My decision to become a digital nomad was made out of necessity—I was 25 at the time, house and pet sitting in New Zealand, and I’d spent the previous 18 months traveling and house sitting in Central America and Australia. I wasn’t working, I’d ripped through my savings and I couldn’t really afford to keep traveling, but I didn’t want to go home.
In a desperate bid to maintain the life of adventure I’d grown to love, I scraped together the last of my travel fund and started a travel blog; I knew that if I didn’t make any money from it within the first three months, I’d have to bite the bullet and return to London.
Those three months were brutal. I sat glued to my laptop screen for over 12 hours every day. I changed out of my pajamas to walk the dogs I was pet sitting, but for the most part my existence resembled that of a couch potato. I had one task to achieve and if I didn’t, I genuinely felt like I’d be returning home as a catastrophic failure.
Looking back, I credit this as the beginning of my career in digital content marketing. At the time, I just needed to get myself in a position where I could earn a nominal amount each month by working from my laptop. However, it was the skills I acquired during this period that gave me the grounding to grow an online business that continues to allow me financial independence today.
The Benefits of Full-Time Travel
I have to tell you, I doubt I’d have had the desire or the drive to set up my own online business if I hadn’t been fortunate enough to experience those 18 months of unfettered adventure. The millennials of today are bombarded by positive role models who have created their own niche business, whereas when I was fresh out of university there were very few entrepreneurs and influencers making a living online.
I appreciate it’s a cliché, but that initial period of travel pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and consequently it was only then that I truly found my feet in life. After a travel buddy pushed me to train as a PADI Divemaster I spent six months working at a dive center in Costa Rica. When a friend from home sent me a link to a job crewing on a yacht in Australia, I crammed as many of my belongings as I could into a small duffel bag and sailed across the top of the continent exploring some of the country’s most remote stretches of coastline.
Ridding yourself of more traditional responsibilities such as employment and mortgage payments opens you up to the challenges of an unconventional existence. You learn how to live simply, minimizing your need for possessions and reevaluating what you want from your time on the earth. I even found that I become adept at problem solving and forward planning, and better able to cope with stressful and unforeseen circumstances.
One of the biggest changes I noticed was that I became far more relaxed; things that would have once caused me to become anxious I dealt with without concern. Travel helped me to overcome anxiety, by constantly forcing me to step outside the boundaries of my comfort zone.
In short, I believe that full time travel can offer you the chance to break away from the norm and find the creative spark you need to become financially self-sufficient.
Full-Time Travel: Cons and Considerations
Much like donuts with sprinkles on, or choosing the window seat on a plane, full-time travel and working online aren’t for everyone. Here’s a list of things you should consider if you’re thinking about embarking on an indefinite adventure:
● Your concept of home will become the place you return to once a year to visit friends and family; in the day-to-day, it will be the place you lay your head.
● If your personal situation—partner, family, health etc.—requires you to be present in one place then this can be a limiting factor if you have grand plans to travel the world. The grass isn’t greener; consider optimizing your vacation days by planning multiple shorter periods of travel each year.
● You’ll have to be able to carry everything you own, all at the same time. Gone are the days of endless shoes, outfits, toiletry sets, camera lenses, or gadgets, all your possessions must fit into a 65L rucksack or, if you’re more of a glamper, two wheeledsuitcases.
● Relationships can be hard to maintain when you’re travelling all the time. Unless you have a significant other who has the same desire to travel, you might spend a large proportion of your time traveling solo. You may also find that you miss out on major life events of friends and family, such as births, weddings, and deaths.
● Living out of a suitcase might sound glamorous but trust me when I tell you that it soon becomes arduous. Consider periods of slow travel that allow you to stay longer in some destinations.
The Benefits of Working Remotely
Since those first three months during which I started my blog, I’ve traveled through eleven different countries, looked after over 50 beautiful homes, and made incredible memories and life long friends all over the world. I’ve been able to do this because I have the capacity to work remotely.
In tandem with this location freedom, I’ve invested in growing my skill set and as such I have added new income streams to that of my blog. As well as self-publishing, I write for a number of online travel publishers, like Eagle Creek, and contract as a content marketing specialist helping brands optimize their digital presence.
I’ve maintained traditional working hours whilst house sitting in the Caribbean, visiting my parents in the UK, and because I have a convertible carry on backpack with a sleeve for my laptop, I can work whilst airborne and on the go, too.
Not being tied to a single office location offers the freedom to roam. It’s that simple.
Working Remotely: Cons and Considerations
Of course, working remotely does pose a unique set of challenges that you’ll need to be prepared to manage:
● When working remotely, good WiFi becomes a necessity and not all locations boast a reliable connection; plan your travel itinerary accordingly.
● If you don’t already have a skill set that would allow you to earn a 100% of your income online, you may need to re-train.
● It will take time to set up a successful online business,so if you don’t have savings you may want to launch your new venture before you quit your day job.
● If you plan to be away from your home country for long periods of time, you should research factors that may be to your detriment if ignored, e.g. tax and state pension requirements.
For me, the past eight years of world travel have provided more value than any amount of school or university education. I’ve become a more capable and confident person, with a much better understanding of the world in which I live. Much to the surprise of my parents, who struggled with my decision to remain abroad for such a long time, from my nomadic existence I’ve crafted a career which gives me the independence to choose the projects I work on, and where I work from.
Full time travel changed my life, and to be honest, I can’t imagine where I’d be right now if I hadn’t been driven to spend three months staring at my laptop in order to finance a life of adventure.
Are you considering packing in your 9 to 5 and traveling the world full time? Start saving for travel now and make this the year you hit the road.
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