If there’s one word that is a great candidate to becoming word(s) of the year, it’s “Digital Nomad“. You can find the word being used all the time, and many successful bloggers, aspiring bloggers or remote workers seem to want to associate themselves with the coolness of this term. Few people, however, have an idea about how to become a Digital Nomad.
As I’m about to embark on my own journey to become a Digital Nomad, at least temporarily, this article acts as a way to share the research I did for my own adventure. The overarching question I try to answer is “How to become a Digital Nomad”, and I zoom in on finances, gear, best locations and several different ways of going about it. I also give some examples of jobs that fit a nomadic lifestyle, share blog tips and tell you a bit more about my own journey.
In this article
What is a Digital Nomad?
Many have heard the term being used, but what exactly is a Digital Nomad and how do you become one? Wikipedia says Digital Nomads are “people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner”. This, of course, is a very broad definition. What strikes me is that it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re constantly traveling, something I personally closely associate this term with.
Make no illusions. While some Digital Nomads only post pictures of beautiful sunsets, farm-fresh meals and pristine beaches, being a Digital Nomad (especially in less developed countries) means you’ll be on your laptop for a big chunk of the day being frustrated about the bad internet connection, or staying up until the early hours to discuss a briefing with an overseas client on Skype. “Every advantage has it’s disadvantage”, late football star Johan Cruyff famously said. This is certainly the case for a Digital Nomad lifestyle. Read on to see the benefits and pitfalls.
The benefits of a Digital Nomad lifestyle
There are a few obvious benefits of being a Digital Nomad:
- When there’s Wifi, you can work. If you can find a paradise island with decent enough wifi, you just found yourself a new office.
- You’re not tied to one company or employer. You determine your own workload, and you can work when you’re most productive (depending on the job/timezones)
- You will get paid per hour (or per project), not for the time you spend in an office building
Apart from these perks, there are a few less obvious benefits:
- You’re able to redefine your days, as there will be less ‘certainties’ that you would have in an offfice (e.g. a fixed lunch time, coffee moment or weekly meetings).
- With enough financial buffer (and ideally a low cost of living) you can start thinking of creating a product to sell online, with the goal of having a minimum amount of management while you are still able to keep (part of) the profit. I won’t get into this too much in this article, as this is a whole process on itself. I recommend reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is you’re into this sort of thing. Also see “travel longer with a passive income stream” later on in this article.
- You will have less clutter at work, as you won’t be tied to common office distractions such as fixed lunch times, two-hour-long meetings and other timewasters and habits. The other side of this perk is that you will more easily be distracted, see “pitfalls”.
The pitfalls of a Digital Nomad lifestyle
The life of a Digital Nomad isn’t all fair weather. If it’s freedom you seek, freedom you’ll get, but be aware that great freedom comes with great responsibility. Unless you like being lonely and miserable. Here are a few points you should keep in mind when aspiring to become a Digital Nomad:
- You will be the master of your own time, and to start with you won’t have any ‘certainties’ such as the morning commute, lunch time / coffee breaks / the water cooler at the office and the ‘thank god it’s Friday’ moments. You might think ‘good riddance’ but have you thought about an alternative? If not, you might end up in the vortex of idle time, with a weird sense of pressure to perform but no immediant fulfilment.
- You need to get out more to make new friends, or otherwise you will inevitably get lonely
- If you are looking to start your own business, know your strengths and skills and find others to compensate for your weaknesses (the same way you compensate for theirs).
- Be sure to have a sufficient financial buffer to live without working. 2.000 – 3.000 euro in savings should be enough. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to spend the money, but it’s good to know you can fall back on something.
- If you’re planning to stay in the country/city you work in, be sure to drop by your client(s) from time to time. Psychologically, people like people which they see the most often. This will give you a competitive advantage: your client will find it a more ‘logical’ decision to choose someone they physically see from time to time for a project.
- You need Wifi everywhere you go, and the majority of the countries in the world don’t have the internet speed we do in the western world. Therefore: prepare for Wifi-related frustration.
- Depending on the timezones, you can end up sleeping during the day and working in the night.
- Doing your taxes on the road can be a real pain (or even impossible), so having a bookkeeper in the country you have to do taxes in would be more of a necessity than a luxury.
- There won’t be a boss or co-worker to lurk around and make sure you aren’t doing something else than work. It’s easy to get distracted from your to-do list for the day. See ‘Digital Nomad gear‘ for some tips on productivity-enhancing browser plugins.
- More and more jobs allow their employees to learn new (work-related) skills on the job. Those perks vanish when you become a Digital Nomad. It’s all up to you to make sure you keep up-to-date with the latest trends and skills you need to keep up with other freelancers.
- While this isn’t a Digital Nomad-specific pitfall, your healthy or unhealthy eating habits get magnified with this lifestyle. Be sure to keep track of your general health by visiting a doctor from time to time, or doing a blood test.
- Depending on the clients you work with, you will be chasing invoices from time to time, as the client’s payments will be essential to continuing your chosen lifestyle. This can lead to a lot of frustration. Make sure you have an online invoicing system that automatically sends reminders and can proceed with legal actions when needed.
The pitfalls of a Digital Nomad lifestyle
There is an idyllic ring to the words “digital nomad”. Working a few hours a day while stretched out in a hammock or while dangling your feet in a refreshing lake. But is it always smooth sailing? The two previous sections should have given you a clue; it’s not. I’ve asked a few talented travel bloggers and a talented DJ/producer about their experiences with being a digital nomad. The answers they gave are both personal and sometimes brutally honest. As this article would become far too long, I have decided to bundle my interviews in another article. My goal is to answer the obvious question: is being a digital nomad the ideal lifestyle?
How to get started
There are several reasons you may want to become a Digital Nomad. Your current job can be dragging you down, and you’re looking for something more exciting. Or perhaps you have outgrown your current job, but don’t see yourself switching companies to do the same thing, just in a different office. Another reason can be, just like in my case, that you have decided that traveling is an important part of your life and that you would like to find a way to earn money on the road.
Whatever the reason, I wouldn’t quit your job straight away. Sure, you might get lucky and soar off to great success, but more often than not you won’t. It’s easy to end up in a vortex of time, and nothing (yet) to fill it with. My recommendation:
Start doing the thing you want to do as a Digital Nomad in your free time, next to your day job.
In the beginning, you will have to do a lot of reading, connecting and experimenting to get into the right mindset and network to go completely freelance. If you have no source of income while you’re dealing with this, it can create an unhealthy amount of unproductive (financial) pressure. When you have the security of a job, use the free time in which you normally watch TV or Netflix to do some reading, for instance on how others have achieved what you aspire to do.
Join a few Digital Nomad / remote working communities and ask questions
Some fields of work are more suitable to use as a platform for your remote working goals than others, but there is almost always someone who has done it before and has written about it. Therefore it’s a good start to join a few Digital Nomad communities to get inspired and ask the (obvious) questions you might have. Even if you work in a field where travel isn’t common or very practical, there are always ways around it if your will to travel and work is strong enough.
Get started: join a Digital Nomad community
In order to get some feeling of what other people are dealing with in their Digital Nomad lifestyles, or to see if there are others that have the same questions that you have, join one or more Digital Nomad communities. It can also be a very handy place to connect with other Nomads that are in the same area you plan to travel to (or in the area you currently live). Here are a few nice communities to join:
- Reddit’s “Digital Nomad” sub-forum, where the best questions and posts get upvoted.
- Nomadlist is a very handy website that shows important (and relevant) facts about cities around the world in the context of working abroad. They also have a forum.
- WorkFrom is dedicated to sharing the best cafés with WiFi and power, around the world. They also have a “meetups & events” section
- Travel Massive is a community for travel insiders focused on meeting, learning and collaborating at free events around the world. They also have a jobs section focused on remote working options.
- The founders of WorkFrom have another project as well: Wifi Tribe. Every month, a group of remote workers calls a diferent city their home, and you can join them.
List of essential gear and resources for working remotely
Entering a new lifestyle means you’ll need to find your own set of tools that help you sustain it. “Tools” is used very broad here, but in general it can be categorized in “physical gear”, “apps and software” and “remote working resources”.
- Laptop with a compact universal plug
Any laptop with a long battery life, as you’ll be often working in spots that don’t have power (e.g. cafés). I have a 2011 Macbook Pro which I bought second hand and I still consider it one of my best purchases.
- Mobile internet connection, which is pretty much a must-have these days. There are a few options
- European citizens don’t pay any more roaming charges when traveling within Europe. This means that you can use your data package anywhere within its member countries. Making a personal hotspot is easy on both iPhone and Android, which allows you to use your phone’s connection on your laptop as well, opening a whole new horizon for flexible workspaces.
- If you’re planning to travel around the world and a steady 4G connection is important to you, you can try one of the global portable wifi hotspot providers like Keepgo. They provide you with a very small “mifi” device and a sim card, which you can top up online. The device and connection can be used in 120+ countries and the Huawei hotspot has a battery time of 6 hours (300 hours on standby), which makes it a good solution if you are planning to work on the road. Bonus: use this link for a 10% discount!
- Powerbank to charge your usb-powered devices such as phones, mobile wifi units and cameras. My favorite brand is Xtorm, who has a range of powerful powerbanks.
Apps and Software
- Skype or other conferencing software such as Google Hangouts. You’ll probably need some “face-to-face” meetings from time to time, and with these two (free) programs you can also share your screen to the other person. This feature saves a lot of time when talking about a design or page of code. Alternatively, you can use apps such as Slack to stay in touch via online team/group chat.
- Project management / To-do list apps such as Asana, Trello or Todoist. All three are free with premium paid features. The key to productivity is writing important things down, prioritizing and organising them. These tools will help you to do just that.
- In this era of information overload it’s easy to forget what you’ve done yesterday, let alone last week or last month. 1 Second everyday is a video diary app which lets you take a 1 second video everyday and can stitch it all together in a nice overview-video. Can you imagine the fun videos you can make as a Digital Nomad?
- There are a few browser extentions that can help getting more productive:
- News feed eradicator for Chrome blocks your Facebook newsfeed (my personal “favorite” way to procrastinate) without disabling all the other features as well.
- Momentum for Chrome gives you an inspiring and very useful “New tab” screen. You can add your main focus for the day, your to-do list, see the weather and get a beautiful travel-related background image.
- Rescuetime keeps track of your productive time by showing the amount of time you spent using apps, software and websites. You can calibrate it so that all your frequently visited websites are categorized correctly (e.g. WordPress vs. Facebook).
- Evernote makes it easy to write, find and organize notes. Has some super useful features such as saving online articles to view offline.
- Hootsuite / Buffer can schedule social media posts, follow hashtags and analyse your social media channels
- You can find heaps more productivity tools in this excellent article on DigitalNomadEmpire.com.
Remote working resources
- Nomadlist to research your next destination. These guys rank cities based on living cost, internet speed, fun and safety. As a bonus you can see the climate too!
- BecomeNomad.com. The name pretty much says it all, this website offers information on the A to Z of becoming a Digital Nomad.
- WorkFrom.co shares the best coffee shops with Wifi and power in 1.250 cities around the world.
- WorkAway.info is a site for volunteering and cultural exchanges around the world. Think helping to build a hostel, picking grapes or housework. Mostly you will receive accommodation and meals in return. Combining volunteering with working remotely, not a bad idea eh?
- OpenSignal.com compares 3G and 4G providers all around the world on their mobile phone signal coverage.
- Jooble.org has a big list of job vacancies with a nice filter function, which is a good resource when looking for for remote work.
Café or hotel room: what is the ideal work space for a Digital Nomad?
Finding the right work space can be quite a tricky task, and highly personal too. Some people like to work in pure silence, while others need to have music in the background to be able to think. To stay productive, the challenge is to find the perfect work environment that has all the elements necessary: mostly power, Wifi, food and nice coffee (or maybe that’s just my own work utopia). I’ve listed a few common work spaces and their pros and cons.
- Food and (good) coffee are just a menu card away
- The background noise of people chattering can be quite soothing
- Lots of cafés in cities tailor their interior to meet freelance workers’ needs (wifi + power).
- You will spend money while working. Depending on the café it can get quite pricey.
- Waiters will come by every 5 to 30 minutes, so saying “no thanks” can be a bit awkward
- Hard to concentrate sometimes if music is not to taste or people have loud conversations
- Nobody will bother you, except for housekeeping
- Usually good Wifi in the lobby or even in the rooms
- You can work in your underwear
- Usually power outlets available
- No food (or kitchen) within reach (except minibar and hotel restaurant)
- Hotel rooms can get quite expensive
- If you stay in your hotel room too long, you will become the loneliest person alive
- Sleeping and working in the same room isn’t very good for your mental health
- The environment can get boring quickly
- There is (usually) more social contact available than in a hotel
- Homely environment
- Usually a fridge to store food and drinks
- Usually much cheaper than booking a hotel
- As Airbnb isn’t originally meant for people working remotely, it can get a bit awkward when you sat at home all day working. If you’re lucky, the homeowner is away when you rent the apartment/house, which of course allows you to do whatever you want.
Shared working space
- In many shared working spaces you will be invited to social events, or events that attempt to bring different businesses and people together. It’s usually a good idea to put likeminded people together, so you might get some new insights, ideas or working relations.
- These places are tailored to work: you will have a desk, power, wifi, a fridge usually some form of entertainment.
- Some people prefer to work in silence and in their own space; usually the work floors are large and open. Sometimes you can rent a separate office, but for a fee.
- You will pay rent and sometimes other costs (food, coffee), so you have to make sure you are at a point that you can afford it.
- Some (usually cheaper) work space have weird rules, e.g. no cleaner, no flexible hours, closed on weekends. Be sure to do some research upfront.
The best cities to work remotely around the world
As the world evolves, so does the temporary “sites” of Digital Nomads. They are nomads, after all.. I could write a whole list of places that provide a suitable environment for a remote working lifestyle, but this has been done before, and far better. Check out this article on BecomeNomad.com on trending hubs around the world.
A Digital Nomad’s finances
The life of a Digital Nomad is all fun and games until the tax officer pays a visit. While (at least in The Netherlands) doing taxes is easy as pie when you have a steady job with a steady income, things change when you think about working remotely. I would consider the essential starting kit to be:
- A sole proprietorship registered in the country you call home
- A bank account in your home country
- A bookkeeper, someone you can whatsapp/skype/call/e-mail with questions
- An online accounting tool (such as Freshbooks) which lets you scan receipts, send invoices, file business expenses and prepare revenue and income tax declarations
- A financial buffer to start with. Having an extra € 2.000 – € 3.000 (in your currency) in your savings gives you some (much-needed) air when business is slow.
- Different means to pay or get paid. I use Paypal & a Credit Card and never really needed anything else.
The admin of switching abroad can be a tedious, and sometimes impossible task as many governmental services haven’t properly switched to fully be accessible online. Therefore I recommend to set up a sole proprietorship about a year before setting off, to get familiar with the annual admin cycle without risking having to return from your remote working location (e.g. because you need to sign something in person). Getting a bookkeeper straight away and telling them your future plans can establish a relationship of trust and flexibility. And believe me, you want to have a bookkeeper you can trust.
A few other (random) tips from my own experience:
- Have a spreadsheet with minimal monthly living costs (at the location you will be). That’s what you’ll have to earn.
- Use globalisation in your favor. Earn Euros, spend Thai Baht (or any other cheaper currency). Your money will go a much longer way abroad than it will back home.
- Be sure to check your back statements for the last year on bills that you have paid manually. Make sure all bills are automatically deducted from your bank account; this will save you a lot of hassle on the road.
Travel longer with a passive income stream
If you think about freelance work, chances are that you think of providing a service in return for money. The more hours you put in, the more money you get paid (unless you are working on fixed price basis). There is however another way of making money that is not necessarily linear to the amount of time you put in: passive income. How does that sound? You can work less, and earn the same or even more! One of my own all-time favourite books (The 4-hour workweek by Timothy Ferriss) explains this all too well, so I won’t go into too much details on how it works. I do however want to show you a great example of how it can be achieved using something every traveler has in abundance: travel photos.
Lance & Laura’s story: selling stock photos as a side business
And so they started selling.
Since selling photos yourself can be quite a gamble; if you’re lucky you can sell your photo to a tourism agency (for example) but it’s too random to generate a steady income flow. Therefore Lance & Laura recommend using a stock house such as Shutterstock or Dreamstime. While the price per photo can be quite low, selling the photo 1 time or 1.000 time doesn’t require more work on your side.
Selling stock photos won’t make you rich, but it is yet another income stream that runs like clockwork
A few of Lance & Laura’s tips for shooting/editing photos to use as stock material:
- First, while you’re out taking photos, you need keep stock in the back of your mind. Look for scenes that would make good stock.
- Make your technical execution the best it can be: focus more, use good white balance, simplify the scene and leave blank space where messages might be written by a company.
- While you’re out shooting, you also need to keep releases (model releases/property releases) in mind for commercial sale. We generally don’t bother, so it does limit some of the photos we can sell, however, we prefer to keep things simple
- Build stock into your LightRoom/post-trip editing process. Think with stock in mind.
- Kill your darlings. If the photo doesn’t look good, just move on. Don’t try to fix it. Don’t fret over it. Just move on.
If you decide to do it, consider applying via their referral link: https://submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=3214550. If you have more questions about shooting stock photos to generate a (passive) income stream, you can contact Laura & Lance through their blog. And while you’re at it, why not check out their awesome blog as well?
Digital Nomad jobs
What you need
- You need to learn some code. You can start with programming languages HTML & CSS for building website templates, jQuery for some basic animation and get familiar with the Content Management System WordPress, which is used in 26% of the entire web (making it the most popular CMS).
- I recommend Codeacademy.com for free online coding courses
- Wifi, but it’s also possible to do webdevelopment offline and upload the code from time to time. If you work in a team you want to make sure you don’t overwrite other people’s code, which can be done by using a so-called “versioning” system like Bitbucket or Github (setting it up is quite advanced)
- A laptop, obviously
How much does it earn
- If you’re doing relatively simple tasks, such as creating a static page from a Photoshop design, you can earn $10 -$25 per hour
- For more advanced tasks, like creating WordPress themes from scratch, $50 – $75 per hour isn’t uncommon
What you need
- You need to have a (visually) creative mind. Experience working with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and have an idea on how to present your work visually (e.g. in a presentation PDF or online portfolio)
- A lot of designers prefer to work on a drawing tablet, the Wacom is seen as the professional standard. There are travel-size versions as well.
- A laptop, obviously
How much does it earn
- There are many different assignments with a varied pay. Think designing logos, website wireframes or entire corporate identities. A lot of time you will have to agree on a fixed fee, and the time you need to get inspired is not always included. Of course, the pay also depends on your track record and skill.
Copywriter / Editor
What you need
- A laptop, obviously
- Excellent writing and grammar skills
How much does it earn
- Rate per word/hour/fixed fee depends largely on previous assignments and how good you are with words
(Digital) Content Specialist
Note: this “job title” hasn’t really been defined properly in a lot of companies, and expectations and skillsets may vary. Some companies focus more on offline content creation, e.g. for flyers, brochures and direct mail, while others focus more on digital, including social media, website content, newsletters and (business) blogs.
What you need
- A laptop, obviously
- Good writing and grammar skills
- Basic Photoshop photo editing skills
- A basic knowledge of HTML is usually quite useful
- An (personal) online presence in several social media platforms sometimes gives you a better idea of what to write for it
How much does it earn
- Depends on the size of the company. Content Specialists for large companies usually earn more than content specialists for startups.
A virtual assistent is a person who helps others with various tasks that can be done online. With the current status of the internet, this can range from ordering flowers for a spouse to scheduling social media posts or doing research for a blog post.
What you need
- A laptop
How much does it earn
- Being a virtual assistent isn’t usually a high-paid job, and some of the tasks can be quite tedious. However, it’s a great way to make some extra cash when you’re learning other skills or don’t like hassle and stress.
DJ / Producer
What you need
- A laptop
- A large high-quality music collection that is in some way organized (for DJs)
- Knowledge of music production software such as Ableton or Logic Pro. (for producers)
- A travel-size MIDI keyboard with drum pads and knobs (for producing music on the road)
- 1 or more USB sticks (for DJ-ing)
How much does it earn
- Depends largely on your network and skills. Nowadays a good place to start is Soundcloud, where you can upload your own music and share it. When you’re consistently playing good sets or producing great tracks, chances are you will get approached by an agency. The “deals” with agencies vary greatly, but usually you can keep a large percentage of your earnings.
Should I outsource work or take on outsourced work from others?
In the world of freelance work, the hourly rate is king. If you are able to ask a average or above-average hourly rate for your work, it could be worthwhile to look into outsourcing. Instead of doing the work yourself, you would become more of a (project) manager, ensuring the quality of the final deliverable(s) while keeping an eye on budget and planning. It usally makes the most sense to outsource something you could potentially do yourself or that is close to your field of expertise, simply because it allows you to create accurate briefings and have a better idea of the expected result.
Finding the right person/people is step two. I have personally worked with several freelancers / outsourcing agencies abroad (India, Ukraine, Bosnia and even Gaza) using a few of the intermediary websites below. From my experience, the ideal candicate meets the following criteria:
- Good communication skills in English or your native language. This is the most important point in my opinion, as a skilled freelancer with poor communication skills can still easily screw up your project.
- Can provide relevant and high-quality examples of previous work
- Has an hourly rate that makes it worthwhile to oursource.
- Is willing to Skype to “meet” digitally. In my opinion, you can get a better feeling of someone’s personality from a 10-minute Skype conversation than from 3 pages of text.
- He/she replies quickly to your (additional) questions by e-mail. Chances are they will keep the same pace when working together on a project.
I can recommend the following platforms for finding freelancers looking for a new project. You can put your assignment in their system and watch dozens of proposals come in. Be sure to have a look at the list above when making a choice.
- Upwork / Toptal / 99 designs are a few solid outsourcing platforms, where you can find other freelancers or freelancing agencies to hire for assignments based on your terms. You create the briefing, the budget and the deadline, after which you will most certainly receive a whole lot of proposals to choose from. Why would you outsource your work? Jump to the section on outsourcing your work or receiving work outsourced by others.
- Fiverr is somewhat of an outsourcing platform, but with a twist. Creatives offer to help out for as low as 5 euro. Think logo design, voice-over, translations, SEO stuff, but there’s much more. Quality is usually very good (and amazing value for sure) but do read the reviews first.
- Hubstaff Talent is a platform for finding remote working freelancers (similar toUpwork and Toptal) with the exception that they promise to be a 100% free resource without fees, markups or middlemen.
Digital Nomad blogs worth following
- The Remote Nomad
Katelyn’s journey began when she applied on a year-long journey with a company called “Remote year” where she worked remotely spending 1 month in 11 different contries. She has been on the road since while working on het laptop in exotic places.
- Stop Having A Boring Life
Rob from sold everything to travel the world indefinitely. He was looking around for blogs with tips & tricks, but found nothing. He decided to start his own blog which, throughout the years, became a trusted platform for (aspiring) Digital Nomads.
- Become Nomad
Eli has been a Digital Nomad since 2010, constantly changing cities and countries. He wasn’t happy that most of his days started to look alike and decided to do something about it. An accumulation of life events put him in the position to take the leap.
Sydney started his blog in 2009 and focuses on sharing stories about unconventional lifestyles and how to get there. After chasing a more traditional career for a few years he was fed up and decided to become a professional photographer. Even though that dream feel through, he knew he wanted something more out of his life.
- Discovering Ice
Steph and Andres, a couple in their twenties, were lucky enough to succeed in their goal of full-time travel through entrepreneurship. They document their journey since 2012.
- Thrilling Heroics
Stefan is a self-proclaimed “modern-day philosopher” that focuses his blog on purposeful travel and lifestyle. His blog is full of empowering quotes and trueisms, such as “The first key to unlocking the good life is this: you have to do it yourself. Nobody will do it for you”. Some good advice is given so be sure to check it out.
- The Planet D
Dave and Deb’s motto is “Adventure is for Everyone”. On their blog they inspire others to become an adventurer. Their goal is to shatter the common misconception that a life full of adventure is only for the ultra-rich, uber-athletes or adrenaline junkies.
Got blog tips to add? Let me know in the comments!
My journey to becoming a Digital Nomad
Over the last 8 years, I have experimented on several occasions with going full freelance. Sometimes it worked out for a while, other times it slapped me in the face like a wet tuna fish. As I don’t want to bore you with unnecessarily long stories (this article is getting long enough already) I’ll summarize the most important events and what I’ve learnt from them.
My strategy from 2009 to 2013: save up, cancel rental lease, quit job and go travel
After my first backpacking trip in 2009, I knew traveling was something special that I wanted to explore more. As I had a fairly good job working at a bank, I was able to work for a year and save up enough money to travel by not spending it on unnecessary things. I would keep a spreadsheet of how much money I would need, buy the flight tickets early to get them cheap(er) and be flexible enough with my planning to be able to Couchsurf, Airbnb or simply sleep in over-night buses and trains. When I would be back after 6-8 months of travel, I would find a job (often the same one I left) and repeat the process.
While I really enjoyed this strategy, coming back to my home town (Amsterdam) was always a bit of a pain. The rental housing prices have been ridiculous here for years, and finding a room in a reasonable location can take ages. As my travels were all pre-, during and after the financial crisis, finding a (new) job wasn’t easy either. Especially because my dream at the time was to travel full-time, and many companies weren’t ready to let their employees work remotely. This resulted in having to move back to my mother’s place for a month, and having to accept a few jobs that weren’t necessarily a “step up” in my professional life. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and soon I was already saving money again for my next travels.
The timing is never perfect, but this time it’s as good as it can get
As I write this article, I have quit my current 4-day-a-week job to take a stab again at the remote working lifestyle. For the last few months I have been working two, and recently even three simulaneous jobs. One is my day-job as a online marketeer at a travel agency. In the evenings and weekends I run a digital agency together with a friend and entrepreneur. Then, in the one day that’s left, I work as a online project manager for the bank I worked at earlier.
Oh, and I also write blog articles, but not as much as I would like as you probably can understand. It seems like a mental schedule (and trust me, it sometimes is), but it allows me to create a financial buffer while building the digital agency that will become the center of my working life when I’m on the road. I’ve notices that once you have a clear goal, the (hard) work towards it becomes less strenuous on the mind, and you tend to experience less of the bad forms of stress.
That’s all I can say about my personal journey for now. I guess I’ll have to update my article along the way when I learn a new lesson or have something exciting to share!