryan

    Oh my word this is the answer I have been looking for!! My boygriend and I live in South Africa and we work on shows selling products so we do a lot of travellingt through our country but about a month ago we got attacked in our house by two men with pangas. Luckily we came out alive. But ever since that day we have been looking for work abroad. Our first option was Thailand. I just want to say thank you for posting this blog:) You have really given me hope. I am going to start with this today.

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Chelsea.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your ordeal :( I hope that my blog gives you what you need to achieve your goal of moving to Thailand.

      One of the beautiful things about travel and online business is that you can choose your income and expense economy. In other words, you can earn Dollars and spend Baht.

      You don’t need to make much money to live in Thailand. You simply need to separate your income from your physical location.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  25. Raquel

    Hi Ryan!

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the entire world and so giving me the chance to tell you my situation. I’m a friend of your sister in law, Erin, from our time as au pairs in the USA.

    There I go.

    When I came back from the States I became a primary school teacher and I’ve been working as that for the last 8 years.

    Two years and a half ago my brother started running his own hotel business and he asked me for helping him with the interiorism is his first hotel. From that hotel on I’ve decorated his 3 next hotels. I found out that I could work as something else besides a teacher. So I did my best as an interior designer plus as a teacher at the same time (plus as a mom of two babies).

    A week ago we stopped working together. We don’t get along any longer. We’ve got different ways to deal with difficulties.

    So well, here is where I am. Trying to find out what to do next: should I just keep teaching? Should I try to keep up with Casual Design alone even though I had never thought of running my own business? I’ve never worked for anyone else besides my brother… I might not be good enough…

    Thank you a lot for your time!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hey, Raquel.

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your story with me :)

      If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it’s that people can do almost anything when they have the right reason.

      If this is what you want, then go for it and don’t let anyone stop you.

      Reply
  26. Tshepang

    Wow this is amazing.

    As I sit behind my desk, still pondering on my upcoming adventure, your words are making me feel normal. Like yearning for a life travelling the world is not weird.

    I will soon be working on a cruise liner as my way of a paid adventure to see the world and I hope it will live up to every expectation of mine.

    A business on the go doesn’t seem like a bad idea either…

    Thank you for sharing and inspiring like minded people as yourself. You are AWESOME!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Tshepang!

      Good luck with your upcoming adventure. I’m sure that it will exceed your expectations in every way =)

      Reply
  27. Michelle

    Hi Ryan
    I have tried to download your document to get advice on setting up an eCompany but it is not coming through. I have tried 4 times to two different email addresses and am checking spam etc.
    When you have a moment please could you look into it.
    Many thanks
    Michelle

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Michelle.

      I’m sorry about that. I’ve resent the case study to your email address. Please let me know when you receive it.

      Reply
  28. Michelle

    Hi Ryan
    I left work in March when I became very dissolutioned with my job. I felt I had no choice because the depression was going to make me I’ll. So I rented out my flat to generate some income and have felt free ever since, which has been amazing. I have been traveling with some sofa surfing at friends and family in between. I have also done some house sitting and voluntary work in exchange for living-in for free, which enables me to save for my next trip. I’m always looking for ideas on how I can continue this new found freedom and would like to thank you for sharing your ideas and knowledge. Giving without expecting something in return is an amazing thing. You are an inspiration!
    Michelle

    Reply
  29. jerry

    Hi Ryan.

    Thanks for sharing your inspirational story. I wish you the very best & hope to follow suit.

    When travelling between the countries, how do you navigate the work permit issues where you do temp work, remote or moving employment, etc? How do you get these jobs outside your online business as you may not know too many people at a new destination.

    Best regards,

    Jerry

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hey, Jerry.

      Thank you for the kind words!

      You don’t need a work permit to run an online business or even to freelance for companies. You only need a permit if you wish to be employed by a local business.

      Reply
  30. Maria

    Hey Ryan!

    I have to say that this is amazing and at the beginning I was a bit suspicious and constantly waiting for you to start “charging” for getting all this information out to us, but i’ve realised it’s not the case! I want to thank you for doing this, it came at the best time and me and my partner we’re very exciting and believe this may really become something to allow us to see the world. We’ve already started the process and followed closely all the tips you gave, but we still have some questions:

    How did you go about shipping both before and after you made the deal with the supplier? Being available globally I believe that shipping at the other end of the world would be kind of expensive.

    Also, did you register for tax from the beginning? Are there many people that require an invoice from your experience?

    Many thanks for answering! I sincerely wish you all the best and have lots of fun and adventures! Take care.

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hey, Maria!

      Zig Ziglar is famous for saying “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” This idea is one of my deepest core values; I want to help people change their lives.

      Here are the answers to your questions:

      Initially, I focussed all of my efforts on the United States and manually recreated orders on my supplier’s websites. The supplier would then ship products directly to my customer’s physical address. Once my business gained traction, I negotiated a formal agreement with my supplier and automated this process.

      Initially, you can run your business as a sole proprietor. That said, I do recommend forming a company as soon as you gain some momentum.

      Every eCommerce system that I know of can automatically send invoices via email. We’ve never had a problem with these in the past.

      I hope that this helps!

      Reply
      • Johnny

        Hi Ryan, I know i’m replying on an old post so hope you see this.

        Your response to Maria’s question answered most of mine, though I have little knowledge on suppliers and would like to know the following:

        When it comes to forming a formal negotiation with a supplier, would you recommend following the same steps in which to manually place orders until the business takes off somewhat that a formal negotiation with a supplier could be established?

        With the right approach would someone be able to form such a negotiation at the start of their business, or would most suppliers not show any interest unless you have something to show for it?

        Also any tips on how one goes about finding and approaching a supplier?

        Finally, great stuff on what you’re doing and thank you for trying to help others :)

  31. Amore

    Wow this is my biggest dream. To just travel the world. I am actually busy designing an eCommerse website but I find it quite challenging. Any advise welcome. And what do you do if your client is not happy with the product? And you are in another country etc?

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Amore.

      Thanks for your message! Have you downloaded my case study yet? It will probably clear up the majority of your questions.

      If a client isn’t happy with our products, we refund them immediately and then ask for constructive feedback. A good reputation is 1000 times more valuable than a couple of dollars in the bank.

      We sell our products globally, but we have the most success selling in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia.

      Reply
  32. Melista

    You are an inspiration!! Thank you for putting your strategies out there for the world to see and actually replying to your feed on your site. (You don’t always see that)

    I quit my job in May and I have been travelling ever since. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. As my journey slowly comes to an end I am looking for something that I can do on the road while I travel.

    I am truly looking into the above so I thank you for sharing your journey with the world. I don’t have a blog yet, only Instagram. Melista.xo
    But I am Looking into making one.

    When I finally make it work I will be contacting you again and thanking you for giving me the extra push and idea I needed to make
    Somethings happen!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Melista.

      Well done on taking the leap in May! I hope that my ideas are really helpful in your plans for the future. If any questions come up along the way, feel free to send them my way :)

      Also, thank you for your words of encouragement!

      Reply
  33. Emily

    Hi!

    I have the same question Mike does. What kind of email did you send the eBay manufacturer? How did your conversation go? And we’re they weary at first? I would think they would be! But maybe not. Thank you for sharing!!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hey, Emily!

      Check out my response on Mike’s comment. They aren’t wary if you’ve already proven yourself to them.

      Since publishing the case study, I’ve received hundreds of questions related to the business. I’m going to collect and respond to all of them in a series of three blog posts. I’ll send these posts to you via email as soon as they’re ready.

      Reply
  34. Mike

    Hi Ryan,

    I’m reading through your case study and trying to think of Ecommerce niche ideas. My question for you is how do you begin the arbitrage process? Do I need to look for manufacturers? I was looking for products on ebay but I’m not sure about the types of people to approach. Who is going to be willing to enter into this agreement with me? Any thoughts?

    Thank you,

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Mike.

      I’m going to cover this in detail in a future post. In short, the idea would be to markup and sell the product first. Once you’ve generated sales, manually order them from your supplier as if you were a regular client. Enter your customer’s shipping address as well as the following order note: “This is a gift. Do not include an invoice or promotional material.”

      Once you’ve done this on 50+ orders, contact the supplier through eBay and negotiate better rates and a long-term fulfillment arrangement. Because you’ve established credibility, you’ll have leverage in the negotiation.

      Reply
  35. Janine Martin

    My husband and I sold everything we owned about a year ago and hit the road. All we own is a 55liter backpac, one for him and one for myself. We worked in New Zealand, lived there for 5 months went to India and have been to Atlanta, Michigan, Canada, Hawaii, and Ohio. We worked a bit in Ohio and are now back in Florida 1 month before our travels reached a year on the road. We are stuck with what to do next. We want to see South America and Africa this year. We think we are going to try to work a season then hit the road again. An online business would be amazing. I just don’t know a lot about computers…. We stated a blog but haven’t had time to update it since we have left. It is http://www.livefaded.com . Faded stands for free and dreaming everyday. You guys are an inspiration! We hope to one day find a easier niche. Keep it up.

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Janine.

      That sounds really exciting. I love to hear about others taking the leap and seeing the world!

      If you’re interested in starting an online business, you can start with my “Vagabond Business Case Study”. Alternatively, check out my post on “101 Adventure-Funding Online Business Ideas.”

      Online business is a learnable skill. If you want to make it happen, I’d be more than happy to share some tips with you :)

      Reply
  36. Daniel

    This is amazing! I’ve been on the road for 3 years now. Finally putting together a travel blog to try and make some location independent money. I love the idea of eCommerce though. About to watch your case study and maybe try my hand at it!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Daniel.

      What’s the URL of your travel blog? I’m always keen to follow other “professional vagabonds” :)

      I hope that my case study is helpful. Let me know if any questions arise as you go through it.

      Reply
  37. Jason

    Thank you Ryan!

    I’ve been going through a hard time health wize just like you, it really makes you think! I’m a damage Insurance broker for the past 6-7 years, making just enough to be able to afford a condo and I barely travel anymore, being single and all! You’ve just inspired me to look into this further and perhaps go back to Australia for a few months and maybe Bali as well! I’ve heard it was magnificient!

    Again, I just wanted to say Thank you for opening up this door for me.

    Jason

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Jason.

      Thank you for your encouraging words! My goal is to inspire, and I am so glad that I got to play a small part in your journey. If any questions come up as you do your research, feel free to send them my way. I’ll do my best to answer them directly or in one of my Q&A posts.

      Reply
  38. Teresa

    Amazing. In February I quit my job because I was miserable and wanted exactly this. Things didn’t work as planned and now I’m broke and lost for my next action plan. I wish I knew what to do to make myself happy and successful. Any advice would be great!

    Reply
    • Ryan Sletcher

      Hi, Teresa.

      That’s an awful position to be in! When Amy and I first got married, we were so broke that we could only afford to eat for two weeks out of every month. I had several fantastic job offers at the time, but I turned them down because they weren’t going to help us reach our destination.

      Every successful person goes through the fire at some point. In February, you took the first step towards your dream. Not many people have the courage to do that. Now you’re going through the fire. The secret to success is simple; just keep going.

      “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

      Reply

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