One of the questions I’m asked most is about how I manage to balance income with travel. The simple answer is that I want to be happy more than I want to earn money, which makes it easy for me to prioritise things. Travel makes me happy so I put as much as I can toward it. This is easy for me to do because it’s not even a decision, it’s instinct. I would rather go somewhere new and have a wonderful memory of that time and place than go shopping and buy a new handbag.
Don’t get me wrong, I used to be very superficial and it was very destructive. I wasn’t happy at all. The less I’ve worried about money and focused more on what I love and what makes me happy, the less ‘stuff’ I’ve needed to fill the void. But, how does it all work? How do people like me and others manage to travel and still earn an income to support them?
The idea of being a digital nomad appeals to a lot of people, and with good reason too. Today I wanted to share with you some of my tips for balancing travel and money and share with you some insight on how it’s possible to earn money while travelling.
How does it work?
I think there’s a bit of a perception sometimes that being a digital nomad means sitting back on a beach, swimming all day and drinking cocktails while you get paid loads to do nothing. I can’t speak for everyone else out there, but it’s certainly not like that for me. I wouldn’t say I work harder than I did in my office job, I just work a lot smarter and because I love what I do, it’s not draining on me.
When I’m travelling I’m working a lot harder than if I were working from my house, because I’m out all day exploring, photographing and finding places to share then in the evening I’m putting that together ready to publish or post.
Becoming a digital nomad doesn’t mean you’re constantly on holidays, it just means your office moves with you and you splice in some pretty amazing adventures in between your work. If you’re going to be a digital nomad you may need to think about your income being derived from multiple sources, not just one steady stream, deposited into your bank account each month like you’re used to.
Think of the things you’re good at or things you enjoy doing, then find a way to make money from that. You’ll be amazed just how much you have to share or what skills are useful to someone else.
If you’re like me it won’t really matter to you what you do to supplement your income, as long as you’re following your heart and having a great time it’s not so hard to spend a few hours doing an odd job here and there to fund your next plane ticket. I freelance as a writer to a few different companies and love doing it because I love writing! It’s easy for me to do and being a freelancer means your boss knows it’s a side-job for you, so life tends to be a lot easier than if you’re a full-time employee.
The most important thing is managing your budget. I’ve found I need a lot less to be happy than I used to, so I naturally save money on things like clothes, entertainment, beauty products etc. My girlfriends and I will go out and get a takeaway coffee then sit in the sunshine somewhere, instead of catching up over breakfast.
When I’m travelling I work out a daily budget and stick to that really closely, if I save money on food and accommodation one day then I have that money to spend on another day and can splash out on a nicer hotel or a fancy meal. What’s funny though is the budget options usually turn out to be the best memories and the most fun!
I love working the way I do because it challenges me. Every day is different and I get to work with and meet so many lovely, interesting people from different companies. It’s also great because I’m constantly in control of my workload and my day, if I’m feeling really run down or stressed out I can step back and take some time to get it together, rather than just pushing myself like I used to in my old job.
How can you make money?
Have a think about what you do now, is there a way you can do this on a freelance basis? Can you contract to your existing employer? Can you start your own small business and contract to clients? Are you able to teach people how to do what you know how to do? i.e. yoga, surfing, pilates, photography.
There are so many jobs that suit the online world of digital nomads, things like graphic design, web design, online marketing, social media strategists and, of course, writers. If you have skills then there are people out there who need them and would love to work with you, I’m sure. Do your research and see what other people in your field have done and if there’s a way you can follow their footsteps.
Sell your photos on stock image sites
This isn’t something I do as yet but it is an option, especially if you’re a great photographer or have an eye for finding things people need. You can upload your photo to a site and will receive a small payment each time someone downloads it. You can read my guide on ’10 tips to improve your travel photography’ here.
Start a blog
Yep, start a blog! You can start a blog free using WordPress, which is exactly what I did. Once your blog grows and you have an audience you can look to monetise it through advertising, working with companies on paid content or reviews, sponsorship and other income sources too. Earning money from a blog isn’t instant so if this is something you’re thinking about doing, you’ll need to establish your blog before you head off overseas.
There are a few people I know of who rely on stock trading as a source of income while they travel. All you need to do is learn to trade before you take off, have a decent laptop and great wi-fi and you’re away! If you’re wondering if it’s really possible to be a traveller and a day-trader, check out this guy: WanderingTrader.com
If you don’t want to do all your work online you can always find a job teaching english at a local school, community hall or offering one-on-one tutoring. Maybe you’re a math whizz and can help people that way? Whatever it is you excel at, find a way to share that with people.
Fiverr or Odesk
While it may not be the big bucks, you can earn pocket-money from a site like Fiverr. Find something that’s easy for you to produce and something you enjoy doing then offer it online.
Depending on where you’re going it could be an option to do some seasonal work like picking fruit, vegetables or fresh flowers. Some places even offer food and board as part of the payment arrangements, making it easy to stop and stay at a farm for a week or two while you build your cash supplies before heading off again. Try the Fruit Picking Jobs Australia website here.
A lot of cities offer free walking tours where the guide receives payment through tips, if you’re especially savvy on a particular part of the world then you could consider working as a tour guide! It’s a great way to get your exercise in for the day, share your knowledge and make new friends.
- Wandering Earl has put together a fantastic list of ’42 Ways You Can Make Money and Travel The World’.
- Life Hack have some great tips on ’13 Ways to Make Money While Traveling’.
- Lonely Planet have their guide on ‘Digital Nomads: how to travel the world without quitting your job’.
- Forbes also have a guide on ‘How to Success At Becoming a Digital Nomad’.
Phoebe Lee is a writer, award-winning blogger and travel lover sharing helpful travel tips, insight and reviews for regular people. Follow her adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.