A very frequent question I get is, how do I manage to sustain myself (in a financial sense) while traveling? This morning I got an email from Will and Margaux, a couple who are traveling long distance and low-budget in their van. They wanted to see if I had any advice for them as far as how to be financially self-sustained whilst living a nomadic lifestyle.
I decided to make my response into a blog post, since it is such a frequent question I get, and one excuse I feel many people use to hold themselves back from travel. Without further adieu, here is.
Hey Will & Margaux,
Congratulations on your adventure and following what I presume was a dream or ambition of yours for some time, although if it was a spur of the minute whim, that is equally as awesome.
This is a question I get quite frequently, so I am probably going to end up turning this response into a blog post, as I’m sure others would be interested in reading it as well.
First and foremost, I want to express a message my father had distilled upon me for years. It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend. Being conscious and smart about how you budget will make a world of difference in being able to sustain yourself. That being said, how do I put gas in the tank and food in my belly at the end of the day?
My main source of income is the freelance web development and graphic design that I do. I have being doing freelance work like this since I graduated in 2010. It took me at least two or three years of really hard work, taking low paying gigs, building a portfolio and client base, before I reached the point that I could fully sustain myself off of it.
However now I have a fairly consistent stream of referral based work coming in, and am able to work remotely as a digital nomad and combine two of my favorite things; the creativity I get to use for my work and being able to fulfill my passion for travel via a nomadic lifestyle. Keep in mind I am normally working 7 or 8 hours a day on a typical day just like anyone else. The only difference is I have the freedom to do it where and when I like.
That being said, there are plenty of ways to fund a nomadic lifestyle. It really is going to depend on what kind of skill sets you poses and what interests you. Just because web development and graphic design have worked for me, does not mean it will necessarily work for you. You need to figure out what you are passionate about, figure out how to monetize it, and lastly how you can do it remotely.
Those are just approaches I have used, but I have also met tons of people along my journey doing all sorts of different things to sustain themselves while living nomadically. Artists, performers, technology based freelance work, writers, and so on. I even meet a lot of people that simply find work or odd jobs wherever they go, be it working at hostels, bars, on farms, etc.
It won’t be easy. You’re going to need to have a lot of passion and drive. You’re going to need to work just as hard if not harder than the average Joe working a 9-5 desk job. However the benefits will pay off triple fold.
I hope this message gives you some idea of how you can sustain yourselves while you explore this wonderful world. At the end of the day, I am a strong believer that, if there is a will, there is a way.
Best of luck to you Will and Margaux as well as anyone else who decides to give nomadic living a shot.
The Hippie Van Man